Donae’O never fails to deliver, whatever the genre of choice.
For some years now, he’s been giving us banger after banger with his multitude of talents in producing, singing and rapping. In fact, there’s not much that the North-West Londoner can’t do.
After seeing campaigns to bring back UK funky house, a scene that has always been close to the heart of the artist, Donae’o set himself the challenge of creating a new funky album. Partnering with Link Up TV, this culminated in ‘Party Harder’, a free release true to funky house, which dropped in early January.
Clash caught up with Donae’o to relive some nostalgia about the scene.
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How did 'Party Harder' album come into fruition? Was it always in your plans to create a funky album again?
It wasn’t in my plans to create a funky album. It was a thing where I saw a tweet saying, “Can someone bring back UK Funky?” There was only a couple of retweets in it. Then someone retweeted me the tweet again and had 700 to 800 retweets, so I was like ‘Okay cool’.
Then I asked the audience if they wanted it and I got an overwhelming response, this was back in June or July. I was like, ‘Okay cool if you guys want me to do it, I’m going to do a whole album and once I’ve done it, you guys have to support it’. That was really it.
What was it like returning to making that sort of music?
I was always making it so it was never an issue. To make it, it was like second nature to me. So it was fun to actually put out a whole project of that.
Would you say that funky house is your true love in terms of the genres you made music in?
I wouldn’t say that, hip-hop is my true true love but funky house is one of the genres that blew me up so it’s definitely one of my true loves.
You’re often seen as one of the leaders of the funky house scene, who do you think deserves to be up there with you?
Crazy Cousinz, Roska, [DJ] Pioneer, Genius, Marcus Nasty, [DJ] Supa D. There’s too many names to mention… Egypt, Malika, Gracious K. There’s loads of people man. Loads.
Apart from you own tracks, what are some of the tracks that you remember from funky house in its heyday?
Malika ‘Go’, Fuzzy Logic ‘The Way You Move’, Egypt ‘In The Morning’, all of Katy B’s songs from ‘Tell Me’ to ‘Lights On’. Ah there’s too many to mention!
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Why do you think the funky house scene ended up fading out of the mainstream?
I think people just stopped producing it. That’s it really. Everything went really commercial and there weren’t enough people in it that loved it to carry on making it.
There were only a small handful of people that truly loved it that were still making it. But there were a lot of jumpers on.
How did you find the transition between funky house and grime and rap? Was it a conscious decision?
Well I started out making grime and garage and that, so it wasn’t hard for me. I started making music because of hip-hop. I wanted to make hip-hop music so I’ve always made different styles of music. It has not really been hard for me.
Do you think the funky scene can ever be as big as it was. Can it ever make a return into music today?
I think anything can happen. There’s loads of other people out there like Roska, Marcus Nasty, Pioneer, Supa D, that are still flying the flag hard. So there’s loads of people doing their thing.
What’s coming up for you in 2018?
My first album with Island, my first official album!
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Words: Nikita Rathod
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