Ahead of their show tonight at the Brooklyn Bowl show with Kung Fu, we had the chance to catch up with the Syracuse-based funk/hip-hop trio, Sophistafunk. For those unfamiliar with the band, they’re a kick-ass three piece group comprised of Jack Brown (lyricist), Adam Gold (keys, bass) and Emanuel Washington (drums). This is a bit of a buzzer-beater interview, but tickets are still available at the door for what will be a funk filled night of funkin awesome fun.
Sound Fix: Thanks guys, for taking some time here to answer a few questions for our readers and your listeners. To start things off, tell us where it all started for Sophistafunk. How did the band form?
Adam: Emanuel and I met in Syracuse at my waffle restaurant called Funk ’n Waffles in early 2007. We had just opened, and Eman was playing drums with a local band performing there. They asked me to sit in on Clavinet, and when I did, me and Eman locked into some really funky grooves. After that we decided to jam together one late Tuesday, and I invited my friend and rapper Matty J to join us. Matty J brought his friend Jack Brown, whom I didn’t really know at the time. We started playing every week, and eventually Matty J left town, and the core group of the three of us solidified.
SF: You’re just getting back from Jazz Fest. How was your experience down in New Orleans?
Emanuel: My experience at Jazz Fest was unbelievable to say the least. Everything about that city is magical. We had the opportunity to play two late night sets at the legendary Howlin’ Wolf Den. It’s something special when you get the chance to hang with some of your favorite musicians and they get to watch you do your thing. Can’t wait to go back next year.
Jack: New Orleans is definitely the epicenter of the live music scene. It’s like a trade show where all the musicians come together to jam and collaborate on new projects, where promoters from across the country come to check out who’s blowing up on the scene, and where the fans get to party and hang with their favorite bands. An early night there ends at 8am. Where else can you play a set and see heavy hitters like Oteil, Zigaboo, Karl Denson, Soulive, Lettuce, Break Science, and the Motet rocking out to your music? And then the next morning randomly sit next to Pretty Lights at breakfast? Oh, and did I mention, the food might be better than the music!
SF: Looking forward, we’re excited for your performance at the Brooklyn Bowl with Kung Fu. What’s in store for Friday?
Jack: After he absolutely shredded with us in NOLA, it was a must that we’d be bringing our new sax player Tommy Weeks to the Brooklyn Bowl. You might have heard Tommy with his crew The Funky Dawgz Brass Band or sitting in with cats like Vulfpeck & Kung Fu. At only 25 years old, he’s already been to New Orleans half a dozen times. His skill and stage presence are well beyond his years. And he’s a hilarious guy who’s awesome to travel with! We’ll also be debuting our new single “Cali Dreamer” for the first time ever in New York City!!
SF: Any new music getting in the works?
Adam: Actually, we have some really excited stuff happening. Our next EP is ready to print and we will be releasing it at the end of summer. Also, this past January we toured in California with our friends The Motet. On that run we had a day off in LA and managed to squeeze in a studio session with Sergio Rios from Orgone. At his studio Killion Sound we cut a brand new super hot track called “Cali Dreamer.” We will be releasing that single shortly.
SF: What festivals or summer performances are you most looking forward to at this point?
Emanuel: I would definitely have to say the Sterling Stage Festival series is at the top of my list. It was one of the first festivals we played as a band. We get to enjoy at lot of close friends and family. Always great vibes whenever we play there.
SF: Your sound is unique, to say the least. For any newcomers, how would you describe your music?
Emanuel: if I have to describe our music I would describe it as Raw Funk/Hip Hop from the soul. For me I’m not really technical in my playing, I believe in playing what you feel. So that’s where the Raw Soul comes in because we all are playing and rapping about what we feel. Adam is holding down the funk with all the sounds he’s making from the moog and clav and Jack is making you think with the words he’s spitting. It’s a total package.
SF: Which bands or artists have most influenced your music?
Jack: Well, we love old school funk, soul, & hip hop so everything from Stevie Wonder to James Brown to A Tribe Called Quest & D’Angelo, to name a few. When we toured England we were compared to “Rage Against the Machine meets The Roots dipped in P-Funk.” I like that. Rest in Peace to pioneers like Phife Dawg & Prince. These last few months have been tough for the music community.
SF: Tell us about Funk N’ Waffles. I’ve never been, but it seems like a fun spot.
Adam: Funk ’n Waffles is my brain child. It’s both a music venue and a waffle restaurant. It reads like a Hard Rock Cafe that serves breakfast food, or like a coffee shop that has 7 nights a week of nationally touring bands. In any case, we have two of them in Syracuse, one opened in 2007 and the other in late 2014. Both are cranking very funky music all day, and are usually packed during lunch and weekends. We were featured on Diner’s Drive-Ins and Dives and another show called Guilty Pleasures on the Food Network. It’s really really fun to be on both sides of the industry. I love playing shows at amazing venues, and I love hosting great bands at mine.
SF: Finally, open forum here. Anything else you’d like to impart to you listeners?
Jack: For all the aspiring musicians out there, remember that the music scene is not a competition, it is a family. There are plenty of stages in America for all of us, and it’s always better to pack a room together than stand on ceremony and stay apart. Music is all about collaboration, jamming, hitting the road, going to crazy restaurants, and getting into a little trouble together. Every city that we’re doing well, from Seattle to San Diego, Colorado, Michigan, Nebraska, East Coast, and even out in Bristol, England, it’s because of the great friends we’ve made on our travels. Without friends, a cozy bed (or couch or floor), a warm shower, and some local hospitality it would be a cold, lonely road. No amount of money could ever change that. And as it always happens, the more you link up and share the stage with other bands, the more successful your career becomes. This is the Code of the Road. And anytime you forget, karma gives you a swift kick in the gonads. Metaphorically speaking. Musicians are cultural ambassadors, and as tough as it is on the road, it can be the most redeeming job in the Universe. Peace Love and Funk!