The Big Interview – The Cactus Channel

We’re always looking to bring you extra features on the blog including our recent guest contributor section from our friends in the soul/funk world. Well this week we’re pleased to announce the first of another new feature – The Big Interview. Every now and then we’ll be bringing you an interview with some of the main players on the funk scene, from new bands to some legendary artists, record label bosses and some of the most influential djs the scene has to offer.

So to kick things off, we start with perhaps the hottest young funk band around at the moment – The Cactus Channel. They were kind enough to take some time out from touring with their debut album to have a chat with us. Check out what they had to say below:

Gazfunk: Firstly, thanks for taking some time out of your hectic schedule to answer some questions. To kick things off, can you take us back to how/when you guys first got together?

Cactus Channel: No problem – thanks for interviewing us.

When we were 14/15 years old we were introduced to a compilation (or rather 2 compilations) called “New Orleans Funk Vol 1 & 2” by our bass player Henry Jenkins. Some of us were already into some reggae & jazz with artists like Toots & Maytals & King Curtis, so that kind of afro/horn-driven sound was sort of already there, but it was tracks like “Check Your Bucket” by Eddie Bo and “Handclapping Song” by The Meters and many, many more on the aforementioned compilations that made us want to get together and figure them out and eventually have a crack at making our own stuff. Initially this was with about six members of the band, but over the course of the next couple of years it had blossomed into the 10 piece you see today…

G: The band is based in Melbourne which has become something of a hotbed for nu-funk bands with the likes of The Bamboos & Deep Street Soul amongst others receiving global recognition. Where bands like those mentioned influential in The Cactus Channel’s sound? What other acts influenced the band?

C.C: Yeah certainly the plethora of Melbourne soul/funk oriented artists like The Bamboos (who we used to go and watch when they were playing free park shows that us 16 year olds were actually allowed to go to!) and Deep Street Soul as well as The Bombay Royale, The Putbacks, Saskwatch, The Public Opinion Afro Orchestra, Papa Chango and Hiatus Kaiyote, to name a few, have all been influential in different ways and I think indeed parts of our own sound and sonic ideas have been formed from seeing all those acts live and being inspired.

Certainly another important influence is the Daptone Records label in Brooklyn, New York (with artists like The Budos Band, The Menahan Street Band, Charles Bradley and Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings) as well as the Truth & Soul label also in Brooklyn (Lee Fields & El Michels Affair). Of course, not to mention a lot of the early New Orleans funk as mentioned earlier, James Brown & The JB’s, Motown, Stax, the whole shebang…

G: Does the band have any exciting gigs/tours coming up and are there any plans for future collaborations with other soul/funk artists?

C.C: Exciting gigs/tours – yes indeed! We’ve just started our East Coast tour which kicked off in Brisbane on 21 September and will take in Sydney & Canberra until 30 September. A few weeks after that we’ll have some shows in Melbourne & Adelaide. It’s our first tour and a lot of us are going to places we haven’t even been to, let alone played at before so it’s a very exciting time indeed!

In terms of collaborations with other soul/funk artists, there’s no plans past momentary thoughts and wishes really although there may well be a potential reggae remix of one of our tracks so watch this space…

G: Finally, you have just released your debut album “Haptics” how have the critics and wider funk world taken to the album (I understand Craig Charles is a fan)?

C.C: He is indeed apparently! It’s been played on his programme a few times I think, which is nice, it’s got a bit of international airplay actually particularly in places like Japan and more recently Brazil! So maybe some visits to these places should be considered before too long!

The Melbourne scene has also been really positive and supportive of it – a few papers and magazines like The Age, The Australian, Beat, Impress, Rhythms, Monthly and also a bunch of online blogs and interstate radio stations have given us a run and pumped up our tyres a bit, so we’re very grateful! Just like we are of this interview!

The Cactus Channel are currently in the middle of their tour promoting the debut album “Haptics” you can still catch them at the following shows:

BULLI, NSW: Thurs 27th September – The Heritage Hotel

SYDNEY: Fri 28th September – GOODGOD Small Club

CANBERRA: Sat 29th September – Transit Bar

MELBOURNE: Fri 12th October – Ding Dong Lounge

ADELAIDE: Sat 13th October – Rocket Bar

The debut album “Haptics” is out on now Hope Street Recordings – for more information check out the official band site: www.thecactuschannel.com

Here’s a little taster for the album – the single “Emanuel Ciccolini” 

The Bamboos – Tighten Up

It’s probably about that time again where we bring you another cut from one of the many “nu-funk” bands and what could be better than a cover of one of THE greatest funk/soul tracks ever by Australia’s Bamboos?

The Bamboos formed in 2000 in Melbourne, Australia and their first release was to come a year later with “Eel Oil” which was to gain plenty of attention from some of the world’s leading funk djs including Snowboy, Mr Scruff & Keb Darge. So impressed was Keb by their sound that they were signed up to his and Kenny Dope’s fledgling label, Kay-Dee.

This selection (their one and only release on Kay-Dee) was released in 2004 and much like Eel Oil became a firm favourite amongst many soul & funk djs the world over. Although Tighten Up has been covered many times over the years, this is certainly one of my favourite versions. The addition of the funky flute and crashing drums to the already fantastic sound goes to prove that The Bamboos certainly deserve their reputation as one of the best funk bands around today