Shambhala Music Festival caught up with Dunks of The Funk Hunters (Westwood Recordings, BC), on his first Shambhala experiences on the farm and how Shambhala has helped slingshot his musical career.
Photo by: Xavier Walker Photography
Shambhala: What was the first year The Funk Hunters played Shambhala, and how did it all come together?
Funk Hunters: The first year we played Shambhala was 2010, and it came about from two different avenues. We’d been making moves in Vancouver—promoting shows and doing a lot of our own gigs. It was a dream of ours to play Shambhala. We were ready: we had a strong West Coast following and were confident in our show. And in a funny turn of events, we ended up booked at two stages for our first year. We were first hit up by a friend who was helping coordinate bookings for The Rock Pit stage (now The AMPhitheatre). Prior to that, we had also asked Stickybuds and Jpod, who were good homies, to put in a good word at Fractal for us. We were amazed that our efforts to get booked for those stages both came through. We opened the Rock Pit Thursday afternoon at 1pm, followed by a Saturday afternoon set at Fractal Forest. That first year was overwhelmingly awesome. It was everything we could have hoped for.
Shambhala: What do you remember about your first visit to the farm? Had you been to the festival before performing at it?
Funk Hunters: My first visit to the farm was 2007. It was the only year I ever bought a ticket. Once I experienced Shambhala for the first time, I knew I needed to be involved. I spent the next two years volunteering and working. Being part of the Shambhala Crew is an incredible experience. But back to 2007. The first year I went was kind of nuts. As I was getting into a vehicle at the ferry terminal, I put my hand in the back seat and someone accidentally moved the seat. I got this crazy cut in my hand. I wanted to go to the hospital but the driver was like, “NO, we’re going!” So that was that. We road tripped to the Kootenays with this huge gash in my hand. When we finally got through Security, my first stop was Shambhala’s Medical tent. Shocker: they told me I should have gone to the hospital. The dude next to me was in the midst of a psychedelic crisis, and it was just the most bizarre experience, coming to the festival for the first time and dealing with all of that. The rest of the festival was incredible, such an amazing time. But I’ll never forget how crazy it was my first time getting there.
Shambhala: Looking back, how do you think Shambhala played a role in the advancement of your career?
Funk Hunters: The impact was instant and huge. After playing our first Shambhala in 2010, we made mix CDs and handed them out to as many people as we could. People would see our show, take the CDs home with them, and right away we started to get contacted to play other shows. Some of the first were Medicine Hat, Edmonton, Invermere, Kimberley. It was very noticeable that once we’d played Shambhala, we had a certain level of credibility to start touring in Western Canada, and we just continued to build upon that.
Shambhala: Shambhala is known for booking up and coming artists and helping accelerate their rise to the top. What are your thoughts on that reputation, and do any particular success stories come to mind for you?
Funk Hunters: Tying into the last question, it was huge for advancing us. For Canada, all eyes are on Shambhala and who’s playing there each year. There have been a lot of artists I can think of, maybe too many to mention. But I look around at so many Canadian artists who are making moves have had a major boost from playing Shambhala. It really slingshots people. You’re really able to get your music and your vibe in front of people from all over North America, and the world. It makes a big difference. There have been so many artists that people haven’t been aware of who play Shambhala for the first time and then you see them everywhere.
Shambhala: For you, what is it that makes Shambhala unique compared to other events you’ve played at over the years?
Funk Hunters: There are a few things right off the top that make it unique. I really like Shambhala’s family-run vibes. Going for so long, and having been part of the Shambhala Crew myself, it really does feel like family. Not having corporate sponsorships also makes a huge difference. Being an alcohol-free event really sets it apart. And it takes someone going there to understand why that’s such a huge benefit. The level stage production and the infrastructure being there year round is so beyond the norm for most events. I love that the stages aren’t short-term build stages that come off the back of a truck, but something that has been built on and expanded upon for 20 years now. There’s a certain magic that has been there since the very beginning and it’s noticeable. The venue is second to none and that makes a huge difference. All of that really sets it apart for me.