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Funkform Talks About His 333 Sessions Mix, Music & Life Philosophy

The Australian artist is an accomplished DJ who’s also released tracks on Balance Music and Global Underground.

Funkform Recently provided an epic three hour and thirty-three-minute mix for the 26th edition of Flow Music’s 333 Sessions Podcast.

In addition to the mix, he also took some time to run through some questions that give us an insight into his background and outlook on life.

Firstly, what an amazing mix Funkform put together for 333 Flow sessions! In his own words describing the set, he mentioned; “the idea was to capture a reflection of a personal journey through our recent past and into the brighter present.

How did the lockdown in Melbourne affect you and inspire this new creative direction? 

It was a real pleasure to make this mix for you guys. I think itʼs a great concept and I really appreciate your encouragement to support artists through these challenging times.

I guess the lockdown last year affected all of us differently in so many ways. I canʼt say it was easy for anyone, but some adjusted better than others. I think I was one, that managed okay through last year. Maybe I am a tad introverted anyway so it was okay for me to have time to myself. I seem to spend half my time making music at home anyway so it suited me pretty well.  I also live with two lovely housemates, so we kept each other sane. We fostered kittens and had each other’s backs in the hard times. I felt for the individuals living alone that could not see their friends and families or the people that didnʼt receive the support they needed at the time. It was tough for so many that I know close to me.

Expressing emotion has always been an important and influential element when I write my music, often finding that my mood influences my tracks as they develop.

Recording the 333 mix was a chance for me to recreate a narrative, sharing some of those feelings I experienced over the past year. The journey through the dark and into the brighter present is something I felt when making the recording, and as I reflected back on times when certain tracks were created.

Three-quarters of the tracks in the mix were written within the last 12 months and began at a time when many of us had surrendered to the unknown. Dark baselines, minor chords and heavier emotions felt when caught in the uncertainty of 2020, before lighter melodies and uplifting grooves elevate us beyond our fears and into a place where we feel some hope and positivity.

Can you share with us a little history of your journey into electronic music, djing and producing? 

I have always followed a pretty broad scope of musical genres. To pinpoint the exact moment where I fell for electronic music would have been during my early high school days, which was when I first discovered the underground dance scene in Cairns. The music at these gigs heavily influenced my taste and I became inspired not just by the music but also by our small and connected community.

Anyone who has witnessed the energy, enthusiasm and love in the underground party scene, knows that once you get a taste itʼs hard not to want to become part of the family and culture.

I was blessed to grow up in a time where the underground dance music scene in Cairns was pretty special, there were no heavy anti-party laws, no locked gates, and many beautiful outdoor party locations.

The scene in the early 2000s in North Queensland was starting to blossom, I discovered my first events around 2003, at this same time I just started dabbling on fruity loops which I found in music lessons at school, I was instantly hooked and eager yearning for discovery how this music was created.

It wasnʼt long after discovering my first partyʼs in 2003, that I began messing around on Fruity Loops at school during music class. I was instantly hooked and determined to understand how to recreate the music I had been hearing at these events. Everything I produced sounded garbage, but it didnʼt faze me. I was having too much fun.

Looking back, I now remember this is also the same time the ‘Funkformʼ name was born. It was during some of the first gigs that I attended that I made many close life long connections. To be honest, when I look back at the synchronicity of it all, it kind of blows my mind.

Some of the local crew discovered I had been working on tracks of my own, and they welcomed me with open arms. I was invited to play my first gig at a local birthday gathering. Where I played a DJ set with a friend Rhyss from No Qualms Records, a life long brother since the age of 6. We both shared the same passion for music production in those earlier days, and we encouraged and pushed each other in learning and developing our place in the music world.

I also recall meeting Jesse Kuch at these events. Another life compadre and label owner of Open Records. We both attended the same high school so I feel that’s where our paths and familiarity with each other crossed. Open Records established itself as one of Australia’s finest labels for Techno and Progressive House, and I was heavily inspired by what these guys were up to.

In 2011, a few years after the label had gained steady momentum, I had already dived deep into the production world. It was my passion and became a daily ritual. I was eventually invited by Jesse to release my first EP for Open Records, and the rest is history.

Jesse has always held a firm belief in my sound and pushed me from day one. He has played a huge role in guiding me through my musical accomplishments over the years. His consistent support in my early days as a young and upcoming producer combined with our lives crossing so early on has been very significant for me. We have both chosen the pathway of music and it is a huge part of our lives now.

You originally hailed from Cairns and now call Melbourne home. How instrumental has the move been for your evolution both musically and personally? 

Well, it has been a full circle. I was born here in Melbourne but grew up in Cairns. For me, the trek was always a long time coming and was the change I needed at the time.

Cairns was monumental for me, and I donʼt think I’d be the same person I am today if it wasnʼt for growing up there. But Melbourne is a chance for a fresh start, Iʼve been here 3 years now and have made some life long friends. Moving back to Melbourne was a massive transition in my life and I am so thankful my settling in has been smooth sailing. I reckon I have this music scene to thank for that, the friends and connections I have made throughout my time travelling have played a huge part in making me feel right at home here.

Since living in Melbourne I have collaborated with a few talented musicians, all of whom are all equally dedicated, so we resonate beautifully together. I am excited for what the future holds and the opportunities that city life presents, I can see this being a long time home for the foreseeable future.

Growing up, was there a scene, a sound or a movement that had a strong influence on where you are today?

Can you share some tracks or albums that reflect this? I guess as I mentioned earlier. The Cairns music scene was monumental for me. The people, the parties and festivals that were happening throughout my early 20ʼs were a time that I wish I could go back to, the nostalgia is real.

The scene itself was a family, most of us were all close friends and anyone new or inter-staters were always welcomed and treated as part of the crew. I guess the size of Cairns, you never really got 3 or 4 parties a weekend to choose from, you would have one party or festival that everyone attended. This brought the whole scene closer together, it was hard not to leave a party in the early days without making a bunch of new friends. I also remember there being a big number of producers, so many of us caught the bug. We taught and pushed each other, we would share ideas and music, we were a community of not only producers and DJs but close friends who all shared the same passion and brought together by the love of the music and our tight-knit scene. I think around the time the Winter and Summer Solstice Festivals were happening was when Cairns was blooming, so many dedicated souls, so much love and I honestly havenʼt found the same vibe and feeling quite like those days. Big things were happening in our little town, world-class and top interstate acts were visiting frequently and we were treated on the regular thanks to some dedicated crews and promoters.

Somehow so, I think it reached its peak after the 2012 Eclipse Festival. Which was the pinnacle moment for everyone up there, what a treat to have a world-class event like this in our backyard, something for those that were lucky enough to be part of this special encounter with the Sun and Moon, you never forget. Unfortunately, this was a turning point for some local promoters, a time to hang up the boots for the next generation.

The scene up in Cairns is still in a new transition especially after last year, they have had a heavy loss on tourism and financially are probably feeling the effects more than the big cities are. I hope to see the North Qld get back up on its feet and more events happening up there in the future.  I feel happy to know the baton was passed on to the younger generations up there. To crews that managed to experience what it once was, are who are still nowadays preserving the spirit and essence creating positive gatherings with the right intentions.

Hmm, albums that come to mind that I think had a huge impact, that’s honestly hard to pinpoint because there are many, but electronically in the days when I was just discovering music production.

I think both of the Antix albums – Lull and Twin Coast Discovery were definite highlights. Along with Sun Control Species, his sound was a massive inspiration in my early days as a young producer. His music was emotive, world-class and never failed to captivate a dusty dance floor, some of my favourite party memories. Both these acts were regulars to the FNQ at the time, and I confidently say played a huge part in my production ideas to this day.

You mentioned your cat being the only listener in your studio over the last 12 months. Did the isolation in Melbourne give you more focus on creating music than before the pandemic? 

Haha, yeah slight joke, but she now has an integral role to play in the Funkform sound. She has her favourite spot behind my speakers where she likes to perch, and not shy to let me know when Iʼve played some nasty-ass frequencies, she might look at me with a concerned look like she’s thinking ..”Hmm not so sure about that, try something else. That shit is whack“. Cats know whatʼs up!

But in all seriousness, Iʼm never too shy to share my music with close friends and loved ones. Generally, someone will get a folder full of new music from me when I feel they might need it.

In regards to last year, it wasnʼt so bad for me, I kind of enjoyed parts of the lockdown here in Melbourne. I mean donʼt get me wrong, Iʼm not itching for another one. But I felt a sense of ease when I was creating music. The fact I had no responsibilities for the day other than to stay home, play with kittens and work on music. That is hard to come across when life gets back to its usual routine and daily activities. There was still the feeling of the unknown though, where would all this lead and the hope that we would get to some kind of normality soon.

Eventually, we came to the conclusion that last year was a bit of a write-off, that allowed me to focus, recalibrate and just try to enjoy what was out of our control.

I feel so fortunate that I had something like music production to focus on during the lockdown period, music is a great way to pass time quickly, in fact; days turn into nights that become days, I had some very fun times creating and time to focus on my music without a sense of urgency, which can be a common thing if you have deadlines and gigs upcoming.

Coming back to your new 333 sessions mix. There are so many outstanding moments in there, can we expect any releases this year? 

Some may have probably noticed I have been pretty quiet on the music releasing over the past few years. We will see, iʼm sure you can expect a few of these tracks to come out on Open Records this year. Also, some with Vapour Recordings, and Meanwhile Recordings, who have all been waiting very patiently for me. I do share my music through the family though, so expect some other Australian labels as well.

Unfortunately releasing music hasnʼt been my focus the past few years, Iʼve been more into just creating but we will see what happens.  Itʼs just time and place. It feels quite special for me to share bodies of work like I have done for Flow Sessions though and something I have done on my Soundcloud page for some time.

I do love recording all-original mixes, I like the idea that the listener is listening to my music in the theme I have created, rather than just flicking through random tracks of mine.

That way they can experience the music as a whole moment rather than individual track listening journeys. Iʼm sure many just skip to their favourite parts, I completely get that and am equally guilty of that too.

I understand its probably frustrating for the Djʼs searching for IDʼs out there, but I donʼt hear too many complaints from listeners, so for now Iʼm happy with how I roll, I love just making music. I’m sure we should still all expect an album from me in the future though, it may just spring up when you least expect it.

In the meantime, I do try my best to keep my Soundcloud updated but I have definitely become lazy with that over the years. I will add another mix or two this year including a more downtempo & ambient set to follow up from my Falling Through Moment’s recording from a few years back. Expect something similar anyway.

Your sound has a deeply emotive and dreamy quality to it, yet has a punch that keeps a vibe on the dancefloor. What is the intention behind your sound for the listener?

Well, I guess lately it’s not as intentional for me but just the way things often turn out. I think in my early production days, I was really into trying to replicate and recreate many different genres of electronic music that I loved to discover my sound so to speak.

My first productions were all very high tempo progressive .135bpm and above. And then I ventured into the Downtempo, Progressive house, then to Techno & Deep House worlds. Then to who knows I feel like Iʼve tried a bit of everything over the years to be honest.

I guess a broad scope of all of this comes out in my productions, and Iʼve always envisioned the music to be something that works as a personal listening experience but also well suited for the dance floor at the same time, basically trying to bridge the two together is kind of where Iʼm at.

Apart from your cat, do you test out your new productions with anyone in particular?

Haha yeah totally as I mentioned earlier, I still share my music with close friends. And I have a few that probably have every track Iʼve ever made, lucky them. I’ve never minded sharing my music with those close to me, they are the ones who support me and encourage me to keep doing what Iʼm doing, so yeah It makes for an easy birthday present sometimes as well.

Letʼs talk about your creative process in the studio. How does a project start for you? Do you start with a melodic idea, a solid drum loop or vocals?

For me, it depends on the style of the track. I do like starting with ambient tones or chords first so I can at least get an idea of what key and mood I might be going for. Usually, the next few ideas I add might lead to where I go eventually go with it. I used to create the melodic sections first and then add the drums later as I progressed. Although I canʼt say there is a set process anymore, to be honest, I do whatever keeps me feeling inspired at the time. I’ve been going through a lot of older unfinished projects lately and seeing how I can recreate some of the ideas.

There is no right or wrong way to start a track, and Iʼve often found a lot of early elements I begin with may not even make it into the final mix anyway, so just go with the flow. I just donʼt start with a damn kick drum, for me, that is pointless and uninspiring.

I understand how hard it can be to gain momentum when you first start producing music, I believe spending as much time as you possibly can, learn new techniques consistently, and try not to get stuck on the one idea for too long. I think that can mess with your creative flow and judgement of what youʼre listening to and what you’re trying to achieve. So experiment, be happy to let the computer take control a little bit sometimes.

You’ve worked on tracks with artists like Matter and GMJ. Are you working on any collaborations right now?

I have a few collaborations in the works at the moment. Some may have picked up on Wilmaʼs beautiful cello additions in the 333 mix. An amazing musician, that I am excited to collaborate further. She features on track 2,3 and 8. I also have a beautiful downtempo track written with my friend and up-coming artist Sknow, which is in its final stages and weʼll be excited to share this soon.

Of course, Iʼm sure there will be another Matter & GMJ collaboration one day. We are all busy dudes and focused on our own things, but not at all hard to make happen as we are all buddies anyway, itʼs all just timing.

I have a few other collaborations I have been slowly ticking away with as well, one track with an old friend from Cairns, Chris OʼShea to be released in the next couple of weeks.

Whatʼs your go-to piece of gear that always gets used when writing a track?

I donʼt have a favourite, to be honest. Nor do I own a lot of outboard gear either, I’ve kept it all very simple over the years. Maybe my bongo drum. I do believe just understanding what your DAW is capable of is the most valuable tool you can ever have anyway. So does Ableton itself count?

But not to cheekily steer away too abruptly for the production geeks out there. I always start with a lot of onboard native plugins to Ableton, because for me it speeds up the writing process and I can get ideas down quickly. I can always get down to the nitty-gritty later in the track, and start processing with higher-end plugins and aim for a more precise mix down, my tracks go through about 3-5 stages before I eventually export the final track idea. I canʼt say I have a favourite tool in the studio, I know, boring. Every plugin I have used has had its place, even the basic ones.

You’ve played at some huge events over the years. What’s the most memorable set you’ve played and why?

I guess there are quite a few that have been special for me in all their own unique ways. Itʼs hard to go past playing at Rainbow Serpent Festival on a few occasions, that was ticked off my bucket list. And of course, my early memories at parties up in Cairns.

Closing sets at Collaborations Festival 3 years in a row does come to mind. There was always a loving energy on the dance floor by that point and the sun setting out in the North Qld bush always made for one of those experiences you just canʼt beat.

There have been many after-party memories also. I feel that’s where my music fits very nicely, as people can unwind and the tempo mood and energy is much more relaxed. I’m often more relaxed too and we all have a lot of fun together, some of those marathon sets with close friends have been the ones that I love the most!

I think this was why I was so excited to create the recording for FlowSessions, as I finally get to showcase what I would usually play when present with this sort of opportunity.

Apart from music, what brings you joy?

My cat of course… she is watching me right now, and may not approve of any other suggestions lol.

But yeah, I guess many things bring me joy. Iʼve been fortunate enough to create a life where I work to my own schedule, giving me time to do the things I love and am most passionate about. I’ve always worked hard running my own business and also made time for making music in-between it all. So having my own time brings me much joy.

Of course my family and friends and celebrating life with them.

With a more of a positive outlook on the music scene horizon, what does 2021 look like for you? 

Well, so far so good, as from what Iʼve seen so far this year, things look very promising.

My hat goes off to all the organisers, musicians, creators, and everyone that’s kept the dream alive and persisted in keeping their own momentum. We are so close, itʼs taken adjustments but every hurdle we have jumped. I have full faith in the scene coming back bigger and brighter than ever, and I hope for more thoughtfulness for each other and our future together.

We all adapted so well and kept the fire burning, itʼs been a beautiful thing over the past couple of months reconnecting with friends I havenʼt seen for over a year, and making new ones at the same time. If reality is what we make it, I believe we all have the power to manifest it back those brighter times, which I already can see is underway.

Thanks for taking the time to chat with us Maddy. 

My pleasure, itʼs been fun for me diving back into my old memories. Thanks for inviting me for a chat, till next time.


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