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Local band Doja takes a new hybrid of funk to the main stage

Before hearing Doja a couple months back, I didn’t expect much. The venue seemed awful by description — there was no stage, the band set up on a make-shift dance floor in front of the bar. The place felt more like a creepy uncle’s basement than a music venue.

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By Christopher DeMarcus (The Cascade) – Email

Print Edition: January 29, 2014

The venue wasn’t great, but the Doja made up for it with funk. (Image:  Sarah Fawcett /redonblackmusic.com)

The venue wasn’t great, but the Doja made up for it with funk. (Image: Sarah Fawcett /redonblackmusic.com)

Before hearing Doja a couple months back, I didn’t expect much. The venue seemed awful by description — there was no stage, the band set up on a make-shift dance floor in front of the bar. The place felt more like a creepy uncle’s basement than a music venue.

But the trio lit up the room with a heavy dose of groove. Every song was laced with a thumping downbeat and heavy doses of funk.

“Bands [can] meld the boundary, keeping the energy and rawness of rock while mixing the tightness and edge of funk,” bassist Steve Kalkman says. “Bands use funk to their advantage, even bands you would never guess, or some obvious ones like the new Daft Punk stuff.”

On a whim the band decided to answer an online ad looking for acts to play a show at the Rickshaw in Vancouver. When they showed up, they found out the event was a contest; bands were judged by the audience.

Doja was voted best of the show.

They won a pack of prizes and left the gig with free recording time at Vancouver’s Blue Wave studio.

“We wrote the songs for our EP in high school, then finalized them for recording in the studio.” drummer Brad Desjardins says. “The drum kit I play is made locally by Abbotsford company Casey Drums. Jason Kliewer, who runs the shop, built the entire kit to the specific sizes I wanted.”

Most bands today lie on one side of the spectrum or the other: heavy metal or indie rock. But Doja is able to capture something new and something old: modern funk. They play the music they like, inspired by a plethora of different artists. “We listen to Otis Redding and the Red Hot Chili Peppers,” Desjardins says.

The band is unique, bringing a little bit of everything to the table. Some may be fans of the vocal harmonies and melodic leads, but the rhythm section is what drives the band’s accessibility. Doja lays down a two story foundation of groove.

“What’s great about the Valley is there are lots of killer bands. But the downside is there are almost no venues. Most of the places to play get quickly shut down, or are poorly run. [Bands] are playing house parties in basements,” Desjardins says. “Vancouver is kind of the opposite. There are good bands, but almost too many of them. And there is a ton of venues to play — too many.”

Doja has a show in Vancouver coming up at the Biltmore on January 29, and they’ll also be playing Lucky’s in Victoria on Jan. 25.

They are working on a full-length record, which they finished recording at Chilliwack’s Tractor Grease Studios. For the new set of songs the trio did the recordings themselves, then brought in an engineer to mix and master the tracks.

“I would love to continue to learn about the recording studio and equipment ourselves but it’s always nice having someone else there as an outside ear as well as someone that’s savvy with the gear just in case. We were fortunate to have Jeff Bonner from Tractor Grease,” Kalkman says.

Doja’s 2012 EP, Set and Setting, is available to stream on Bandcamp.

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