Interview: Daniel Lantz, keyboardist of Swedish jazz-funk act Beat Funktion
March 24, 2011 (Uppsala, Sweden) Written by Robert Sutton. To the Swedish funk act Beat Funktion, the D word does not constitute foul language.
The D word in this case is disco, the oft-maligned dominant pop-music style of the late ‘70s. But Beat Funktion, with their literate reading of jazz conventions as well as skin-deep understanding of funk, actually makes disco respectable.
The band has just released their debut album, The Plunge, which crackles with real instrumentation, youthful spunk, and non-stop good times. Keyboardist Daniel Lantz discusses Beat Funktion's place in Sweden's indie scene.
Q: How big of a market is there for '70s funk in Sweden?
A: Not huge, but it exists. I suppose people of all ages acknowledge the '70s fashion as a lifestyle today, so among certain crowds there is definitely an interest in retro culture. However, I would not say that there are overwhelmingly many Swedish bands playing '70s funk, at least not in the way or to the extent that Beat Funktion does. But our music has a wide scope in its function for dancing. We have proven many times that we can deliver to any dance floor out there.
Q: What would you say the age group that Beat Funktion normally attracts is?
A: I would say that our music successfully reaches listeners between the ages 20-40, who enjoy a night out dancing to powerful live dance music. We discovered that when we got started. Still, listeners who are older than that and are into jazz enjoy our regular concerts because of our great soloists. Playing for a seated audience means certain limitations, but also other possibilities.
Q: Does Beat Funktion get much radio support in Sweden? Are they open to local independent artists on commercial radio there?
A: Well, the limitations of radio airplay, such as preferred track lengths staying below some three minutes, makes it difficult for our music to be heard on the radio here. So, regrettably, Swedish radio has not yet given us the exposure that we deserve. Certain shows definitely promote local independent artists, but in my impression, they tend to be limited to very commercial styles of music, such as pop, rock and singer/songwriter. We have, however, been featured on the few non-commercial radio channels here and in the rest of Europe.
Q: What was the most exciting gig that you ever played?
A: Well, I suppose every gig we have done feels unique, either by the circumstances and surroundings we played in, or by what happened in the music during our performance. I still remember the first few gigs we did for the masses of young students, and I must say they were the most exciting ones because the success was so unexpected. We witnessed how a young generation was overjoyed by our funky jazz and kept dancing like there was no tomorrow, so we knew the band had a future.
Q: And what is the band's plans for the future?
Well, we are currently starting work on a second album to appear sometime in 2012. I have written a lot of new material for that album. Also, we are exploring ways to reach the American market, and have recently made contact with a management corporation in Kansas in the U.S. that shows an interest in the band. This may open a few doors for Beat Funktion to reach the States.
More Information: http://www.beatfunktion.com