A nice chat with Funzo
We recently had the great pleasure to sit down over a coffee and have the chat with Liam McDermott, more commonly known as “Funzo“.
Funzo is a Dublin musician and/or band, considering who Liam is performing with! What started out as a 5 piece group has become a one man outfit that churns out a pleasant mix of soul, hip hop, rap, old school pop and even the odd ska tune. And more recently he has turned his hand at producing some comedy style political songs, that are quite catchy it has to be said!
Funzo has performed all over Ireland since 2009, most notably at some of Ireland’s premiere music festivals; Oxegen, Electric Picnic, Hard Working Class Heroes and Castle Palooza, and has received airplay on US radio and on national radio stations in Ireland; RTÉ Radio 1, RTÉ 2FM, Today FM, FM 104, Newstalk, Dublin City FM and Phantom FM. Live television performances include ‘Ireland AM’ at TV3 and TG4.
Funzo’s debut single, ‘This Christmas’, was released in December 2010 and entered the Official Irish Charts as the highest independent entry on two consecutive weeks. As well as being a national radio hit in Ireland, the single received vast airplay in the US, being featured on radio stations in 25 different states. Funzo is also popular on Youtube/Facebook with his videos amassing well over 1 million hits and counting.
His videos are excellent, and his songs are all heartfelt, well worth checking out.
“First off, I have to ask you about the name Funzo, where did that come from?”
Oh the name…well do you know where it comes from?
“from the Simpsons, I think”
yeah its from the Simpsons, when Lisa had to pick a name for a toy, and she just went with the name “Funzo”, as she couldn’t think of anything else, which was a bit like me! So I just went with Funzo!
I know you are always asked this but how would you describe your music, because it is quite eclectic, you have the hip hop, some soul, poppy tunes and……. and I even found some Ska in there
It is a mix of all my favorite types of music. Mainly ska, sixties pop and soul, and hip-hop. I also hate doing the same style over and over again, I do like to mix it up
So where did it all start for you?
I was always into music and growing up in Leixlip I got a piano from my parents, so you know listening to 60’s and 70’s music like the Beatles or Stevie Wonder, I just practiced those kind of songs on the piano and just built up a real love of music and then started singing along to them. This then got me into writing my own music. I used to record everything I sang and played on the piano and then I started entering them into competitions, and this is what got me a taste for the whole music scene, you know bands, writing music, playing to people, recording studios. it was all great fun
One thing is the videos are excellent, very well produced, I know Jonathan Lambert does a lot of them, but how much of it is your idea or the director?
Its mostly from Jonathan, who is an excellent director and knows what he is doing, but I do throw some ideas in as well.
Thanks, actually that song on the Luas, “Me and Her”, even though it is short it was one of the most difficult to film.
We set up early got all the props ready, had the direction, the tripod, and were ready…. then the Luas inspectors wouldn’t let us do the filming. Was annoying, we did shoot it eventually but it was hard as security kept moving us along from station to station, it was a bit of cat and mouse thing, but we got there in the end.
Jonathan said it actually was one of his most difficult shoots, ha ha. But he was excellent, he adds things you’d never think about, small things, like the balloons at the start, the red rose, the newspaper……it was great fun to make and work with him.
Hip hop and Rap music is what I really love listening to when I can and with the band I wanted to use some rappers with my music and so that’s how I got to know the guys on the scene.
I know you have been on TV, the radio, etc but why is the rap and hiphop scene not as popular as it should be, you know the national media always have The Coronas or Hozier or some other wank like that on the airwaves, but these lads dont get the recognition they deserve.
There us a lot of luck involved, and hip hop and rap is still a bit of a niche in Ireland but
they are all popular on YouTube, so I guess that is some kind of recognition and if it happens it happens, but yeah it can be frustrating at times.
Presently you have moved into another direction, musically, into politically motivated songs, all taking the pee and with a good healthy dose of humour, where did that all come from?
I just thought it was something I could do, I was getting sick that people couldn’t express their opinions without getting called a bigot or racist or something, when they are clearly not.
Well I like musicals, they are catchy, so the first song we did I just thought that the Mary Poppins tune, which everyone knows, that that tune would work well with a video, its not original but I put my own slant on the scene, and it is working out well as the video is very popular online, getting a load of views on YouTube.
You seem like a fairly positive happy go lucky person, do you ever get angry
No, I always try to keep everything positive, and my music and thoughts reflects that.
Do you get a hard time for your views or your videos?
Must people take it as humour , they dont take it too seriously
No one really gets angry, and the songs are always humorous so there is no need to get angry.
Sometimes there are a few things on Facebook but that I can handle.
But there was this one girl who got very personal with me and Leanne, she got very vicious and abusive, and brought up some really bad personal things that was uncalled for.
But overall no never.
so are you in a crossroads now with the alt right thing and……..
ha you know alt-right is……
well I know that’s a catchall term, ha, sorry…..
It does come from somewhere specific and it is associated with white nationalism which I have no association with but now people throw alt right at anything, like Amy Schumer’s (American “comedian”) Netflix specials, she was disappointed with the reviews and she said that the alt-right gave me bad one star reviews……alt-right just comes into her head……everyone’s alt-right, we did a song about that as well! So if you dont like someone just call them alt right!
The problem is they do it so much with fascists, Nazi, bigot, Islamophobe, whatever phobe….they throw it out so much that they water down any actual issue that’s going on because there are people who think Hitler was cool and have swastika tattoos…. I mean call them a neo-Nazi and maybe challenge them or tackle their ideas or expose them or whatever you want to do but if you just call everyone a Nazi…..every politician you dont like, everyone who likes that politician that you dont like, a Nazi, then those Nazis are actually getting away with their actual dangerous ideology.
So what kind of feedback have you been getting from the rest of the music scene, cause it is kind of unusual….
It is very unusual, ha. But you see like at every turn I am doing something that I haven’t done before but this wasn’t I need to do something different it was more of like …there is comedy here, this is a gold mine and the “phobia song” got such a good response. I have never seen shares like that, thousands and thousands of shares.
Well its a very catchy song!
It is, and I think people get that things are a bit mad with speech now, but yes I think the reaction has been deadly, but as I have said a few Irish people have gone on to me, you know I even got a message off a girl saying …I have seen you have clicked like on this particular speaker or You-tuber, can I ask why?…..em I enjoy their content, you know, how are you, you know I haven’t talked to you in 5 years!?….but its this kind of prying and this isn’t what everyone else does so why are you stepping outside the line? But I have been happy with it.
So can I expect you to be on the Alex Jones channel anytime soon, or the Ben Shapiro show?
I’d be honoured! I think the guy is funny, he is a bit off at somethings, but….
Yeah that would be cool. I dont know if you know but I recently did a song on Ben Shaipiro and the Berkeley protest.
But with these lads you dont have to idolize them or think their perfect but you have to let them speak.
Yeah you kind of get something from everyone and you make up your own opinion.
Exactly. well that used to be the way it was!
How are your podcasts going, I was listening to them for a while but its hard to keep up with them?
Yeah we put out 7 or 8 but we were kind of unsettled again with the move to Santry, me and Leanne, but she said she wouldn’t mind doing them again
Great, I enjoyed them, always thought they were good fun, throwing minds together and having the chat, isn’t it?
I am a bit of a punk fan so I wonder when is the punk album?
Punk, ha, I am not so sure about that. Anyway there are no real punks left anymore, not true to themselves.
I guess you are right there. Ok Funzo thanks for the friendly chat, really appreciate it.
No problem, just one thing, dont call me alt right! Ha!
Was nice to have a talk with Funzo, I appreciate that he was tired after a hard days work to come and have the chat with me. It is refreshing to see someone try something different on the Irish music scene, and not be afraid to express their opinions, or at least take the mick. And he is bloody good at what he does, which is always good! Anyway, if you cant take a joke then fuck it basically, surely that’s the best philosophy to life.
I did a short and brief review of Funzo’s 4 albums. I am not a great music reviewer, maybe not even a good beer reviewer, but I gave it a try. Also a little difficult as Funzo has his fingers in oh so many pies….jazz, hip hop, rap, soul, pop, ska,……..
Class A’z And Funzo: Twenty 13 – 2013
Teaming up with the great Class A’z (Terawrizt, Redzer, and sometimes Nucentz, Rawsoul, Siyo, and Rob Kelly), top dogs in the Irish hip hop and rap scene, Funzo provides the harmonies and rhymes to the collective.
Straight in to the beats with “Take Forever”, a great build up to the album, Funzo with his singing, and Terawrizt and Redzer giving it welly, full of soul, good start. The next two songs, “Never let it go” and “No Matter” (with Rob Kelly) follow the same theme, good old skool rap, Irish style.
“Gimme the Mic” is a change, a throwback to 70’s style funk and disco. Love this song, really catchy tune. With the rap, it works well, very good. A song to play before you hit the town, class.
Robyn Kavanagh guests in the song, “Survive”. Amazing vocals from Robyn, the boys chipping in with the raps, this album is moving along nicely.
“Silly Games”, another change, this time in pace, fast tempo rap and harmonies. Love this song, you can feel that the raps are heartfelt. “In it to the death”, you know that this is not a game that the music is something important. This songs shows that.
After that we get a couple of chilled out efforts “No One Knows” and “If Loving you is Wrong”, and we finish the album with what I consider the best song of the lot, “Here I am”. The final song is where the hip hop scene is at at the moment in Ireland.
“They only want to play the Coronas now, But the radio wont play us so we wont be found, but I dont have time to mope around. See if the radio would play us then we’d run this town, but the radio wont play us so we’re underground. People pat you on the back at your album launch but they really only want to hear Rihanna songs”
It is a frustration I share, this grouping of artists should be way bigger than they are. I think perhaps its cause they are too opinionated (not a bad thing by the way) for the safe confines of radio and TV. The internet suits them better, fuck RTE and the rest.
The Great Lonesome – 2014
This is Funzo’s first real tryout under his own steam, and what a treat it is.
From the start we get “Beginning of the End”, a short intro, but sets the mood that this is going to be one heck of a fun album. And it is. A lot of high tempo upbeat songs, with some references to 60’s pop and 50’s style dance hall numbers, a bit of soul and pop thrown in for good measure, all jazzed up for the modern audience. At least that’s what I got!!
The rapper Leiko makes a great guest appearance in “Take Sometime”, a great song with an even better video of Dublin. Check it out. The song finishes with the Discovery Gospel Choir rounding off the song. Beautiful. “Never be like them“, is another hip hop style number where Funzo is telling it as it is, keeping it real!
“The Window Song” reminded me of the Kaiser Chiefs, a rockier tune, and again a positive happy go lucky tune.
This is the album where we get the infamous “Me and Her” tune, AKA the Luas song, sounds like a musical. Fun song about unrequited love.
In the song “Pop Secret”, I feel that Funzo is channeling his inner Paul McCartney. A really good pop song with a killer line
“I listen to a little bit of rock and a little bit of roll and a little bit of pop and a little bit of soul….I’m just a song writer…”
A song that is so fun to listen to and stays in your head a good while after. Perfectly encapsulates Funzo’s style I think, a little bit of pop, a little bit of rock and a little bit of soul! Love it.
“Just a thought”, another love song with an equally great video. Unlike “Me and Her”, Funzo is getting the girl in this song. I also hear the Paul Macca influence here. Lovely easy listening song.
Quite a few love songs on the album. “We didnt waste it” on the piano, “Listen here” back with that gospel choir, “Never Win” and “Now I know” where Funzo lets his heart out, and “Amour Fou”. Yeah the album is a bit heavy loaded with love songs, but its an album well worth getting. Enjoyable and fun to listen to. I liked it a lot.
Artificial High – 2015
An album made with producer Alan Newman. A very upbeat album, a lot of funk and some disco, a bit of soul, the expected rap numbers, and some melodies. That’s Funzo, a mixed bag of treats taking you in all musical directions.
“Like the beat” has sounds really like a Jackson Five number pumped up for today, very funky.
“Dreamer Girl” is a quirky enough love song. Don’t know who the girl is, but its a song that really grows on you. “1963”, sounded a lot like a Gorillaz number, that kind of style, think they call that trip hop!
Overall a good album that is a good at showcasing the varying musical styles of Mr Funzo.
Beggars & Choosers-2016
Funzo’s latest album is a little bit different to his last two. Much more rockier and with a lot more rap and hip hop this time.
“Look Around” a mish mash of sounds, again getting the Paul McCartney influence, a Wings type of song.
Guest appearances this time from Reuben James on the jazzy number “She Loves me not”, Leanne in “Happy Face”, a happy song but anything but happy, Raptor B and Row B rapping it out in “Should all Know me by Now”. Great to hear NuCentz on the album, with Leiko again, on the song “Way Back”. Leanne makes two more appearances, “You really had me” a nice hip hop song, and “Pyjama Night” with Row B. Its good to hear other artists guesting on Funzo’s album, makes a change as it is usually the other way round!
Its not all rap though, the song “Walk alone together” is a nice melancholic interlude in the album. Perfectly coming in the middle of the album.
But the standout song for me is “Some People”, a ska/reggae style song that I just love. I think it just might be my overall favourite Funzo song of them all. Gets the rhymes and beats just perfect. BRILLIANT. Love it.
An upbeat album, bit more modern styles here. Looking forward to the next album Funzo!
Check out Funzo!