Most discerning listeners will be no stranger to a loop pedal these days, what with Ed Sheeran saturating the charts and the likes of Jack Garrett taking Glastonbury by storm earlier this year. But we reckon we’ve got an act to rival if not surpass both of those guys in Dan Turnbull AKA Funke and the Two Tone Baby, and we’re elated to be welcoming him back to Farmer Phil’s Festival next weekend.
FPF: You’ve been described as “a rare and unique talent for creating something very different”, but how would you describe yourself as a performer, and your sound in general?
DT: My “So, what kinda stuff do you do?” answer is usually “fat dance beats with blues guitar over the top” but I feel like that undersells it a bit. I usually ask people what they think I sound like and I always get back a different answer, whether it be comparing me to a different artist, era, style, genre etc. Which can’t be a bad thing. Something for everyone. If that something is fat beat variations.
FPF: Most listeners will pick up on the blues influence in your music, but a little birdy told us you’re really into electronica – tell us where this love stems from and which artists you most admire in that space.
DT: My cousin gave me her CD collection when I was 16/17 and I found a few records by Add N to (X). I was just slipping out the teenage grunge phase and it was a revelation – I’d never, and still haven’t, heard anything like it. Bands like Holy F**k, Black Moth Super Rainbow, STUFF, Bonobo and Quantic all are doing something unique and interesting in the genre. I’ll take a drum machine over a drummer any day.
FPF: We tried to count all the different instruments on your records and lost count – how many can you play, and what’s next?
DT: It’s not as impressive as it seems (I realise the irony of now listing loads of instruments). On stage I play guitar, harmonica, beatbox, stompbox with my foot and sing. I’ve also just added a filthy little keyboard – that’s new! It’s pretty similar for the records though anything I can’t play I get in extra musicians (violin/trombone/drums). Anything with strings I’ll have a decent bash with. Can’t do wind or brass though.
FPF: Your human beatboxing on ‘Cecile’s Song’ and other tracks is reminiscent of the likes of Rahzel – what got you into beatboxing and who inspires you?
DT: I learned through necessity. I needed some rhythm and that seemed the best and easiest way to achieve it. I basically made fart noises into a bullet mic for six months until I ended up being doorman for a songwriting event in London. Schlomo was there giving a beatbox workshop and that’s where it clicked – “Ahhhhh so that’s how you do it!” I ain’t looked back.
FPF: Obviously Funke and the Two Tone Baby has played Farmer Phil’s Festival previously. What are you most looking forward to when you return this year?
DT: The site, the people, the atmosphere and the bands. That covers most of it I think. It has such a lovely vibe and is one of those festivals that everyone talks about throughout the summer and looks forward to. That positivity really comes across through the weekend. And the stage, the rotating stage. I love that stage.
FPF: We ask everyone this question and make no apologies for it – what surprises have you got up your sleeve for us this year?
DT: I’m not really sure how to top the double monkey episode from last year. Probably something with fire or interpretive dance. Interpretive dancers on fire maybe? Is that a bit flamboyant?
FPF: We caught up with Gaz Brookfield recently, who joined you onstage as a dancing monkey last year for ‘Not Enough Bonobo’. He’s planning to ride onto the stage this year atop a “resplendent and magical mythical creature, maybe a griffin”. What kind of kickass entrance can we expect from Funke and the Two Tone Baby?
DT: A thoroughly underwhelming one.
FPF: Is it true you wrote your university dissertation on a loop pedal? (This interviewer had to conquer a grueling 10,000 word hell that still gives him nightmares 15 years on!)
DT: For you, I’ve just dug it out. The title was ‘A self perpetuated study on loop devices as compositional tools’. It was aimed at seeing whether the use of looping devices dictates your composition or vice versa. Turns out, it does. Let me tell you how in 10,000 words…
FPF: You’ve been described previously as the hardest working man in show business, and looking at your gig schedule we can see why! What’s coming up for Funke and the Two Tone Baby in 2016 and beyond?
DT: There are people that work harder. I do about as much as any other musician on the scene. Except Lukas Drinkwater – that guy is a machine! I’ve got a few more festivals left for the summer, the spectacular Bostin Days in October, my winter tour for November and then I’m in the studio/writing for December and January. I’ve just got my first major festival booked in for 2017 so it’s starting strong! Check out www.funkeandthetwotonebaby.co.uk/shows for where I am next.
You can catch Funke and the Two Tone Baby on the main stage at 14:45 on Friday 12 August. Here’s ‘Cecile’s Song’ to get you in the groove…