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Funkdamentalist

48 free tracks in 48 days - but why?

2016 Jan 11     
2 Bit Thugs

We catch up with the Silence In Metropolis label boss to get the full story behind his epic musical giveaway, Project 48

There's a very good chance the names Funkdamentalist, Bilal Arshad and Silence In Metropolis mean nothing to you... unless you're a connoisseur of real deep house music, that is.

For the past three years, boutique label Silence In Metropolis has been quietly putting out the kind of leftfield-leaning, uber-deep house you definitely won't be hearing on Kiss FM or Annie Mac's show any time soon. Meanwhile, under his Funkdamentalist alter ego, label co-owner Bilal Arshad has had tracks out on such esteemed house labels as i! Records, King Street Sounds and Something Different.

Now, as we lurch forward into 2016, Bilal's announced a new venture. Project 48 will see him giving away 48 tracks for free, in as many weeks. According to the hype sheet, "This is most definitely a labour of love. Project 48 tracks will always have a fundamentally underground slant, with hints of soul and deep, driving grooves made with the dancefloor in mind."

Intrigued? We were, so we hit up Bilal to find out more...

Before we talk about Project 48, let's talk a little about your background - how you first got into dance music, when you started DJing and producing, etc...


"In 1996 a couple of my friends took me to an alley in DC and there was a spot in the alley called Zei Club. It was an electric substation warehouse turned into a Eurpean-style nightclub with probably the best sound system in DC at the time. This was the first time I was introduced to the four-to-the-floor dance beat. The music was house, techno and trance, all with a Euro tinge. I was blown away by the music, and by how the DJ took control of the crowd and told a story.


"I then had to learn how to DJ and was soon doing all kinds of gigs, from weddings, to house parties and international college events and even some corporate gigs. While doing these side gigs I got myself a pair of Technics and started hitting up 12” Records in DC which later became the now defunct DJ Hut. There was a party hosted by Farid of Eighteenth Streeet Lounge and DJ Sam Burns called Red... it became my Sunday night dance ritual.


"I would post DJ mixes online and through that I was invited by DJ Kimozaki to play house with him over at The Park’s patio on Friday nights. Since then I’ve been lucky enough to have DJ’ed most underground spots across DC, playing alongside some of my favorite acts including George Fitzgerald, Detroit Swindle & Huxley.


"In the early 2000s while I was DJing at weddings etc I was experimenting with software that was popular at the time like Acid and Fruity Loops. I used to make edits to tracks for my gigs and dabbled in some remixes. That was my intro into production and I’ve been producing in some capacity ever since."


You're co-owner of the Silence In Metropolis label. Can you tell us a little about the label's history, ethos and music policy?


"The label’s idea was solidified when Sam Kosh, my partner in SIM, and I were at WMC 2012. We were inspired by all the talent and music we were surrounded by and decided we had to contribute to the scene and we had been throwing around the idea of starting a label. The name, look and feel of Silence in Metropolis is an homage to Fritz Lang’s 1927 sci-fi epic Metropolis. The logo and most of the artwork is derived from the iconography within that film.


"The ethos of SIM also revolves around the theme of the movie, where the protagonist goes into the depths of city and attempts to help the workers rise together. In some small way we like to think we're finding hidden talents and helping them shine through. Musically we gravitate towards forward-thinking deep house that is well thought out and has some meaningful touch or soul to it. We're really proud of the roster of artists on the label and the tracks we've put out so far."


So, that brings us to Project 48. 48 tracks in 48 weeks is quite an undertaking - what first gave you the idea for the project?


"Last year I didn't release a lot of tracks but I did spend a lot of time in the studio starting a lot of projects. I also had tracks that I finished but hadn't shopped around to many labels. I needed to get the material out there, and as a label owner I know how release schedules go: it can sometimes take more than a year to release a track once it's signed. So I set a goal for myself, to create my best work and commit to a release schedule that was challenging yet achievable and something I could control. The result of this is Project 48."


...and what are you hoping to achieve with it?


"As any artist will tell you, the most important thing that matters is sharing your creative work with as many people as possible. Project 48 is my answer to how I can do that in an efficient and quick manner with little in-between myself and the folks that would enjoy my work. The focus needs to be on the music and this is why I decided to give every track away. I'd like people to download the music and then share it with their friends. Spread the good vibes... life is too short for anything less."


Will all the tracks be available throughout the project, or do people have to 'grab 'em while they're hot'?


"I will release one track every week and from then on these tracks will be available to download. Again, the goal is simply to get it in the hands of anyone that feels it."


Are there any plans to put out a compilation at the project's end, or anything along those lines?


"Once I’m getting closer to the end of the project I might do something special.. but I'm not sure yet what that might be. A vinyl compilation of the best received tracks perhaps? Maybe get some remixes done? Who knows… anything is possible I guess!"


What made you plump for Bandcamp rather than any other distribution channel?


"Bandcamp was easy to set up and gives me some statistics that might be helpful. Also it has all the basics of what I would need to expand out this project to something more if I so choose."


What can we expect from the series musically... will it all be the kind of very deep house that Silence in Metropolis specialises in, or given the sheer volume of music involved, has this been a chance to spread your wings a bit?


"My productions are all over the place as far as genres go but mostly it revolves around the deep house/house/tech/indie-dance realm. I used to make hip-hop remixes for a couple of local DC crews back in the day as well, so spreading my wings a bit is a very real possibility."


How long has it taken to get the material ready for this project? 48 tracks is a lot so you must presumably have been beavering away at this for a while?


"I’ve been making a lot of music, mostly it’s unfinished ideas, but I've given myself a little head start and finished a little more than a couple of months' worth of tracks. With the tight schedule I’ve set out for myself I will still have to keep the wheels turning, so to speak. This was the idea all along: to commit myself to doing what I love most. If you don’t commit to things that you love, then life has a way of committing you to things that might not matter as much - like watching Netflix!"


What else is going on for you at the moment - both as Funkdamentalist and with Silence In Metropolis?


"As Funkdamentalist, Project 48 is going to keep me busy for a while. As for Silence In Metropolis, we have a vinyl release coming out in a few months and some great releases brewing on the digital front. Also we’re just now starting to accept demos again, so we’re pretty excited about that right now. 2016 is looking very promising."


To start your collection of Project 48 tracks, head over to http://funkdamentalist.bandcamp.com/releases

 

 

 

 

Tags: Silence In Metropolis, Funkdamentalist, King Street, i! Records, Something Different