Selina Heyligers-Hale (front-centre/vocals and keys) joins David Dugas (left/guitar), Olivier de Colombel (saxophone), Lee Campese (drums), Adrian Burrill (trumpet and vocals), and Etienne Girard (bass guitar) as Major Funk and the Employment for their Western Canadian tour June 25 to August 4

Etienne Girard, bassist, songwriter and visionary for Major Funk and the Employment, is all enthusiasm as he lays out his plans for his band’s huge upcoming summer.

“It’s been an impossible dream,” said Girard. “We’ve been working up towards this for a super long time.”

Past and present members of Major Funk and the
Employment get funky
Photo: Alistair Maitland

Any Yukon music fan should be familiar with Major Funk—the raw live energy and mechanical tightness the band boasts often makes them the talking point of shows and festivals in the territory. In recent months, however, the group has undergone some changes in personnel. Though contrary to what one might think, this has not managed to slow down the rapid-fire pace that defines Major Funk and the Employment.

With a new studio album recorded and ready for release in June, the summer of 2018 will see the now six-piece ensemble back on full form as they usher in new members and embark on some of their most ambitious ventures to date. Between the album itself, an epic release concert and a months-long tour, Major Funk and the Employment seems to have bitten off more than a lesser band would be able to chew.

“This is what we live for,” Girard replies when asked if the prospect of being away on tour for so long looks at all daunting. “There’s nothing I’d rather be doing. I think we’re at a level of organization where we’re pretty comfortable on the road. Overall, we know that we’re gonna have a super great time this summer. I expect this summer to be our best summer yet, so I have a lot to look forward to.”

Before the band embarks on its grand tour, the arrival of their very first studio effort, Thoughts EP, will be heralded at an album release concert in Whitehorse. This show in particular will be a special event for Major Funk, as the concert will reflect on the history of the band and signify a passing of the torch from the old members to the new. This means several past members will be appearing onstage, including Fiona Solon, Yves Paradis, Mike Jones and Will Hegsted. According to Girard, as many as 15 musicians could be taking part in the performance. Vocalist and trumpeter, Adrian Burrill, says he’s looking forward to how much fun the show will be.

“We’re hoping to get a good crowd out and have a big party!” said Burrill, with excitement in his voice.

With the lineup changes, a new era of Major Funk will be introduced, but the band members are adamant that this will not change the overall dynamic and energy for which they are known.

“The feel of the band isn’t gonna change as far as I can tell,” says drummer Lee Campese. “It’s definitely still Major Funk.”

“Major Funk has kind of evolved a lot over the last few years,” said Burrill, who is feeling confident that the essence of the band can be kept despite different musicians being added. “It’s a lot of work to bring people on, but everyone brings their own style. I think the current iteration will last a while.”

Selina Heyligers-Hare, who acted as a fill-in singer on a tour last year, will be joining Major Funk and the Employment as its frontwoman going forward. Although she has performed with Major Funk before, Heyligers-Hare says becoming an official part of the band was not something she had planned for.

“I didn’t really expect anything to come of it at the time,” she says of her previous experience with the group, but notes that she is ready to commit to Major Funk on a full-time basis.

A sense of accomplishment accompanies the words of each member when it comes to talking about Thoughts EP. For a band so known for its live sound, entering the studio album can bring a pressure to deliver what listeners have come to expect. While the album has been in the works for a long time, the actual recording had to be done in a window of only a few days during the winter holidays when all the members of Major Funk were in town.

“It was so crazy,” said Heyligers-Hare. “But it came together well. The band is getting to a place where it has a pretty set sound, but every tune has its own thing going.”

The album’s title track and lead single, “Thoughts” is already available online and has an accompanying music video. Another video, for the song “Dancepocalypse (feat. DJ Dash)” is also in the works. According to the members, the album will feature the band’s funky, danceable sound, with a variety of diverse stylistic elements appearing throughout. And, of course, it will capture the rawness and vigour that allows Major Funk and the Employment to sell out, show after show.

After a few shows around the Yukon to get the new lineup rehearsed and up to speed, Major Funk will be heading out on a tour that will reach British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and the Northwest Territories, and will last from June until August. This will be Major Funk’s third tour and will contain some of the biggest and highest-profile gigs of the band’s career so far.

Thoughts CD Release Party takes place on Saturday, June 9, 2018, at the Elks Lodge. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. and the music begins at 8 p.m. The show is an all-ages, fully licenced event and tickets can be purchased on the band’s website, www.majorfunkandtheemployment.com. DJ Dash will also be featured in the concert. Thoughts EP, recorded by Jim Holland at Green Needle Records, will be available for purchase at the event, and the title track can already be heard on Bandcamp, Spotify, Google Play, and Apple Music. The music video for it can be seen on Youtube.

Major Funk and the Employment encourage all fans and friends to join them for what they are calling “the dance party of a lifetime.”

“If you like fun, party music, high energy, positive vibes and dancing, then this is the music for you,’ said Campese.

For additional information, check out Thoughts CD Release Party on Facebook.

Big, Loud and Funky