With just days remaining in the Bootsy Collins Kickstarter campaign I was given the opportunity to interview Bootsy about what it means to give a funk and how he intends to bring "Unity to the commUnity."
Through his new Kickstarter campaign Bootsy intends on making a DVD, releasing a star-studded album, and touring the country. It's an ambitious project with a short time frame for a good cause. Can it work? Yes, and you're invited to the party.
Here's my interview: Your message of Unity couldn't come at a better time.
Bootsy Collins: We've been wanting to do this and things just kind of fell right into place.
This unity you speak, Is funk the beginning?
Bootsy: Yeah, it starts right there and for me Unity entails everything. All the things that we were told not to embrace, at some point in our lives we have to embrace everything or run from it. To start off funk is definitely making something out of nothing and that's what we start off with, nothing. We come in the world with nothing. We leave with nothing. So funk is that. That's the essence of funk, we start out with nothing and do something with it.
You're about actively supporting and encouraging the reintroduction of music programs into schools around the world. Has the system gone crazy cutting music for kids?
I don't think they really have gone crazy. I think they're evolving into this monstrosity that makes no sense. It's just going haywire. And there's no really sane reason for doing it. They just want to keep up us at each other. The struggle gets harder and ... the more crazier kids get. I mean, you can look and see that kids already have a hard time feeling for anything and when you take that feeling away it's like taking their soul. Their lives. And that's what's beginning to happen.
How important was music to you as a kid?
Oh man, I mean, if it hadn't of been for music I probably wouldn't have went to school and I know a lot of kids kind of feel like that. Music makes you want to do. It inspires you. With that around, if you can incorporate that into learning that's the ultimate for a kid because it makes it fun. Learning should be as difficult as it's presented to be, it should be fun.
Tell me about your experience with music and kids learning and what has it done for you:
When I was growing up I played in the marching band in 7th grade and, like I said, the reason I wanted to go to school -- because at that last bell, I was in the music class for an hour. And that last hour made the whole day worth going. We used to take our instruments home. I could take my clarinet home and I could play it for my mother and show her what I learned. That made the whole day exciting me and to show her what I learned and see her smile, for certain kids, that's a great thing. It's motivating.
So for you music not only made a difference keeping you in school, but you were able to connect that to your home life afterwards.
Oh yeah, most definitely. It made me feel good about myself. It made me feel good, even in a bad situation. You know, when you don't have no money, no father in the house, even in that situation music made me feel good about myself and my home and coming home. It made me feel better about myself.
Let's talk about making a difference: What does "Reach out, and touch somebody" mean to Bootsy?
It means breaking all the barriers down. You know. All the stereotypes where it's like -- I'm a big star. Or I'm this and I'm that and nobody can touch me. I want people to understand that I am touchable. I might look crazy. I might look weird. I might dress weird, but I'm just like you. You know. I'm the same.
Flesh and blood. We're all one love. I'm kind of like that handicapped person that feels alienated because I'm different, but we all have some kind of difference. Some are more so than others, but they're all differences. And when we're able to grasp that difference and embrace we'll all find out that we all are one. And that to me is unity and it brings people together and it breaks those walls down. Breaks those barriers down and those un-beliefs. Like who told you that you were naked? I mean, who told you that? You know? Whoever told you that that was just somebody saying something, but I don't believe that. You don't have to believe that.
I love what you're doing with the Unity in your Community program. How do you feel about Kickstarter?
Well, ahhhh, I'll let my wife speak on that. She was the one that thought it would be a great idea to embrace it and thought that it might help us with the Unity in the Community. So I'll let you speak to her.
*Hi this is Patti* --
With Kickstarter we looked at it as a way of engaging fans. What we have found is not only are we raising money, but awareness. I've had so many people contact us with email saying how it's affecting their lives. So we're asking them "What do you care about?" That's what IGiveAFunk means. What do you care about.
*Bootsy* -- What do you give a funk about? Folks are able to just let their hair down and say. I think everyone wants to be heard and for someone to take like 10 seconds and ask them "What do you give a funk about" What do you care about? It's just touching them right in their soul.
Has the awareness that you're talking about taken you by surprise?
*Bootsy* As far as were we expecting that to happen? Not really. It just started to happen. We knew how people felt at the concerts and my general overall 'reach out and touch' message at the gigs has always been taken in so well and people always felts so good being able to touch me after the show. I already knew through community service that it was a no-brainer, but to get that incorporated into everyday gig life -- that took a team to figure out how can we do this. We knew people needed to be exposed to this, but the best way to do it. We didn't have any idea because it's not a popular thing to do. It's not a trend.
So we had to figure out how can we get this done and Kickstarter helps us kick it out there.
You've had a tremendous career and now you refer to yourself as the "Teacher." What is the teacher becoming?
I think I'm feeling it more now. It's kind of like going to school. You don't graduate until you take all the courses. I think my time is coming where I might be worthy to do this. To spread this. To share this. It has always felt good, but it was more of the music that's good. Now I'm feeling the music and the people and the joy that they get. Not just from the music, but from showing the love: walking in the neighborhood, Slapping them five, to see someone laugh.
Do you get a great spiritual connection through music?
Yeah. I've always had that. I may not have known it, but I always had that. My mother she grew up singing in the church and she would wear us out. That was her whole thing. She'd be in the kitchen praying and we'd be around the house acting crazy, doing this-that-and the other -- crazy kids. She'd be praying and we'd be like "What is that all about?" She turned us on to God at an early age. She always said put God first.
What is the greatest Christmas album of 2006?
I'll give you a hint -- you released a Christmas album.
Ohhhh [extended laughter] Oh man, that was the most fun project. So much fun.
I have a friend who believes that it's the greatest xmas album ever. He believes it.
Oh my. Ever? Wow. Ever? I don''t know if I can live up to that. Wow.
So let's just say of our lifetime.
Ok, cool. Wow. The joy we had recording that album. It reminded me of just starting out. Nothing but fun. It was a blessing. It was like a family reunion.
What advice would you have for kids that want to get into the bass?
I'd say there's so much information out there now. Get as much information and try to practice as much as possible. Set away some time, always. They go to the games and don't set a time for that, but I'd say get some time to practice and study. Develop the craft. It looks and feels like the way things are going it's all steering away from live instruments. That's something we should recognize, and not just criticize it, but recognize it and maybe try to keep our kids on a live instrument and encourage them to play live instruments. I feel like it's kind of a dying art form in the early stages.
Let's hope not. The community aspect of this is fascinating. You've mentioned that you're making a documentary as you pass through the cities. You'll be checking out community. Have you already been scoping it out?
We have actually already been doing this under the radar. We're just announcing it now. We just do it because it's a good thing to do. We felt by doing the Kickstarter we could maybe get it exposed.
What we do in the community is actually what we do all of the time. For me it makes it fun. It gives me the same groove that music gave me in the beginning. Now this is as important, if not more important than the music to me. Maybe it's because I'm a 1000 years old or whatever it is.
This is a heavy topic and you mention that you have fun with it. So since we're talking fun. I have to ask about your fashion.How much do your sunglasses weigh?
[Laughter] Wow. You know... I've never been asked that question before I'm gonna have to come back-atcha with that answer.
How about your hat collection. Do you have one person or company that makes your fantastic hats?
Lady Nigel Butterfly, she is definitely from back in the hippy days and she has the color-thing going on and the flower power. She's just so cool. She makes all of the hats. The guy that made all of my leather outfits passed away about three years ago, so I had to find someone new, but you know -- it's an ongoing thing. You gotta keep the funk alive.
If I had that wardrobe I'd have a runway in my house and I'd wear it all the time.
Oh man, yeah.
When bootsy Collins looks up at the stars at night what does he see?
I see, actually, I see us. I see us because every one of us is a star. Some just don't know it yet and I think it's up to the ones that know to help get that message out. Everybody wants to feel good about themselves. If the stars that know don't let the other stars know then they might not ever know. That's why I wear the star glasses with the mirrors.
A kid asked me why I wear star glasses with mirrors. He said he seems himself, "but I don't want to see myself I want to see you." And I said no. I had these made because when you look in my eyes I want it to reflect you. He said "why?" and I said because you're the star. We're all stars. That's what those glasses meant and they still mean. Everyone don't know that. They look at them and they think it's funny, but that's what it is.
You look at me and you see yourself, a star.
Help Bootsy spread the message of unity and community. Volunteer. This ain't no movement this is a groovement
Main website: www.bootsycollins.com
Bootsy on Facebook: www.Facebook.com/BootsyCollins
Bootsy on Twitter: Twitter.com/Bootsy_Collins
Bootsy Collins Foundation: www.bootsycollinsfoundation.org
Bootsy on Linked-In www.linkedin.com/inbootsycollins
Bootsy's Latest Album: "Tha Funk Capital Of The World" http://www.bootsyalbum.com