Geography is one of the biggest challenges for a Yukon band. Every time you think about playing a show Outside, you’ve got to crunch the numbers.
That’s what Major Funk and the Employment did when the band was invited to BreakOut West in Edmonton, an annual music festival and conference held in the fall.
“Are you going to meet the people who are going to elevate your band to the next level or are you just going to spend a load of money flying seven musicians out of the Yukon?” says Etienne Girard, who plays bass.
In the end, the band was able to make it with the help of a touring grant from Yukon Media Development. Which was lucky, says Girard.
It was the first time Major Funk had been to something like that, and the reception, he says, was great. Audiences were into the music, they made great connections with people in the music industry on a national level, and they’re trying out a relationship with a booking agent who’s handling the six-week summer tour they’ll go on this year in support of their first studio EP, Thoughts.
The EP has been in the works for a while, says Girard. The band started thinking about it when they recorded the live record Hot Off the Floor in 2016.
Making it happen took awhile, partly because getting the musicians who play on the record into the studio is more expensive than your average recording.
“It costs more or less twice as much to record,” says Girard.
There are more people to wrangle, more parts to record, and more to tinker with.
This too was helped out by a demo grant, also from Yukon Media Development.
Girard said the recording took place at Green Needle Studios over the course of a month. He says it was a ton of work, but also a ton of fun. Though, that’s always been the band’s M.O.
Girard says that’s because the common denominator is the members are friends. They work to maintain that camaraderie alongside a driven professionalism.
That’s been true no matter how the line-up has changed, which it has. Often.
Girard is the only original member since Major Funk formed four years ago. He says 16 different members have come and gone as life circumstances have dictated. They’ve taken time off to focus on kids or careers or whatever else comes along, but the door is always open for them to step back in.
That’s what will happen June 9 when Major Funk plays an album release at the Elks Lodge in Whitehorse.
He says it will be interesting to have everyone from different eras playing together, he says.
“The funny thing is I kind of went into the funk thing very consciously,” he says. “It was a project that I had in the back of my mind for a super long time, though I don’t come from a super funky background.”
What he wanted was to play music that appealed to a wider audience as much as it appealed to musicians. Girard had played prog-rock that he loved to empty rooms and he had played covers he didn’t love to packed bars. He was looking for a mid-point.
“Then I saw some really cool giant funk bands and they brought the party,” he says. There were so musicians onstage, it wouldn’t have mattered if no one came to the show.
People did come out though, when Major Funk formed. Girard says support has been building from there, locally and nationally.
Previously, Girard says the band’s tours have included bar shows and festivals for up-and-comers. Their booking agent has gotten them gigs at Folk on the Rocks in Yellowknife, All Folk’d Up in Saskatchewan, and the Sasquatch Gathering in Alberta.
“(They are) high-profile gigs that are stepping stones to getting even more high-profile gigs.”
It all kicks off though, with the album release, at 7:30 p.m. on June 9 at the Elks Lodge. Tickets are $20. The EP will be available at the show. It’s also available as a pre-order ($10 for the CD or $5 for digital) right now at www.majorfunkandtheemployment.com.
Contact Amy Kenny at email@example.com