Dumpstaphunk played the House of Blues in Chicago on Friday, July 19th as Phish’s official late night show. In all honesty, this show was the highlight of my evening, especially since Phish was forced to cancel early due to a nasty storm that swept through the city. Along with opening act, The Revivalist, Dumpstaphunk threw down one top notch funky dance party that lasted until the wee hours of the morning.
Chicago actually holds a special place in Dumpstaphunk history. Drummer Nikki Glaspie played her first show as an official member of Dumpstaphunk in Chicago just two short years ago. I got a chance to talk with Nikki before her show on Friday and let’s just say this chick is FIERCE! Her addition to the current lineup has elevated this band’s energy to a whole other stratosphere and her 15 minute drum solo Friday night completely blew me away.
Today, Dumpstaphunk will be releasing their latest album, Dirty Word, and this is the band’s first studio album since Nikki Glaspie joined the group. In the past she has helped produce, arrange, and record tracks in the studio for many other projects and artists, but Dirty Word is the first album where Nikki recorded material that she had also written.
Dumpstaphink is basically a super group of funk musicians, and Dirty Word showcases the musical range this band brings to the table. While each member has a notable musical background in funk, Nikki Glaspie is the only member not rooted in the New Orleans funk scene. Needless to say, her vocals pack quite a punch and her influence on the new album is obvious. ”I brought some of the rock element to the album. Whereas Nick Daniels brought the blues element and Ivan (Neville) brought a rock element too but a different type, almost like a Who-ish type vibe, and I brought just straight hard rock.”
Coming up with new material this day in age is often a reflection of what is already out there in the world of music. By staying true its origins, Dumpstaphunk’s mix of styles has brought funk music to a whole other level. ”We wanted people to know we are more than just a funk band,” explains Glaspie, ”We can play blues if we want to or we can play rock if we want to.”
Dirty Word was recorded in New Orleans and took about a year to complete. One of the most distinct difference between Dumphstaphunk and other funk bands is they lack a horn section. Luckily, artists Trombone Shorty and Skerik were close by to supply the horns for the album’s third track “I Wish You Would”. ”Skerik is an amazing tenor saxophone player, he’s sick!” says Nikki. They also added Rebirth Brass Band to mix for ”Raise the House,” a song that was meant to blow everyone away in true Mardi Gras fashion.
Dirty Word also contains some pretty notable contributions from artists Ani DiFranco and Art “Papa Funk” Neville. The album’s sixth track, “If I’m in Luck” is a dirty nasty Bettie Davis cover where Glaspie sings vocals and Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers guest stars on bass. “It is so different than what Dumpstaphunk normally does or what people think we normally do,” explains Nikki “That was actually what we wanted for the record.” The band has been covering the tune since Nikki joined back in 2011. Just like it does in their live show, ”If I’m in Luck” adds quite a sassy flavor to the Dumpstaphunk catalog.
There is a certain stigma that surrounds funk music, which often gets snubbed because it goes against most of what pop music stands for. When asked about the album’s title, Glaspie explains how it is almost the perfect description of funk music from a funk band’s perspective. ”There is no category in the Grammys for funk,” she points out. “When we register our songs on BMI or ASCAP, there is no category to register our songs as funk songs. You know it’s like it’s not even recognized as a genre of music within the music industry. So, it’s like a dirty word.” The irony is that disco, house, EDM, and Hip-hop are all rooted in funk. Therefore without funk music, most of the pop music today would not exist and pop music is something Nikki Glaspie knows all too much about.
Nikki was fortunate to land a gig touring in an all-girl band backing up pop superstar Beyoncé. While touring with one of the most successful artists in the world is a dream come true for most musicians, it just wasn’t her thing. “Literally, if I had to play “Irreplaceable” one more time, I would have shot myself in the foot.” Nikki further explains, “I just couldn’t take it anymore.” Glaspie was at a crossroads where she felt she needed to be true to her art. Playing someone else’s music in a genre she could care less about no longer appealed to her. “I wanted to spread my wings. You know it was like I was super contained in that environment and I had to play the same thing over and over again. There was just no room for growth.”
Moving forward was a big step for her career. Funk music seemed to pull her in a direction where she knew she would enjoy being challenged. “I am a funkateer first and foremost, but I am also a rocker,” explains Nikki. Dumpstaphunk has given her a creative outlet where she can perform the same type of music she would want to listen to and see live. In other words, this is her dream job.
Nikki Glaspie has now been touring with Dumpstaphunk virtually nonstop for the past two years. While it might seem like a huge leap from the all-female pop band she traveled the globe with, Nikki didn’t find adjusting all that difficult. “We all have a certain kinship living together on the road. It’s not as much of a difference as people would think or maybe as it would be in a different type of work environment. But because we are all musicians, and kind of all do the same thing, then the gender thing doesn’t really matter.”
Dumpstaphunk will continue to tour nonstop in support of the new album, which drops today. Download here.
Pretty Lights’ newest album, A Color Map of the Sun, just dropped and let me be the first to say that this is one high quality, groove pumping, tastefully produced record. The progression of the album makes the listener feel like they are on a journey through the human condition, experiencing every emotion possible through their spiral down the rabbit hole.
This album was made for vinyl with vinyl produced by Pretty Lights. In fact, it comes with a whole extra disc of bonus material that is just that: The raw vinyl cuts that were used to produce the tracks found on Color Map. Each cut was orchestrated by Colorado’s very own home grown, Derek Vincent Smith, the mastermind behind Pretty Lights, who collaborated with dozens of musicians from around the country to produce one of his most soulful pieces of art to date. If you dig music, you better dig soul music, and A Color Map of the Sun smacks you across the face with soul.
The album’s first two tracks, “Color of My Soul” and “Press Pause” pack a soulful punch before Color Map really starts to throw down his bone moving grooves with “Let’s Get Busy.” The combination of both horns as strings brings layer upon layer of energy and purpose to almost every track on the album, yet the snap crackle pop of the vinyl brings the element of raw sound full circle.
While at times the album seems to lack the hip-hop references we are so used to hearing at a PL live show, it is almost as if A Color Map of the Sun is a nod to hip hop’s roots. In fact, too literal of a hip hop reference could have damaged the integrity of an album so full of raw musical expression. Pretty Lights seems determined to show the good, bad, and downright scary side of his musical aesthetic. ”Go Down Sunshine”, “So Bright”, and “Dead Wrong” explore the depths of PL’s dark side. On the other end of the spectrum, “Yellow Bird” and “One Day They’ll Know” have a more relaxed, ethereal sound that seems to provide balance to the album. It takes guts to express these types of musical emotions and it is definitely not commonplace within this genre of music.
As with all of Pretty Lights tracks, you can download the entire album for free or it can be purchased through iTunes or Prettylightsmusic.com. As an independent artist, he has found great success by making his music available to everyone for free over the years (with only the suggestion of donation.) In order to provide a bit more incentive for fans to pay, PL is offering a variety pack of goodies in order to entice fans to open their checkbooks. Color Map vinyls, pins, t-shirts, bonus tracks, and a neat little book all about the album have nearly all sold out through pre order. Luckily, there is more swag being produced and record stores are currently stocking their shelves with LP, but I am sure they won’t last long.
PL made a sweet little video on the making of A Color Map of the Sun you can check out here!!!
The PL YouTube channel also has music videos for every track on the album, along with visual art to emphasize the overall concept that is “Pretty Lights.” Check out the playlist here.