Fort Knox Five has soft spot for Whistler 

Washington funk group takes inspiration from B.C. and beyond

click to enlarge PHOTO BY JOHN SHORE/JOHNSHOREMUSICPHOTO.COM - Fort Knox cracking Washington, D.C. electro-funk band Fort Knox Five is set to play the World Ski and Snowboard Festival this Thursday and Friday.
  • Photo by John Shore/
  • Fort Knox cracking Washington, D.C. electro-funk band Fort Knox Five is set to play the World Ski and Snowboard Festival this Thursday and Friday.

Fort Knox Five has their home base in the bustling political centre of Washington, D.C.

But the veteran group, which blends funk and electronic sounds along with whatever else tickles their fancy, feels just at home in the laidback climes of British Columbia, regularly visiting Whistler and preparing to hit double digits in appearances at Shambhala Music Festival in Salmo, B.C.

Speaking from Los Angeles where the group was anticipating their set at Coachella Music Festival last weekend, DJ Jon Horvath was looking forward to returning to Whistler, where the band first played in 2004.

"Coming up here the first time, we just kind of felt different," he says. "The activities that I do, like going for a hike on the Chief, and getting exercise, and feeling good and breathing real air, it's amazing.

"And there will probably be a little partying in the middle."

Horvath and Co. just finished up a set at Big White before heading to SoCal. They'll be back north of the 49 for a set at MoeJoe's Nightclub this Thursday, April 16 at 8 p.m. as part of the World Ski and Snowboard Festival's (WSSF) Kokanee Freeride Club Series before hitting the mainstage at Skier's Plaza on April 17 at 4 p.m., as part of the free, outdoor concert series.

Horvath fondly recalls his first time playing the festival at the Ace's Hotdoggin' Party WSSF close-out show, saying band members made long-lasting friendships. In particular, Whistler DJ Mat the Alien has worked closely with them, appearing on several tracks off 2008's Radio Free D.C.

Though they have a fondness for B.C., Horvath recognizes the musical importance of maintaining a home in D.C.

"There are all types of really amazing groups and composers and singers and musicians that have come out of Washington, D.C.," he says, listing off Marvin Gaye, Roberta Flack, Bad Brains and Duke Ellington. "There's tons and tons of pioneers."

Horvath explains there are two music scenes at the forefront of his hometown: the funk-based go-go scene and the hardcore scene. It may seem like two separate communities, but Horvath explains there's a fair bit of overlap as bandmates Rob Myers and Steve Raskin are veterans of the punk rock scene, which features several influential bands like Fugazi, Minor Threat and the aforementioned Bad Brains.

"D.C. seems like this massive, massive city, but it's actually really small," he explains. "If you're involved in the music scene, you know most of the people, you know most of the legends."

The mingling of personalities has led to a mingling of music for the group. On the band's new album, Pressurize the Cabin, the closing track "Mission to the Sitars" was Myers' pet project. As a part of D.C. DJ collective Thievery Corporation, Myers was motivated to work on world-inspired sounds and was galvanized to shift from guitar to sitar after seeking to challenge himself musically. Changes on the fly now seep into the group's approach, as they made some tweaks to the mix of their new album based off last year's festival season.

"Seeing what people are doing around the world, seeing what kind of music is cool, (there can be) stuff where you're like, 'This is kind of like what I'm playing but a little bit different,'" Horvath says. "We came back from Shambhala and Burning Man (last year) and then went basically home to finish our album, and that was coming off of that vibe.

"Those experiences changed how the final product of the album came out."


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