Damon Riddick is the one-man band, producer, and DJ known as self-termed "modern funk" artist Dâm-Funk. A self-produced musician since his teens, Riddick started background session work in the '90s and fully bloomed the next decade as a distinct player in noncommercial R&B with Toeachizown (2009), a quintuple LP for Stones Throw. Although Riddick followed up six years later with the less solitary triple album Invite the Light (2015), his discography is just as notable for its multitude of solo and collaborative projects with a far-reaching crowd of associates that includes Steve Arrington, Snoop Dogg, Nite Jewel, Ariel Pink, and Christine and the Queens. First and foremost a catalyst in funk's postmillennial evolution, Riddick has also indulged in his love for atmospheric soundscapes with a pair of albums, Private Life (2017) and Private Life II (2018), credited to Garrett, his middle name.
Damon Garrett Riddick grew up an only child in Pasadena, California and was infatuated with a range of music throughout his childhood, such as heavy progressive rock, synth pop, and funk. He took to synthesizers above all other instruments and laid down his first homemade tracks during high school. Shortly after graduation, Riddick became a familiar face in Los Angeles recording studios, first with Double Action Theatre, a new jack swing act guided by maverick producer and mentor Leon Sylvers III (the Sylvers, Solar Records). For the bulk of the next ten years, Riddick's session gigs were mostly on rap records, including AllFrumTha I's self-titled album, Master P's I Got the Hook Up, and MC Eiht's Tha8t'z Gangsta. The last of those recordings credited Riddick's production and instrumentation to Dam.funk.
Riddick officially stepped forward as Dâm-Funk in 2007, when he remixed Baron Zen's cover of the Gap Band's "Burn Rubber." This forged an alliance with Peanut Butter Wolf's Stones Throw label. Within a matter of weeks, Dâm-Funk was also on the label's compilation for 2KSports, 2K8: BBall Zombie War. In 2008, he released "Burgundy City," a 12" single that affirmed his M.O.: synth-funk, mostly instrumental, that put a contemporary and off-center spin on the work of late '70s/early '80s funk and post-disco giants like Junie Morrison (Ohio Players, Parliament, solo), Roger Troutman (Zapp, solo), Mtume (the band), and Prince. Riddick was not afraid to reveal those inspirations, either. As a DJ at his L.A.-area club night, dubbed Funkmosphere, he let the crowds know what he was spinning, proud to go against the common DJ practice of maintaining secrecy. After stockpiling hours of material recorded by himself in his garage studio, Riddick put together Toeachizown, a five-volume LP series released across 2009 that was slightly whittled down for a two-CD set issued that October. By that point, he had also wooed indie rockers with his remix of Animal Collective's "Summertime Clothes" and self-released a 7" single as Wavelength. Previously unreleased tracks recorded from 1988 through 1992 were compiled in 2010 for Adolescent Funk, issued on Stones Throw.
Although several years passed before the proper follow-up to his first album, Riddick was productive, with remixes, EPs, and singles -- including a cover of Donnie and Joe Emerson's "Baby," recorded with Ariel Pink, and "I Don't Wanna Be a Star!" -- as well as a number of collaborations. Toward the end of 2013 alone, album-length projects with funk legend Steve Arrington and rap veteran Snoop Dogg (aka Snoopzilla) were released, respectively, as Higher and 7 Days of Funk. In 2015, he backed Todd Rundgren, another one of his longtime inspirations, during a spring U.S. tour in support of the album Global. As the dates were wrapping up that June, an instrumental four-track Dâm-Funk EP titled STFU was released as a prelude his second album. Invite the Light, a warm triple LP, arrived that September with appearances from Junie Morrison, Leon Sylvers III, and Jody Watley, as well as Flea, Q-Tip, and Snoop, among other voices. Less than nine months later, the !K7 label issued Riddick's first commercially available mix as part of its extensive DJ-Kicks series.
Dust hadn't yet settled on DJ-Kicks when Riddick relaunched his Glydezone label with Nite-Funk, a self-titled EP made with Nite Jewel. That, the Architecture EP, and a 12" collaboration with left-field U.K. pop duo Ekkah were out before the end of 2016. Riddick's studio sessions across the next couple years counted two ambient LPs as Garrett (the vinyl editions of which were pressed by the Music from Memory label), the EPs Architecture II and Fresh Air (the latter a meeting with DJ Spinna), and a 12" pressing of European Nights (previously a CD-R circulated only at gigs). He was also featured on Christine and the Queens' "Girlfriend" and Mac Miller's "What's the Use?" The seven-track STFU II followed in 2019 while Riddick continued his global mission as a record-spinning funk envoy. ~ Andy Kellman