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AUS!Funkt is an art-disco/post-punk trio from Toronto. We are Jozzef Ladovina (beats and sound mangling), Evan Henderson (guitar and vocal), Olivia Korwan (synth and vocal), and Hugo Frutuoso stars (bass, drums and percussions).
What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
O: My family always encouraged me to sing and hum and dance whenever I felt the urge so it's always been a part of my life. If I wasn't doing music, I'd probably be pursuing some other kind of art form more seriously like photography or visual art.
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
J: I work in harm reduction and am in regular contact with topics that people choose to ignore: drug use, sex work, poverty, homelessness, mental health issues, urban decay and precariousness. They are in your face but it’s very easy to choose not to see. I would say that I explore the dark side of existence and that influences the music we make a lot.
How long has your band been around?
J: We’ve been around since 2015. For years we’ve been focused on gigs and live experimentation and in that process we created so much material that it was time to start releasing it.
H: I moved to Toronto from the UK and was searching for a band to join. I came across the ad on Criagslist for a bass player, and I felt like Jozzef and I had a similar mentality and vision. We played some crazy gigs together as a duo and we clicked.
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
H: As a new arrival in Toronto I was looking for community, and music is where I feel comfortable expressing myself. Toronto is a city of immigrants, so it is fitting that we are half Canadian, half European, which is a great mix of cultural influences and mentalities.
How did you come up with the name of your band and what does it mean to you?
J: It could be interpreted as ‘out of function’. I’d say that might describe our music as well – “non-functioning” pop music.
O: I've always thought it was great because I have German heritage and it's pretty nonsensical as far as the German language goes. And it evokes a definite sense of Krautrock/general Euro-ness which I love.
Tell me about your most memorable shows.
J: Definitely some dive bar shows are my favorites.
E: We’ve had a healthy mix of insane electrifying gigs and beautiful disasters.
O: That first show I played with Aus!Funkt was at this dive called Embargo in Parkdale which has since closed. It started out on pretty shaky ground but we eventually got playing and the whole place filled up, we had the fog machine going and it was 1000 degrees inside. Someone broke a beer bottle and Evan was playing in bare feet trying to avoid stepping in glass, and there was this really drunk Parkdale lady in cowboy boots and a mini skirt dancing super provocatively at the front of the crowd for the entire set. It was great.
What is your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
J: Dive bars – smaller crowd but big atmosphere.
E: EURO Sports Bar was our mecca. It had everything this city’s nightlife desperately needs: cheap Pilsners, interesting locals, shower curtain bathroom dividers, an indoor fire hydrant, devilled eggs at 2am, and a Portuguese grandmother watching Russian dash-cam footage. You could quite literally do anything at this bar and they were cool with it.
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
E: Crack Cloud, Grinderman, Holy Fuck, and us as the after-party.
O: I agree. How about LCD Soundsystem, Chemical Brothers, and Viagra Boys?
H: Opening for Nine Inch Nails.
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into playing in a band and some advice that you would give to your younger self?
J: Play music without any expectations. Do it for fun, that liberates you creatively.
O: Always be open to ideas and collaboration! Give your bandmates space, give them a voice.
If you could go back in time and give yourselves advice, what would it be?
E: Fail again. Fail better. Keep stealing. Practice more.
H: Younger me did a great job to get me where I am. I don’t think he needs my advice. Just go with the flow.
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
J: ‘Take your sense back’ just because I often need to remind myself to re-claim my own sense.
E: I think “Information YEAH!” is the most prescient track of our EP- it touches on the bombardment of media, news, and opinions we’ve come to consume day after day.
O: I like “Where's My Empathy” because I feel the lyrics really speak to how alienated we all feel, searching for meaning and connection in a world that's more connected than ever. It's a pretty forceful message wrapped up in a catchy tune.
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
O: My favourite song to play is “What's My Life”, partially because I get to sing at the top of my lungs but also because I think of all our songs, it showcases all of our individual talents really nicely at the same time.
What is the creative process for the band, and what inspires you to write your music?
E: The creative process is somewhat challenging and improvisational by nature, but with some strict rules implemented. Jozzef will typically open the track with a beat and maybe a synth, and then we’ll all contribute an element and fill in the gaps. The music is always changing from show to show so we try to record our jams and figure out which parts are worth developing and which are worth discarding.
O: Yeah, it’s very improvisational. That’s what I love about our tracks - they can groove on into infinity if we want them to.
H: I try to find an element inside me that makes me vibrate, and that makes me react.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
J Question everything. And be willing to change.
E: Our relationship to technology is a theme that crops up a lot.
O: We like to address what most of us are feeling living in the world as it is now: Alienation, disillusionment, frustration, a loss of humanness in the face of technology, the woes of a world wrought with over-consumption... When I write lyrics I like to bring in some feelings of optimism though. I want to remind listeners that there is a future beyond what's in front of us right now. Silliness is key.
Do you ever have disagreements in your band, and how do you get past them?
H: Of course we have disagreements, but that is typical. A band is like a marriage of a lot of people with their own ideas, but we all have the same goal. To enjoy ourselves, to be a family, to see where we will
go with our music.
E: And we’ve also gotten a lot better at discussing our issues and confronting them when decisions rub us the wrong way.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
E: I’m really excited for people to hear what’s coming next. After Post-Stagnation we have a second EP called “Human Response” that’ll be out February 21st, 2022 and an LP after that. I think people will be surprised by the direction on some of these unreleased songs. Honestly, there could be even more coming out in 2022, we’re on an all-out assault on your attention this year.
O: This year though is all about the music and there’s LOTS to come.
H: I want to play a show every weekend to make up for lost time, and spend more time in the studio making more music.