Funk You is a conglomerate monster of raw psychedelic energy and flowing rhythm. The progressive funk fusion act was formed by Gavin Hamilton and guitarist Evan Miller. Both from Augusta, Ga. the two friends built a solid foundation for the group that would later welcome drummer Thomas Reid, bassist Rob Thompson and percussion and keyboardist Palmer Owens and Will Foster. Since its recent birth in early 2011, Funk You has exemplified versatility and unhinged talent on an impressive multitude of stages.
Starting small in local Augusta venues, Funk You has since expanded to play shows in Athens, Atlanta, Tallahassee, Milledgeville and frequently in Macon, where they played downtown for a Halloween-themed set last weekend. Without a hired manager or booking agent, Funk You takes a transcendental approach to performing and recording. Much like their accessible attitude towards their own music, the group always welcomes new ideas without getting too wedded to specifics. Hamilton, Miller, Owens and Foster sat down with me when they were in Macon for their show, and we explored their inventive sound and direction as a band.
“Maybe we’re expanding slowly because our management is internal,” keyboardist Will Foster said. “I guess we could find a hire, but it’s just like, why? We’d still play most of the same places. We feel like we’re doing everything we need without it.”
Funk You released their EP earlier this year without any extra help after recording in an attic, a testament to their self-motivation as a band. Since that release, and many performances later, they’ve noticed how their sound has responded and grown from their own experience.
They started small, as a basic three-piece that guitarist Evan Miller described as “kinda limiting. It was more progressive funk, but now we can do so much more. We’re a little jazzier, and we just have more layers, so we have more room to explore.”
All of the six members bring a lot to the table when it comes to performing, and each has his own diverse talent to contribute. As a result, their music is smoothly infected with concoctions of driven blues, jazz, hip hop and bold electronic rock. Their influences come from everywhere, but they manage to keep a central platform even while they collaborate and experiment.
Singer Gavin Hamilton waxed sentimental, “We all listen to a lot of different types of stuff, but we come together. We collaborate. I mean, we’ll be from here to there, and everyone is so into their own kind of music, but it just comes together and it all sounds good.”
Without attaching themselves to their own contributions, they recognize and welcome the value of constant input. Hamilton explained, “The majority has been written by Evan, him being the lead guitarist. So we’ve had that foundation, you know, since the beginning, but everyone writes and everyone does something since we’re such a variety of talent, even instrument-wise.”
Foster remarked, “We probably have the weirdest writing process.”
The four members explained their holistic approach to writing. Following Miller’s observation that more members allowed them to explore more layers of sound, the band emphasized the importance of an open and flexible dedication to songwriting.
The process is far from formulaic, but the music gets a chance to live and breathe without getting stifled. The songs change, adapt to the environment and get restructured from time to time. The band reminisced about songs they left off for a while and came back to with fresh minds, and about how long the writing process sometimes lasts.
“But because we don’t rush it,” said Foster, “when we finish one after a month or two of working on it and coming back to it, it’s like, ‘Man. I’m glad it took that long.’”
Even their sets are continually changing and constantly incorporating new songs with inventive covers.
“We are constantly switching what we play,” percussionist Palmer Owens explained. “Like, every time you see us, it’s a completely different show. Even with the crowds we see a lot, since we’ve been playing in Augusta since the beginning, we always give them something different. We change everything and it’s never the same show twice.”
With an emphasized attitude about creative inclusion and versatility, Funk You maintains an impressive, instrumentally solid precision. They observe how they’ve gotten a lot “tighter,” and audiences will see that they have a distinct ability to channel their natural chemistry into something sensational.
No matter what songs they choose to play, or what venue, Funk You testifies, “You WILL dance. I don’t care if you don’t dance at any concert; you will dance.”
Funk You will be back in Macon sometime in February. Until then, you can find their EP at funkyoumusic.com and on their Facebook page.