meta-scriptJohnny Marr & The Healers At The Fonda Theatre |


Johnny Marr & The Healers At The Fonda Theatre

GRAMMYs/Dec 3, 2014 - 04:22 am

Welcome to The Set List. Here you'll find the latest concert recaps for many of your favorite, or maybe not so favorite, artists. Our bloggers will do their best to provide you with every detail of the show, from which songs were on the set list to what the artist was wearing to which out-of-control fan made a scene. Hey, it'll be like you were there. And if you like what you read, we'll even let you know where you can catch the artist on tour. Feel free to drop us a comment and let us know your concert experience. Oh, and rock on.

By Nicole Pajer
Los Angeles

Jangly guitar tones filled the Fonda Theatre on Nov. 2 as Johnny Marr & The Healers took the stage. The cheerful guitarist, loved by many for his work with the Smiths, kicked off the evening with tracks from his 2013 solo release, The Messenger. In addition to his latest material, Marr, clad in a blue velour sports jacket, appeased the '80s-loving fans in the audience with a few Smiths classics.

Three songs into the set, Marr addressed the crowd: "Uh uh uh, nice to see you Hollywood, California," before playing "Sun & Moon." As the song ended, Marr clasped his hands around the microphone and squawked into it. Following a round of applause, the British singer/songwriter chirped, "Cool!" He then asked the audience who was familiar with his new album.

"Who's heard the record then? You lying bastards," he joked. "That's OK. I won't take it personally. We're all here together sharing and I'm all about sharing!"

Marr introduced "The Messenger" by explaining to the crowd that "this next song is what, in the old days, people used to call the title track. I still care about that s***!" During the performance, Marr's drummer, Jake Mitchell, left his drum kit to play the song on drum pads. Marr dove into a melodic solo, while bassist Iwan Gronow and rhythm guitarist James Doviak instructed the crowd to clap a long.

Boasting pride for his home country, Marr explained he was infuriated after seeing a TV interview with a gentleman who had written a book about the UK's "crappiest towns."

"I thought, 'Wow, you pompous d***. I will get you! I will write an indie rock song and you will suffer!'" And with that he introduced the song he wrote in retaliation, "Lockdown." The band's performance of the fist-pumping song "Generate! Generate!" kicked off with Marr playing vibrato guitar and explaining, "This is for anyone who thinks they think too much. Don't think about it. Don't think twice. It's alright!"

Following a performance of the Smiths' "How Soon Is Now?" Marr left the stage, which led the crowd to collectively chant, "Johnny! Johnny!" Marr and the band returned to perform a five-song encore, which included a peppy cover of Sonny Curtis' "I Fought The Law," during which Marr soloed under the glow of a twirling disco ball. The show concluded with everyone on their feet, singing along proudly to the Smiths' "There Is A Light That Never Goes Out." Marr then thanked everyone in attendance, while poking a little fun at Los Angeles: "You've been really nice to play to," he said. "You're not a bad looking bunch. It's OK! Not that you're worried about that I don't think."

My personal favorite moments from the set included the performance of the Smiths' "Panic" and "Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want." I also really enjoyed Marr's latest single, "New Town Velocity," which was reminiscent of the Cure's '80s catalog, and "Word Starts Attack," which ignited Marr to jump up and down like a pogo stick while still maintaining his signature guitar swagger. I couldn't help but bounce along.

Set List:

"The Right Thing Right"
"Stop Me if You Think You've Heard This One Before" (the Smiths)
"Sun & Moon"
"The Crack Up"
"Panic" (the Smiths)
"New Town Velocity"
"The Messenger"
"Say Demesne"
"Generate! Generate!"
"Bigmouth Strikes Again" (the Smiths)
"Word Starts Attack"
"I Want The Heartbeat"
"How Soon Is Now? " (the Smiths)

"Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want" (the Smiths)
"The It-Switch"
"I Fought The Law" (Sonny Curtis cover)
"Getting Away With It" (Electronic)
"There is A Light That Never Goes Out" (the Smiths)

To catch Johnny Marr in a city near you, click here for tour dates.

(Nicole Pajer is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles. She has written for a variety of publications, including BillboardRolling StoneMen's JournalHemispheresThe Red Bulletin,, the Honda Civic tour, Coachella CAMP, and more. Follow her on Twitter @NicolePajer.)


The Smiths
The Smiths performing in 1984

Photo: Pete Cronin/Redferns/Getty Images


'The Smiths' At 40: How The Self-Titled Debut Fired An Opening Shot For Indie Rock

Released in 1984, the Smiths' self-titled debut showed that morose-yet-melodic Mancunians arrived fully formed — and laid the blueprint for decades of jangly, left-of-center visionaries.

GRAMMYs/Feb 20, 2024 - 02:54 pm

In the annals of rock history, how many artists seem to foreshadow all of indie, in some way? One was Buddy Holly; from the glasses to the Strat to the attitude, his short career was like a split atom that produced nuclear fission. And, arguably, there was one other: the Smiths.

Their fey, idiosyncratic and devastatingly witty frontman, Morrissey — born Steven Patrick Morrissey — was fully himself right out of the box. From his baritone voice to his ambiguous sexuality, Moz set the prototype of unconventional, underdog frontmen for good.

His foil, Johnny Marr, played resplendent jangle guitar, with harmonic shades of light and shadow that played off Morrissey's sweet-and-sour musings. Their perennially underrated bassist, Andy Rourke, was supple and tensile. And rock-solid drummer Mike Joyce provided the tasteful foundation, with anthemic flourishes in his fills that made the tunes pop.

The world was introduced to the Smiths via, well, The Smiths — their debut album, released on Feb. 20, 1984 via Rough Trade Records.

Across their four-album discography — plus some must-have compilations, like Hatful of Hollow and Louder Than Bombs — the Manchester-based group would develop in a very short time — and split apart in short order, in 1987. But if, on Feb. 21, 1984, a double-decker bus crashed into the foursome, their role in rock history would still be ironclad.

From the gorgeous, sprawling "Reel Around the Fountain" to the sexually palpitating "This Charming Man" to the stony-yet-sparkling "What Difference Does It Make?", The Smiths paved the way for the Stone Roses, Radiohead, Oasis, and so many more Brits with a way with melody and a screw loose.

And their literary inspirations, melancholia and navel gazing also inspired a generation of emo and goth groups — including acts on the other side of the pond, like the National, Ryan Adams, Billie Eilish, and Low.

How did they accomplish this? Partly due to their visual aesthetic — simple, striking typography, against grayscale photography of anonymous figures, typically men. (Take a spin through Belle and Sebastian's discography, and you tell us whether they were influenced.)

The cover of The Smiths depicts gay sex symbol Joe Dallesandro; he's topless and a curtain of hair obscuring his face; his extremities are cut off by the camera, Venus de Milo-style. The image speaks to both the play with sex and gender in the lyrics, and the band's quotidian personae.

Despite its subject, the cover of The Smiths doesn't scream starpower; it looks ripped out of a moldering magazine. Which completely jibes with the music — glimmering yet murky, seemingly anti-produced in places. That vibe was the point from the beginning — hence their band name.

"It was the most ordinary name," Morrissey once said, "and I thought it was time that the ordinary folk of the world showed their faces." And throughout The Smiths, Moz sings about those ordinary folk — their traumas, their abuses, their sexual hangups.

The Smiths being the Smiths, well, it got dark. The gently unspooling opener "Reel Around the Fountain" is about a sexual experience with an older partner; tabloids wondered aloud if it was about pedophilia. "The Hand That Rocks the Cradle" connotes child murder. To say nothing of the knife-twisting closer "Suffer Little Children."

But despite their critical reputation as "miserablists," it's not all pitch-black. "Still Ill" addresses the decriminalization of gay sex in the United Kingdom — an early glimmer of political consciousness for the band that would go on to make Meat is Murder. And the gorgeous "Hand in Glove" — with haunting harmonica blowing through it — is about love slipping away, with a queer tint.

What also makes The Smiths resonate? Partly what they didn't do. In the most synth-choked era of pop/rock, at the tail end of the UK's new romantic movement, The Smiths' guitar-bass-drums starkness was like bare brick against gaudy wallpaper.

Unincumbered by overwrought sonic trappings, the Smiths'  hilarious, harrowing vignettes stick with you from the first listen. Clearly, that unadorned aural aesthetic stuck for decades, with numberless acts — and to a great degree, you can thank Moz and company.

So many terrific artists take a few records to become themselves, but not the Smiths. No, with their classic debut, you get everything now — including the ocean of indie in its wake.

Remembering Andy Rourke With 11 Amazing Smiths Basslines, From "You've Got Everything Now" To "I Started Something I Couldn't Finish"

Johnny Marr
Johnny Marr

Photo: Andrew Cotterill


Six Strings & Feeling: Inside Johnny Marr’s Famous Riffs & Guitar Legacy

Guitar legend and Smiths co-founder Johnny Marr has a new book, 'Marr's Guitars,' and greatest hits album out — but the ink is far from dry on his storied career.

GRAMMYs/Nov 3, 2023 - 01:34 pm

Every great guitarist has their musical signature. Something that lets the listener know, beyond a reasonable doubt, who is working the strings and frets. Eddie Van Halen had his rapid-fire tapping; Jack White has his stuttering squeal. Succinct and unforgettable, Johnny Marr's distinctive guitar riffs have colored rock and pop for the last four decades.

"As a musician, I'm definitely searching for something," Marr tells over Zoom from a hotel room in Los Angeles. "There are riffs I want to find. And then those riffs lead to songs. And then those songs need decent lyrics and decent vocal. Just working at my craft, it makes me happy just thinking about it."

Many of Marr’s famous riffs were heard in the music of the Smiths, for which Marr was the co-founder and guitarist, with his bright and lively fretwork appearing on classics including "This Charming Man," "Back to the Old House," and "Bigmouth Strikes Again."

Marr's guitar-driven legacy is also driven by his time with Modest Mouse, Electronic, the Pretenders, The The and the Cribs, as well as session work for Bryan Ferry and Roxy Music, Pet Shop Boys, and Talking Heads. The go-to guitarist for Hans Zimmer, Marr has contributed to soundtracks for Inception, Freeheld, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, and the 2021 James Bond entry, No Time To Die where Marr’s guitar work was featured on Billie Eilish’s GRAMMY-winning theme of the same name.

All of this comes on top of leading his own solo project, with which he released four albums between 2013 and 2022. The most recent was Fever Dreams Pts 1-4, wherein Marr matches his electric prowess with other soundscapes like big synthesizer effects like on "Receiver" and adept acoustic picking on "Lightning People."

Marr’s legacy even has a physical form: a signature Fender Jaguar guitar. "Every single [Jaguar] is exactly the same as mine. Right down to the last screw," Marr says. "The idea was that I then give them what I think is the perfect instrument, and they duplicate it. So every one that anyone buys is the one that I play."

Marr has recently added two new additions to his long list of accomplishments. The first is Marr’s Guitars, a photography anthology of various guitars that have played a role in his career —  from his first-ever guitar (a Gibson Les Paul), to guitars he purchased from the late bass player of the Who —  alongside insights from the titular narrator.

The second is Spirit Power, a greatest hits compilation featuring 21 tracks from Marr’s solo project. The album includes hits "Easy Money" and "Spirit Power and Soul," as well as covers, outtakes, and even two brand new songs: "Somewhere" and "The Answer."

Yet Marr is no "greatest hits" artist. After 40 years, his story is nowhere near complete. "I think I'm 60 percent of the way through my journey. I certainly don't feel like I'm 100 percent of the way there," Marr says. "Hopefully, when I croak I will have got up to 95 percent."

On the eve of the compilation’s release, Marr shared stories from his legendary career — from the guitars he loaned Radiohead to write In Rainbows, to recording "Easy Money" on a tour bus, and how guitars communicate with him (and vice versa).

Two of the most well known songs on the new compilation are "Easy Money," and "Spirit Power and Soul," both of which have the strong, upbeat feel of many of your records. Does the guitar have a unique ability to enhance these kinds of danceable songs?

Well, first off, it's a challenge of source to be able to put a lot of guitars on electro music. 

When I formed Electronic with Bernard Sumner in the late '80s, early '90s, I learned that it's much more difficult to not mess with the integrity of the machines and the direction of the music by putting too many guitars on it.

With rock music, I'm able to find spaces for acoustic guitars and slides, and all these different kinds of textures. It's a bit more straightforward with electro music. But I think over the years I've found a place for it. 

"Spirit Power and Soul" is built on the [bassline] and that was a concept that I had months before I actually wrote the song. When we were on tour with the Call The Comet album, I got the idea that the next album, if I can pull it off, the first single should be an electro pop song.

The idea was that it would be a good thing for the band to surprise the audiences and to really write an electro banger. When it came out I had quite a few musicians contact me. To say how much they like it, which is for me is the highest compliment.

"Easy Money" was one that I came up with when I was on tour in the United States. I heard the whole tune in my head, and it was one of those songs where I thought, This song is either the most annoying thing I've ever heard or it's brilliant.

The record was actually made on the tour bus. When we got back to Manchester we put a real drum kit on it. But I wrote the vocal at the back of the bus. I would write a verse, we'd have to stop the bus, and then I’d record it with James, my co-producer, who's in the band.

I've been around so long now, and a couple of the bands I’ve been in, especially the Smiths, are so revered over the years. But there are quite a lot of people who come to see me now, who got into me because of "Easy Money." 

The comp has one cover on it: "I Feel You," by Depeche Mode. This song's opening riff has a swing-blues feel, which is outside of the dancier style across the comp. How did you make that riff your own?

I was playing that riff in the dressing room in Philadelphia in 2015-16, and Ewan, who's the bass player in my band, said to me, "Oh, cool riff. Is that a new one?" and for a split second I considered lying to him, or stealing the riff and writing a song from it. [Laughs]

I started singing "I Feel You," and he's like, "Wow! Really suits your voice," So we worked it up and we sang it that night. The audience liked it. It was a bit of a moment. Conceptually I liked the idea of doing a cover version of one of my contemporaries. I think Martin Gore is a really class musician.

But the thing about the riff and the bluesy aspect to it is that the band I was in from '89-'92, The The, they're coming from the same place as Depeche Mode. Like a techno blues kind of thing. 

**A couple stories in Marr’s Guitars are about your loaning and/or giving away guitars. You lent two to Noel Gallagher and eventually let him keep them, and you lended three to Radiohead for when they were recording In Rainbows. How do you know which guitar is right for a certain person or band when you’re loaning them out?**

Well with Radiohead it was a no-brainer. They didn't have a Les Paul; they didn't have an SG. I knew Ed had a Rickenbacker and obviously Johnny's got his Telecaster. I can't remember what Thom was playing at the time, but I knew what they didn't have.

I've given guitars to people who aren’t in the book. People like PJ Harvey, Alex Turner. This is just because I could do it. It's a sign of respect, and it might seem extra extravagant, but it's not. I've been very, very fortunate and over the years and it's come back to me. Nile Rodgers gave me one of his Stratocasters. The Edge gave me a Stratocaster.

With Noel, that story's been told in all these different ways, but I can honestly say as soon as I saw a picture of him with it, I thought, Oh, it's his! He just looked right with it.

No one had any idea at that point that Oasis were going to be even playing to more than 100 people, or even 100 people. They were only playing literally to 14. He was just a kid that I liked.

In the book there is a strong theme about how these guitars communicate with you. You write that you took the Gibson ES355 out of the case, and "Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now" arrived under your fingers complete. How would you describe that communication that happens between you and these instruments? 

In some ways it's not esoteric or cosmic, and in some ways it is. The ways that it isn't esoteric or cosmic is that it felt quite like a jazz guitar under my left hand the way the neck is shaped. And it's from 1960, so it's essentially a 1950’s kind of instrument, and it feels expensive because it is expensive. It's beautifully made. 

All of these things are quite tactile under your fingers. It doesn't make you want to shred. It feels sophisticated. So the chords in "Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now" are very sophisticated, particularly for a 20-year-old boy from Manchester. So maybe subconsciously the idea of this expensive, sophisticated, well made, beautiful luxury instrument made me play those expensive, sophisticated chord changes.

On a more esoteric and cosmic take, it may be just as simple as that the guitar had been used to be playing those kind of chords. Whichever musician had it from all the way through the 1960s, someone else in the 1970s, had maybe put a lot of good feeling into that guitar.

On the rare occasions when I've loaned my guitars to people who don't take care of them, they definitely come back with the wrong feeling. Now that might be flipped back again away from the cosmic. That might be because the guitar’s a machine.

When it's been loved and cared for, and nice music's been played on it, it gets used to it. I should say it's a machine that vibrates and resonates. That's the nature of it. It's wood and wire.

There's many musicians who will tell you that if they're lucky enough to own a few different instruments, they inspire you to find that moment and come up with a song or they just, as I say, they deliver it to you right under your fingers.

In this same regard, with the Fender Jaguar that has your name on it, what sort of energy do you want to pass on?

Well, when that guitar was developed I was doing a lot of running. I was like Forrest Gump with a Jaguar [laughs]. So it's a real daytime, healthy, awake, high tempo energy.

It's there in "Easy Money." That's a real riff that came out of that. It's pretty much there in the whole compilation album. All the songs started being written in 2011 when I was getting that guitar released, and that was what I was using all the time. 

Although I gave one to Nile Rodgers and he thinks it's a really good jazz guitar, which it is. That's got to do with the sound of it. It is very, very versatile. I know one of the first known musicians to get one was Al Jardine from the Beach Boys, which was amazing. Taylor Swift has got one.

So it's right across the board pretty versatile. But the energy from it is a real kind of positive, wide-awake energy.

What was it like in the studio with Billie Eilish and Finneas for "No Time To Die"?

There was a hell of a lot at stake because it's the Bond theme. Hans [Zimmer] is orchestrating it,  trying to make it sound like a Bond movie. But then Billie, quite rightly, is keeping her eye on it because her prerogative is that it keeps the same feeling that she intended when she wrote it. And that's very smart. 

I know that environment really well. That's my world. Hans knows that environment. That's his world. Billie knows it. It's her world. So you get a feeling for someone real quick because I know that environment. That's my oxygen. 

Billie Eilish is young and yes, she's a pop star, but she's not like some kid who just won a lottery ticket to go in and try and sing. It's very obvious she is a very accomplished and gifted artist, and the vibe I got from Billie and Finneas was they’re musicians that could have been around in the '50s, '60s, could've been around in the eighties. 

She was kind of the boss, really, without having to say very much. She didn't need to impose on anybody. She reminds me of Pharrell, although her personality is different. Pharrell buzzes around quite a lot, but he's still pretty zen. These are people who have a vision. They let you express yourself. They let you make constructive changes, but ultimately you know that they've got this vision for how it should be.

In the case of the Bond theme, Billie wrote a really dead cool song, but she also knew that what was going to keep it powerful was making it sound like a Billie Eilish song.

You mentioned this idea of different worlds in the studio. Your world. Hans Zimmer’s world. Billie Eilish’s world. When writing a film score that’s not in a pop structure like "No Time To Die," what is it like for these multiple worlds to come together?

Inception is the best example because before we did Inception, guitars in movies were a complete no-no. They'd been overused in the '80s in a way that had really dated quite badly. 

At a point when composers brought ideas to a director, they could suggest Himalayan flutes, they could suggest Aeolian harps, they could suggest synthesizers. But one thing they couldn't suggest on a movie soundtrack was the electric guitar. The electric guitars were out and because of what we did on Inception, guitars are now back in. 

I like synthesizers and I like electronics. Over the last 10,15 years, getting to work on movies with Hans, I'm involved with the top sound designers and synthesizer players in the world. Hans being one of them. But sonically, there are things that you could do on the guitar that you just simply cannot do on keyboards. No matter how clever you are.

There's a whole world that you can live in with the guitar, and I'm very, very, very pleased and privileged to be in it.

Remembering Andy Rourke With 11 Amazing Smiths Basslines, From "You’ve Got Everything Now" To "I Started Something I Couldn’t Finish"

Kendrick Lamar GRAMMY Rewind Hero
Kendrick Lamar

Photo: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic


GRAMMY Rewind: Kendrick Lamar Honors Hip-Hop's Greats While Accepting Best Rap Album GRAMMY For 'To Pimp a Butterfly' In 2016

Upon winning the GRAMMY for Best Rap Album for 'To Pimp a Butterfly,' Kendrick Lamar thanked those that helped him get to the stage, and the artists that blazed the trail for him.

GRAMMYs/Oct 13, 2023 - 06:01 pm

Updated Friday Oct. 13, 2023 to include info about Kendrick Lamar's most recent GRAMMY wins, as of the 2023 GRAMMYs.

A GRAMMY veteran these days, Kendrick Lamar has won 17 GRAMMYs and has received 47 GRAMMY nominations overall. A sizable chunk of his trophies came from the 58th annual GRAMMY Awards in 2016, when he walked away with five — including his first-ever win in the Best Rap Album category.

This installment of GRAMMY Rewind turns back the clock to 2016, revisiting Lamar's acceptance speech upon winning Best Rap Album for To Pimp A Butterfly. Though Lamar was alone on stage, he made it clear that he wouldn't be at the top of his game without the help of a broad support system. 

"First off, all glory to God, that's for sure," he said, kicking off a speech that went on to thank his parents, who he described as his "those who gave me the responsibility of knowing, of accepting the good with the bad."

Looking for more GRAMMYs news? The 2024 GRAMMY nominations are here!

He also extended his love and gratitude to his fiancée, Whitney Alford, and shouted out his Top Dawg Entertainment labelmates. Lamar specifically praised Top Dawg's CEO, Anthony Tiffith, for finding and developing raw talent that might not otherwise get the chance to pursue their musical dreams.

"We'd never forget that: Taking these kids out of the projects, out of Compton, and putting them right here on this stage, to be the best that they can be," Lamar — a Compton native himself — continued, leading into an impassioned conclusion spotlighting some of the cornerstone rap albums that came before To Pimp a Butterfly.

"Hip-hop. Ice Cube. This is for hip-hop," he said. "This is for Snoop Dogg, Doggystyle. This is for Illmatic, this is for Nas. We will live forever. Believe that."

To Pimp a Butterfly singles "Alright" and "These Walls" earned Lamar three more GRAMMYs that night, the former winning Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song and the latter taking Best Rap/Sung Collaboration (the song features Bilal, Anna Wise and Thundercat). He also won Best Music Video for the remix of Taylor Swift's "Bad Blood." 

Lamar has since won Best Rap Album two more times, taking home the golden gramophone in 2018 for his blockbuster LP DAMN., and in 2023 for his bold fifth album, Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers.

Watch Lamar's full acceptance speech above, and check back at every Friday for more GRAMMY Rewind episodes. 

10 Essential Facts To Know About GRAMMY-Winning Rapper J. Cole

Franc Moody
Franc Moody

Photo: Rachel Kupfer 


A Guide To Modern Funk For The Dance Floor: L'Imperatrice, Shiro Schwarz, Franc Moody, Say She She & Moniquea

James Brown changed the sound of popular music when he found the power of the one and unleashed the funk with "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag." Today, funk lives on in many forms, including these exciting bands from across the world.

GRAMMYs/Nov 25, 2022 - 04:23 pm

It's rare that a genre can be traced back to a single artist or group, but for funk, that was James Brown. The Godfather of Soul coined the phrase and style of playing known as "on the one," where the first downbeat is emphasized, instead of the typical second and fourth beats in pop, soul and other styles. As David Cheal eloquently explains, playing on the one "left space for phrases and riffs, often syncopated around the beat, creating an intricate, interlocking grid which could go on and on." You know a funky bassline when you hear it; its fat chords beg your body to get up and groove.

Brown's 1965 classic, "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag," became one of the first funk hits, and has been endlessly sampled and covered over the years, along with his other groovy tracks. Of course, many other funk acts followed in the '60s, and the genre thrived in the '70s and '80s as the disco craze came and went, and the originators of hip-hop and house music created new music from funk and disco's strong, flexible bones built for dancing.

Legendary funk bassist Bootsy Collins learned the power of the one from playing in Brown's band, and brought it to George Clinton, who created P-funk, an expansive, Afrofuturistic, psychedelic exploration of funk with his various bands and projects, including Parliament-Funkadelic. Both Collins and Clinton remain active and funkin', and have offered their timeless grooves to collabs with younger artists, including Kali Uchis, Silk Sonic, and Omar Apollo; and Kendrick Lamar, Flying Lotus, and Thundercat, respectively.

In the 1980s, electro-funk was born when artists like Afrika Bambaataa, Man Parrish, and Egyptian Lover began making futuristic beats with the Roland TR-808 drum machine — often with robotic vocals distorted through a talk box. A key distinguishing factor of electro-funk is a de-emphasis on vocals, with more phrases than choruses and verses. The sound influenced contemporaneous hip-hop, funk and electronica, along with acts around the globe, while current acts like Chromeo, DJ Stingray, and even Egyptian Lover himself keep electro-funk alive and well.

Today, funk lives in many places, with its heavy bass and syncopated grooves finding way into many nooks and crannies of music. There's nu-disco and boogie funk, nodding back to disco bands with soaring vocals and dance floor-designed instrumentation. G-funk continues to influence Los Angeles hip-hop, with innovative artists like Dam-Funk and Channel Tres bringing the funk and G-funk, into electro territory. Funk and disco-centered '70s revival is definitely having a moment, with acts like Ghost Funk Orchestra and Parcels, while its sparkly sprinklings can be heard in pop from Dua Lipa, Doja Cat, and, in full "Soul Train" character, Silk Sonic. There are also acts making dreamy, atmospheric music with a solid dose of funk, such as Khruangbin’s global sonic collage.

There are many bands that play heavily with funk, creating lush grooves designed to get you moving. Read on for a taste of five current modern funk and nu-disco artists making band-led uptempo funk built for the dance floor. Be sure to press play on the Spotify playlist above, and check out's playlist on Apple Music, Amazon Music and Pandora.

Say She She

Aptly self-described as "discodelic soul," Brooklyn-based seven-piece Say She She make dreamy, operatic funk, led by singer-songwriters Nya Gazelle Brown, Piya Malik and Sabrina Mileo Cunningham. Their '70s girl group-inspired vocal harmonies echo, sooth and enchant as they cover poignant topics with feminist flair.

While they’ve been active in the New York scene for a few years, they’ve gained wider acclaim for the irresistible music they began releasing this year, including their debut album, Prism. Their 2022 debut single "Forget Me Not" is an ode to ground-breaking New York art collective Guerilla Girls, and "Norma" is their protest anthem in response to the news that Roe vs. Wade could be (and was) overturned. The band name is a nod to funk legend Nile Rodgers, from the "Le freak, c'est chi" exclamation in Chic's legendary tune "Le Freak."


Moniquea's unique voice oozes confidence, yet invites you in to dance with her to the super funky boogie rhythms. The Pasadena, California artist was raised on funk music; her mom was in a cover band that would play classics like Aretha Franklin’s "Get It Right" and Gladys Knight’s "Love Overboard." Moniquea released her first boogie funk track at 20 and, in 2011, met local producer XL Middelton — a bonafide purveyor of funk. She's been a star artist on his MoFunk Records ever since, and they've collabed on countless tracks, channeling West Coast energy with a heavy dose of G-funk, sunny lyrics and upbeat, roller disco-ready rhythms.

Her latest release is an upbeat nod to classic West Coast funk, produced by Middleton, and follows her February 2022 groovy, collab-filled album, On Repeat.

Shiro Schwarz

Shiro Schwarz is a Mexico City-based duo, consisting of Pammela Rojas and Rafael Marfil, who helped establish a modern funk scene in the richly creative Mexican metropolis. On "Electrify" — originally released in 2016 on Fat Beats Records and reissued in 2021 by MoFunk — Shiro Schwarz's vocals playfully contrast each other, floating over an insistent, upbeat bassline and an '80s throwback electro-funk rhythm with synth flourishes.

Their music manages to be both nostalgic and futuristic — and impossible to sit still to. 2021 single "Be Kind" is sweet, mellow and groovy, perfect chic lounge funk. Shiro Schwarz’s latest track, the joyfully nostalgic "Hey DJ," is a collab with funkstress Saucy Lady and U-Key.


L'Impératrice (the empress in French) are a six-piece Parisian group serving an infectiously joyful blend of French pop, nu-disco, funk and psychedelia. Flore Benguigui's vocals are light and dreamy, yet commanding of your attention, while lyrics have a feminist touch.

During their energetic live sets, L'Impératrice members Charles de Boisseguin and Hagni Gwon (keys), David Gaugué (bass), Achille Trocellier (guitar), and Tom Daveau (drums) deliver extended instrumental jam sessions to expand and connect their music. Gaugué emphasizes the thick funky bass, and Benguigui jumps around the stage while sounding like an angel. L’Impératrice’s latest album, 2021’s Tako Tsubo, is a sunny, playful French disco journey.

Franc Moody

Franc Moody's bio fittingly describes their music as "a soul funk and cosmic disco sound." The London outfit was birthed by friends Ned Franc and Jon Moody in the early 2010s, when they were living together and throwing parties in North London's warehouse scene. In 2017, the group grew to six members, including singer and multi-instrumentalist Amber-Simone.

Their music feels at home with other electro-pop bands like fellow Londoners Jungle and Aussie act Parcels. While much of it is upbeat and euphoric, Franc Moody also dips into the more chilled, dreamy realm, such as the vibey, sultry title track from their recently released Into the Ether.

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