By Mark Frieser
Every now and then, you get the opportunity to speak to someone who’s just really, really cool – really influential, interesting and vital – both as a person and to the art of music as a whole.
The Brides, led by Dawn, will perform a showcase for music supervisors at SyncSummit Hollywood on September 24-25, and I promise you, it’s going to be an amazing show – more about that later – Now here’s a bit more about Dawn.
Dawn is, simply put, a Funk Diva of Epic Proportions.
She began her career as a backing vocalist for Sly & The Family Stone, got to tour all over the world with Frank Zappa, Chaka Khan and everyone in-between – but it was during 1976 when The Family Stone connected with Parliament Funkadelic for a tour that birthed her group, The Brides Of Funkenstein.
Now, for those of you that don’t know, The Brides Of Funkenstein (as christened by lead Funkateer George Clinton – but I’ll just call them “The Brides”) were founded as an offshoot of the Parliament-Funkadelic Movement in 1977.
Their debut album “Funk Or Walk” sold 1 million + copies worldwide and spawned the seminal funk track “Disco To Go” (#7, Billboard R&B Chart three weeks after its debut), with their second album, “Never Buy Texas From A Cowboy,” selling equally well, garnering a 1981 Rhythm and Blues Award and rating in Rolling Stone’s 50 Coolest Albums of All Time.
But there’s so much more to this funk diva than her co-founding role in The Brides. When the P-Funk movement fizzled out in the early 80’s, Dawn moved on to lend her vox to The Gap Band’s Hit 82-85 hit parade and tours, collaborated with Ice Cube, The Eurythmics, Coolio, Roy Ayers and a feature on the “Boyz N The Hood” soundtrack.
Next, in 2000, Dawn released her solo album “All My Funky Friends,” an album hailed by Tower Records as “The only authentic funk album released in over two decades” had a wide and successful international release.
Which brings us to today – Dawn and the Brides are bringing the Funk back to the world with new gigs, new songs and they will perform a special show for music supervisors at this year’s SyncSummit Hollywood on September 24. The Brides had a lot of success in sync through the years, and they’re poised to build upon that funky foundation with new syncs, new singles and new shows in 2015-2016.
SyncSummit: Hi Dawn, tell me a little bit about you, the Brides and your career.
Hi Mark and hi everyone. As you may or may not know, I’m not only a vocalist, I’m also a songwriter, producer, performer and author, I’ve performed on a lot of albums – with my own band and others – had a lot of success and a lot of syncs in TV and film over the years.
I was born in Sacramento California, and I had my first band in high school, but my career really began right after I graduated when I joined up with Sly And The Family Stone as a backing vocalist in the 70’s – Sly was really at his peak of popularity then and it was awesome – we got to tour with a lot of household names that went from Frank Zappa to Rufus and Chaka Khan.
SyncSummit: And When did you hook up with Parliament Funkadelic?
It started in October 1976 when a guest spot opened for The Family Stone to tour with Parliament Funkadelic. When Sly dropped out of the tour, George Clinton asked me to join with Parliament Funkadelic as a vocalist. And it was through this the Brides of Funkenstein were born.
In 1977, George spun us (me and Lynn Mabry) off as a side group – The Brides Of Funkenstein – and we had a lot of success.
SyncSummit: Like what?
We were signed to Atlantic and had two really successful albums – “Funk or Walk” and “Never Buy Texas From a Cowboy” that sold over a million copies worldwide. Also, we had a couple of hits with the singles “Disco To Go” (number #7, Billboard R&B chart in less than 3 weeks) and the title Track from our second album.
SyncSummit: And what happened after that?
Well, we were going to have a third album come out, but the P-Funk movement kind of fizzled out and we went on our own – we toured a bit, then I hooked up with a bunch of really interesting artists, most notably The Gap Band, but also the Eurythmics and Ice Cube – I covered a lot of ground.
In 2000, I released “All My Funky Friends,” my first solo album, which got some great reviews and is still a fan favorite. Now, we’re bringing the Brides back with new songs and a new tour.
SyncSummit: Okay, that brings us to 2015 – why are you bringing the Brides Of Funkenstein back now?
Well, it started a little earlier than that – in 2006 to be exact. The Brides made their comeback in my hometown of Sacramento California – we did a show for 5,000 people – and that gave us the desire to start to pull together more gigs and more original music – we played everywhere from Whisky a Go-Go to headlining (in 2012) the Long Beach Funk Festival in Long Beach California where we performed for over 25,000 people. Writers and who where there called it one of the funkiest shows in decades.
So why now? Basically, our fans want the funk, we’ve got it, and we’re going to give it to them!
SyncSummit: So what are you doing to let people know you’re back and on tour and have new music?
Well, because the industry has changed so much, basically we can’t get airplay, label support isn’t what it used to be – we’ve had to go the indie route to connect to our fans – social media, email, partners – the usual digital marketing. If you don’t use these methods, you’re not going to reach your fans – that’s the bottom line.
Websites, interviews, blogs, Sample Videos, YouTube, free song downloads – online promos, digital distribution –it’s the only way we can get the word out. We have – with the fans of The Brides and P-Funk – an underground following of millions of people across the globe – and we’re communicating with them constantly to let them know about our tour and the new music we’re putting together to release in the next year.
For the music, the goal is to produce 12 new songs that are true funk masterpieces, then take them on the road. And some of that music we’ll play at SyncSummit Hollywood. On September 24.
SyncSummit: And what are you hoping to get from performing at Sync Summit?
Everyone knows that getting a song in an ad or a TV show is a nice paycheck – but it’s also one of the ways people hear new music – like I said earlier, we know we’re not going to get any airplay in today’s market, but a few good syncs – that will get the funketeers old and new excited and exposed to everything we’re doing.
By playing SyncSummit, we can get the music supervisors and the people from the ad agencies to listen to what we’re doing and get excited about our new music. And of course have a lot of fun.