I’ve known Dam-Funk for around 5 years now. But it feels much longer. Cuz of our obsession over the same music as kids. Groups like Change, BB & Q Band, and Reel To Reel. I don’t come across that many people who knew the stuff beyond Prince and MJ back when it first came out (besides maybe Madlib). I guess that was why Dam came up to me when I spun that stuff at Star Shoes nightcub on Hollywood Blvd, the first time I met him. It was at Egon and Miles’ Funky Sole Night, which was ironically dedicated to late ’60s/ early ’70s soul and funk. I was happy to spin at their night, but I wanted to play ’80s soul and funk. I almost didn’t do it cuz I didn’t wanna stray from their theme, but no telling if I’d ever have met Dam had I stuck to the ’60s that night. At the club, Dam told me he had a rare live performance of the group Slave live on the Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert on DVD and from there we stayed in touch. I couldn’t believe he had that.
Fast forward to now. Meeting Dam’s parents for the first time at his record release party for Toeachizown last week, they were so excited and proud of him. His mom told me, “You have no idea how long Dam has been doing this.” A few months ago, one of Dam’s friends from his childhood more or less told me the same thing: “While everyone else was out in the streets, Dam was in the house doin music. He’s wanted this for so long.”
My friend Steve and I were doin the music thing as kids back then too. We made a tape in 1983 announcing our favorite songs from that year, as if we were radio DJs. The prepubescent voices were pretty hilarious. I found the tape in 2003 and made CDs of it to give to my friends. DJ Chris and DJ Steve. When I gave one to Dam, he told me about his club night called 1983. More coincidences. But looking back, I feel it was more than a coincidence that my first time working with Dam was to have him do a remix for an album made by Steve called Baron Zen. The Baron Zen release in 2007 were songs that were recorded in the early ’90s in his bedroom on a 4-track, along with current remixes by guys that Steve and I chose. The album was commercially slept on, but Dam’s remix of Baron Zen was not. Everyone singled that track out.
Next, I featured Dam on a compilation album I did a few months later and people singled him out again. Dam and I started DJing shows together, while he worked on Toeachizown. Little did I know then that Dam had recorded his own album’s worth of songs in his bedroom around the time Steve was working on his. They even used the same Casio SK-1 keyboard.
Dam and I (and Haircut and James Pants and Liger Berry and Nite Jewel and Cole and Whitemare and Ron and Laroj and Billy and Koushik and Andrew and Tom) have been discovering lots of ’80s soul and funk records and some of our favorites are the ones that sound the least professionally sonically. We don’t ONLY buy those ones, but we don’t let that stop us if the song is good. Prophet is the best example, but there’s tons of others. And Dam knew I’ve been wanting to put out some of this kind of stuff on Stones Throw, like I’ve started to with Franklin Thompson, Jonathan Brown, and Arabian Prince.
He told me he was trying to find a guy he grew up with who recorded tons of songs. Then, one day, Dam told me he was going through his OWN tapes from his teenage years and voila. Goldmine. Before hearing them, I figured I could put out a 7-inch of the two best songs. Wrong. Too hard to narrow it down. I’ll never forget the first time I bumped ’em in the ride with Tim and Kota Pop. They were bobbing their heads and we were all amazed. Lambo too. I showed “It’s My Life” to my wife Violet and she cried.
Dam told me, “This is your project Wolf. Do whatever you want with it. You pick the songs. You do the artwork. I leave it in your hands. I don’t even wanna see it til it’s done. Have fun with it.”
-PEANUT BUTTER WOLF