Groove maestro B. Bravo is a firm believer that funk transcends genres and popular trends. His synth freak-outs and talk-box mastery spread good vibes, proving that the boogie lives on after “Soul Train.” The Monterey-bred musician discovered funk during a Tower of Power show and he was hypnotized by the joyful enthusiasm their sound created.
Dam Funk has praised the LA based producer for his violet-hued beats and he also creates stellar melodies with partner Teeko as well as with band Bayonics. See below for an interview with the beat technician as well as a special 37-minute mix of sultry jams and after-hour tunes. — By Jimmy Ness
What inspired your mix? I get the impression you’re a fan of not just funk, but also R&B and smooth stuff.
This mix represents new sounds I’ve been listening to from LA, the Bay and worldwide. I wanted to make a mix that you could groove to from start to finish. I’m definitely a fan of R&B. I really got turned on to R&B about 10 years ago and I’ve been more into it in the last few years. I like the sensuality in it.
You don’t just see yourself as a funk producer?
Even still now I don’t sit down and say I’m going to make a modern funk beat, it’s just kind of what happens. It wasn’t really a conscious thing like I wanted to make one style of music, that’s just what naturally came out. That’s kind of just what people labelled it as.
You play the saxophone too?
My dad was a big jazz lover so he would bring me up into his office and we would listen to jazz records together like John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Art Pepper all kinds of stuff and he loved saxophone and that kind of rubbed off on me. So when I got into school I wanted to learn sax and be like John Coltrane, that’s kind of where it all started from.
People see the West Coast, particularly LA, as having a strong funk connection, but it also has ties in Ohio.
A lot of the great funk came from Ohio and Cincinnati. It’s an interesting connection how a lot of those bands came from there, but the sound is recognized as a California thing. It’s just interesting with the culture, how there’s a connection. A lot of those guys came to L.A for industry stuff, but a lot of them stayed out there. Roger Troutman, he no matter what always wanted to do stuff for Daton. He was always giving back to the community, he had a studio out there. He took great pride in his city and I think that’s great.
You’ve got a track on this mix from Prince’s new Art Official Age album, have you heard the full project? If so, what did you think?
Yea, his new album is killer. He just keeps coming through fresh and is just better than everybody haha! You can hear the influence of modern styles with the track “FunknRoll” – like some minimal 808 club stuff, but he adds his vocals and song writing and just takes it to another level like no one else can.
I’m a fan of Rojai & E. Live’s “Thinkin’ About You.” Did you and Teeko meet them through the Tempo Dreams 2 compilation you worked on?
Rojai is my bud from San Francisco. We’ve been doing music together since 2002. We have a band called Bayonics and we do lots of tracks together. I’ve been doing some mixing work with his project with E. Live, so I thought I’d throw this new one in there. Little world premier for the listeners.
During your performance with Teeko on Revolt TV you performed your new single “In The Trunk.” It’s a pretty unique instrumental, can you tell us what to expect from your upcoming release as The Starship Connection?
Yea that was a lot of fun. “In The Trunk” will be a single on the upcoming complication called Off the Beaten Tracks, put together by the Grown Kids Radio crew from SF on 12-inch vinyl. We are definitely experimenting with new sounds and utilitizing the turntable in production. Teeko is a master turntablist so we are incorporating that into the sound.
Do you have a crazy funk record collection or is your library mostly digital?
I have a respectable vinyl collection I’d say. I’ve been buying funk records and other records since about 2002. The same time I started DJing and really making a lot of beats. There was no digital DJing then, so if you wanted to play it, you had to have it on wax! I still buy records because there’s nothing like having a real record. It sounds the best, you get the artwork, the liner notes. The joy of finding that record in the record shop you’ve been looking for. The music means more to me when I have it on wax. Plus there’s tons of music that only exists on vinyl.
There’s a few tracks on this mix which you’ve produced, can you tell us a little about them?
Summertime Grind is a track from a project just released with my good friend Sir. Grzzwall called Vegas Knights. He’s also a Bayonics member. I produced four of the five songs on his EP. We just shot a cool music video for the title track so be on the look out for that. “Kisses” is a song I did with my girl Reva DeVito from Portland. I produced four songs for her EP as well. “Kisses” has been getting a lot of nice feedback. People really respond to it. It’s cool. Also check out a song called “Anywhere” from Reva and the cover of Sade’s ‘Sweetest Taboo’ we did. The “Fine China (remix)” was just something I did for fun for DJ’s and for myself to play out. Soundcloud just took it down due to copyright issues apparently, but there’s a free download on my website.
You use the talk-box a lot, where does someone find a talk-box in 2014?
Most good music stores carry them. Some people make them, but I bought mine a few years ago.
It seems like an instrument that would be a lot of fun to just play around on and get lost in a jam. Of course we know about Roger Troutman, but who are some other pioneers who influenced you to pick it up?
Yea talk-box is really fun. I like recording with it and stacking up harmonies. Roger Troutman is the godfather of the talk-box. He was definitely the biggest inspiration for me. Also Teddy Riley, who used it in an R&B setting with Blackstreet and other groups. Teddy is one of the best. Battlecat is also a big influence on me in both production and in using the talk-box. He is subtler with it, but sometimes less is more. Fingaz is an LA producer and artist who rips the talk-box too.
You’re quite a fan of the producer Battlecat?
Man, yeah Battlecat is a legend here in California. He just has a way of capturing a raw, dirty, kind of funk. Just a real gangster sound, but at the same time it’s really musical. He always has these chords and kind of like a Funkadelic style bassline. You can always tell a Battlecat beat. The first few bars just have that sound.
You’re a rap fan too?
That’s just being born and raised in California in the early 90s, that’s what was on the radio and all my friends were listening to. When The Chronic came out, when Doggystyle came out. That’s just what we would rap and sing to walking to school and it had to be part of my life, that’s what we were listening to growing up.
Prince – Funknroll
Adrian Be – Tough Talk (Corcovado Remix)
Sir Grzzwall ft. B. Bravo – Summertime Grind
Penthouse Penthouse – Last Stop ft. Jnthn Stein
Justin Bieber – Heartbreaker
Reva DeVito – Kisses
Mr. Carmack x B. Bravo – Something About You Baby
Rojai & E. Live – Thinkin’ About You
Chris Brown – Fine China (B. Bravo Remix)
1 O.A.K. – Me & You
Steve Spacek – Alone in Da Sun