As we kick off 2016, San Francisco’s local music scene finds itself in an interesting and exciting place. While the city is a guaranteed stop on any tour, the shifting culture and demographics have made homegrown music movements somewhat rare. Thankfully, though, there are a number of local promoters, brands and general music enthusiasts dedicated to maintaining and evolving SF’s distinct nightlife. The Make It Funky collective are one of several such culture drivers who we’ve had the pleasure of working with over the last year–SF Ninjas may remember our two collaborative showcases in 2015 at El Rio and Brick & Mortar Music Hall or our appearances on their BFF.fm radio show, which led to one of our own!
For the last three years, the collection of DJs and promoters have been bringing house, disco and funk vibes to San Francisco through their own sets and numerous renowned bookings from around the world.This Saturday (January 16th), the Make It Funky crew are celebrating their 3-year anniversary at Monarch with the help of UK-based disco connoisseur Ray Mang. To help you all prepare we’ve decided to revisit some of the most memorable moments of their run thus far. To get the scoop, we caught up with co-founders Michael Fortune (aka Fortune) and Mohit Kohli (OneMoHit). Flip through some epic and, at times hilarious, peaces of Make It Funky history and grab tickets for their upcoming show here.
The Roots: Santa Clara, LEVE1 & the ‘Don’t Bring Sand’ Party
Michael and Mohit have known each other their entire lives growing up together in Palo Alto, CA, but it wasn’t until they started at Santa Clara University that their passion for DJing and throwing parties truly materialized.
Michael: A lot of our friends at Santa Clara became friends through mutual music we listened to. Thinking back to how a lot of us met, music was definitely something that was at the center of a lot of our friendships.
Mohit: I think that common interest of music, going to shows and exploring genres combined with the scene in Santa Clara being as weak as it was made our friends Rick and Parker decide to take it into their own hands and start throwing parties. That’s how LEVE1 started. Our sophomore year, we threw our first party. It was in the back of some Indian restaurant in Santa Cruz (The 418 Project). Since it was in Santa Cruz, we called it ‘Don’t Bring Sand to the Beach.’ Somehow we convinced 200 people to come and party and rage for a night in Santa Cruz. I think we organized buses, the whole 9 yards. That was my first big party I had really been to house music wise.
Michael: That kicked off the inspiration for continuing LEVE1 and got everyone excited about it. We had a few older friends getting involved who we looked up to like Rock Paper Thizzles, which was Charlie Meyer (goes by Eelrack) and Justin Spagg and the Wobbleheads, which consisted of my current roommate AJ Lopez and Mario Diaz (plays in Spooky Island). They started hosting “Thizzle Thursdays” at the local bars and we could tell there was something special going on but we didn’t know what it was at that point.
Mohit: By the time we graduated, we were in Club Illusions in Palo Alto (pictured at the top of the page). That year we brought AutoErotique and packed the place out. Those parties really got us inspired to keep it up when we moved to San Francisco.
Photo 1 by Luke Kantola; Photo 2 by Matthew Little
Move to SF: The Launch of Make It Funky, Tope Residency & ‘Pure Bliss’
Mohit: We moved up to the city at the end of 2012 and that’s basically when Make It Funky started. First party was at Tope Lounge, small little dive bar in North Beach, where we ended up playing at for about 2 years.
Michael: Yeah,they didn’t really know who we were. I think we had a friend who introduced us and was like, “Hey, you should give these guys a shot.” It had that feel that was reminiscent of what we were doing in college. We could take over the bar and make it our own. There weren’t a lot of parties where we could do what we want with our own group of friends. We were able to create that experience on a larger scale later in life. I felt like part of the appeal was like, “Oh, this is still our core group of friends. We’re still here.”
Michael: We had this one event, maybe 6 or 7 months into Tope, in the South Bay. It was our first big show around the time when Dirtybird was coming up. At the time we listened to a lot of electro. That’s when we were like, “Fuck dude, tech house is cool.” We booked both Christian Martin and Worthy to a club in Sunnyvale, CA where that kind of music wasn’t really happening. We had some other partners help us out, it was a big club and we looked up to the Dirtybird guys so we wanted to make sure we did a good job. The last openers were playing and someone spilled a drink into the mixer before Dirtybird could play.
Mohit: The equipment was swimming in a cocktail, dude.
Michael: Yeah, it was fucked. It was so bad. We were all freaking out like, “Can we fix it? The headliner hasn’t played. What are we going to do?” We look to see if the club has a back up mixer. No back up mixer. We’re like, “All right, fuck. This is bad. This is the biggest show we’ve attempted so far. Oh my God.” At the time, our friends were living at this house called Stucco which was known for having a lot of parties. We were like, “Alright. This is the one place where we could possibly have an after party and salvage this night.” We were sending all of our friends over to talk to Worthy and Christian. We had maybe 10 to 15 people go up to them and just repeat this message. Finally they agree to come. We had these Tiki torches lit up outside and had the garage set up with speakers.
Moving on Up: Fleet Week & Make It Funky’s First 1015 Folsom Show
Mohit: During Fleet Week, one of Fortune’s friends let us take over his rooftop right by Fisherman’s Wharf and throw these 2 parties 2 years in a row. We just lit the place up. We had the planes flying over. There was a full 360 view of Golden Gate Bridge, the Bay Bridge, Downtown, all the water. It was crazy. The second year of throwing the party was way larger than the first, which I think made him a bit nervous to continue the event. I think he was out of town this year but hopefully we can have it again next year! The second time we did that party, we booked DJ Dials and that led to our first gig at 1015. That was definitely a big step for us. 1015 is a staple in SF. That brought us a lot of other cool connections and parties we’ve been able to throw.
Photos by Nha Ha
Mohit: Around the same time as 1015, we booked Jesse Saunders. He was our first international touring DJ we booked. He’s the originator of the house sound from Chicago. It was cool to meet him. He dropped some knowledge on us, we chopped it up a little bit with him and heard some stories from back in the days.
Mohit: Our last few parties at Tope were late-night food themed. The first one was called “Late night taquitos”. We legit bought 60-70 taquitos from Safeway, cooked them up a couple hours before and brought these huge pans of taquitos. People actually ate them and were in love with them so I think it was a good idea. Then, since it was so successful, a full year later we tried to do a late night pizza party and we forgot to order pizza. Just straight up forgot to order.
Michael: We got way too drunk.
Mohit: We’re at the bar just kicking it and I’m just like, “We forgot to get the pizza dude.” The party ended shortly thereafter.
Mohit: We started doing the Bay to Breakers parties in 2013. We take over Bunny Meadow right off the main race path at Golden Gate Park. The first year, only a small crew of our friends came by. Then the next year it grew to this huge 100, 200 person crowd that eventually got broken up by the police, but they were super chill about it. Then the last year, almost the entire meadow was packed. It went on for a good amount of time considering we had no permits or anything like that. It was called Bleezies & Heem.
Last week, Make It Funky’s Fortune and Jay Handles made it out to Mexico to play Mioli Music‘s showcase during the legendary BPM Festival and this weekend, of course, is the crew’s 3-Year Anniversary party which promises to be an unforgettable night. Looking forward, they’ll also be spinning at a sold out show in the upcoming Noise Pop Festival supporitng Kamasi Washington.