February 19, 2014

Get Funked! We Are Retiring!

It is with a very heavy heart, but yet a wry smile, that I announce that Get Funked! is coming to a close.

The esteemed 70s Funk DJ, Matt Nunez, is leaving Korea; he’s going back home to the States to marry his lovely fiancée Emily, herself a Get Funked! regular, and then they are both going to teach English in Japan; a long-held dream for both of them.

Of course, I wish them all the luck and fun in the world, and knowing them – they’ll be just fine – two nicer people you couldn’t meet anywhere.

Doing 70s Funk (Matt) and Northern Soul (me) is no drink of water. That is, it’s not easy. This is 2014, the entire oeuvres of hip-hop, electronic dance music and various other genres have happened since our music even existed, so getting people interested in it at all is always an uphill task. This music is fairly obscure in the UK where I’m from, and in the USA, where it’s from, so you can imagine trying to get Korean people interested in a music that they’ve never heard of, don’t understand really (‘oh, you like old music?’), and couldn’t care less about because, frankly, hip hop, K-Pop and R ‘n’ B and more current and relevant to them is difficult. I understand this. Of course, but that’s not the point, the point is we’re soul and funk guys – it’s what we do. As far as I’m aware, there is no one else in the entire country doing what we do. I’m both proud of, and sad about, that.

You may wonder why we even started it in the first place. This article (contains much swearing!), written at the outset in 2012, explains it better than I could now.

It was never our intention to be famous. We have musical beliefs. You might think this sounds grandiose, but honestly, we do. I can’t speak for Matt, but I don’t want to DJ. I don’t want to be a DJ. I don’t want to have a DJ name. I don’t want my name on a poster. It was just about getting a bit of soul and funk out there. We’ve done that.

On top of all this, a weekly gig is physically, not to mention spiritually, making me ill. I just can’t do it anymore. I love Northern Soul, I love it, I’ve spent years of my life giving people CDs, putting on nights, forcing people to listen to songs, asking bar owners to ‘just play this off my phone mate’. I’ll still be doing those things, but I’ve done what I set out to do, which was to get some of that music that I’ve always loved, listened to by a wider audience. I can do this current version no more. To carry on doing a weekly gig would (and again, without wishing to sound grandiose) be poison to my soul. It really would. It’s making me ill. It’s making me miserable. I have to stop. I need to walk some hills, write some poems, read some books, talk to some girls, look at some skylines, travel; live and breathe. To turn up any more and play songs (that I love) would, honestly, if not literally, kill me. My insides feel green.

Thanks to everyone who came. Thanks to Min and his bar, The Lounge in Hongdae, for letting us play there, and for letting us start. Thanks to Shia in Fix Bar in HBC where we moved to last summer – a most gracious host and a lovely woman. Thanks for those times when YOU came up and said ‘love this song buddy, what is it?’. Just thanks – it’s been an awesome ride. I hope you heard some songs you liked. I love soul, but now it’s time to take care of my own. I need it.

There are two dates left, this Friday 21st, and next Friday 28th, which will be our closing party. Both will start at 9. 

February 17, 2014

So, What Really Happened at Bar Carmen?

A few weeks ago, I stumbled into this bar, and via conversation it emerged that I DJ a little, and that it would be a good idea, for them and us, for us to play there. It’s a nice bar, spacious, good décor, nice sound system, attractive bar staff – and it’s a music place. Everyone seemed happy with the arrangement, including us.

We were booked to play on 15th February. All seemed good.

Then, a few days before, I get a phone call saying that they are having a singles night on the 15th, the same night.

What do I think? I think they were delighted that someone (in this case me) proposed bringing people to their bar. That’s normal. It’s a business. Businesses like that actually revolve around people turning up. BUT, they’d had a better idea, and I genuinely mean that, having a singles night the day after Valentine’s day is a better idea than having a soul and funk night. That’s not sarcasm. It really is a better idea. And the place was packed. Proof and pudding.

Anyway. They’d booked us to play, so now they had a problem – a double booking. They didn’t wanna piss us off, why would they? They don’t know us and as far as they know, we’re nice people. So they come up with the idea – “Let’s have those DJs DJ at the singles night”. What a great idea!

They call me up and tell me this over the phone.

Then a few days later – “actually, we wanna play our own stuff, can you play a little later?”

I’m getting the message. They don’t want us, really.

Anyway, I agreed to play at 10pm.

I turned up at 9.30 – a half hour early – and there was literally nowhere for a DJ to play. No tables, no anything. I offered to play/set-up behind the bar (2 or 3 times I offered this) but they flat out turned me down. I ended up having to drag a table that had people’s drinks on it (politely, I asked) across the room just to have somewhere to set up.

That done, I played for two whole hours without a single complaint (to me, anyway) and the place was packed the entire time. People vote with their feet – if they didn’t like it they would have left. Two hours in, they are still there. Then they asked me to stop because ‘we wanna hear some dubstep’, their words, not mine. That happened, and everyone left.

I got angry at this point and (can’t remember exactly what transpired but) essentially told them to go fuck themselves. Yes, I know, I was an asshole here. But I’d had enough. After dragging tables around, playing for two hours unrewarded, and then basically told ‘you’re done now’, I think I was justified in being a little pissed off. Yeah I was angry. Yeah I said some things I shouldn’t have.

I was paid absolutely nothing. It was a tremendous hassle from start to finish. I’ve had nothing but abuse since, including being threatened by some people at the bar, and frankly, overall, the whole thing was a complete nightmare – I wish I’d never done it.

All I’ve gotten from this are enemies.

I wish the bar all the luck in the world and the owner, Carmen, is, by all accounts, a lovely lady. Good luck to her.

But as sure as my feet are size nine, I wish I’d never done that gig. Nothing, and I mean nothing, but hassle.

I’m hurt. Devastated. Offended. I wish it had never happened.

Thank God that there’s always a next week.