Producer James Braddell (famous for working under his Funki Porcini moniker) is an aficionado of downtempo and sample-based trip hop. Involved with the now legendary independent label Ninja Tune during it’s earlier days as a member of 9 Lazy 9, James has developed a dedicated following with his distinctive noir flavored music. His first album “Hed Phone Sex” is a bonafide classic and any fan of trippy, left-field samples will more than likely have it in their collection.
I spoke with the man behind the moniker about his upcoming album “Conservative Apocalypse”, his filmesque music productions, and the animated short film of the same name that he has created as a companion piece to the project.
Prox: Why did you decide to incorporate left-field film and vocal samples into your work? What is it about these elements that enhances the listener’s experience?
Funki: Well I think that I decided to use what material was there in connection with the technology that was becoming available. As soon as sampling was possible it changed the content of music and likewise as soon as computers could edit video it re-arranged the relationship of television that had up until then be the predominant player. All the material that I fed into the machine was my poetic license and like all creative endeavor you copy what is around you and rearrange it.
This is what all culture is made of. We were doing what was natural.
Prox: Do you feel that film has impacted the structure of your tracks and releases? How has storytelling (if at all) found it’s way into your productions?
Funki: Every video that I make has a nasty habit of removing some of the ambiguity of the music. This visual representation that is enormously entertaining to create I think very seldom enhances the music into a wider realm. I have always been attracted to not pinning down an emotion with words and as for me so much of the language of music is emotive I tend to shy away from too much narrative and want to represent a more nebulous feeling.
Prox: There is a very distinctive noir-like atmosphere in most of your music. What is it about this era (or particular style) that lends itself well to your direction?
Funki: Maybe it is my natural state to be somewhat cynical of existence in general. Noir was after all something brought by European film makers fleeing European fascism. Hungarians and Germans created that style in Hollywood and I feel a certain connection with it politically.
Prox: You were around during the early days of Ninja Tune. What was it like in the beginning?
Funki: Ninja tune was very basic when we joined them as 9 Lazy 9; (an outfit that was made of myself and Keir Fraser). We were living in Rome and Keir had heard through his grapevine that there was a new label starting up in London, on the lookout for sampled innovative beats. We sent in some tunes and then we were asked to make an album. At this time, Ninja tune was one man, Peter Quicke and a filing cupboard in a rather run down old warehouse on the Thames. As Ninja grew it attracted some really talented people who worked menial jobs in the office who went on to create great things. I think they have done very well to remain independent and still exist.
Prox: Does it ever amaze you when you look at how far the label has come?
Funki: Yes, but I do not follow their contemporary output.
Prox: What was the conceptual process like for your most recent album “Conservative Apocalypse”? Could you discuss what we should expect from this album and how it differs from your previous releases?
Funki: Well originally the album was to be called Augmented Aurality as I had been recording atmospheres in various places and then augmenting the sounds with electronic instruments in a very subtle way to give an emotion to the sound. Then while watching the political developments in the USA and Europe I made a track called Conservative Apocalypse. It’s a train ride that starts off slow and accelerates into a full blown movement much as those kinds of social movements do.
I then started to make some videos for the tracks on the album. In early December of 2015 I started on an animated film to go with Conservative Apocalypse. It became obsessive and over a thousand hours of work later I realized that I had to rename the album.
Prox: Who are some of your favorite contemporary artists?
Funki: I am afraid to say that over the last few years I have been more engaged with making things than listening to things so I am very ignorant of contemporary music. I am still listening to some great electronic music made in Russia in the early years of this century by Lazyfish and Mewerk that I like very much.
Prox: Favorite hobbies?
Funki: Beyond living, none.
Prox: Tips for aspiring artists and label owners?
Funki: Do whatever you want and do not pay attention to anyone. If it is deep and talented and clever you will succeed.
Or pretend that it is all of these things, pay an enormous amount of attention to what other people think and bullshit your way to the stars.
Both of these models seem to work.
Prox: Information on upcoming releases and projects?
Funki: This Thursday on the 7th of July I am having an album launch and showing new work at the BFI in London. I will be premiering the new animation Conservative Apocalypse and showing my score to Chemi Bebia, a soviet masterpiece from 1929 that is little known in the west.
I have also started Uterus Goldmine products, very few, rare editions.
I would like to try and develop a new rapport with the physical product, where it becomes my representation of what I make. So each edition will be designed by myself. The first release on Uterus Goldmine is the Conservative Apocalypse Box Set, an edition of three hundred, all numbered and signed with special inclusions.
Not cheap but very special.
I also finally have a new website
Prox: Final Thoughts?
Funki: Let’s hope it can continue.
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