Interview: The Funk Hunters at Splore 2016
From the top of the hill, it looked liquid – down by the beach in Tapapakanga Park, the waves and the crowd moved in the same motion, in and out, to one act then to the next. It was organic. Everyone had something in common; there was some secret everyone was in on.
When you attend a festival you enter into a bubble separate from the rest of the world. People are kinder, gentler, more uninhibited – free. Things you wouldn't do in day-to-day life are brought into normalcy, like walking around half-naked. It's cool; you're at a festival.
That's the way Splore is. Around 7500 people attended this year, up 500 or so from last year – an advertisement in itself. They travelled distances to be there, some by sky or sea. For most a standard motor would suffice. Still there was a sense of accomplishment in it – pioneers looking for the funk.
Two Canadian guys who have dedicated their lives to finding funk performed at Splore on Saturday night. Nick Middleton and Duncan Smith are The Funk Hunters. Newshub had a chat to Nick from the electronic music and DJ duo.
The Funk Hunters (Supplied)
Is this your first time in New Zealand?
"It's our third year in a row in New Zealand. We played Splore festival two years ago for the first time and it was a beautiful introduction. There was people and all the water and boats. It was like four in the afternoon and the sun was out – it was beautiful. That was the last show of our whole tour and tonight is the last show of our whole tour.
"Australia and New Zealand are so different. We just played Christchurch and Wanaka. The South Island feels so much like home for us. We live in British Columbia with the Rocky Mountains -- between BC and Alberta – with lakes and ocean and mountains, so the South Island feels like home. Kiwis are the best, so laid back, and there's really soulful music in New Zealand. We love it here."
What's it like to be here at Splore?
"It's hard sometimes when you're touring and you get into this alternate reality of airports and hotels and clubs. It's nice when you can just pause for a minute. When we arrived on the festival site the sun had just gone down and the moon was hitting the water, and those are the sweet moments in travelling, when you're just like, 'Wow, this is a beautiful place. It's so awesome to be here.'"
You've collaborated with acts like Australia's Dub FX and Selena Gomez. How did that come about?
"Dub FX we met through touring and travelling. We're big fans of him. He was finishing his album and he gave me some stems from one of his albums to remix. I remixed it for him that day and we performed with him at Rainbow Serpent festival [in Australia] and we've been friends ever since."
And Selena Gomez?
"That just came through Interscope. I did a bunch of remixes for Interscope and some of them came out, some of them didn't. The Selena [Gomez] one, when I finished it her remix EP had already come out but they liked it so they were like, 'You can go ahead and release it.' It's hard to turn down chances to do that. I think of it as a challenge, like, 'How do I turn it into something I like and want to play?.'"
She seems cool though right, I mean she dated Justin Bieber?
"Yeah, our fellow Canadian – Canadian music in the pop world is going crazy right now. Justin Bieber's great, and the Weeknd, and it's crazy to see."
You realise your band name sounds like two swear words?
"I mean it always gets pointed out to us when we're in Australia because they love a certain swear word down there. To us, it's like the most offensive swear word you could ever say. It never turns into a normal thing when we hear it, especially in Australia. But no, that wasn't planned. We've just always loved funk music and for us it's not about the traditional genre of funk; it's about loving all kinds of music. So if we're going to play a drum-and-bass song or a house song or a hip-hop tune, it's about writing funky music in that genre. One day a friend of ours was like, 'That's what you guys are! You're the hunters of funk. You're The Funk Hunters!'"