PHOTO CREDIT: Dennis Webb Jr.
HE is well-known around Texas for his work…
with the award-winning group, The Effinays. Valenti Funk is someone who, very soon, will be better known in the U.K. He is a multi-instrumentalist and Funk-fusion purveyor – someone whose music has charmed the masses in the U.S.
I ask the compelling artist about his album, Valenti, and the kind of themes he addresses. I learn about the Texas music scene and what he has been up to lately. The album was released on 7th June: to coincide with the birthday of the late, great Prince. I ask the Texan musician about his connection and love of Prince.
Valenti features contributions from the likes of Big Spook (Effinays’ frontman) and LaLa Johnson – introspective lyricism of Zach Pohl, Snearley and Aisha Mars. I ask Valenti Funk whether he has any U.S. dates, and whether he is coming to the U.K., the albums and musicians that have impacted him hardest – and whether there is any new material brewing.
Hi, Valenti. How are you? How has your week been?
Man! Good. Just loving the heat.
We complain about the heat and sun here in Texas a lot - but I secretly love it.
For those new to your work, can you introduce yourself, please?
My name is Valenti Funk: born in Dallas; raised in Irving, TX - and music is my drug!
I like to consider myself a Funk aficionado and a self-proclaimed band nerd - and I love it! (“…and I want some mo”).
Valenti is your new album. Is it as personal as the title suggests? What kind of subjects and themes are explored?
I’d say, yes: it is personal as the title suggests.
With that being said; I enjoy all types of music and you can surely hear some of those types of music I enjoy bleed through on this project.
This project spans from party-music to conscious, thought-provoking music - with some nice groove-oriented instrumentals sprinkled in.
Is there a song from the album that is particularly memorable/important to you?
More Light would be that track.
In my opinion, it’s the deepest track on the album (lyrically). It’s one of those tracks where two people may hear two totally different themes.
The album was released on the 7th of June to honour Prince’s birthday. How influential was Prince to you and what song/Prince moment first came to your ears?
This is where I’d like to input a picture of the big ‘Prince symbol’ I have tattooed on my right side! Without a doubt: he’s one of my top musical influences.
I came into my ‘Prince consciousness’ at a cousin’s sleep-over. His older sister had just gotten the Purple Rain album and I recall wanting to listen to it all night, not-stop.
You are endorsed by Billy Blast Drums and play keys and percussion simultaneously. Is it important for you to have that control and, tell me, when did you first discover the drums?
It’s not important, per se, to have that control - but more so that I do enjoy guiding the groove and melody when I can. I knew I loved the drums from the time I recall literally zoning-out (trance-like state) with two tree limbs in my hands - beating on my grandmother’s three-section, barrel barbeque grill. I didn’t snap out of it until my aunt yelled out my name asking me to quiet down some.
(Side note: I’m so thankful to Billy Blast for putting me down at a time when I wasn’t where I am now, but yet, he still chose to endorse me. (I’m still working on that ‘goal’ we spoke of Billy Blast).
I know Valenti features LaLa Johnson, Zach Pohl and, among others, Aisha Mars. How did you come to know these guys and was it hard deciding how you wanted each singer/musician to fit onto the album?
Before I started my project, I pretty much had them all in mind to be on my project. Zach and I are high-school classmates who graduated together. Aisha and I use to be in a band I played keys for called Melody Memory. Joe is the lead singer for my current band, The Effinays - LaLa is just a beast I met throughout the Dallas music scene. I first met her when she came to a Melody Memory practice.
Kelyn is another beast I met in the Dallas music scene. His former band (Fatty Lumpkin) and my band at the time (Blu Pearl) seemed to (always) be doing shows together.
PHOTO CREDIT: Dennis Webb Jr.
I met Kevin Snearly almost the same way. His band at the time (Gravity Feed) and The Effinays use to do shows together as well. I met Versatile back in high-school at a piano shop in the mall (and, yes, a mini-impromptu show happened, then, with him freestyle rapping and me on the piano). Also, the lovely High Moons are a sister-group who I’d always see at an Effinays show and knew I’d like to eventually work with them.
Julian Ayacannoo and Marquise Jones use to play sax. for The Effinays -and now have their own band called The Diamond Kings. (To whomever I forgot to mention: please forgive me!)
Texas seems like an area you are very comfortable in and inspired by. What is it about the state that inspired music and creativity?
Since we (Texas) are in the middle; I’d like to think that I was able to hear music from the East to the West Coast - and from areas in-between. So, ironically, I feel being in Texas put me in a position to hear music and gain influences from all over - even if it was introduced to Texas at a later time (mainly referring to hearing East Coast (N.Y.) and West Coast rap in the '90s - later than most).
Do you know what is coming up the rest of the year? Are you working on new material?
I’m mainly focusing on making sure the masses are aware of this project.
My band, The Effianays, are about to start working on another project. I’m also staying busy playing drums with Ronnie Heart – so, my summer is pretty much filled up for now.
PHOTO CREDIT: Marisol Farda
How about touring? U.S. dates coming up, I assume? Are there plans to come to the U.K.?
There are no plans for touring just yet for my solo project - but I did just get a text from Ronnie the other day (saying) that things were finalized for a Midwest tour this summer.
We don’t have any plans for touring with The Effinays this summer - but we are working on some killer Dallas (Fort Worth) shows at the moment.
PHOTO CREDIT: Dennis Webb Jr.
Who are the musicians, apart from Prince, who have inspired you and compelled you to get into music?
My, for sure, six musical influences are Prince, George Clinton; James Brown, Rick Ruben; Stevie Wonder and Dr. Dre.
I grew up listening repeatedly to all of those guys.
Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?
If you had to select the three albums that mean the most to you; which would they be and why?
Wow, that’s a hard one.
I’d have to go with James Brown - In the Jungle Groove
(For the song, Funky Drummer, alone).
I’d, then, go with Beastie Boys – License to Ill
Mainly because it was one of the first Rap tapes I had - and I loved how funky it was (Rick Ruben produced).
I’d then go with Prince’s Purple Rain (or the Parade album)
I feel that both of those albums show what Prince is as a whole.
Do you get much time to take a break from music? How do you like to spend your free time?
Believe it or not: I’m a big-time home-body.
When I don’t have a show, I stay home in bed and watch The Food Network - or try and catch up on some Religious History reading.
What advice would you give to any new artists starting out right now?
Finally, and for being a good sport, you can name a song and I’ll play it here (not one of yours as I’ll do that).
Oooh, I’m going to give you an obscure song to play! L.o.L.
Play Galt MacDermot – Space
Thank you so much for having me!
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