The Canadian Independent Music Association’s Road Gold certification is “awarded to Canadian artists who have achieved a high level of achievement during their Canadian tours over the course of any 12-month period.” The hard-working artists who receive this recognition are those who spend hours on the road because they love playing live. This includes Vancouver’s DJ duo The Funk Hunters who are the first electronic act to receive the distinguished recognition.
“It’s a big honour,” says Nick Middleton, one half of the duo. “And we’re proud to be a part of the shift in the Canadian music industry that sees more electronic acts starting to be recognized. The electronic genre as a whole in Canada is really thriving, we have incredible electronic leaning music festivals, record labels, engineers, managers, etc, that are finally getting the worldwide attention they deserve, so it feels good to be a part of that movement.”
The certification specifically recognizes their Typcast Tour last year, which had The Funk Hunters traversing across Canada, selling more than 25,000 tickets. Earlier this year, the busy pair also participated in the first-ever TikTok livestream event, performing live to more than 300,000 people around the world, at the same time – more than 35 artists performed over a period of 48 hours.
Do you feel this recognition is a bit more significant during the pandemic circumstances?
Absolutely. It’s somewhat special we managed to hit this mark on our final year of touring before a global pandemic hit, and even more special to get the news now so many months later into a lockdown, I think everyone can use some positive news these days.
What was it like participating in the epic TikTok livestream in April?
That was really our first exposure to a global live stream audience and it blew us away. We had no idea how many people would be watching. It was the first of its kind inside of TikTok, so seeing the view count continue rising during our set and hit around 300,000 people live at once was really quite stunning. It blew open a whole new world of possibilities and that week we saw our pages pick up new fans and listeners from all corners of the globe.
As artists, what have you learned over the past year? To be innovative and think outside the box?
Yeah, I think that’s been a personal goal our whole career, always thinking outside the box with what’s possible. So livestreaming and connecting with fans virtually is just such an obvious next evolution of that. I think the other big takeaway this year is that fans are fans. If you stay connected and accessible, they will continue to be there to support you regardless if touring is possible or not, and that’s been really special to see.
What are the benefits of livestreams?
I think a lot of people don’t realize the huge overhead and costs associated with touring, not to mention the mental and physical tolls it can take too. So being able to connect with fans this year online – often more than you would ever play to in person – has been a real eye opener. It’s clear to us this community we’ve built online is here to stay even once touring picks up again. It’s just such an incredible platform to stay connected, promote new music, and build more fans.
What are the challenges?
I don’t think anything “virtual,” no matter how good the technology is, will ever replace that magical feeling of watching your favourite artist perform live on stage while you’re standing in the middle of a crowd of people who are also fans. That’s not going anywhere. It’s something that can’t be digitally replicated and we can’t wait to be able to experience that again. But livestreams offer their own unique features too and that’s why it’s clear to us they aren’t going away either. I think it will be a new hybrid model of in-person shows and online shows going forward.
What keeps you inspired these days?
I think just seeing all our friends and other artists get creative this year has been so inspiring. So many of us have pivoted to new territories, built new online shows on new platforms, and we’re seeing artists rewarded in ways we never imagined. Fans have literally come out in the thousands supporting their fav acts, buying tickets to livestreams or sending donations, buying more merch and music and really staying more engaged and connected than ever before. To us, that’s just so inspiring. Music is amazing. It unites and connects people through good times or bad, and we’re seeing that play out right now all over the place online.
Last question. Do you think the world could use more funk right now?
Always! The world can always use more funk.