In this exclusive RTT interview, we sit down with Canadian DJ and producer Defunk, who recently unveiled his latest masterpiece, The Voyage. This 14-track musical odyssey marks his triumphant return to the scene after nearly a decade, and it’s his fifth exceptional offering to date. As you’ll hear below, the talented act invites us to delve into the genre-blurring realms that have solidified his status as a trailblazer in the realm of bass-influenced music. Beyond the beats and melodies, “The Voyage” is a profoundly personal exploration, reflecting his artistic evolution and life journey, which encompassed navigating the global pandemic and embracing fatherhood. During the interview we explore Defunk’s inspirations behind the new project, what fans can expect from his upcoming tour, and what’s next on the horizon for him.
Defunk – The Voyage | Stream
RTT: Congrats on the release of “The Voyage,” your first full-length album in almost a decade! Tell us more about the inspiration behind the project – how does it reflect your personal and artistic evolution over the years?
This album was written during the covid pandemic and this album became a story about the isolation, introspection, and eventual change I went through personally through the pandemic. For example, I started a family, and some of my beliefs and values changed through that time as well. The pause in music allowed me to experiment and evolve my sound quite a bit, which I trialed in some of the livestream mixes and sets that I did early in the pandemic. The time away from touring allowed me to really focus more closely on the music that really made me happy and felt right. I moved away from some of the sounds I had been known for from 2012 to 2019 and really channeled a more mature, deeper and bass-music-focused sound.
“The Voyage” encompasses a wide range of musical influences, from funk and hip-hop to bass music. How do you creatively approach blending these genres, and what inspires you to push the boundaries of bass music in this way?
I’ve always strived for variety with my releases, simply because I just enjoy so much music but also because I love being able to go in many different directions in my live sets. Quite often I get inspiration from lots of different artists and sources, and then I sit down inspired and try to find a way to make a song out of the multiple sounds I just listened to. For instance, I loved the latin trap of Cardi B and the punchy swag bass of a track from Joyryde, so I sat down, created the framework for Losing It, and then sourced hip hop vocals and a live horn section to complete the sounds. Quite often my musical process works like this for most of the songs I produce, where I could point to three or four songs that helped inspire each track and you’d easily be able to tell once you had heard them.
You’ve mentioned that this project is deeply personal and centered around your journey as both an artist and a father. Can you share some real life experiences that directly influenced the making of this LP?
Like mentioned, this album was about the pandemic and the isolation and eventual realignment with normal life. The isolation was a dark and challenging time, especially living in a small downtown apartment through the long, cold, Canadian winter. Friend visits were hard to come by, and eventually one of my main forms of solace, the gym, was shut down. I was drawn more to playing and experimenting with darker, heavier music, but I was also drawn to very melodic progressive house music which was something very new to me. It was a good way to detach and zen-out, so to speak. The combination of both of these attractions helped me develop an album that both had some of the heaviest music I’ve created yet, and also some of my favourite melodic moments in the second half of the album. It has really shaped my desire to have a good balance of heavy and uplifting/melodic in my sets as well.
Your live performances have been praised for their captivating and ever-changing nature. What can fans expect from “The Voyage Tour” as you take this album on the road?
It feels great to be back at it on the road, and it feels even better to be able to play out a large body of work in my sets that is super current and that most fans will recognize. This album was a big step up in terms of vocal collaborations and strong catchy toplines, so it has been great to see fans singing out some of these new songs.
With the release of “The Voyage” and now the upcoming tour, what’s next for Defunk? Where do you see your craft evolving next in the future?
I’m going to continue down the road of experimenting with bass music, drum and bass, and house. I feel very comfortable with where my music is at, and now I can really focus on building out this sound and really looking for new talented vocalists to collaborate with. I also aim to work with visual artists to develop a lot of custom content for each one of my tracks for live shows. It all will come together to help tell a story when I perform live.