It seems like “funk” has officially re-circulated into the modern music scene. The genre first appeared in the 1960s and birthed some of the most well known artists to stand the test of time. Prince, Parliament, James Brown, Earth, Wind & Fire — all had an insatiable appetite for rhythm, blues and soul. From this appetite, funk was born.
Modern singles like Bruno Mars’ “Uptown Funk,” bands such as Chromeo, and two new albums by Prince suggest funk is nudging its way back into the mainstream.
Locally, the Milwaukee music scene is filled with a seemingly endless supply of talented indie, folk and bluegrass bands. But now artists like Webster X, Kane Place Record Club, D’Amato, and Whips are breaking this ultra-hipster trend. Milwaukee is becoming receptive to these new artists willing to put their creativity on the line to show us something altruistically different.
Among this collective pool of distinctive sounds is a man who calls himself “Bo Triplex.” Milwaukee music enthusiasts might know him as Eris Campbell, from Kane Place Record Club. He’s broken out and begun a solo project, backed by six talented local musicians he has dubbed “His Beautiful Band.”
Their music is characterized by urban funk undertones, synchronized female harmonies and heady base riffs that are sure to resonate, making this a band one to watch in 2015.
The group will be showcasing original tracks, and maybe a cover or two of neo-soul classics by Erykah Badu, for Milwaukee’s upcoming “Arte Para Todos” festival this Saturday.
Q: Tell me about your identity, Bo Triplex.
EC: Yeah, Bo Triplex is a musical identity I created to kind of go with the full-on immersion that comes with doing music. It can’t just be like half of you, it’s gotta be all of you. And I can’t give myself (Campbell) to my music, so I had to create a person that could. And Bo Triplex is that.
Q: How did that get started? Has the identity been with you for a long time?
EC: I’ve always been making the music. It’s just a good brand name that I can run with now in these days. What I’m doing right now is just the newest and best of me.
Q: Okay, so what’s the official band name?
EC: Bo Triplex and His Beautiful Band.
Q: And how long has your band been together?
EC: Well, I wrote these songs over the course of last year, but I put the band together within the last three months. We’ve been lookin’ for and booking shows.
Q: You recently played your first show?
EC: Yeah, I played my first show at Up & Under like a month and a half ago. It was well received. A lot of my friends and close people came out to come and see us… show their support. I don’t think that I’m where I wanna be, but we’re definitely well on our way.
Q: Tell me about each of your band members and their roles
EC: Well Jake Diaz, or “NOBOR,” plays drums. He’s like a pretty key member of the group, been there since the first time I got us together. He’s the drummer, and he also does electronic production. Paul Kolter plays keyboards. He’s a friend of Jake’s. They grew up together. Jack Beyler plays guitar. He came through Newlybreds, where I also got Andrea Michele (backing vox). She’s a really great singer. And then Alyssa Sylvester and I went to Performing Arts High School together so I knew she could sing.
Q: The creative material — do you conceptualize everything, or do other band members write any of their own lyrics or musical parts?
EC: Well, I conceptualized the original sound, the original theme of the band. I wrote these songs because this is the type of music I think is good. By playing those songs it kind of gives an idea of what I like to hear as a musician. So the people who play for me play the parts that they know I want to hear. So when we sit down to write, it is still my genre of music, but their form of it. Most lyrics come from me. As we grow in our writing process, I’m sure the girls will find things that they like that I also enjoy, and we’ll be able to write very nicely together.
Q: Describe what you would like your sound to be known and recognized as.
EC: I think I play urban funk. It’s bass driven rock music, with heavy urban and hip-hop rhythmic undertones. It’s like you get the melodic and chorus ideas that you get with groups like Cameo, Prince and Funkadelic. While at the same time gettin’ that like…dirtier, almost offensive bass rumble that you get with hip-hop and rap. The way that the bass hits you in my music, I want it to be very effective.
Q: Do you have any comment on Kane Place Record Club?
EC: I’d like to say that Kane Place was a very good foundation for my reputation, and I hope to build on that. People saw me in Kane Place Record Club, and knew me to be a great performer with high energy, and a damn good bass player. But I want them to recognize me for more and as my own identity separate from “the bass player from Kane Place Record Club.”
Q: The Status of Kane Place right now?
EC: We’re on an extended hiatus until we can find musicians that work on the same plane that we do.
Q: Back to Bo Triplex — are you working on an album? Do you have any recordings with the full band? Tell me the status of putting your material out there aside from live shows.
EC: Yes, we’ll be working on an EP called Bo Triplex LIVE to come out in 2016. Like I said before, I wrote these songs in the last year and a half, but they won’t become public until I become public.
Q: Tell me about your inspiration for some of the songs you’ve already written.
EC: My general theme is much like Parliament’s — where there are many characters and their stories evolve. I like to base mine off a young man who grew up to go reclaim the things that he lost to the sky. Everything that you ever lose in your life, be it parents, loved ones, loved items… they all disappear into the sky, and in my music, the goal is to go up there and get everything back. That’s what I like to write about. And also sex (laughs). I like girls, girls like sex and music. If I could put sex and music together, I’m going to. It’s just that simple.
Q: I know you’re involved in some other projects. Tell me about them.
EC: I’m also the bass player for New Age Narcissism (NAN), which backs up Webster X, and Lorde Fredd33.
Q: To clarify, that’s Fresh Cut?
EC: Yeah, it used to be Fresh Cut Collective and we’ve evolved into New Age Narcs. It’s just a movement that multiple artists can get behind without having to identify themselves as individuals. Within NAN I definitely have free reign to do what I want to do on my own time. What we do together as New Age Narcs represents (the movement’s) idea, whereas I represent Bo Triplex in my own right.
Q: Anything you want to add?
EC: I was thinking that the Milwaukee summer circuit is somewhere I belong, and a place we’re working to deserve to be.
Saturday, Feb. 28 @ 8:30PM
Company Brewing (formerly Stonefly Brewing)
735 E. Center Street, Milwaukee
Bo Triplex and His Beautiful Band will perform before D’amato and GGOOLLDD as part of the Arte Para Todos festival, featuring 70 bands at 15 venues in three neighborhoods this weekend.
While you're waiting for Bo Triplex's performance at Arte Para Todos, check out his cover of Eric B and Rakim's "Paid In Full."