Photo: Luna Shakur
Here's some food for thought: modernity catalyzes greatness by expanding on past creations. This is the reason classic folk often muse that fashion recycles itself. It’s also the reason music somehow continues to become more innovative and eccentric as time progresses. We build off of the foundations that others have previously laid.
But don’t get me wrong, this is without a doubt anything but a bad thing. Some pretty amazing art is created based on a host of inspirations and influences. As modern-day philosopher Jaden Smith once explained, life and the act of creating are like dark stairs that light up once you take a step. It’s less about the actual stairs that light up - i.e. what the idea was inspired by - and more about making the journey to ascension to the finished product.
A pinnacle example of this ascension is Ottawa-hailed duo Garçons. Their funky synths and groovy guitar riffs are soaked in a charisma that will have listeners aching to jump out of their seats and dance to the beat. The colorful pair is a funky blend of R&B and soul with overtones of an elastic Afrocentric beat.
The collective radiate a pleasant uniqueness, both in the production and creative direction department thanks to producer Julian Strangelove and their characterful lyrics and tantalizing vocals courtesy of singer and songwriter Deelo.
The two pride themselves on their musical expression and pay homage to the songs and artists that influence their sound on their newest EP Be Human. We had the pleasure of speaking with Strangelove of Garçons about the duo's five most funkadelic influences that led them to ascend the stairs to Be Human.
Fela Kuti - "Shakara"
If we could pick five Fela songs we probably would. His music really stuck with me this year, and for Deelo it runs much deeper, it's in his DNA. Fela is invincible, his music is the truth. He's a musical hero of ours and we wanted to keep his legacy alive.
Steve Monite - "Only You"
So much good music has come from Lagos in the '70s and '80s. When disco spread from New York to the rest of the world, artists took the genre and pushed it so much further than anyone could ever imagine. Sometimes magic happens and songs like this are born. It's really a timeless song, and it inspired us to try and push the boundaries of dance music on songs like "Froggin."
Frank Ocean - "Sweet Life"
This song (and so much of Channel Orange) sounds like springtime. Winter is rough in Canada, sometimes it feels like forever. But when spring comes around, everything goes from grey and white to blue and green. It feels like you're seeing colours for the first time again. Everything is growing, nature is coming back to life and you can't help but feel the same way.
Santana - "Evil Ways"
You can hear this one on songs like "I Wanna Be Like U." The chords, the sound of that guitar, the way the percussion carries the song. I spent some time in South Florida and Mexico over the winter listening to a lot of Santana. Being in those environments helped me connect to the music and the culture. It's not something I grew up with, so the rhythms are very foreign to me. But I did my best to pay homage. When Deelo was able to write a story over the music, in his style, that’s when it transformed into its own thing.
Herbie Hancock - "Chameleon"
Herbie is one of the greatest innovators of all time. It's so cool to hear him stray away from jazz and go all out with the funk. Funk is the greatest because everyone has a different take on it. It's because funk doesn't have any rules, it's just about the feeling. You can learn a lot from that. We try to not think too much when we write. It's like letting the song write itself out of pure feeling.