What is your name and role within Federation Of The Disco Pimp?
Marco Cafolla, I’m the writer, band leader & keyboardist.
Where are you currently based?
You supported Nile Rodgers & Chic at the Kelvingrove Band stand in Glasgow. How did this support come about and how was the show to play?
We played with Sister Sledge the year before and were invite back to open for Nile Rodgers & Chic this time. It was a huge honour to open for not only actual music legends, but some of our heroes too. We also segway into ‘Everybody Dance’ in our set, that’s how much we love those guys! Not only as a band, but how prolific Rodgers is as an arranger/producer, always blows me away with what he’s produced. He’s worked everyone’s music from Bowie & Madonna to Daft Punk. The show was outdoors and everyone was there for the party, it was amazing to be part of it.
You were invited by the BBC to play at a live session for ‘Jazz Nights at the Quay’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-lQieolWSkg was an amazing performance, how did this show come about?
Thank you! We’d sessioned on their Jazz House show a few times over the years and I’ve also been a guest presenter, so we have a great relationship and have received amazing support from them over the years. We were also the house band on BBCOne’s ‘Tonight at the Games’ show in 2014 for 10 nights and this session was set up in the same area, so it was great to be back in what feels like a second home to us. We’re definitely not a Jazz band but there are huge Jazz influences in our music so it’s nice to be recognised for that. The band played well that night and we just love playing, whatever the audience, we’re going to have a good time. Luckily it was such a welcoming crowd and joined us having a good time. The BBC also did a 15 minute segment on my career so far as part of that show, I feel lucky for the recognition and hard work we put in as we just believe in the music and want to take it to as many people as possible. Recording live in-session can be daunting for some bands but that’s what we’re all about, it doesn’t matter about the ‘right’ notes and a sterile safe performance. It’s about being in the moment with whoever is in the room and sharing a moment!
You also won the ‘Best Musical Group’ at the Herald 2017 Cultural awards, how does this sort of exposure help propel the band?
It’s a nice tagline and CV filler for sure! Again it’s just nice to be recognised for the music we’re producing. We’ve won for the last 2 years now. 2016 was for ‘Best Live Performance’ and this year for ‘Best Musical Group’. It’s nuts as we’ve been up against heavyweights like Scottish Ballet & Opera (as well as other bands), to even be in that company is awesome but to win, it’s a great, if not surreal, feeling. I think it’s helped legitimise our Funk genre in the UK for sure and that’s the most important part of it. Beating out High Art ensembles is no mean feat and shows how seriously we take our music too. We are dedicated to every note played, and we have fun without it being a piss take, ‘retro’ wig wearing tribute act. We’re trying to take that stereotype away and show what it is! We collaborated with Saxophone legend PeeWee Ellis (Band leader for James Brown, Van Morrison as well as part of the famous JB Horns) and he said some nice words about the band and what we’re doing, that was more important than any award. He was part of how we worked for a minute and then said we’re doing it right, from a legend who was part of the inception of our genre, it was all the validation we’d ever need or want.
This year has seen a bunch of headline shows throughout the UK, how do prepare for each show and the tour as a whole?
Practice! Going over everything, and maintain our sets by slightly changing arrangements to keep it fresh. We’ve always been our own harshest critics but it always to keep the standard up. We never wanted to be a great Scottish Funk band, we wanted to be a great Funk band. Our ambitions and standards are set against all music that’s out there, not just with what’s in our country. There is a great standard of musician in Scotland but we’re up against any music that’s available to download so we can’t take anything for granted. Awards and being asked back to festivals etc is a great indication we’re heading in the right direction but we can’t live on what we’ve done, rather we need to keep pushing expectations. No-one thought a instrumental Funk band from Scotland in 2010 could be house band for BBC national TV or make albums with Grammy nominated producers from NYC, but we have and we will do bigger and better things!
Favourite show of the year and why?
There have been some great ones this year but I’m going with headlining ‘Up Helly Aa’ on Shetland. It’s an amazing traditional festival on the island that is a rite of passage for a different chosen person each year, with it all peaking at a torch-lit procession and the burning of a galley. It was a total honour to provide the soundtrack this year. Shetland really is a special place. We’ve played up there pretty much once a year for the last 4 years now and we love going back. They know their music and know how to party!
You’re headlining the UNESCO International Jazz day concert at the Old Fruitmarket, Glasgow, what can we expect from this show?
It’s going to be a great night at an amazing venue. We’re proud to belong to a UNESCO city and to represent it at next years International Jazz Day. It’s really focusing in bringing in a younger audience this year and they’ll be a low-ticket price to make sure everyone won’t miss out. They’ll see us as a bridge into more ‘traditional’ Jazz for younger audiences. As I said we have a big Jazz influence in our music and our live show is super inclusive of the audience, taking away any preconceptions of chin-stroking ‘serious’ shows that can deter people away from Jazz. Jazz was at one point a Folk music, the voice of a oppressed group and their way to story tell. That’s always important to remember that it should always remain accessible to everyone. We’ll bring our award winning show to the Old Fruitmarket and give the audience an experience they’ll never forget, they (as always), are a huge part of our show. There are some other great bands on that night too so it’s truly going to be a celebration of Jazz / Funk music in Glasgow.
I hear that you’re working on new music (including your own solo record) what influences your songwriting and why have you chosed to record a solo album?
What’s going on in the world just now is my biggest influence! This is why I’ve decided to make a solo record also. With our last one ‘Inamorata’ it was my commentary on Scotland and the Independence referendum. Out of nowhere everyone in Scotland started talking about politics and I was amazed with a lot of peoples views. It was a long time coming and everyone wanted his or her say. It really was a charged time here and a lot of tension that really came to a head. ‘Inamorata’ means forbidden love and for the album that really focused on Scotland’s problem with loving ourselves, we can be so self-doubting and unassuming with any confidence or projection being mistaken for arrogance. I wanted to say we deserve to be proud of who we are and our voice counts so stand up and be heard! I decided to make a solo record to follow that path, since the last record we’ve had Brexit, the world in a bit of a mess voting in Trump or supporting UKIP, there’s never been a more vital time as a song writer in my generation to speak about what’s going on, I started with ‘I Love Tomorrow’ and I’m continuing with the solo record on that path. I believe I had to take that side of it away from the Federation and get back to what we do best. These subjects will always inspire me as a writer but even just for my own head, these can be separate things for my bands and rather than shoe-horn in some songs that aren’t necessarily suited for the band, I can stay true to both giving them their own platforms.
Who are you listening to at the moment?
I’m still blown away with D’Angelo’s ‘Black Messiah’ record. It’s 3 years old now but it’s a game changer and I’ve always been a huge fan since ‘Voodoo’. Bowie’s last record ‘Black Star’ is incredible and I’m really loving Anderson. Paak’s ‘Malibu’ record just now too. I’m also back on Talking Head’s ‘Remain in Light’, Don Ellis ‘New Horizons’ and some Scott Walker (3 & 4). I could go on…
When and where are you playing next?
We’re finalising dates for next year so keep an eye on www.fotdp.com or our Facebook for upcoming shows. We’ll be in London, Manchester and Glasgow for sure.
How did you first start playing music and how did Federation Of The Disco Pimp form?
I started playing piano at school as there were Free half hour lessons that got you out of English or History classes and everyone was doing it, so I was getting in on that action. It didn’t take long to work out this is what my life would be. Music has opened the world up to me and ironically made me super interested in those ‘boring’ subjects like ‘English’ & ‘Maths’.
Federation started with me and Ross (Bassist) wanting to jam some Funk so got some of our Uni classmates in (Mikey, Ross & Iain). It started as a jam band but it developed into it’s own beast, then we got horns in (Dave, Jonny & Cameron) and the rest is history. We had some personnel changes over the years but we’ve always had top players helping make our sound as best as it can be!
Favourite food and place to hangout?
It’s hard to get past Paesano Pizza. Italian Sausage – number 7 (old version) is best! Hanging out with my little girl Maya rules, doesn’t matter where that is.