DJ John Cawley, AKA JC, has been an ever-present force on the Sydney dance scene since moving here in the mid-’90s. Apart from his work behind the decks at every major venue in town, and hosting The Hard Way on Eastside 89.7 FM, JC runs the promotions and events company Funkdafied, which he formed in 2006.
What is it that puts the ‘funk’ in Funkdafied?
As a DJ I have always been a major fan of funk music, and although other genres such as jazz, soul, and blues are extremely important in the evolution of music, it has been the funk that [has got] people on the dancefloor. You don’t hear funk music, you feel it. There have been many promoters who have put on soul and funk events in Australia over the years, but when I started Funkdafied in 2006 my main aim was to push funk music to the forefront and give people an understanding of what it is about. It was a great privilege to be involved in the Sydney and Melbourne shows for George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic in 2013, and as the great man George Clintonhas stated: “In the beginning there was funk!”
You’ve been a busy bee lately.
Funkdafied has had an extremely busy summer, including a recent tour in co-operation with Troubadour Music – Georgia Anne Muldrow and Dudley Perkins with DJ Romes – and also shows with Bella Kalolo at Sydney Festival. We run a series of events entitled the 45 Sessions once a month with local and international DJs playing 45s. We have had international guests including DJ Suspect and Mr Doris, and also an impromptu DJ set by Talib Kweli. Coming up we have the extremely special tour with Robert Glasper and Roy Ayers doing a Sydney show at The Hi-Fi on Saturday March 8, and a special 45s Sessions event coming up on Sunday March 9 with the legendary Japanese crate-digger DJ Muro.
What’s the best gig you’ve been involved with?
My favourite event that Funkdafied have promoted was the tour for Kashmere Stage Band in 2013. It was a real privilege to be involved in this tour and the Brisbane show and Sydney Festival shows were amazing. As a DJ, I have had the opportunity to support some of my favourite acts including Syl Johnson, Soul II Soul and Norman Jay, but the highlight would be supporting George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic.
What sounds are pumping through the PA at your shows?
At Funkdafied events, the music genres are very diverse – it can cover everything from funk, soul, jazz, disco, Latin, reggae, hip hop, neo-soul, DnB and more. The music you hear can be unique at each event.
Is the music scene in Sydney a healthy place at the moment?
There are a lot of good things happening in the music scene right now in Sydney and other parts of Australia. In Sydney, there is a solid soul/funk scene happening that has grown steadily over the last ten years or so and there are a lot of great local promoters pushing the music. On the downside, it is a real shame that the major radio stations, TV channels, magazines and press constantly push commercial music that has no substance.