The Funkee Wadd Gave A Hip-Hop Education At Tall Tree [Exclusive Interview]

Every so often a DJ comes along who captivates you enough to make you show up to every single set he plays, no matter what. That DJ for some, and for most, is Kyle Waddington AKA The Funkee Wadd. After seeing his blistering set at Tall Tree 2013, it was clear this man was a breath of fresh air to our island scene. Fusing the best in hip hop, breaks, funk, and soul The Funkee Wadd makes a set that even in the sweltering heat, makes you feel so cool.

Since then, he remained one of the island’s most in-demand party rockers, playing everywhere from Electric Love Music Festival, to Shambhala, and almost every local gig in town. Through local gigs and his production company Funky Behavior, which is responsible for the Victoria debut of Space Jesus, among many other funky shows on Thursday nights at Distrikt. This man is one to watch.

This year, The Funkee Wadd chose his set to give us all a much needed lesson in the roots and beginnings of hip hop, and boy did he deliver. From the first note of the first tune, we knew we were in for a wild ride. Taking us through the beginnings of hip hop in New York to the new stylings of the Kendrick Lamar, he took us to school. Not only do we get a bomb mix from the The Funkee Wadd himself, we also got a chance to chat with him about all things Tall Tree, his process, and how he got here today!

1. As a veteran of Tall Tree Music Festival, how has it contributed to your success as an artist?

FW: Veteran eh? Never been called that in my life! There have been numerous pivotal moments since I’ve started playing music, but the one that has led to the most this far was playing Tall Tree 2013. That was the moment I got to know the Victoria scene, and realized I wanted to live here, surrounded by these incredible artists and music lovers. (Big ups to Justin Doyle, John Beaumier, Clark Cutler, and Adam Duron, if it wasn’t for you I wouldn’t have the chance to return annually to my favourite festival in the world)

2. This year you took on a managerial role at the Spirit Stage, how did that affect your performance, good or bad?

FW: Being part of the Spirit Stage team, along side Nathan and Clark did nothing but make my experience that much better. I feel like I need to keep busy at festivals to ensure I stay on track. Ever since Song and Surf when I managed the night stage there, and now after Tall Tree I feel like I have found my calling. If I could do that at every festival I would be so full with happiness. Stage managing/having something to do keeps me in line, and guarantees I am going to be in tip top shape when it comes time to perform.

3. You’re what’s known as a chameleon in our scene, someone who can adapt to any genre or gig thrown at them, but what is your favourite genre to just get down to in a live set?

FW: First off, thank you for that chameleon comment; that’s the biggest compliment you can give me! I wish I had a single answer to that. I probably would say if I could have a crowd the size that I did at Spirit this year, in the sun, playing old school funk,soul, and jamming happy vibes down people’s gullet (like I had in 2014 on the main stage), that would be my jam. But nothing compares to having a group of thousands hanging on every transition, while you light it up with heavy bangers like this year. Either or, I’m stoked!

4.  What is your process when you start building a set?

FW: My process goes like this: look at my set time and stage, put myself in the crowd’s shoes at that festival or show, look at which acts are surrounding me, investigate their musical styles, and start or end off the set with that vibe for smooth transition. Set structure goes like this: based on the prior act, I start off on that vibe as much as I am comfortable doing. Then, based on that BPM, I begin the process of song selection. If the prior DJ is rinsing out DNB (approx 88bpm standard), I’ll start out with 90 BPM bass music or hip hop, which both have a strong amount of tracks in that bpm, and then that is where it begins gradually raising in BPM.

I like to incorporate as many genres as possible in a set. Hip hop, funk, bass music, midtempo, house, wobbly banging house, lil electro, breaks, or DNB. It’s not about the genre, it’s about the journey. THAT’S how you hold a crowd!

5. Who are your professional and personal influences? Musical and otherwise?

FW: Musical influences include Father Funk, WBBL, JR. Dynamite, Pigeon Hole, Mt. Doyle, Xavier, Illvis Freshly, Chuurch, The Funk Hunters, Grossbuster, Cozway, JFB, DJ Premier, Skiitour, James Brown, Otis Redding, and many more. My personal influences are The Organizers of Tall Tree and Shambhala, every single one of them.

In regards to struggles I’ve gone through, Macklemore and DJ AM are two people I look to when I need some strength. Both have gone through so much that I have, and I don’t know where I would be without being able to turn to them when fragile. Also my Mom and Dad. To watch your son struggle intensely with addiction, galavanting around the world surrounded in the club scene must have been so hard, yet at every turn they were there and got me through the worst of it.

And finally, Naomi Williams and the boys in Illvis Freshly. They are responsible for me being here still. Naomi was and in some ways still is my rock. Though the struggles she was there. She didn’t have to do any of the things she did, but she chose to. She is one of the strongest, most loving women I’ve ever met and I am a better man because of her. God, you are about to make me cry in a friggen interview haha.

6. What’s next for 2017 for the elusive Wadd?

FW: This summer was for making roots for me. I played Boogaloo for the dirty Beatles in LA a couple months back, and just did Tall tree. Then, I have the Five Acre Shaker and Ukee Days coming up. Plus a couple of weddings and one I can’t talk about quite yet. I’m focusing on my residency weekly, you can catch me in Vic every weekend at Infiniti Nightclub Friday 8-10 and Saturday 930-12!

Jamie, I want to personally thank you for everything you have done for the Vic Scene. Without you this scene wouldn’t be as established as it is. I love ya buddy!

The Funkee Wadd can be caught all over town, like he mentioned at Infiniti Nightclub, and all across Canada! We wanna thank Kyle for sitting down with us and getting us so pumped for the new mix! Check it out on Soundcloud using the link above!

What do you think? Is there a Wadd in your radar for the summer? What are your favorite parts of the new mix?! Let us know in the comments!

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