What is the sonic phenomenon known as Janxta Funk branded by the illustrious Brooklyn-based band the Pimps of Joytime? Frontman and guitarist for the band Brian J explains, “my situation from the artist loft I lived in, to the touring conditions during the second album were a little bit janky, meaning the opposite of pristine, they were low budget, but at the same time we had to make the music ‘gangsta’ because that is what we set out to do. So, it’s a combination of those two things forming what has lead to progression and our sound.”
Me too, so I connected with Mr. J to dig deeper into his background that inevitably lead to forming the Pimps of Joytime.
Given your cross-coastal music education in New York City, L.A., and New Orleans, are there any specific facets of those scenes that you took away with you, and keep in mind when making music as the Pimps now?
New York for me is the cutting edge, with so much creativity, and early on in the formative stages of the Pimps I was checking out a lot of the DJ parties, so that culture was an influence. On and off for half my life I have been spending time in New Orleans, soaking in their musical heritage has been huge, especially getting to work with great artists and to be generally accepted there. New York is obviously a tough place too, no one really ever accepts you, which is the beauty of it making you bringing it from the heart, but New Orleans has been a place where myself and the band have been embraced for our musicality. That has been a contrast to the colder New York style.
I’ll preface this question by saying I know that you work with a lot of DJs on remixes, and as you just mentioned you have been influenced by that style of music from early on, but with DJ movement having hit its peak again, and now in a flight pattern to potentially fade back out of the mainstream limelight, do you think this overt surge in progressive funk has the potential to take its place?
It kind of seems that way. We have a new record that is done, and the elements of funk are in there, but we have also gone some other places. A little heavier, a little more rock influenced, and it certainly has a long term love affair with the blues. Then again, I don’t know, I just make what comes out as an artists. You can always look at the trends and jump on board to what is coming up next, but that isn’t what this is about. The funk has been underneath everything we do, but I do think there is a resurgence that has been building for some time, due to the access of data allowing for musical tastes to be more broad than ever before. It’s cool as a grassroots organization like ourselves to be able to reach people in a direct way via people experimenting in these digital outlets that provide that connection.
It’s important that I clarify that I am not saying you’ll dictate your sound to the trend, but that you and a handful of other bands from places like Brooklyn are directly responsible for the attention that type of music is receiving again. With that being said you manage to keep us guessing as band. Your new song “Booty Text” seems to borrow from an electronica motif more so than your previous catalog. Is incorporating that sound tastefully something we should expect the upcoming album?
Yes, but not quite as much. The original version of that song, the W version, is a bit more organic. But then I decided to make an electronic version because of our love for dance music. We have been doing that song live, and it is really fun because the crowd gets hype. So there is an electronic element blended in there, but there is also a lot of guitar work, organic drums and bass.
Also speaking towards the new album, on High Steppin’ the overarching theme seemed to be to prove that you could jump between genre identifiers with ease. Afrobeat on “Street Sound” to Neo-soul on “Be Good” to Latin-infusions on “Bonita.” Janxta Funk! on the other hand seemed to dive into a seamless journey of every facet of funk. What do you foresee as the true dynamic of the new album?
Being able to approach so many styles and try to incorporate them is a blessing and a curse. The new album is the most focused, it’s not all over the map, but we still managed to take it to a bunch of places musically. Just maybe less places than in the past. Elements like live drums and bass, guitar work without many overdubs, and our consistent vocals provide a pallet to incorporate the blues groove with the funk, right there in that sweet spot.
The Pimps obviously take the music itself very seriously, but there also seems to be a playful, creative theme that runs throughout from things like song titles, stage presence, and everything that makes Janxta Funk a reality. Has this been vital to keeping the band on track the last 8 years?
Yeah, the element of fun has definitely been important because we have had so many personnel changes over the years. That theme is more important now than ever. The more serious and on track the music gets, the more fun can have. To be cliche, I am a perfectionist to a degree. I am so deeply connected to the musicality of what is happening. Right now we have the best lineup in the history of the band, and the deeper we get musically, the more lighthearted I am able to be on stage.
Funny how that inverse relationship happens between those two forces occurring at the same time, but I am sure most artists would agree with you. So, looking forward this will be you return to Telluride after opening for Thievery Corporation in Town Park last year. Any thoughts about coming back and hitting a more intimate setting with the Fly Me To The Moon Saloon?
I am of course looking forward to it. We always have a great time in the Western Colorado region. We also got to attend a nice after party at the Moon the last time we were in town, so we know what to look forward to. Hopefully we don’t hit any weird snow storms.
We are hoping for that as well, for you guys and all the bands coming this month. You are the first of a serious lineup of acts coming through in March that we expect will set the bar high.
That’s the plan! We’ll make a little difficult for everyone coming after [laughs].
The Pimps of Joytime, Wed., March 5, Fly Me to the Moon Saloon, 10 p.m., $15/$18