pc muñoz is a musical innovator who has worked with some of the finest artists over the years. His sound is Mutant Funk. His music are songs about the soul, the heart, the flesh, the distractions. He is a recording artist, a producer, and a percussionist. He is Mixed, Hapa, Mestizo, whatever. He is pc muñoz.
AMR.com: You’ve been doing your thing for over 15 years. How much have you grown as an artist?
pcm: I think as an artist I’m pursuing the same things I always have, but over time my skills and artistry have deepened, and my ability to execute has improved. I hope this makes for more meaningful and effective work.
AMR.com: For those who haven’t experienced your sound, how would you describe it?
pcm: People often call me a cross between Leonard Cohen and Prince…I think that works. You know, lyric-oriented music, with a spoken/sung lead vocal, and adventurous, funky music underneath. But I do think that description leaves out my avant-garde, musique concréte tendencies. Especially in the studio, I use a lot of non-musical, or extra-musical, sounds in place of traditional musical instruments, and the sonic world I seek to inhabit often has nothing to do with Western/European-based harmonic ideas. Lately I’ve been calling what I do Mutant Funk, or Funk Concréte.
AMR.com: Who are some of those you listened to growing up who have influenced your sound?
pcm: I tend to compartmentalize this question whenever it comes up. Strictly musically speaking, Ornette Coleman, Prince, Paul McCartney, Parliament-Funkadelic, and hip-hop are very important influences. On a lyrical level, folks like Bob Dylan, Jackson Browne, Gil Scott-Heron, Rakim, Karen Peris, Chuck D, Bill Withers, and Dolly Parton are big with me. Also, experimental/avant-garde artists have made a huge impact on the way I think about and work with sound…folks like Edgard Varése, John Cage, Anthony Braxton, Luciano Berio…Miles Davis when he was doing that thick, stewy funk. Then there are these seemingly small things which actually mean a lot to me and my musical imagination….like Maurice White’s use of the kalimba with Earth, Wind & Fire. Using this traditional instrument in a new context. Though I’m not a guitar player, Eddie Van Halen’s playing—which is incredibly rhythmic and textural–has always been an inspiration for me. Before I was a solo artist, I spent a lot of time playing drums for gospel choirs; that was huge. I’m really into Chinese flute and drum music, too. I could go on and on about this…
AMR.com: You have collaborated with a lot of great artists in all different areas of expression. Who are they and how is it working with those who share your vision?
pcm: I love the subtle dance, the give-and-take inherent in true collaboration. I can’t possibly name everyone, since the list is so long, but I’ll mention a few folks. Obviously, having Jackson Browne sing on one of my songs was a humbling thrill. Working with Dr. Fink (formerly of Prince and the Revolution) is always a pleasure. Danny Kalanduyan, the master kulintang (Filipino Gamelan) player, was very interesting, a true artist. Recently I produced an album by Joan Jeanrenaud, the former cellist for the Kronos Quartet who is now solo. The album is incredible–really cool stuff—and working with her was effortless and great fun; we had a very natural rapport. We also do a duet of sorts on my new album. I love that kind of working relationship. Working with Ingrid Chavez recently was a fantastic experience, too. All the people on the twenty haiku album were awesome. Again, I could go on and on…
AMR.com: You’ve have a new album set for release this summer, titled Grab Bag. What can fans expect from you?
pcm: Expect a wild ride of an album. There are many different music styles on the album–hence the title–and I feel there’s a lot of cool lyrical things on there too. I’m very excited to get it out in the world…I feel it’s my best work yet.
AMR.com: Who are the players in the left hook?
pcm: I’m so fortunate that I’ve always had great folks in my ensembles. the left hook is made up of Kevin Carnes, a phenomenal drummer who is best known as the anchor for the Broun Fellinis, an SF-based jazz/hip-hop trio. He also works with George Clinton and lots of other folks. He’s also a really cool vocalist. Vicky Grossi is on the bass…she’s got this great style which fits well with my work—she’s a big pop and funk fan but also heavy into improv and experimental music. Danny Zingarelli both sings and generates a slew of electronic sounds from laptops and other tools; he’s always ready to push the envelope sonically. Dave Worm is a virtuoso vocalist known for his work with SoVoSo, an Oakland-based vocal jazz group…he was also in Bobby McFerrin’s Voicestra. Together, we create a kind of sonic confrontation that you can’t ignore….like a left hook!
AMR.com: Indie labels have grown tremendously over the decades. Can you elaborate why they churn out some of the best music out there?
pcm: To put it most bluntly, it’s because the major labels are mostly interested in music in terms of its potential as a profitable product. So what you often get from them is product…calculated stuff, nothing nourishing, but sure to sell. Like a bag of potato chips. Potato chips might taste good, but they don’t do much for you….and they may possibly harm you! Indie labels can churn out pure product as well, of course, but in theory, and traditionally, their role is to provide the alternative.
AMR.com: Can you talk a little about Talking House Productions?
pcm: Talking House Productions is a production company and indie label founded by a group of folks in San Francisco, good friends who have made music and done business together for many years. The goal is to produce and develop high-quality music artists and music content. I’m both a producer and artist at Talking House…that is, I produce other artists, and I also am on the roster as one of the label’s artists. It’s a great thing….I love being part of it.
AMR.com: Can you talk about your current projects?
pcm: Well, recording-wise…. you mentioned Grab Bag, my upcoming album. I’m putting the finishing touches on that right now. I’m also wrapping up an EP by a great local artist named Carmen Jones, which is a really cool little collection of R&B tunes. I’m in the early stages of a collection with Oakland-based artist FEMI, who is a fierce, multi-talented performer. I also co-produced a single with the rock artist BRAY, who’s a classic hooksmith. Out of the blue I was asked to participate in a Prince tribute project…..I just finished that. I can’t say what song I did just yet, but it’s funky. And I already mentioned the wonderful album by Joan Jeanrenaud, which is called Strange Toys.
Performing-wise, it’s all about the left hook. I hope to do more shows this year, to better balance out all the time I spend in the studio.
AMR.com: Do you have any up coming performances fans should be on the look out for?
pcm: The left hook will do three shows at the Rogue Festival in Fresno, CA in late February/early March. Those shows will be very exciting…..totally different every night, with lots of improv. Tell your Central Valley homies!
AMR.com: You have worked as a panelist for the DIY Festival. What is the DIY Festival and how did you get involved?
pcm: The DIY Music Festival is an arm of the DIY Convention, which organizes events to help independent artists from various disciplines. Panels, guest speakers, showcases…stuff like that. They always seem to get a lot of heavy-hitters to come through. This year they’ve changed to a more salon-like format, which I think is a really great idea. The founder, Bruce Haring, is a cool guy who really believes in the DIY ethic.
AMR.com: How did you feel when twenty haiku won the “Best in Spoken-Word” award at the 2006 DIY Book Festival?
pcm: I felt great about that! I met a lot of interesting folks at the ceremony, and was inspired by Bruce Haring’s unwavering commitment to independent authors and artists.
AMR.com: Can you talk about the documentary film you have in the works?
pcm: Sure. All throughout 2008, my filmmaker brother Alex, whose films play in festivals all over the globe, will be shooting footage of myself and the left hook for a documentary film. The film will likely come out in 2009. Last year Alex won an award for one of his documentaries at the UrbanWorld Vibe (Magazine) Film Fest in NYC…I’m excited he’s turned his camera on us for this project. He’s also collecting lots of old footage and photos of my past work to include, so if anyone reading this has some cool footage or photos of me performing, email me and I’ll tell you how to get it to Alex!
AMR.com: When you’re not composing and performing, how do you spend your time?
pcm: I have a one year old son….when I’m not working on music or tending to music-related things, I’m usually with my son and my wife. I love to go to the movies, but I don’t get a chance to do that much right now. I like to read and work out as well…I try to do at least a little of both every day. For pure frivolity, I like surfing on ebay looking for interesting drums, vintage electronic instruments…
AMR.com: What are you listening to now?
pcm: These days I’m usually listening to whatever I’m working on, either artists I’m working with, or sometimes my own stuff in progress. So, it’s a lot of rough mixes, half-finished versions, arrangement ideas, things like that. Work-related. I did recently go on a Smokey Robinson kick, after seeing a tribute to him on TV the other day. Smokey is a great songwriter….awesome lyricist. “Take a good look at my face, you’ll see my smile looks out of place, look closer, it’s easy to trace…the tracks of my tears.” Whoo, man!
AMR.com: Who is pc munoz?
pcm: I’m still getting to know myself, after all these years. These things I know : I’m a husband, a father, an artist. And a work in progress.
AMR.com: Do you have any advice for those who want to get into the music industry?
pcm: Well, for aspiring musicians/recording artists, I always say—take the time to learn about the history of the music you dig. If you like Feist, for instance, find out who she’s into, check out their records, then find out who those artists are into, and check out those folks. It’s important to have an understanding of the broader continuum in which you’d like to insert yourself and your work, and it can only help to listen, read, learn, and know more.
AMR.com: Due to circumstances beyond your control, every cassette, piece of wax, CD, mp3, mp4, etc., has been destroyed except for one. Who is this album by?
pcm: I think the answer to this one would change from time to time, with my mood and attitude. Right now, I feel like the one album I would hope would survive would be Aretha Franklin’s gospel album, Amazing Grace. Well, either that or Stevie Wonder’s Journey Through the Secret Life of Plants. Or McCartney’s first solo album. Ok, I’m already cheating…..