Near the end of one of the nights at my first Shambhala I was standing around idly in Fractal Forest while my friends made a plan. (I had no knowledge of electronic music of any kind and was relying on them to take me to the right spots.) I was nodding my head, seemingly more engaged than my friends, and I asked Hingle McCringleberry, my Guide to the Cosmos, who was on stage. “I think it’s Fort Knox Five,” he replied. “They’re pretty good.” I don’t know why that name stuck in my head, but it did and they were among the first acts I started to explore when I got back to homebase. A couple years in and they remain one of my go-tos when I need something to bob my head or shake my rump to. They’re a wholly accessible entry-point for those that find the electronicness of EDM a bit overwhelming at first. I mean, they’re into it, it’s there, but those hip-hop and funk bases are always there and remain the anchor at all times, which is right where I like it to be. Their ongoing Funk the World series is an endless stream of world-beat gems set to groovy hip-hop beats and isn’t to be missed. Check out the latest, Volume 28, as you peep this weeks 5 Questions, with the good homey Jon Horvath of the mighty FORT KNOX FIVE.
1. If the world was ending and you got to save one piece of culture, to preserve for future peoples, what would you take?
Honestly, the most important things in life are love, humanity and, to musicians, probably music. It’s going to have be something music-related. It could be a drum, maybe. Bypassing those first two things, music is definitely the most important thing in my life.
2. Do you remember the first album you bought with your own money?
It would be really hard to say…I’ve been on the record tip since I was a little kid. I lived in England for awhile and 7 inches were really popular there in the early 80’s. I got into Michael Jackson and Prince, all those. One of the first records I ever owned was Madness Wings of the Dove, 7 inch.
My mom was really cool about stuff. We lived a lot overseas when I was a kid, in West Africa and various other places. My mom would often go back to New York to visit family and when she’d go back she’d be like, “Breakdancing is really big!” So she’d come back with parachute pants and tapes of Beat Street and West Street Mob. My mom was always so on the pulse with what was hip. She kept her hipness throughout her life and she was always one to introduce us to new stuff. When Planet Rock by Afrika Bambaataa came out she was the one introducing us to that stuff. Years and years later when we started making a bit of a name for ourselves in music and started working with Bambaataa, to be able to talk to him, who’s a little younger than my mom, and say “My mom, back in 1982, introduced us to your music,” was really cool. He got a huge kick out of that being like, “Your mom, who’s older than me, introduced you little kids to me when I was just starting to pop off. That’s really cool of your mom.” The first records I actually had were the records her and my dad gave me, like Crosby, Still & Nash, Bob Dylan, Led Zeppelin, Simon & Garfunkle. Mom gave me every single Beatles record. I still have all that stuff.
3. Can you think of a movie that an effect on the way you saw the world?
We were involved in a movie in 2009/10, called the Cove. One of my friends was the producer of, a friend of mine I happened to meet at Burning Man in 2008. We hung out and I gave him some music and he said he had a project he was working on. One of the reasons I think he came to the Burn was that he was in the midst of the project and needed that positivity after working so hard and almost finishing this movie. There are other movies, but the Cove really opened my eyes to how foolish people can be in their thoughts and beliefs and what can help you. I’m a huge wild-life advocate, we all are in Fort Knox Five, and it’s just one of those things where you see this movie and you think, “Why are these barbarians cold-blooded killing these dolphins?” Every single year, on World Love for Dolphin Day which they’ve done the last two years, I’ve stood in front of the Japanese embassy holding a sign saying “Shame on Japan,” with my partners. That’s been a live-changer from witnessing that movie. If I had not been involved with the movie it still would have affected me the same way.
4. Do you think that technology has the ability to set us free as a species?
I think it really does. If you look at what’s happening in the world - you don’t need to turn on FOX news or CNN, or any of these stations you think are providing you with real news – if you want to, you can do a little bit of searching on the internet and find out what’s really happening in this world. And that’s all because of technology. Just an hour ago I was reading an article that just came out of the Tech Panel at SXSW about making solar panels that are completely clear. So every window in your house could be generating electricity for you and look just like a normal window. That’s amazing. You look at stuff like the Tesla and the stuff Elon Musk is doing. He basically said, “Every single patent we’re working on is open source now. If you’re General Motors and you want do something good, take it.” The reason he’s doing this is he knows that the only way you’re actually going to get electric cars to really take off is by having the infrastructure for electric cars. If GM, Ford and all these guys start using technology the Tesla has developed then you could possibly start making a proper change and start getting away from this stupid fossil fuels that leads to all kinds of problems, like the Keystone and Northern Gateway pipelines in Canada.
5. If you had to choose between keeping your sight and your hearing, which would you keep?
I don’t know…My sight is really good now and my hearing is not quite as good as my sight. I love being able to hear stuff but also being able to see stuff. The vision is an important thing. The problem is is that you can still feel music, vibrations. When your sight’s gone, there’s nothing. An inspiring thing is we have a school nearby which is the biggest deaf school in the United States. I’ve watched this for about 15 years - actually longer, because I’ve been DJing for 20 years - I’ve seen these kids. These kids loving going to places like Nation, the old big club back in the day, these places with big soundsystems because they can go in there and dance their asses off all night to those vibrations. They might not be able to hear but they can definitely feel the music. I think it would be really tough but as someone who makes their living off their ears and who is highly protective of them, it would be a different thing. The one thing if I was completely blind, with a little bit of help, I could still DJ pretty well. If I was deaf I’d have to have some pretty serious subwoofers by my knees in order to still be able to do that. It’s All Gone Pete Tong…I think I could do that.
6. Danny from HighKicks has the guest question today and wants to know…If you could combine any two superhero powers to make your own superhero persona, which two would you combine? (He chose Invisible Hulk.)
I think if I had a superpower it would be the power to stop time. Stopping time and, shit…teleportation. I would love to be able to sit here right now and just BAM! Teleport myself to British Columbia. If I could freeze time when I did that it would still be same time when I got there and I’d be set.