We spoke with musician Ronkat Spearman about his future funk project Katdelic. Ronkat was a member of George Clinton and the P-Funk Allstars for 10 years and continues to carry the musical torch which burns bright. He leads a fusion of musicians on a quest to take you higher with their funktastic sounds.
Interview Meikee Magnetic
Tell us about your Funk beginnings, where did you grow up?
My funk beginnings began at birth in Michigan jazz in the room next door to my baby crib rock n roll soul on the radio all day, funk and blues at my aunt Bertha”s house my head was swimming in music. My dad took me out to the clubs to play percussion with Jazz bands when I was six or seven years old, at first they would say take that kid home, he would tell them to just let me play one song. I’d do that and then when I’d get up to leave they would say, no don’t leave, stay where you are. My dad also gave me my first guitar, I’m left handed, he gave it to me upside down and I’ve been playing it that way my whole life.
What San Francisco, Oakland venues are your favorite to perform at?
We have a residency at the Boom Boom Room in San Francisco, we’ve done Boom Boom Room Presents shows at The Chapel. I love to play at The Independent when they allow me, The Fillmore, Great American Music Hall and when it was around, Yoshi’s SF. I think Leo’s and The New Parrish are cool, I like a lot of them for different reasons. Sometimes it may be a little hole in the wall club but it may have a certain charm and appeal where you can really connect with an audience. Then you have your bigger venues where you can really capture and share your vision with an audience because of better lighting and sound. A place where you can really stretch out on stage artistically. We play at 19 Broadway in Fairfax, Moe’s Alley in Santa Cruz, Zodiacs Petaluma and the G Street Wunderbar in Davis on a regular basis.
The Boom Boom Room SF, Ca May 1st
The Awaken Cafe in Oakland, Ca May 15th
G Street Wunderbar in Davis, Ca May 30th
Who is in your band line-up and what are their roles?
RONKAT SPEARMAN – Lead Vocal and Guitar
Lela Caro – lead and back up vocals
Genevieve McDevitt – triggers loops and back up vocals
Adam Lipsky – Drums
Rob Poole – Bass
Kirk Peterson – Bass
*We also have Aaron Saul, Alan Williams and Danny Cao on Horns
I have so much respect for the musician, you are definitely keeping the Funk alive. What’s your take on the music industry, massive EDM Festivals and the direction things are going?
I feel like the music industry has had a severe heart attack and is in some sort of rehab making everyone really reevaluate their positions, if they even have one at all. There are those in it that are still thriving so it appears, there’s nothing like having or being a part of that machine when it’s working properly though. Now it’s about the artist connecting straight and directly with the consumer because he or she can with out the middle man. That can be really cool until all of of sudden you are selling a billion downloads and now you’re the big record company and you need to hire people to help you run things. I guess fair and good business practices help. I love the EDM music scene it’s dope, I like to add elements of it to my show. It’s exciting and it surprises the audience when I do it and I think in a good way.
Future Funk, Afro-Punk, Glam-Jam are some words that come to my mind when listening to your music. How would you put your sound into words?
I love Future Funk but there’s so much more to me when I think Funk. We call ourselves Katdelic because we think of a multitude of things. Our music is very “Delic” it’s mixed with Funk, Rock, Hip Hop, you might here EDM and Pop. It’s one big soup.
What’s your relationship with George Clinton and how did you meet?
George is my Funk Father, he is my friend and mentor. I met him through a mutual friend in 1998. He recorded at my studio when I lived in LA, we were meant to meet. He brought me up to San Francisco where I met some of the friends I have till this day. I eventually moved to the Bay Area in early 2000 and joined the P Funk band and stayed until 2010. Eventually I felt like I needed to go back to writing and performing my own music. I left P Funk with George’s blessing and still play with them whenever I’m in the same city they are in. George and P Funk are my family.
Which song or songs did your write for Rick James?
I wrote a song called “Funk Wit Me” it was on his last album “Deeper Still”.
Do you have a personal story you can share about Rick?
I spent a lot of time with Rick. One time I was sitting in between Rick and Ike Turner, Rick was having vodka and Ike got mad because he wasn’t drinking anymore and said “Don’t offer me that shit” and Rick was like “loosen up man”. They were schooling me on the business and they treated me like family.
I love the Josephine Baker tribute in D.O.T.M.S. Tell us about the making of your “Dance On The Mothership” video:
I’m so happy that you got that, because a lot of times in artistic expression people don’t actually get what you’re trying to convey sometimes. What they might get is something that you didn’t even think of yourself, which is cool too. That Josephine Baker tribute was specific and I’m happy you got it.
The making was awesome, our friend Chris Manners directed and edited it for us. It was a DYI project as well as a great party, all our friends showed up. Gina Hall and Linda English styled it, Zander Andreas from the Boom Boom Room drove us around San Francisco in his vintage Cadillac for some of the shots. We did the rest of it at the SupperclubSF and then we also added some green screen. I love making videos.
We’d love to find out who your musical heroes are and why:
(In random order) David Bowie, Prince, Marilyn Manson, Kanye, Jay-Z, Jimi Hendrix, George Clinton, Slave, Led Zeppelin, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, James Brown, The Beatles, Lady GaGa, Madonna, Jack White, Radiohead, Smashing Pumpkins, U2 and Lenny Kravitz. There are just too many to list. These artists break the barriers, they make us think, they help us to love, they make us cry and they make us dance.
What instruments do you play? Which one is your specialty?
I play guitar, bass, keyboards and percussion. I also program, create beats and loops. I don’t really have a specialty, I love playing them all but I play my guitar the most.
We love your style, where do you find your clothing?
Some things we have made, I picked up a lot of pieces while touring the world with P Funk. Other things I have had embellished or embellished them myself. I also shop online and in stores around San Francisco. I love things that are unusual and also classic things like a cool white shirt and a tie. I just put them together so they’re funky.
Let our readers know about your future plans, tours and new music:
A new CD is in the making, it should be out by the end of 2015. I have plans for a short film and we are working on our tour dates for the rest of the year. We’re confirmed at Guitarfish Festival in the Sierras on 7/30/15 but we have a lot more stirring in the pot.
What does Dark Beauty mean to you?
It has edge to it. It’s like a rose with thorns and has great beauty in so many ways it makes you do a double take. When you see it sometimes it always grabs your attention but it will destroy you if you don’t respect it.