Whether they are blowing up the barrio, rocking out in dodge city, working for a radio free D.C, trying to find that big score or just generally being a brazil hipster, Fort Knox Five are on everyone’s lips. Hailing from Washington D.C they have created a highly successful label, Fort Knox Five Recordings and breathed fresh air into an old sound. With previous success under many guises BENJAMIN CHINNOCK lifts the lead on FK5.
• Things have really blown up for you guys lately, how are you coping?
It is much easier to cope being from Washington, DC. In the states people are still catching on. In the rest of the world, we have gained quite a bit of notoriety. Being that there are four of us, and we all have our own areas of expertise, it makes it much easier to succeed. We all have our own collective duties at the Fort Knox Camp. When it comes to music, we all have an equal say in it. This is how we come up with our patented "Fort Knox Sound."
• Please tell us why if there is four people in Fk5, why not FK4?
The fifth spot is always reserved for who we are working with. In songs that include Afrika Bambaataa, he immediately becomes the 5th member. When we are working with Mustafa Akbar or See-I, they become the fifth member. We also feel that the Fort Knox Five sounds better, than the Fort Knox Four. All good things come in packages of Five, such as Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, Jackson 5, Jurassic 5, MC5 and so on...
• You release under so many different names Thunderball, International Velvet, Why so many different names?
Our mission for music has always been to break down the genre barriers. We like using different monikers because it allows us complete creative freedom when we are writing. Often times a song is started under one intention, but changes form through the writing process and ends up in another project. It allows us to maintain versatility within the music.
• Tell us about opening for Gwen and Black Eyed Peas?
It was an amazing experience. Gwen has a very open mind when it comes to music. Bad Brains is one of her favourite bands. We can totally relate to that. Especially with Bad Brains, as they are some of our hometown heroes. The BEP are the same way. The tour was a great way to experience the business side of things. The experience was interesting, seeing how a tour of this size operates. We had no idea how much goes into gigs of this magnitude. We made some excellent friends and connections that will last a lifetime.
• Did it change what you play?
We were able to play mostly underground music for this gig. While opening for the Peas, we would drop a lot of Jurassic 5, Beastie Boys, Gang Star, EPMD, KRS-1, Barrington Levy, Damian Marley, Sugar Minott, and anything else that had that old school party vibe. The Peas are serious B-Boys. They are down for the funky stuff. For the set before Gwen, we would switch up the format and play more '80s electro and pop. It consisted mostly of Salt n Pepa, Prince, Debbie D, L'Trimm, Electro & Miami Bass classics, and Afrika Bambaataa. This would all be mixed in with modern day jams like "Pop Ya Cork" from the Stanton Warriors, funky bits by Deekline, or some of our own cheeky bootleg bizness. We took it as an opportunity to introduce the massive audience to certain underground bits that they may never have heard otherwise. They also requested that our song, "Brazilian Hipster," be used as "walkout" music every night. This was a huge honour for us.
• Does the size of the venue change what you play?
It can change how we play. We will just approach the vibe differently. In larger venues we may have to ease the audience into the slower funk, whereas in the smaller venue you can just drop it in. We generally try and play the same types of music for any kind of gig, it's just how we get to it.
• Can you break down who in the group are the DJ’s / producers and who are the musicians?
We are all actually DJs and Producers with plenty of live band experience.
Three of us have serious dj experience. Rob "International Velvet" Myers is our resident string expert, and programmer. He performs in the Thievery Corporation live show on guitar and sitar. He played Sitar on their biggest hit, "Lebanese Blonde." Steve "Raskal" Raskin is a bass player, dj, programmer, and sound engineer, who is a pro at chopping and arranging Horny Horns and drum fills. Sid Barcelona does keys, programming, and djing. Jon "JonH" Horvath works on programming, structuring, arrangements, and alongside Raskal, is one of our most experienced dj's.
• You have really created a unique sound while still fitting in amongst other like minded producers, where do you draw inspiration from?
We draw our inspiration from a variety of sources. We have deeply planted roots in punk rock, reggae, hip hop, breakbeat, EDM, and of course 60s / 70s Soul Funk. The Live Instrumentation aspect is what helps create the unique "Fort Knox Sound."
• It seems that the thunderball stuff was more based around a seventies kind of cinematic kind of thing but the fortknox has a complete different vibe even if we just look at album covers?
The design and music is all done by us. We always want the packaging to reflect the music. Thunderball, in design & music, has a wide-screen cinematic approach. On our Fort Knox Five project, it is more of a Soul/Funk sound, so we graphically complement the music with a future take on Blaxploitation posters and artwork of that era.
• For all the gear heads at home, what hard and soft ware do you use?
We do all of our digital recording and sequencing in ProTools. We use a
dual processor G4 Power Mac with tons of extra ram. We are in the process of upgrading to the new Mac Pro Intel Core Duo. We have been waiting on that for awhile. The main reason for not switching yet is lack of Plug-in support on the Core Duo's. The software plug-ins that we use frequently are Ohmboyz Delay, Ultramax L1, GRM Bandpass Filter, Fairchild 660, Moogerfooger, Serato Pitch n Time 2.0, Serato/Rane Scratch, Joe Meequalizer, and Filterbank EQs. Our main hardware consists of Gibson Les Paul Custom Guitar, Hagstrom Vintage Bass Guitar, Sitar by Mohan Lal Sharma, Keeley Compressor, Vox Wah Pedal, Sans Amp Acoutic DI, Access Virus B Rack, Peavey VCL/2 Compressor, Fender Rhodes Piano, Hammond B3, Audio Technica Mic, Vintage Shure Mic, Blue
Vintage Mic, and Octo-Pre Input.
• You are billed as FK5 vs Thunderball for your Australian tour, what exactly can we expected?
A ton of phat and phunky music that will span the elements of hip hop, funk, soul, breaks, reggae, and drum & bass. We also plan on throwing in a bunch of exclusive FK-Edits and mash-ups. We want to make this set mostly exclusive bits or cool songs that have a twist of FK splashed in.
Peace out, Jon