This punk-funk-jazz unit born in 1978 in New York City merged avant-garde with rocking, funky grooves. Over this period the band made 15 recordings on various independent labels and traveled throughout the world sharing the stage with countless numbers of popular artists including James Brown, David Byrne and Talking Heads, The Clash, Hans & Candy Dulfer, Isaac Hayes, Prince, Larry Graham, Michelle N’dChello, Maceo Parker and countless others.
Defunkt is the first band to make a real fusion of popular and extreme music styles, also pioneers in early stages of rap music in the early 80’s. The band uncharacteristically has from the beginning performed at Jazz Festivals as well as Rock & Soul venues throughout the world, gaining cult like respect from musicians and underground music aficionados worldwide.
Defunkt never gained huge commercial success due to unwillingness to compromise creativity and musical uniqueness and integrity for popular acclaim. The message of Defunkt has always been intended to be a “light” for the people in darkness, not a sedative for world sickness. The lyrics have always remained provocative and thought inspiring. Even in the ‘dark ages’ of Defunkt while struggling with drug addiction, lyrics focused on political awareness and issues of human suffering, perhaps making this musical blend unattractive to major record labels.
As the musical journey progressed and Buddhism entered the consciousness of Defunkt, the focus on community issues, family & humanity struggles, have become more of a priority than ever. The focus and uniqueness of this powerful, groovy Defunkt style of music has continued to grow and evolve in spite of the lack of wide commercial success. This was a blessing in disguise, because we were able to stay grounded and connected to the realities of the humanity of all people. This fact allowed us to mature to an amazing musical and spiritual level.
Defunkt is intent on composing and performing with great integrity, while keeping an open communication with reality and all humanity. We draw energy and inspiration from the experiences of all people, especially the children, who are responsible for the care of our future. We want to encourage learning and creativity as well as spiritual development which will nourish our nature of compassion which is vital in the understanding we must obtain to live together in the world, free from war, hate and destruction.
The music of Defunkt is a medicine for the suffering humanity, a pathway for the funky emancipation of your soul, and a mirror to expose your emons of insecurity. Open your eyes and ears and this burning fire of sound will help you get moving on the way to a fulfilling and positive life. Make Humanity a Priority.
Now, entering 2013 Defunkt celebrates its 33 year birthday with 4 different flavors.
Rickey Vincent: On Defunkt
DEFUNKT is most definitely an EXPERIENCE!
Do NOT sleep on these mugs, especially if you're a musician.
(this is long, just a warning to those who ain't into this)
The shit they did in 1980-83, ripping apart jazz and funk boundaries was a TOTAL transformation toward what REAL JAZZ could have been in the 80's, in my strung out opinion.
I REALLY thought Defunkt WAS the next stage in street-smart jazz from the 70's to the 80's: a rugged, ragged, musically intense, energetic, propulsive and ferociously funky set...
A big band horn section, ripping electric guitar, driving, high speed drums & rhythm guitars, and sly and slick blues drenched vocals...yum yum
If you listen to that early 80's Miles Davis, where he tries to get into some spastic funk/jazz with a nasty edge, and basically leaves you unsatisfied...DEFUNKT gets you all the way there...
What Miles was trying to do, Defunkt was doing...What Kelvynator was trying to do, Defunkt had it down...I have an Ornette Coleman album from around 1980, with a stanky electric bass guitarist underneath Ornette's horn...seriously trippy funk...for my money, even Ornette was working toward what Defunkt had mastered...
Anyone bug on James Blood Ulmer's hysterical early 80's speed-metal-jazz-funk tracks? Well, Defunkt does that, and it actually sounds good! Featuring Vernon Reid on their second lp "Thermonuclear Sweat", they had an edge no one was in their league with, IMO
I remember about this time Weather Report came out with this album around 1983 called "Domino Theory" with a *singer* laying out a song called "Can it Be Done?" That was actually a cool song, but it kind of reflected the demise of so much of the creative jazz-fusion era...
the lyrics went something like this:
Can it be done
Is there one, melody
that's never been played
How does it sound, can it be found
that new song
That's never been in the air...
This also came out around the time Prince was getting heat for his line on "Lady Cab Driver" where he says "It's Time for jazz to die..."
And young hip hoppers by 1985 were dropping science that hip hop has more relevance to the street than jazz...
To me Defunkt WAS that missing music, that living jazz, that street smart sheet that took skiiiilzz to play and cooked...
So even though they were unknown, unnoticed and morphed into a hollow shell of their original selves, I was a true and TOTAL Defunkt fan...all by myself out here in Cali, it seemed.
The Defunkt that totally took me over was their first lp, self-titled "DEFUNKT", on Hannibal, and available on CD from amazon.com last I checked. This has the original version of "Strangling Me With Your Love" and their twisted version of Chic's "In the Good Times" and some way out other shit, like the song "Defunkt" with these lyrics:
I want to scream, but I gotta keep quiet
to get close enough to tell you that
the way you look at me
is what's keeping me silent
I live for you, but you wan't me to drop dead...
The anthology also cooks, because it just takes from the first 2 lp's, adds some live cuts, and a very ill 12" single they did.
But if you can get your hands on their first 2 albums, "Defunkt" and/or "Thermonuclear Sweat" then you're in for the real deal.
Any FUNK musician who's moved past the 'greatest hits' of funk stage needs to sniff these cats....
Dont trip off of their shit after 1988...they just flipped their lineup like the cast of New York Undercover and went under...
Word is their live act gets BUSY, and you should't miss what the founder (Joe Bowie I think) has reinvented the band into ... if I was in NY I'd be at their shows and telling you how they sounded...