The Funk Hunters Talk About Canada EDM In iEDM Exclusive Interview
There have been a lot of incredible producers and DJs come from Canada and The Funk Hunters are one of the most groovy on the list.
The Funk Hunters are DJ duo Nick Middleton and Duncan Smith. Together they produce an audio visual live show production filled with funky, soulful bass music. Their on stage chemistry shows as they move through tracks and get the crowd grooving.
iEDM got the chance to sit down with Nick Middleton right before his set at Imagine Festival this past weekend. Nick talked about their label Westwood, their big collaborations, and what inspires their sound.
iEDM: Have you ever played in Atlanta before?
Nick: No I actually haven't. This is actually our first time in Georgia. We just flew all the way from Vancouver so it was a long day.
iEDM: Do you have anything planned special for the set tonight?
Nick: Lots of new tunes. I thought we were doing video tonight but Duncan went to check the stage and it turns out we aren't.
iEDM: So you do the music production and Duncan does video production?
Nick: Yes and we both DJ. We are unique, we are set up on 4 turntables so we each have two turntables and a mixer. At the same time, for our audio video sets, we both output video as well. But in the studio, I work on our production and Duncan makes our video content. But yeah, we play on 4 turntables which is kind of unique.
iEDM: That's very unique, and you mix a lot of hip-hop, funk and throwbacks. What inspires your sound?
Nick: We just always have really been into funky music. Our project since the beginning has all been about finding funky tunes in all different genres. So tonight, we will probably play hip-hop, glitch hop, drum n bass, house music, trap.. a little bit of everything blended together but it will have elements of funk soul hip-hop in it. That's always been our thing and was what we grew up listening to.
iEDM: How did you two meet?
Nick: We met on a tiny island on the West Coast of Canada and started DJing together. We bought our first pair of turntables together and started DJing and quickly we were like let's get two more so we can both DJ. Then we started DJing on four turntables. We literally started learning how to DJ together. That's the cool connection we have on stage. We are in-sync without having to discuss things, which is cool. It allows us to be spontaneous and improvise our sets and still have an elements of real DJing. It keeps it excited for us and we are passionate about it.
iEDM: And you guys are from Vancouver, Canada. I just did an interview with ill.Gates who is also from Canada, and he said it's hard to make a living in Canada as a musician. Would you agree with this?
Nick: I just had this really cool thought as I was driving in on a golf cart and we were like driving around and I saw the main stage and Datsik's logo was on the screen. I was thinking to myself, how cool is that Datsik grew up 4 or 5 hours away from us, and we are both playing on the two stages tonight. Then ill.Gates is from the other side of Canada in Toronto is playing before us. So I was thinking that is pretty cool. Canada is killing it, especially western Canada where we live, a lot of us are inspired by Shambahla Festival community. It's made some big names, Excision and Datsik being two of them. It's neat to be arriving at a festival and see three Canadians headlining the same night.
iEDM: You guys did a big collaboration with Delhi 2 Dublin. What inspired that project?
Nick: They are a band from Vancouver that we grew up watching 10 years ago and they asked me to do production work with them. I started doing remixes for them and then finally they came to me and asked me to produce their new album. So I co-wrote some of it and I produced the new record with them two years ago and we put it out on our label. Then we got some of the people on our label to do remixes with them. We play a lot of shows with them. They are super fun, high energy, cool, diverse band that blends the best of bhangra music with electronic bass music. They are super awesome.
iEDM: At Sonic Bloom, I saw you with Chali 2na from Jurrassic 5. You guys have done a lot of work with him too.
Nick: Yeah! We just played Red Rocks with him last weekend with Griz. He came out as a guest. We've been touring with Chali around the world for the last two years. It is an unlikely pairing, 2 DJs from Canada working with this voice we grew up listening to in high school. But our musical interests go so well together. We have this throwback funk hip-hop influence, and we made a new record together called the Electric EP. We have been touring together since.
iEDM: You have played a lot of Canadian events and U.S. one, what do you think the difference between Canada EDM and U.S. is?
Nick: For us, it's how big the U.S. is. You can do a Canada tour in 15 cities and you can do a U.S. tour in 60 cities. Our life is in the U.S. more a lot more. I think this last year we played more shows in the U.S. then Canada. We love it down here. It's big, there are so many places to go and explore. It feels like we are here all the time, but I mean here we are in Atlanta, and never been here!
iEDM: Would you relocate?
Nick: I don't know. We are spoiled in one of the most beautiful places in the world in Vancouver with the ocean and the mountains there. I think it is important to have a place like that to go back to when you are on the road all the time. But I do love Colorado and the more time I spend in LA, the more I like being there. I also like my seasons.
iEDM: In 2013, you guys started your own label. Tell me about that.
Nick: I run a label called Westwood Recordings. It started as a passion project to release my own music and friends. And now it has turned into a full time job, seven days a week, while on the road. It's cool because it has taken off so quickly and we have so many artists from all over the world on the label now. It's interesting to see where it will go. Really it was a necessity. I didn't have anywhere to put out my music. There weren't any labels that fit what I was doing. I had friends in the same position and I was like we can do this, let's start our own label. Who knows what will happen. That is where we out put out the Delhi 2 Dublin record and the one with Chali 2na, also friends from home like Sticky Buds and Defunk.
iEDM: Awesome, so what are you working on now?
Nick: We just finished a bunch of fun projects and this last month I had the first break from the studio in a year which was awesome. I did some awesome remixes this year for Gramatik and Big Gigantic that just came out. Over the last year, I have been working on the first Funk Hunters full album. I just finished it a month ago. I will be playing some of the tracks tonight. Westwood will be involved in the release, probably a single or two before the end of the year.