Brendan M. Gillen, better known as BMG, is the man behind longstanding Detroit imprint Interdimensional Transmissions and one half of electronic outfit Ectomorph.
Committed to preserving the Motor city’s musical legacy, his latest curated project comes in collaboration with veteran US label Westbound Records, looking back at the legendary work of George Clinton’s Parliament-Funkadelic by asking a diverse selection of remixers from today’s generation of Detroit producers and musicians to reimagine their music.
Featuring a host of Motor city talent that includes Moodymann, Underground Resistance, Amp Fiddler, Recloose and Marcellus Pitman, we caught up with Brendan to discuss some of his favourite moments of the project and why he feels its important to build on Funkadelic’s legacy.
Brendan M. Gillen on Funkadelic – Reworked by Detroiters:
One day while discussing edit records, my friend Tom “Thump” Simonian and I dreamed up this idea, where a diverse selection of remixers from today’s generation of Detroit producers and musicians, looking back at the immense legacy of Funkadelic and then re-imagining it for now, with the re-interpreters chosen to prismatically represent the vastness of Funkadelic’s genre-bending music.
Creating this record has been a labor of love, trying to make sure everything about it was top quality. The remixers turned in some of their best work, and rather than just being a remix album, you actually have contemporary interpretations of their music. Some have turned in dance mixes, others have done covers or even stripped and dubbed the originals, revealing so much more that was hidden within the music. The idea is to reconnect Funkadelic’s vast legacy with today’s generation of music heads.Funkadelic have created an enduring legacy, and the power of their impact is visceral in Detroit.
Their records not only played with genre, but possessed a diabolical sense of humour that led to music domination by the late 70s with Parliament, Funkadelic, Parlet, Bootsy’s Rubber Band and the Brides Of Funkenstein all releasing albums the same year for two years in a row.
The music itself is beyond stereotype, but equally huge is that they were a black band not allowing themselves to be limited by anyone else’s notions of who they could be, having a massive impact on the next generation of Detroit music, Detroit Techno. But more than just Techno, it is a freedom of thinking that extends beyond boxes, so we included all sorts of today’s generation of Detroit musicians and producers to show the wide range of music that was Funkadelic and how these ideas are still contemporary, they endure and inspire.
It’s truly hard to name a band that defied societal expectations so strongly, disregarded all stereotypes, yet still made such a major impact on the world. For this very achievement, they constantly inspire people around the globe, but for Detroit there is a deeper meaning.
1. YOU CAN’T MISS WHAT YOU CAN’T MEASURE (ALTON MILLER MIX)
Alton Miller was one of the original residents at the Music Instituite, the club that launched Derrick May to the world, as well as one of the people who spread the gospel of Ron Hardy and the Music Box in Detroit.
Here he takes Funkadelic’s remake of the Parliaments’ ‘Heart Trouble’ and gives it an entirely new and modern flavour (with a Latin tinge), yet still highlighting the incredible original vocals and songwriting that went into this classic from the “Cosmic Slop” album.
2. COSMIC SLOP (MOODYMANN MIX)
The epic of all epics. Kenny Dixon Jr aka Moody aka Moodymann is one of Detroit’s all-time greats. In many ways I feel like he is a Mojo of his own generation, having first innovated in House with his own KDJ label and then Mahogani, he has evolved into one of Detroit’s best representatives of the Funkateer generation in modern music.
Everything about him drips with eccentric Detroit Funk. To deliver him the stems, I had to meet him at Northland Roller Rink, where he throws his legendary Skate parties.
3. UNDISCO KIDD (GAY MARVINE EDIT)
Gay Marvine is one the best Disco editors on the planet, founder of the Bath House Etiquette label and creator many of the best Secret Mixes / Fixes. Here he turns ‘Undisco Kidd’ into an infectious dance floor anthem, speeding the song up about 20 beats per minute and making it actually be Disco. How perverse.
He is currently based in San Francisco, and is a resident of Honcho at Hot Mass in Pittsburgh, and still plays in his home town of Detroit on a regular basis.
4. SUPER STUPID (DIRTBOMBS VERSION)
The Dirtbombs are one of Detroit’s great Rock groups. Spawning from the ashes of Detroit Garage Punk legends the Gories, Mick Collins found a new way of expressing his deep connection to music. I first met him while I was working in the Record Time Dance Room, he wandered in and I sold him some Drexciya, Aphex Twin and Basic Channel.
I was inspired to ask them to do their interpretation of Funkadelic on the basis of their history of insightful covers, but it was the raw rock power of Eddie Hazel’s playing on ‘Super Stupid’ that I hoped they could touch on with their sound, and they do really make it theirs, to remind everybody that Funkadelic was an amazing rock group too.
5. MUSIC 4 MY MOTHER (UNDERGROUND RESISTANCE MIX)
Underground Resistance are one of the most significant post-Belleville Three purveyors of Detroit Techno. Kind of like the Detroit Techno version of Minor Threat and Fugazi’s Discord. Underground Resistance co-founder Mike Banks began his music career with a Motown project, and as that dissolved he ended playing guitar and touring in P-Funk in the 80s, before co founding UR with Jeff Mills and ushering in a whole new era of tough Techno, Acid and Electro.
Here we find UR collaborating with Funkadelic over the years, a perfect marriage of the down-home funk of the 1969 original with an almost “Atomic Dog”-era clap and the tough Funk of UR. It literally sounds like a hundred years of great American music, and is one of the few if not only Detroit Techno tracks with a harmonica.
6. STANDING ON THE VERGE (ANTHONY SHAKE SHAKIR & T DANCER REMIX)
Anthony “Shake” Shakir is one of my favorite Detroiters, he always tells it like it is. For this mix we find Shake working with a friend he met in Kalamazoo during his college years, Tyler Dancer, whose younger brother Brett runs Track Mode. Shake’s father was a towering influence upon him; he was good friends with Marvin Gaye, regularly playing basketball together.
Here he takes on one of his favorite songs from his father’s record collection, ‘Standing On The Verge Of Getting it On’, the perfect call and response record. The groove is transformed into Shake’s signature staccato style, with flairs he developed from his many years as a turntable master, like those ear-grabbing pauses.
7. YOU AND YOUR FOLKS (CLAUDE YOUNG JR DUB)
Claude Young Jr is a second generation Detroit radio legend. Claude got his start as a captivating mix DJ on WHYT and quickly became one of the most sought-after DJs in Detroit while Claude’s father was the program director of WJLB in the 70s, eventually Detroit’s number one station and always the top “urban” station.
I remember seeing photos of artists like Parliament, Mick Jagger and David Bowie shaking hands with Claude Young Sr and handing him gold records for his contribution. For this mix, instead of doing the classic remix thing of replacing and replaying parts and shaping the song into something that is more set for the dance floor, Claude takes the original multi-tracks and creates a dubbed out-take on the original, revealing so many details you may not have heard before. This is definitely one to lose yourself in.
8. LOOKING BACK AT YOU (ECTOMORPH STRIPPED AND DUBBED)
For Ectomorph’s contribution to this release, they have taken a rare demo found during the multi-track tape research. This is a demo that was hidden within the reels of other songs, mis-labelled for decades. It’s such a joy to hear the band leading musical instructions while the guide vocal is being laid down, you can feel the band imagining and forming the song as they play.
Here it is stripped down to it’s raw essence, and then carefully dubbed, to aid in those explorations of inner and outer space. Highlighting the incredibly heavy almost reggae rhythm section and monstrous Moog playing of Bernie Worrell, we have a version that shows more of the synthesis that is sometimes hidden within Funkadelic multi-tracks. Stripped and Dubbed for your pleasure.
Funkadelic – Reworked by Detroiters is out now on Westbound Records. Order it here.