Dam-Funk - Biography
Los Angeles’ fertile beat scene has launched some of the most innovative producers of the ‘00s. Flying Lotus, Ras G, Samiyam and Nosaj Thing rank among the city’s electrifying recent exports. Perhaps one of the most intriguing LA producers of recent times is Dam-Funk. Crafting a sound that manages to seem totally future-forward while recalling the best elements of mid ‘80s electro and R&B, Dam-Funk is one of those rare producers that straddle the line between daringly progressive and pleasingly familiar.
Born in Pasadena, California, Damon G. Riddick immersed himself in music from an early age. Quickly gravitating toward keyboards, his love for progressive music of all stripes developed into a skill of his own. Riddick has been making tracks since high school and after graduating he started to land session gigs in LA studios. The young musician honed his talents over ten years worth of sessions including Master P’s I Got The Hook Up and MC Eiht’s Tha8t’z Gangsta.
Riddick first used the Dam-Funk moniker in 2007 on a remix of Baron Zen’s cover of the Gap Band’s “Burn Rubber.” The track’s synth-heavy electro-boogie quickly peaked the interest of the Stones Throw label, run by LA DJ Peanut Butter Wolf. The debut Dam-Funk 12” appeared soon after. ‘08’s Burgundy City lays out the producer’s aesthetic perfectly. Featuring a warm uptempo groove, glowing synth lines and heavy bass, the two tracks update classic early ‘80s disco, electro and boogie-funk sounds with an off-kilter post-Dilla hip-hop bounce.
Never shy of his influences, Riddick also made a name as a great DJ by spinning his favorite electro, funk and boogie tracks at his party night called Funkmosphere. Later in ’08 he released Rhythm Trax Vol. IV on Stones Throw. Not a proper debut record but a collection of captivating beats, neon synths melodies and warm bass designed to be used in DJ sets, the album is nonetheless an exciting listen, hinting at things to come.
2009 brought a spate of releases starting off with the tour only 7” Japan Groove / When80mprfeelslike20 and culminating in Riddick’s five-part LP series titled Toeachizown. Originally appearing across five records titled Latrik, Fly: The Move Suite, Life, Hood and Sky, Stones Throw later collected the songs on a slightly edited 2CD. Easily one of ‘09’s best records, Toeachizown is a sprawling collection of dense electro-boogie bass, soulful R&B swing, crackling analog beats and laser sharp P-Funk synth melodies all tied together by Riddick’s deep production. While drawing on timeless influences like early Prince, George Clinton, Juan Atkins and Slave, Dam-Funk fully vaults this music into modern times with a hip-hop inspired sense of crunked-out psychedelic slant. The record boasts entirely live playing, no loops, just real time analog synth-funk. Toeachizown is sure to go down as a modern classic.
Riddick continues to spread his reach, dropping a stunning remix of Animal Collective’s hit “Summertime Clothes” in ‘09 and working with underground synth-pop singer Nite Jewel. It’s easy to see why Riddick’s music is so in demand, its warm grooves and catchy hooks are impossible to ignore. He’s seemingly hit that elusive sweet spot between familiar throwback and fully progressive futurism. With the massive Toeachizown already under his belt, expect to hear a lot more from this talented producer.