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? It’ 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 you’d tell me, "there’ a party eight hours away, you’re going to play for free, but it’ going to be a really good party, " I would be there, " he says. Finding so much fulfillment in DJing, Alex was ready for the next step. He took the advice of good friends Harry Romero & 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, Romero’ cousin. As a prolific Jungle/Miami Bass DJ and producer in the early 90’, Jorge “DJ Lace” Jarmillo 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 Jaramillo’ 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 Jarmillo that his solid talent and experience and Alicea’ impressive knowledge of house music were the perfect ingredients for a new partnership. The two ran into each other at Harry Romero’ house and decided to merge their unique musical histories, and Jaramillo’ engineering abilities, into a production team: Who da Funk? Was born.
The notion behind the Who Da Funk name was simple “People really don’t know us,” said Jaramillo, “and when we come out we’re gonna come hard, and people are going to be like, ‘Who the fuck are these guys?’” It’ that hubris that drives the duo’ 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.” "We’re more musical as far as not just taking a loop and just looping it, putting a kick and a hat, and that’ it, you’re done," he says. “I’ve done stuff like that already, and I don’t 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 it’ blissed-out rock. It’ an unprecedented cocktail in dance music, and one that Alicea says will define Subliminal’ next phase.
“We’re the second wave, the second type of music that’ definitely going to be released by Subliminal,” he says. “It’ not gonna be the same disco filtered house. It’ definitely a different type of music. It’ still with the house vibe; it’ 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 WDF’ new Macy Gray remix, an almost gothic retelling of “Sexual Revolution.” A re-working of Modjo’ radio smash “Lady” is next on their plate. But their mix of Par-T-One’ “I’m 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 it’ already being caned by some of the world’ taste-making jocks.
With releases on Harry Romero’ 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. “There’ no other label we’d want to be with right now,” says Alicea. “There’ no reason for us to be any place else”.