What do you get when you marry industrial rock with house, crunchy guitars with repetitive beats, filtered disco with Bowie-esque space-pop? And just who would be adventurous enough to try and find out? Its a question with one for an answer: Who Da Funk?
One day not more than a year ago, it all clicked for Alex Alicea. The 30-year-old had been a DJ since he was 14 it was his biggest passion. If youd tell me, theres a party eight hours away, youre going to play for free, but its going to be a really good party, I would be there, he says. Finding fulfillment in DJing, Alex was ready for the next step. He took the advice of good friends Harry Choo Choo Romero and Jose Nunez and invested in production gear and began making tracks at home.
Alicea soon joined forces with another, almost literal Subliminal brother Jorge DJ Lace Jaramillo, Romeros cousin. As a prolific Jungle/Miami Bass DJ and producer in the early 90s, Jorge DJ Lace Jaramillo co-produced the albums Vicious Bass, Back to Haunt You and DJ Magic Mike & the Royal Posse alongside his then partner, DJ Magic Mike. Both albums reached gold status and strengthened Jaramillos production abilities. Finding success with this sound was just tip of the iceberg for Jaramillo, as at the end of the nineties, he discovered a new interest in house music.
After meeting Alicea, it was clear to Jaramillo that his solid talent and experience and Aliceas impressive knowledge of house music were the perfect ingredients for a new partnership. The two ran into each other at Harry Romeros house and decided to merge their unique musical histories, into a production team: Who Da Funk? Was born.
The notion behind the Who Da Funk name was simple People really dont know us, said Jaramillo, and when we come out were gonna come hard, and people are going to be like, Who the fuck are these guys? Its that hubris that drives the duos gutsy creations, which involve a fair share of funk, but also 80s New Wave rock and the trademark filtered fade-ins and pummeling bass of their now mentors. But, according to Alicea, Who Da Funk is more about riffs than loops; more musical and less track-y. Were more musical as far as not just taking a loop and just looping it, putting a kick and a hat, and thats it, youre done, he says. Ive done stuff like that already, and I dont want to do that anymore.
Instead, the two, whose musical interests include everything from 80s Euro-pop to Miami bass, make rocked-out house, or maybe its blissed-out rock. Its an unprecedented cocktail in dance music, and one that Alicea says will define Subliminals next phase.
Were the second wave, the second type of music thats definitely going to be released by Subliminal, he says. Its not going to be the same disco filtered house. Its definitely a different type of music. Its still with the house vibe; its still going to be played in a club. But I believe we have to take chances. People have to be more open-minded.
Dark is also the word Alicea uses to describe WDFs new Macy Gray remix, an almost gothic retelling of Sexual Revolution. A re-working of Modjos radio smash Lady is next on their plate. But their mix of Par-T-Ones Im So Crazy, with its aggressive vocal chants, sampled guitar noise, and keys reminiscent of a Bond theme, is most representative of their unusual style. And its already being caned by some of the worlds taste-making jocks.
With releases on Harry Romeros Bambossa label, remixes and tracks on Subliminal, and work for luminaries like Gray, Alicea and Jaramillo are ready to bring the next wave to the next level. And even with offers from other outlets swirling around their heads, the two are completely satisfied with their Subliminal home. Theres no other label wed want to be with right now, says Alicea. Theres no reason for us to be any place else.