I'm a solo artist, funk junkie creating music to bring myslef and those who know closer to Planet Funk.
I was born in 1969 and spent the early years of my life moving from Madison, Wisconsin to Blacksburg, Virginia and finally to Buffalo, New York where I currently live with my wife and daughter. During my younger years my mother would take my sister andI to visit her family, which was still largely located in Hyattsville, Maryland. It was there, with the help of my hip uncle Richard, that I discovered the first hint of musical interest, as I would watch him record himself and various artists and bands in his recording studio, GlassWing.
At the age of eleven, during one of those trips to his studio, Richard taught me my first blues scale and it set me on my musical path, I recorded my first song at the age of 11. It was a very basic 1-4-5 riff, which was as easy to play as any childrens song, but it had a distinct dance/pop feel. I knew then that this was my groove, my place in the world of music and I was addicted. With a cassette tape of drum machine loops that my uncle gave me and my mother's standup piano, I began to write songs at a feverish pace. Needless to say my mother became immune to the constant banging of out of tune melodies played with nearly no rhythmic ability. And the vocals had the cats and dogs going wild!
As the years progressed so did my musical skill, well not so much the singing, but eventually I learned my strengths and weaknesses when it can to music. It was quickly becoming apparent that my biggest weakness was for new gear, as I would often very successfully beg my mother for new equipment. I went from multi-tracking with two of those old school type cassette players bouncing tracks back and forth through the air to getting a Korg Poly 800 directly wired in to our cheap, early model component stereo.
During that time, currently in high school in Buffalo, that I formed my first real band called Dance & Dining, which quickly was, renamed CamelHead. It was a very cool thing being in that band, the best thing was that our drummers dad Charlie Kiel, played bass and percussion with us. He was a percussion professor at the University of Buffalo and taught all of a great deal about witting and arrangingmusic. My high school had a very small (almost nonexistent) music program with absolutely no budget. I was one of a few kids there who could actually play an instrument. Having a halfway decent high school band, we were always the headliner at our school talent shows and always got to open for the cool local bands at our school dances. I guess that we couldn't have been that bad because during my sophomore year we were asked to open up for the 10,000 Maniacs at the Riviera Theater, located in a suburb of Buffalo. One of the sound engineers said that he was expecting some average high school band not the "Talking Heads of Buffalo". I attribute that Charlie's influence on our music.
CamelHead broke up at the end of my senior year when I left Buffalo to go to Fredonia State College. It was there that I really discovered Funk. I quickly learned that all the cool people there were musician or at least music students. After bouncing in and out of a few different bands (mostly playing either Grateful Dead covers or blues tunes), I started up a new musical project in protest of the lack of non-black rooted music. The first song I wrote to define my movement was a rap tune called "Fred Needs Funk". It described how every live band I saw there was either Dead driven or inspired by some suburban 60's nostalgic groove based hippies. (Needless to say drugs were mostly free there.) Strangely enough, people didn't hate me for it, (they may have hated me for other reasons). "Fred Need's Funk" was widely appreciated and I was on my way to fame! And it seems like it has stayed that way...I am still on my way to fame, though I get lost every once in a while.
During those good old college days I had a blast playing and recording with many different friends and musicians. I used to reshape the band every semester or so, which I believe gave me a very well rounded approach to writing. Once I graduated, in 1993, I returned to Buffalo band less, mostly because the last group of guys I worked with were all going separate was to do separate things. Now I record here in my house using my Yamaha Motif 8 and Cakewalk Sonar. Other than continuing to work on my own personal music I also write and record rap tunes with two friends who happen to be brothers. (Look for Def Jeff coming to my Funkalizer page sometime in the near future). I like to think of myself as their producer as I simply write and record the music and coach them in their delivery of their lyrics.
I do miss getting up on stage and belting out the lyrics of my never ending funk revolution anthem "Fred Needs Funk", but knowing many musicians in this town, sometimes I still get to. Now I am extremely content writing and recording from home and occasionally spinning my funk at the local clubs as "DJ Pharaoh".
Prince, George Clinton, Taj Mahal, Talking Heads, The Beatles, James Brown
Yamaha Motif 8, Sonar 5 Producer Edition