A piece by your resident Vulf enthusiast, Chio Uruakpa.
An introductory playlist for your auditory pleasure:
So, who the funk is Vulfpeck?
Founded at the University of Michigan in 2011, Vulfpeck, comprised of Jack Stratton, Theo Katzman, Joe Dart, and Woody Goss, is a minimalist funk band that revives the energy of old school rhythm sections. According to Stratton, the band leader, label manager, and resident Renaissance man, Vulf attempts to emulate the minimalist talent of session musicians such as the Funk Brothers, Wrecking Crew, and Muscle Shoals.
To give a taste of what the band’s about, here they are at their first recording, which Stratton calls his favorite Vulf track. In his words from a recent Reddit AMA:
Bailey1811: What do you think is your favourite Vulfpeck track?
first session. knew we had something fun
How is Vulfpeck changing the face of music?
Vulf’s virtual fan interaction is unique in it’s nature, it carves out a space online that’s exclusively its own.
From its original YouTube presence, to its Sleepify stunt (which led to this), to their custom font Vulf Mono, to collaboration in the style of the session musicians they attempt to emulate, the band collaborates often with artists that deepen the pocket and creates even better vibes and groovier music. Jack takes it even further with his YouTube tutorials, in which he details how to play Vulf songs in great detail.
This was the first video that hooked me on Vulf, which broke down an absolute earworm that I was obsessed with at the time called Animal Spirits.
Jack’s wonderful weirdness and aloof absurdist humor shines through in the video above, but so does his passion, generosity and intelligence, based on his wealth of knowledge and the fact that he took the time to share it.
Through his editing skills, exemplified above via Game Winner, Jack creates a feel that is entirely Vulf’s, emphasized by the gritty, vintage feel of the videos, the custom font, and sonically, the Vulf Compressor plugin.
On the Reddit AMA, Jack mentioned how the YouTube videos were Vulf’s online signature, something that set them apart since the beginning.
Daan_Duurland: When you started, had you guys ideas about standing out in the sea of digital releases?
VulfJack: that’s the hard part now
our filming the sessions for youtube is how we stood out at the time
It happened organically, since their first release, Beastly, linked above, was a video that showed four guys riffing in a room. Vulf wasn’t even Vulf when the Beastly video was released. The four had no idea that this was what that project would turn into. They were just recording a song for their friends’ thesis.
Jack is so multi-talented creatively and bent on exploring and developing his creative talent that the fanbase has so much content to dig into. The Vulf feel is hard to replicate, and it’s deeply genuine. Jack is so talented, he even plays the pancakes. Vulf’s innovation isn’ the brainchild of some marketing team. The band’s success is entirely due to Jack’s internet prowess and the boys’ raw talent.
On a completely separate note, the fanbase is deeply educated musically, memeically, and are generally wise. My musical taste has developed more from my time spent within the Vulfpack than it has during any other time in my life. The wealth of knowledge from the boys themselves, to the people they inspire, to the people they associate with is unmatched. The fanbase are able to appreciate the beauty of Vulf and other musical talents that I’m not sure other fanbases can. As illustrated by our worldwide appreciation of Joe Dart, the best bassist in his age bracket (age 8-89), and the incredible talents of Antwaun Stanley, a frequent Vulf collaborator, we don’t take for granted the musicians we love love what they’re doing to an unprecedentedly open degree.
If the funk is not yet within you, Jack himself recommends a certain video to rope you into the fandom, taken yet again from the Reddit AMA:
Why do I love Vulf?
They never fail to inspire me to live life fully. In everything they do, from the way they love what they love, to the way they jam; they’re kind and down to earth and grateful. They live their lives originally and quirkily.
The acts they’re affiliated with–specifically Joey Dosik (who created my favorite song of all time), and Theo Katzman–are all so talented. Joey is featured on many tracks–Vulf has covered his original song Game Winner. Theo’s work on his solo album Heartbreak Hits has so many good songs that are on my personal constant rotation.
The band itself has taught me so much about hard work and tenacity. They’ve shown me that pursuing my passion is worthwhile, and it’s rewarding.
I asked the Vulfpack, the band’s Facebook fan group (over 20,000 members strong!), what they wanted me to include in the article, and they said…
Look out for Vulf’s next album, Mr. Finish Line, available November 7th.
Further Vulfpeck-related resources for your educational pleasure:
- Vulfumentary | A Guide to Vulfpeck
- VULFPECK: The Ultimate Guide
- The Vulf YouTube channel, the place where I first fell in love with the band
- To endear you to the boys even further: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MFGxGzdpk3I&
Theo Katzman (born 1986) is an American singer, songwriter and producer based in Los Angeles, California. His musical style ranges from pop to indie rock, with multiple areas in between. His solo album Romance Without Finance was released in 2011. He has contributed to the works of several artists as a songwriter and producer. His next album, titled Heartbreak Hits, is set for release in January 2017.