Interview - Silas Funk 'Backwards'
Silas Funk, the visionary musical talent behind an upcoming wave in alternative rock, is set to make waves with his latest creation, 'Backwards.'
This electrifying track serves as a tantalizing teaser for Funk's anticipated debut album, 'Sugarfixx,' slated to hit the airwaves in fall 2023. With 'Backwards,' Funk showcases his avant-garde approach to music production, bringing forth a sonic experience that defies conventions. Crafted within the intimate confines of his home studio, this standout track emerged serendipitously.
Could you share the story behind the creation of 'Backwards' and how it reflects the innovative approach you're bringing to the alternative rock scene?
I went diving into my archive of old songs last December, hoping to select tracks for my album. While setting up my analogue synth, I randomly touched the keyboard to make sure it was getting sound to the mixer. I played three notes which ended up becoming the pulsing bass line and tempo for 'Backwards.' Inspired by this accident, I quickly developed the song's lyrics, drawing from the past pain of a relationship, symbolized by a phone message from my ex-girlfriend embedded within the track.
This song marked a turning point. I decided to abandon my old compositions and embrace a faster, imperfect, but more prolific approach to songwriting. Striving for perfection often led me in circles, creating endless variations of the same stupid song. Letting go became essential; some creations had to be discarded to make room for new ideas.
My favorite tracks emerged from this rapid, intuitive process. For 'Backwards,' the initial vocal line I sang on day one remained on the final mix, giving it a raw authenticity.
With 'Backwards' being a teaser for your upcoming debut album 'Sugarfixx,' what can fans expect in terms of the album's sound, themes, and its place in your musical journey?
This album draws heavily from the innovative New Wave/Post Punk era of the late 70s to early 90s. I aimed to recreate that same raw, authentic approach those bands had during that period, even embracing its imperfections. Unlike today's overly polished and digitally perfect recordings, I wanted my music to possess soul and grit and possibly even a mistake here and there. Recording in my home studio allowed for a less polished, more genuine feel, akin to the analog recordings of the 50s and 60s jazz albums where you would hear lots of room tone, tape hiss and even people talking. I believe imperfections are essential; they give rock and roll its rebellious edge, breaking away from sterile, overly processed sounds. Rock music, in my view, thrives on being raw, imperfect, and unapologetically rebellious. And in this era of AI being able to craft a hit song in seconds, sounding more human and imperfect is the way to go.
The use of diverse instruments in 'Backwards' is quite remarkable. How did you approach incorporating these instruments, and how does it set the stage for 'Sugarfixx' as a whole?
I wanted to incorporate unexpected sounds into the album's tracks, aiming for a balance. Sometimes it would sound cool and other times distracting. While experimenting last winter, I shared some songs with trusted musician friends who found my music “too weird”. That feedback prompted me to further discard my approach and aim for a more listenable, single-like quality in each track. In today's music landscape, where albums are overshadowed by singles, this approach feels fitting. Each song on the album, has a somewhat "single" vibe to it. But rather than being an album full of singles, they all fit together as a package and tell a story.
In my creative journey, I like to blur genres, and be guided by intuition. I blend punk, pop, dance, film score- whatever feels right to my gut as I want to resist the constraints of traditional norms. Instead of predictable distorted guitars on Backwards, I added unexpected elements like analogue synths, psychedelic guitars, and marimba. This unorthodox fusion defines my sound, making each track on the album feel more artistic and authentic.
You've mentioned influences like The Killers, The Cure, and Green Day. How have these iconic artists shaped your music, and how does 'Backwards' pay homage to them while pushing boundaries?
I believe true rock and roll, much like the music of my favorite bands from the past, should challenge the eardrums at first. It should sound weird, off, wrong, and even irritating. Why? I hated The Cure when I first heard their music. I thought Robert Smiths’ voice was awful, as well as Morrissey’s from The Smiths. Green Day annoyed me, and The Killers sound was too tinny. But it wasn’t long before I loved them all and thought they were geniuses. It just took a few listens because my ears weren’t used to it. I think new rock and roll should initially make you question its sound, challenge your perception, and make you say, "What is this crap?" Modern art, I think, operates under a similar principle, aiming to be unfamiliar and provocative to the senses.
The Cure has been a huge influence on my vocals and lyric writing as well as my guitar playing. Robert Smith is a true poet and genius when it comes to crafting lyrics and vocal melodies. But the Cure is also a bit dark for where I want to go and I’m trying to steer away from being too melancholic or depressing. Green Day and The Killers on the other hand have helped with that direction, pushing me to play more aggressively while maintaining a sense of fun. I think they both are great at playing a rebellious and aggressive tone without sounding too angry or dark
As 'Backwards' serves as a bold declaration of forward motion, could you elaborate on the message or emotions you hope listeners will take away from both the track and the larger narrative of 'Sugarfixx'?
The aggressive energy in the song aligns with my personal experiences over the past few years, making it a reflection of my journey. The line,” I can’t stand another drink inside my house,” speaks to this aggression of being sick and tired of the weight of past mistakes and begging God to take the burden from me and change my life once and for all. I've always aimed to share the lessons I've learned in the hope of helping others. In today's culture, there's a growing tendency for negativity, evident in music, movies, and TV shows. While this negativity isn't new, it has undeniably intensified. My goal is simple: if my experiences can inspire just one person to make better life choices and learn from my mistakes, I consider my mission accomplished.
What personal and artistic milestones led you to embark on a solo journey and create 'Sugarfixx,' and how does this mark a new chapter in your musical career?
I decided to go solo after years of frustration trying to find like-minded artists. Many seemed content with uninspiring fame or small bar gigs, neither of which are appealing to me. I wanted to perform for larger audiences with universally appealing yet inventive music.
Despite composing film and TV scores over the years, I yearned to be back in a band and play live on stage. But emotional setbacks led to a long period of recovery, during which I felt silenced as I disappeared somewhat in the crowd. Deep down, however, I knew I belonged back on stage. Putting this album together has been symbolic of me coming back into the stage lights. This time having shed the dark songs in favor of something more positive and beautiful. 'Backwards,' seemingly negative, explores a healthy sense of regret, a deep desire for change, and refusal to repeat past mistakes. I believe facing regret is vital for growth; ignoring it leads to stagnation.
My artistic journey began on stage, playing young Scrooge in "A Christmas Carol." In that story, I found my personal transformation narrative. Just as Scrooge confronts his regrets, seeks redemption, and experiences rebirth, this album symbolizes my own renewal. It's a portrayal of the changed man I've become.
Having received classical vocal training in my youth and earning a vocal scholarship for college, returning to singing has become essential. After more than a decade of composing instrumental soundtracks, reconnecting with my own voice holds profound significance. Years of emotional pain led me to withdraw, making the prospect of returning to the stage seem like an old forgotten dream. But because of my rebirth, I’m ready for stage again, now more than ever.
With 'Sugarfixx' set to release in fall 2023, can you give us a sneak peek into the overall experience and how this album represents your vision as a musician?
The album unfolds as a cohesive story, with each song serving as a chapter that seamlessly fits together. Accompanying music videos will offer a fictional perspective, featuring me as a character who gets lost in the desert and taken captive. The central theme revolves around a deep love for a woman, the pain of separation, and the intense desire to reunite with her. Throughout the album, she remains my focal point, a source of strength during this challenging journey. This concept mirrors common survival strategies, where individuals enduring hardships often fixate on someone they love, acting as a driving force to overcome their obstacles. This woman embodies the concept of "Sugarfixx."
As a solo artist, I find myself responsible for playing all the instruments on the album. This experience has been liberating in some respects but challenging in others. One of the struggles I face is the desire to play better than my current abilities allow.
A line from the movie Sing Street deeply resonates with me and keeps me motivated when I think I’m not playing well enough. In the film, the main character is part of a band despite his lack of musical skills. His brother advises him, saying, "Did the Sex Pistols know how to play? You don't need to know how to play. Who are you, Steely Dan? You need to learn how NOT to play, Conor. That's the trick. That's rock and roll. And THAT... takes practice."
This quote reinforced the essence of rock and roll for me: it's not about technical perfection but embracing the raw, rebellious spirit. It's about learning how to break the rules skillfully, a sentiment that guided my approach to creating the album.