Artist Profile: Phatt Al of God Made Me Funky

Band Pic of Toronto Band God Made Me Funky By: Tanya Bailey
May 25, 2011
Its time to get funky with one of the hardest working bands in the city.  Ladies and gentlemen, TMS had the chance to chat with God Made Me Funky’s legendary Phatt Al about the band’s history, a little bit of Canadian identity and the role of modern technology and advertising in a band’s career.  Prepare to be enlightened by one of Toronto’s top party bands.

Tell us a bit about yourself and the group.
My name is PHATT Al (People Having A Terrific Time always).  I’m the MC for God Made Me Funky and owner of New EmPire Entertainment. God Made Me Funky is Canada’s premier Haus of NuFunk.

How or where did the band get its name?
God Made Me Funky is the name of a Herbie Hancock and the Headhunters tune and totally suited our style, so we had to name the band after that awesome song.
How did the group meet?
The group is comprised of so many different cultures, styles, and people that we could have only met in Toronto. The wonderful thing about Toronto is that you bring your culture to the table and aren’t asked to give it up, but to add to the fabric of the city. That’s what God Made Me Funky is all about. That’s why we’re a quintessentially Canadian band.

Who are some of  your musical influences and why?
Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Beethoven, Prince, Madonna, Iggy Pop, Frank Zappa, Afrika Bambaataa, James Brown, and George Clinton/Bootsy Collins. These artists all embody a uniqueness of spirit and a willingness to explore well beyond their perceived confines. They all represent the funk.
What is the “Nu funk” sound?
NuFunk is the amalgamation of pop, rock, hip hop, soul, jazz, klezmer, country, you name it! It’s the vibe, culture and style of the human condition.
GMMF, has opened for some very popular groups recently  that includes George Clinton to Bedouin Soundclash.  How has that experience been to the band’s evolution?
It’s amazing that we’ve been able to open for such a wonderful and diverse array of artists, such as Kardinal Offishall, Sean Kingston, Julie McKnight, Jully Black, Afrika Bambaataa, Bedouin, and of course George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic. We’ve been so blessed to have a career that has allowed us to play for and with our musical heroes and sheroes!
What was the bands reaction when you performed at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics?
Playing at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics was so special for us because we had people from every walk of life and every place on the planet in attendance. We got to mingle with the world in Vancouver and show the world that Canada is probably the most beautiful [place] they could be. It was awesome to have people tell us that we were lucky to be in such a nice place, and were wondering if Vancouver and Canada were going to be as nice when the international visitors left. It was with great honour that I was able to tell them that the cool and nice Canadian reception they were receiving was a year-round thing, and who we are as a people. We were proud to be there
The band’s fourth album Welcome To Nu Funktonia was seen as a dance music influenced album.  Why the change?
Welcome To Nu Funktonia was a progression in sound. We really wanted to explore the pop element of what we do and we had some amazing producers and guest vocalists bless the album. We never want to make the same album twice, so the next album will be Nu Funk in a new direction
The band has seen added success in commercial advertising.  Do you feel that this new median is good for the artists or only for the corporations?
Commercial success of the band has allowed us to stay wholly independent and is a double-edged sword. It can really make a band’s career and create a great revenue stream for an independent or signed act, but at the same time, you give up a certain amount of control of your own material once you involve any large corporation. You have to be willing to play the game, and be mindful that you may not be in control of the eventual outcome. But the upside is that if things go right, you can have a hit on your hands, without having to have lost control of your ownership.
Do you think that the Youtube median has helped the music industry for the artists or complicated the genre?
Youtube has completely complicated the music and entertainment industry in an absolutely wonderful way. It’s allowed artists to circumvent the outside investment of major label and major corporations and major money. You can be creative again. You can talk directly to your fans without having to clear it with three A&R’s who don’t actually know what it is you’re trying to say. Or you can even have a cute kitten represent your band. Youtube represents the freedom that artists once had to be who they are. Like all technology, it should be used wisely, but not feared.
What’s next for the band in 2011?
God Made Me Funky is currently writing the next NuFunk classic and playing live, converting each new venue into a living piece of NuFunktonia. Stay Funky, Fly, and Free! Peace.

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