Pimps of Joytime’s party sound emerges from a cauldron of influences

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:: The Pimps of Joytime ::

:: Fox Theatre :: January 13 ::
:: Cervantes’ Other Side :: January 14 ::
:: Ullrs (Winter Park ) :: January 15 ::
:: Belly Up (Aspen ) January 16 ::

By Timothy Dwenger

The Pimps of Joytime. It’s a name that carries with it a certain panache, a “je ne sais quois” if you will, and lays the perfect groundwork for a funky sound that is sure to get any party hoppin’. At times, it’s got a dirty, lo-fi feeling that is reminiscent of the best old school funk tracks, but it’s evident that all that grime is intentional, as the group’s song can swing into a swirling digital wonderland that comes through in all its hi-fi glory.

In his home studio, bandleader Brian J is quickly becoming a master at manipulating instruments and equipment to give him exactly what he wants: a funky good-time sound that isn’t too serious but doesn’t sound that way.

The Pimps were born out of Brian J’s desire to embark on a project that would give him the opportunity to get out and have fun while showcasing his broad range of musical influences. “I built a studio in my loft space in Brooklyn with just the dream and the idea of making a record,” he said during a recent interview with The Marquee. “I didn’t know what kind of record it was going to be because I do different styles, but as I was starting to work on it I was getting immersed in the Brooklyn vibe at that time, the DJ culture and that scene, I slowly started getting into a funk groove.”

That funk groove is a seed that took root early on as he was growing up between New York, New Orleans, and Los Angeles. “My main musical mentor was my father,” J revealed. “He was a soulful person who loved music and he turned me onto the music of New Orleans, blues, early rock and roll, some jazz, and soul music. He had a great vinyl collection, which I now have, so that was a big influence on me.”

With those kinds of influences as a starting point, it’s no wonder that the sound that J masterminded on the first Pimps of Joytime record, High Steppin’, is steeped in the rhythms of New Orleans, while also drawing heavily on ’70s funk basslines and melodies to create a soundtrack that is complimented by a variety of soulful vocalists who bring the songs to life.

While he does have other musicians join him in the studio, J is responsible for much of the instrumentation that you hear on High Steppin’ and The Pimps new record Janxta Funk! “I started playing drums when I was about 10 years old, then I picked up my sister’s guitar and it inched up and slowly took over the drums,” J said. “I remember when I was about 12, I decided I wanted to be in the front of the stage and not in the back of the stage. That said, I’ve kept up the drums and I’ve been focusing more on piano lately.”

At first listen, many of The Pimps songs sound like they may well make heavy use of samples, but, despite his affinity for the DJ culture, J says he has drawn the line at using samples on his records. “I tend not to sample other people’s music, it’s just too risky of a road to go down because you’ve got to try and clear samples and all that before you can release the record,” he explained before he went on to share one of the tricks of his trade. “Sometimes I’ll take a famous beat and build a whole track on it and then at the end I’ll take the sample out so it has the feel of that sample, but it’s not really there.”

That may be the reason that some of his tunes feel hauntingly familiar, but it might also be simply that Brian J is a serious student of funk and does whatever it takes to deliver a final product that will get a room moving. It’s that kind of dedication that attracted the attention of legendary New Orleans percussionist, and member of The Meters and The Neville Brothers, Cyril Neville. “I’ve known Cyril for almost 15 years through my connections to New Orleans and we collaborated on the song “H2O” from High Steppin’,” he said. “That went so well that I wound up producing a whole record for him called Brand New Blues.” Neville appears again on Janxta Funk!, and this time he brought his brother Art along to the party and the two of them contributed to the funky afro-beat number “Africa U.”

While the Nevilles won’t be joining J on the road, he has assembled a top notch band of talented musicians he met around the New York scene to create The Pimps of Joytime live band. With Mayteana Morales on vocals, and a talented young afro-Cuban percussionist from Spanish Harlem sitting in for longtime Pimp Chauncey Yearwood, who is taking some time off the road right now, the band is primed to get funky. “On a good night it’s a party fo’ sure. We throw down,” J said. “Our live sound is heavier than the record, you know, it’s a whole ‘nother animal. I feel like the studio stuff has more finesse and is a little more neat, but once things get live it’s rockin’ and we get kinda raucous. When we have a good crowd that is pushing us, we’ll take it to another level.”

So if you’re looking for a good time, whether you want to get down on the dancefloor or just take in some good funk and a party scene, The Pimps of Joytime are where it’s at. In name alone they’ve made a promise to whip up a party whereever they turn up, and Brian J and his crew are primed to deliver on that promise.

:: The Pimps of Joytime ::
:: Fox Theatre :: January 13 ::
:: Cervantes’ Other Side :: January 14 ::
:: Ullrs (Winter Park ) :: January 15 ::
:: Belly Up (Aspen ) January 16 ::

 

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