If Bay Area nightlife had a DJ equivalent to a ray of sunshine, local DJ Kimmy Le Funk could very well be it. With an infectious personality, a disco/funk background, and a penchant to play only vinyl, she remains devoted to her style, even if it entails someone putting birthday cake all over her equipment in protest. She shares with us that story, her ballerina past, and how she loves to keep it funky in this week’s column.
What’s your DJ style?
I love a wide variety of genres and play a little bit of all of it. My specialty is funk-soul-disco, but I love house-techno and so many things in between.
We heard you used to be a ballerina. How does one go from that to DJing?
I had a reoccurring injury that I got when I was 19 and had to take a step back from the dance world, but still wanted to maintain my relationship to music and was thinking about playing an instrument of sorts. I was having a hard time picking just one instrument to play, and records seeming like the perfect choice. I could be versatile and creative with the types of music I was working with, and had always had a collector’s obsession for music.
Tell us about your first DJ lesson.
It was fun! One of my best friends in the world, Joshua IZ, gave me a few pointers that made what I had been trying to figure out on my own finally click. He helped me focus less on mixing and more just about how to let the record go first. It was exciting and got me even more into it than I already was.
What are some difficulties marketing yourself as a DJ in SF?
First off, everyone is one, so that makes the market pretty oversaturated. In S.F. there are a ton of parties to choose from every night or day of the week and it can take some time to make them choose yours.
Do you stay committed to DJing all vinyl?
I have always played all vinyl since the very beginning! There are several reasons I stick to it — I love the rush of finding records you have been looking for, and I feel closer to the music playing vinyl. I also love how they respond to you in a way that other mediums don’t.
What has been your most memorable DJ gig thus far?
The Sunset Campout at the beach stage. I had wanted to play one of their parties since I first started going to them 10 or 11 years ago. Surrounded by a ton of my closest friends, on a beautiful beach in Belden town. I was so happy when I played I cried!
Give us the three records you would take with you to a desert island.
Purple Rain, Prince
Louder than Bombs, The Smiths
Speaking in Tongues. Talking Heads.
The reasons for my island records are that Prince is my favorite artist of all time, and has been since I was a kid, so Purple Rain immediately came to mind. I still listen to this record from start to finish on a regular basis. The Smiths are another one of my all time favorite bands. Their wit and sarcasm paired with a musical darkness makes them so unique. They remind me of a very specific time in my life and no other band makes me feel that way. Talking Heads have an innocent brilliance that I was drawn to immediately upon hearing them. They wrote this album when they were on the verge of breaking up and think it’s their best one! I got into them a little later than I had with Prince and The Smiths, but once I found them I needed to hear everything they did.
Where has been the strangest place you’ve DJ’d? How did it go?
I played at this tiny Irish dive bar in the Richmond where I had to bring all my own equipment. They hated the funk-soul that I brought and kept asking me to just let them play the jukebox. It was brutal. I went outside for a second and when I came back in they had cut up birthday cake and put it all over my equipment and records! I let them have the jukebox after that.
Reflecting on your moniker, how do you manage to always keep it funky?
Bass! I love a good bassline and I am drawn to them in every genre of music.
What’s your favorite decompression after an awesome DJ set?
Where can we find you dancing on your nights off?
Some of my favorite spots in the city are Great Northern, Monarch, Muka, Mars Bar, Club Deluxe (live jazz every night!). As long as they have good music I will check it out!