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Setting the Funky Groove- Conversations with Indie Band Funktuation

Funk is one of those challenging genres which pushes the limits of popular music and gets into additional layers. In a musically diverse country like India, exceling in an international genre like Funk is an adventurous task. The band Funktuation with the popular playback singer Benny Dayal on vocals, Joshua Satya on guitars, Carl Fernandes on the bass, Alok Merwin on the keys, David Joseph on drums, Allwyn Jeya Paul on percussions and Toby Joseph, their Sound Engineer could attain this task in great ease and swiftness.  This mellifluous funk band has been making waves in the Indie music scene since its inception in the year 2011 and now all set to entertain the audience with a brand new EP Funk Katcheri.
The experimental album features a sublime single Oora Paaru which is a refreshing take on the hurried nature of today’s contemporary living. In this age of technological rush and materialistic living, it is so important for every one of us to make beautiful memories and take a moment away to realize the beauty of the present. With such exhausting living and stressful realms, following the heart has become a tough task. Oora Paaru is Funktuation’s honest attempt to make the listeners to take a breather, follow their heart and in short- being completely present in this moment. Musically, the song also takes back the listeners to the golden era of 80s Funk with Electronic drums and language wise- the bridge between Latin and Tamil folk vocals is something unheard of till date. Oora Paaru has the best of both from the sultry streets of Chennai to the groovy streets of American downtown. The rest of the album is sure to catch all our fancies especially after the stupendous success of Oora Paaru.
This band has unique energy which started making waves ever since they came together. They have also collaborated with various other artists for gigs and generated some fantastic numbers to the delight of their audiences.  Their biggest asset band is their ability to adapt funk into regional languages such as Tamil, Hindi as well as English. They also love putting in a bit of R and B, Disco and Soul which effortlessly blend with the genre. Apart from their fantastic music presentation, they got more attention with incredible sound engineering by Toby Joseph.
They bring out a soulful dimension to each number by adding additional layers of bass, percussions, and vocal magic. With Benny Dayal’s versatility in singing various genres ranging from Classical Music, Indian Folk to western pop- Funktuation is a band which cannot be missed!
India, where music primarily serves film music, making independent music and creating an impact is not an easy job. But Funktuation stepped up to the challenge and have been creating great experiences for their listeners.
Funktuation draws inspiration from artists such as Michael Jackson, Daft Punk, Planetshakers, and even pop sensation Justin Timberlake.  Their approach prioritizes balance between melodious sound and contemporary riffs. The band is incredibly high on energy but manage to tantalize listeners with soul-striking tones every time. They have had the privilege to travel extensively over the world and perform in prestigious venues such as Indian Tri Festival festival, Malaysia; MAD festival; Gaana Music Festival, San Francisco; Indian Turf Festival and so on.
We had the opportunity to strike a conversation with the band members and ask them about funk, life and creativity.
What surprises you the most as an artist?
I personally like competing against myself always and when I outperform my former being, it surprises me the most! That also allows me to push my limits and sound different for every new song I perform.
How much effort do you put in Indie music? Does your approach change based on genres?
Well, it is all music by the end of the day. But I must admit that in Indie music we have more freedom as a band. Bollywood on the other hand gets involvement of the production team and we do our job within our limit.  So, at any given day, Indie music has more freedom and experimental approach towards composing, presentation and also allows us to try out new things.
Do you feel that compartmental approach towards working on music helps?
I don’t think such an approach would work. Music should be seen as a bigger entity than a smaller aspect. When you start looking at music as a divided entity, creativity goes off the roof. This applies not just for music but any art form.
How did the year 2018 treat your band?
For me, it has been a new beginning as a band. We have created something quite beautiful and we are grateful for what happened. We look forward to keeping the ball rolling in the coming year! Funktuation aims to be novel and creative in every song we cover or compose.
What according to you is the most optimistic aspect of Indian Indie music?
There is more independent music coming around with new artists and that brings us bright hope. We are sure that a strong music industry lies ahead at par with the film industry. That would be a biggest breakthrough for the music scene in India and would encourage more artists to surpass their creative limits.
What was the first song that made you want to become a guitarist?
There is no particular song as such. I was heavily inspired by the Beatles Tribute concert played by my Dad once. Ever since, my Dad became my musical hero!
Did you observe any significant change in the music industry ever since you started playing?
Music is evolving with time and plenty of positive changes are happening in Indie music and even in film music. The audience also is more open towards fresher musical approaches. They are not being close minded for new experiments and that’s what encourages us to be more novel in our songs.
What do you think is the greatest advantage of being both in film music as well as Indie music?
Whether you are on stage on in studio, the music remains the same. But the direct aspect of interacting with audience can be seen only in live performances. So, I love doing both!
Why did your band choose Funk as the genre?
It’s all about the groove and the rhythm which captivates us. We all love funk’s rhythm and melody and that drove us. A bass guitarist would never say no to that! Funk is about being free spirited and being true to the music itself.
What should the listeners know more about your band?
The listeners should listen to artists like Alok and a band called Oxygen where I played more of Carnatic fusion. That kind of brings out a different shade of me as an artist.
Can you describe your band’s ideal day out?
Going to Kerala, have an appam with stew, puttu with jaggery powder! Then follow up with a long drive to stop for mutton biriyani and in short, it should revolve around wholesome food. We would never say no to a good day with delicious food and that itself is a huge inspiration to create fresh music.
What is the most striking aspect of your band? What binds you together?
Funktuation as a band has certain characteristics and has builds its own persona around its music. We are unique as individual people, and the same time we become united for the band’s purpose. Such bonding is a must for great music to come out.
What is the most ridiculous musical risk you have ever taken?
This happened a few years ago with Funktuation. For one song, my drum stick fell down and nobody was there to help me get it back. So, I had to play the song with just one stick in hand! At that moment I only thought that I have to keep going, rather than giving up and freaking out about what just happened! It was a great life lesson for me as well.
How does a drummer come out of a creative block? How different is it compared to other instrument players?
I tend to get creative blocks while playing but my hands and legs do not co-ordinate. I just stop at that moment, take a break and come around.  I think most creative people work the same way and it is no different for me. Having a much needed break from a chain of thoughts always gives a new perspective about artistic work.
ALLWYN JEYA PAUL- Percussionist
Will there be a state where the world is overloaded with music?
The world is never short for good music! So, impossible!  To be clearer, the world becomes a better place with more music.
What is your greatest fear as an artist?
The biggest fear I have is to miss my family during my creative pursuits.
How would you introduce your band to a new person?
I’d first ask them to listen to our live show, and then check out our previous work.
TOBY JOSEPH- Sound Engineer
Describe your beginning of the work with Funktuation.
It was like a surprise when I came back from Goa where the gig was suddenly announced. But right from then, I never got a chance to look back from this fantastic team.
How do you talk about Funk and your band to someone who does not understand it?
I try to explain the same as a chef instead like a musician. By involving exotic flavors and stylish ingredients, I would say that the song would be like a delicious dish. Like any other art, music is not something which can be explained in words. Funk is something which is extremely fun when experienced.
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