Funk You Very Much

by Philip Laubner

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The Funky Bass and Beat Group Known as “F” is experimental, brash and funky, they’re in your face, but in your face with a belly laugh, a hip twitch, and a funky ass bass slap. This trio is stripped down like the short form of their name, or simply “F”. The group at it’s simplest is just vocals, drums and bass; at it’s most complex, it’s all of these things with some triggered synths and drum machines thrown in just to keep you movin’.

This streamlined approach works well, as each of the members is dominant enough in their respective roles to hold your attention. Musically and visually they fill whatever space they perform in. If “F” is in the house, they command your attention.

Lanky drummer/vocalist Landis Expandis functions like a stoic foil, the Abe Lincoln if you will, to the aggressive bass playing of Paul Joyce and the passionate vocals and ecstatic performance of singer Heather Joi. At times it seems as if Heather might spin and possibly take the audience with her into the stratosphere without Landis’s grounding presence, It’s a entertaining dynamic to watch.

Another benefit of the bands small size and lean economy, is the space it provides for their post-modern adaptation of 80s and 90s synth elements, and dance beats. Simple is better in this equation, as it makes it easier to notice when the band changes it up, gets-up-offa-the-one, uses a sample, or subtle nods to one of it’s musical heroes.

On their self-titled debut “The Funky Bass and Beat Group Known as “F”, Landis and Heather Joi trade “rhythmic sung style” rap lyrics. “Heather and I spread lyrics and make a sandwich, it goes so fast,” remarked Landis. When I asked where he got his ideas for lyrics from he replied, “I get lyrics from things people say like, ‘I lost my job and you lost yours too.'”

On the track CAPTCHA Landis sings “Type this letter out, so we know that you’re not a machine. I’m not a machine, I’m not a machine!” It’s funny to hear, but the drone of working in a thankless and repetitive job is a reality that many of us, especially artists, can relate to.

“I’m not a machine!” is also repeated later in the album on the track Stayin’ Alive Dancin. All this talk of man and machines, it begs the question, could dance save us from the coming robots or at least from ourselves? “Some people dance, and some people don’t dance. I personally think that all people should at least do a mental dance. a free your thought time. We cant afford to be so serious all the time. It’s pretty obvious by now that shit is coming down. When you can do something about it, do. Then take some time to dance,” explained Landis.

One thing that can’t be over-stated is the role of the bass in this band. The first time I saw “F” they were playing at the annual Powwow Festival and bass player Paul Joyce blew my mind with his aggressive, funky and fluid bass lines. It sounded to me like dance, rap, funk, punk and hardcore all at the same time, I was hooked by Paul’s groove before I even understood what the rest of the band was about.

This sentiment isn’t lost on the rest of the band either. “I was always taught that the bass was the foundation of musical composition – with out it everything falls apart – it is a blessing to be in a band where that is celebrated,” remarked Heather Joi.

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I asked Paul what it was like to be asked by Landis to start a band and he had this to say, “I always thought he (Landis) was tremendously talented and I knew his deep love of funk was aligned with mine. I couldn’t say no. Then we start playing and the flood started. Writing three songs a practice, jamming on stage making songs out of those jams later. He asked me to play bass but with my production head I couldn’t just have it be bass and drums. I started bringing a synth and drum machine ( I LOVE using a a drum machine with live drums ) and the sound grew. Heather shows up, we practice maybe 2x at the most and bring her on stage. Now I am playing and feeling like I haven’t in quite awhile. All of a sudden…HOLY MOTHER OF GOD, I AM ALL IN AGAIN.” Heather added, “Landis has the recorder at the ready, ’cause Paul is a never ending pez dispenser.”

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I have to admit that I already know and admire singer and artist Heather Joi as I produced photos and wrote an artist profile for her for What Weekly in March of 2011. What wasn’t clear to me then is that in addition to being an amazing visual and performance artist, she is also a great musician.

In “F”, with seasoned players like Paul and Landis to guide her, Heather has gone back to music school. She tells it like this, “their love of funk is a musical history lesson in and of itself. Sometimes when we practice and play I become so overwhelmed by their talent and musicianship that I am placed in a trance and forget.”

I asked her what it was like working with her bandmates she explained, “These two are the best for sharing a day at the office. They compliment each other so well, Paul’s passion and Landis’s stoicism work in such a natural balance that most of the time I behold them as one would behold a timeless pastoral scene. And their persistence and determination never cease to inspire me. You can hear it in the music.”

Now you can hear it at their record release party this Saturday night at Cafe Hon!

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