One would never think that the predominantly black urban movement that is Hip Hop, would entrench its influence in a place like Scandinavia. This is not meant in any condescending way, but Scandinavia isn’t quite known to have a huge black population. Well, thanks to the MTV revolution, because of its expansion throughout the Hip Hop culture was able to spread to the most unlikely parts of the world – Whether or not that MTV’s success was on the back end of Hip Hop’s momentum or vice versa, is another debate altogether.
To zone in more closely into that part of the world, Sweden is home to mega pop acts like ABBA and Roxette. This is also where Martin Funkhouser hails from and he bears evidence that Hip Hop is in a healthy state of existence out there. The SpotRunnaz were once a prominent fixture in his part of the world, they embodied that boom bap style and the “catch me if you can” tag team style of rapping. Another Hip Hop crew called Looptroop Rockers are also highly lauded lyricists in many Hip Hop circles, whereas they had a more alternative style of music. The Looptroop Rockers also happen to be from the very same town as Martin Funkhouser of Vasteras.
Martin Funkhouser is a Hip Hop producer, with more of the old school style influenced by the golden ages of Hip Hop and Boom-Bap. He just recently released his EP called the Martin Funkhouser EP. We spoke to him about his origins and formative years, his debut EP and his overall perspective of the music game. Martin gave his thoughts on a number of things.
Lavatory Records: Who is Martin Funkhouser and how did the “Funkhouser” name get coined?
Martin Funkhouser: I am a Swedish Hip-Hop producer mainly within the subgenre Boom-Bap. The history of my name is not a great one. It is simply that I felt that I needed to move on from using my real name. During that decision making period I stumbled on the great television show “Curb your enthusiasm”. My favourite character was Marty Funkhouser, and since my first name is Martin, it was a clear cut decision.
LR: How did you get into making music and particularly boom bap?
MF: During my childhood I listened to Backstreet Boys as every other kid did. When “Yo! MTV Raps” started to appear on Swedish television that changed my taste in music overnight. I switched from Nick Carter to Coolio and Beastie Boys in a heartbeat. From that moment on I was all about Wu-tang, MOP, Dr Dre, Gang Starr, Eminem and so on. That era of Hip-Hop was mostly sample based and I guess that style of Hip-Hop stuck to me.
Since I loved the sound of Boom-Bap, it was that which I wanted to do. I started to “make” beats when I was around 12 years old with a program called Hip-Hop e-jay. The technique was simply to drag and drop different kinds of loops into a track and it was simply awesome. Later on a buddy of mine told me that Hip-Hop ejay was only for kids and did not count as making beats. It should be noted that he was completely correct, so he later taught me the basics of Hip-Hop producing. I have not been able to stop since.
LR: Name three producers who’ve moulded your style?
MF: DJ Premiere, Dr Dre and 9th Wonder.
LR: Who are your top 5 favourite emcees, in no particular order?
MF: Vinnie Paz, Talib Kweli, NAS, Brother Ali and KRS-One.
LR: What’s your take on Boom Bap not being as popular as crunk/trap music at the moment?
MF: Firstly it is all about taste, and I am not in the position to tell people what is good and what is bad. I simply prefer the old-school type of Hip-Hop. To me that type of Hip-Hop feels more genuine, intelligent and inspiring. My relationship towards Boom-Bap and “modern” Hip-Hop can be compared with the evolution of Kanye West. For example, the album The College Dropout was truly a masterpiece. It felt real, it was intelligent and simply amazing with tracks as “Through the Wire” and “Jesus Walks”. His latest album Yeezus was according to me plastic, boring and lazy. I think his discography really represents the way Hip-Hop has evolved, at least in my book.
When I started to make music Boom-Bap was not even a genre, it was simply Hip-Hop, at least for me. I think it is pretty weird that Boom-Bap hasn’t returned to the scene in a big way yet. Music, fashion and pretty much every sort of creative outlet has its cycle where the old becomes the new again. So I guess that Boom-Bap will return.
LR: What has it been like operating within the European/Swedish music scene? Can you give us both the good and bad?
MF: Sweden is, and has pretty much always been, a country that has a lot of very talented artists and producers mostly within Pop and House. The interest of Hip-Hop is growing in Sweden so I am pretty sure that Sweden will be a force to be reckoned with in the future. I do not have anything bad to say maybe since I am not particular involved in it.
LR: With Hip Hop being a global community now, are you in touch with the African scene in anyway or be able to name any acts you are a fan of?
MF: I have been doing tracks with people in a bunch of countries, sadly not with anyone from an African country yet. But that would be awesome. I really enjoy MC Solaar (Senegalese and now based in France) and I recently heard Shukid (Kenya), who has the most incredible lyrical talent that I have heard in a long time.
LR: You have a new EP coming out soon. What can the masses expect from it?
MF: The EP simply called Martin Funkhouser is a hard-hitting, old-school influenced album. The album is also a great example on how international the genre is today since it contains a lot of talented rappers from Sweden, France, Germany and USA. The album is for the people who enjoy the Boom-Bap or classic Hip-Hop sound, but I encourage everyone to listen to it of course.
LR: Apart from the EP, are there any projects or events in the future that the world can look forward to?
MF: Nothing major in the pipeline for now, but it is coming. I am currently trying to find new and interesting rappers/singers to work with. So people are more than welcome to contact me.
LR: Are there any special mentions you want to shout out?
MF: Prop Dylan of course; glad to have him on the album and also to the producer of community NineToFive Records.
Thank you to Martin Funkhouser for taking the time out of his busy schedule to talk to us. To keep in touch with his moves and show him some love, follow him on Facebook and SoundCloud. Also be sure to look out for his self-titled EP, Martin Funkhouser.