Interview – Silas Funk

Silas Funk

Indie Midlands: In the creation of ‘Backwards,’ you mentioned the accidental moment that became the soulful intro. How do these spontaneous incidents influence your overall creative process, and do you actively seek them out when producing music?

Silas Funk: The creation of ‘Backwards’ was kinda like a jolt of electricity for me. I had already been mixing some old songs I wanted on the album and none of them were really doing it for me. They just sounded old. And one night I was hooking up my synth, trying to make sure I was getting a signal into the mixer and bam! the pulsing bass note started going and I immediately created a bass line and added a vocal. It was the first new song I had written for this album, and it ignited a fire in my belly that got me writing nine more brand new songs.

I’ve learned to ride this wave of spontaneity. The less I overthink, the more raw and real the sound gets. It’s a bit like surfing – you can’t force the wave; you’ve got to feel it and let it take you on a ride. When I try too hard, it’s like hitting a brick wall with my creativity. I’ve got some tracks buried in my archives that I labored over for ages, and man, they sound forced. It’s the tunes that flow out in a mad rush, those are the ones that stick.

The real magic always happens late at night, when I should be in bed, but I’m just itching to make up some little bit of something before calling it a night. I’ll lay down a quick track, let it simmer overnight, and then give it a fresh listen in the morning. It’s like a surprise, you know? I’ve completely forgotten what I made up the night before and I’ll be driving down the road, blasting this fresh tune, and it either blows my mind or cracks me up with how bad it is.

Here’s the real trick – you gotta be ruthless. If a track doesn’t slap you in the face with being amaze-balls right away, it’s time to let it go. It’s tough. It’s like a breakup, but it’s gotta be done. You’ve got to trust your gut and keep that creative flow unblocked. In the end, it’s all about capturing those wild, unscripted moments that make music come alive. That’s the heartbeat of my sound.

Indie Midlands: The integration of a phone message from an old girlfriend adds a personal touch to ‘Backwards.’ How do you navigate the balance between sharing personal experiences through your music and maintaining a universal appeal for your audience?

Silas Funk: ‘Backwards’ isn’t just a track; it’s a big slice of my life, you know? Blending the personal with the universal can be like walking a tightrope. I used to get all heady with my lyrics in SnoGlobe, trying to sound like some kind of philosopher. But I realized, man, it’s the raw, real stuff that hits home. Love, heartache, longing – it’s the soundtrack of life.

That old phone message in ‘Backwards,’ it’s a real piece of my past, like a heartbreak snapshot. I asked my ex if it was cool to use it, and she was down with it. For me, it’s not about airing dirty laundry; it’s about sharing those universal moments. We’ve all loved and lost, right?

When I write, it’s not just about me spilling my guts. It’s about connecting, resonating with someone out there going through the same stuff. I want my songs to be like a friend saying, “Hey, I’ve been there too.” And it’s not always all about love either– take ‘Phony’, for example. It starts off pointing fingers at everybody, but then – plot twist – it turns out I’m the biggest phony of ‘em all! It’s about owning your flaws, being real. We’ve all been there, pretending, putting on a mask. It’s human.

So, yeah, it’s all about striking that chord of shared experience. No one wants to hear a ‘woe is me’ ballad. It’s about finding that sweet spot where personal meets universal. That’s where the magic happens and where I aim to be. But yeah, it can be like walking a tightrope sometimes. There’s that line from Spinal Tap- “it’s such a fine line between stupid and clever.”

Indie Midlands: Your influences range from The Killers to The Cure and Green Day. How do you incorporate these diverse inspirations into your sound while ensuring your music remains uniquely ‘Silas Funk’?

Silas Funk: Man, juggling my influences – from The Killers to The Cure, Green Day, etc – it’s like a sonic circus sometimes. In the old days, I was like a musical chameleon, always trying to mimic the masters. But now, it’s all about stirring that pot of inspirations to cook up something that screams ‘Silas Funk.’ That’s the goal anyway.

‘Backwards’ kicked off with a vibe that’s a nod to the early Cure, but then I threw in a twist with the dreamy guitar – something they wouldn’t typically do. Vocally, I started with a raw edge, kind of a Green Day grunt, but then veered off into layered harmonies territory. It’s like a mash- up of pop-punk attitude with a choir in the backroom.

And yeah, the song’s got this electric buzz that might remind you of The Killers. I’m all about channeling their energy, but not copying their homework, you know? The synth lines are a actually borrowed sound from my playing in my 2nd band, Terminal-3. So, it’s a little electronic past blasting into the present.

In my head, it’s kinda like hosting a jam session with all my heroes. What would they do if they all teamed up on a track? That’s the question that drives my sound. But at the end of the day, it’s got to have that unique Silas Funk fingerprint – a blend of all these greats but still unmistakably me. That’s the art of it – mixing, blending, but never losing your own beat in the music.”

Indie Midlands: ‘Sugarfixx’ draws inspiration from the Post-Punk, New Wave, and Alternative genres of the late 70s to early 90s. How do you approach paying homage to these eras while injecting your own modern, forward-thinking twist?

Silas Funk: ‘Sugarfixx’ is like a time machine for me. I dive into the raw energy of Post-Punk, New Wave, and Alternative from the golden days of the late 70s through mid 90s. But here’s the deal- it’s not about being a cover band of an era; it’s about capturing their spirit and blasting it into the future.

When I’m crafting a tune, I’m painting with sounds from the past, but always with an eye on the now. I’m in no way wanting to recreate a time capsule. It’s more like taking the essence of those rad times and shaking it up with a modern twist. It’s about keeping it fresh, not fossilized.

Take ‘Phony’, for instance. It’s got a timeless vibe, a bit like if John Lennon, Lou Reed, and Daniel Ash had a musical lovechild. And ‘Drive’, my first single, it’s got a hint of Lou Reed and a dash of Gary Newman and A-ha, but twisted into something totally new. Or ‘Love Strikes Again’ – its inspiration was that of 311, Alice in Chains, and The Police, but after I got done with it, those influences became more like whispers when it got all filtered through the lens of where I wanted it to be.

The bottom line is my influences are just a launchpad. They’re the spark, but the fire is all me in the end. It’s about starting from a place of inspiration and then veering off into uncharted territory.

Indie Midlands: The anticipation for the music video of ‘Backwards’ is palpable. Can you provide a sneak peek into the visual concept and how it complements the sonic experience of the track?

Silas Funk: Get ready for something unusual with the ‘Backwards’ music video. I’m all about diving deep into my creative ocean, and sometimes, yeah, I go off the deep end – but in the best way possible. It’s like a mix of ambition, art, and a dash of madness.

I’ve been cooking up some wild scenes in the Nevada desert and in my loft in downtown Omaha, building elaborate sci-fi sets. I’m going somewhat epic. My previous video, ‘Love Strikes Again,’ was just a taste, shot in what looks to be a film archive, with just me, the camera, and a world of imagination.

But for ‘Backwards,’ I’m kicking it up a notch with a storyline that’s part sci-fi, part thriller, all set in a top-secret government lab in the Nevada desert. It’s going to be a retro sci-fi mashup of visuals that tie into this larger, mind-bending narrative.

And the best part? Each music video is like a piece of a puzzle, adding up to a mini-movie by the end. For ‘Backwards,’ it’s not just about the heartache of a breakup, it’s about this intense desire to turn back time. We’re going to play with time in the video, shooting in a unique reverse fashion that mirrors the song’s title. It’s going to be an epic visual journey that complements the sonic experience of the track.

Indie Midlands: From the dissolution of your first Alt-Rock band to composing scores for NASA documentaries, your journey has been diverse. How have these varied experiences shaped your musical identity, and do you find connections between seemingly disparate musical endeavors?

Silas Funk: My musical journey’s been a wild ride. Growing up, my ears were all tuned to classical music and movie scores – that was what spoke to my soul. But then came rock ‘n’ roll and it was like a siren song on the radio, calling me. But it wasn’t until my junior year in high school that I really felt the urge to rock out and wear weird clothes, gel my hair into odd shapes, put on eye liner and go shoegaze dancing in some underage club with smoke machines and laser lights going all wild.

College was where the dream started taking shape. Forming a band was everything. I met Paul David, and we started jamming every weekend, creating this crazy, dark, moody music using every effect pedal we could think afford to buy. We were ‘1331’ at first, then along came Jonathan Paul and Vernon Salyers, and boom – ‘SnoGlobe’ was born, and we were tearing it up in the LA scene, Haha! It was freakin’ awesome playing live gigs in LA but so much work. We argued a lot too. And we did get some airplay on the world-famous KCRW and that was the coolest.

But here’s the twist – even in the thick of the alt-rock scene, I was always crafting these classical pieces, like a double life. Scoring for shows, documentaries, and I had a regular gig for NASA which kept the lights on and the creativity flowing. Working on an animated film score in 2017 with a live orchestra in Kiev – man, that was a dream come true! Directing via Skype, but hearing my music come to life with the violins, cellos, basses and violas– pure magic.

So, how does this all mesh into Silas Funk? It’s like painting with every color on the palette. I’ve got this one track on the album with a full-on string section, and I’m thinking, why not go big? I can do what I did for the animated feature and arrange for a studio session with a live orchestra to nail it. It’s all about blending that cinematic scope with my rock roots.

I’m always pushing the envelope, adding in those Blade Runner-esque keyboard parts. Sometimes it’s a balancing act, keeping it from getting too heavy, but there’s an instrumental track on the album that just speaks to me even more so than the others. I’m even thinking of dropping it as a single around Christmas – it’s got this vibe that just pulls you into this deep, reflective space. It’s called ‘Fade to Light.’

And there’s more where that came from – I’ve got a treasure trove of instrumental pieces, some soundtrack-style, others just out there, kind of Peter Gabriel or Aphex Twin atmospheric and some just plain weird. Who knows? Maybe they’ll morph into a whole new album.

Each song is a new adventure. Sometimes it’s the bass laying down the groove, other times the keys take the lead, or the guitar rips through like a driving force that wants to be front and center. I love mixing it up, doing the unexpected and keeping it fresh.

I’ve really been digging the marimba – it’s all over the album, adding this percussive, exotic vibe that cuts through the wash of sounds. Back in the SnoGlobe days, I used a hammered dulcimer and this wild electronic project kit from Radio Shack that was all a big jumbled mess of wires and electrodes running through effect pedals– total DIY! I’m all about those organic, off-the-wall sounds. Like, my fridge’s compressor started making this funky rhythmic clicking – straight out of a 70s sci-fi flick like Westworld. So, what do I do? I stuck my phone recorder in the fridge and then used the recording as a percussive element for one of the tracks.

And then there’s this old, beaten-up acoustic guitar with a warped neck. It’s a hassle to keep in tune, but the sound? Pure gold. It’s got this deep, soulful tone that you just can’t replicate.

But wait, there’s more – I’ve got a Hungarian Cimbalom just waiting for its moment to shine. Even if it’s just for one note, that sound is too cool not to use. It’s all about pushing the boundaries, experimenting with the unconventional. Each project is a journey into the unknown, and that’s what keeps me motivated and this whole thing exhilarating.

Nat Greener