Funk Life. Yo Mama's Big Fat Booty Band

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Interview with: Mary Frances and Lee Allen
Written by: Matthew McGuire
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Yo Mama’s Big Fat Booty Band have just completed and released Funk Life. The band worked with fans and pledgemusic.com to generate funds to support the album. It provided a chance for fans to connect with the band, and pledge their support for Funk Life.

On Tuesday, June 2 the band released their latest project for funk music advocates to consume. Mary Frances, keys and vocals, as well as Lee Allen on drums, spoke with us about the album, and their upcoming tour plans for 2015.

The lead track, “24/7” takes listeners on a hip-shaking experience with a soulful vocals and a nomadic beat.

Tour through their 4th studio album titled Funk Life. The album was recorded in Asheville, NC at Echo Mountain Studios. Mary Frances, Mama Funk (vocal, keytar, and piano) does not stop on this record. She is on during each track.

Al Al Ingram, bassist, vocals works with Lee Allen on drums to collaborate and produce a percussion section that drives audiences to dance all over the globe. On this latest project, they deliver the freshest and funkiest beats out of Asheville. Yo Mama’s Big Fat Booty puts listeners on the dance floor. Funk Life combines scratching, with an analog percussion section to bring the best out of both worlds.

“Funk Life” has a percussion style that reflects an old school Motown beat, while maintaining a modern funk sound.


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[av_testimonial_single src=’9566′ name=’Mary Frances’ subtitle=’Vocals, Keys’ link=” linktext=”]

Can you talk about the conception of the album?

“Most of this album was written through experiences on the road or during live shows. Both “Wake Yo’self” and “Living the Dream” came to me in dreams. I was in Chicago when I woke from a dream that included George Clinton and the late great Gary Shider from P-Funk, where they taught me the riff and inspired the lyrics for the song “Living the Dream.” So I guess I really am channeling the Funk Life!” 

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[av_testimonial_single src=’9565′ name=’Lee Allen’ subtitle=’Drums’ link=” linktext=”]

This album marks your fourth studio release. How was the production on this album different than your previous records? 

Overall, we included less overdubs and kept things a little more minimal. This album is the first record that Derrick laid down all the horn parts using only trombone and effects. “Brand New Day” and “Funk Life”, the title track, were only ideas before hitting the studio. We wanted those songs to evolve organically while recording to really maintain creative freedom in the moment. Also, we had DJ Nex Millen from Digable Planets on the turntables for “Quick-E”. We love exploring synthesizers and maintaining creative freedom in the moment to allow that studio magic to happen.”

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[av_testimonial_single src=’9567′ name=’Derrick Johnson’ subtitle=’Trombone, Vocals’ link=” linktext=”]

Derrick, how would you describe the album’s sound and style?

“The album is a composite cross section of funk.  An embodiment of all things that make funk great; from dance grooves to anthems everyone can sing.”

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[av_testimonial_single src=’9567′ name=’Derrick Johnson’ subtitle=’Trombone, Vocals’ link=” linktext=”]

How would you describe your relationship with your fans?

Our relationship with our fans is like nuclear fusion. You take two elements (the band and the fans) and slam them together to produce the energy of the sun (our shows).”

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[av_testimonial_single src=’9566′ name=’Lee Allen & Mary Frances’ subtitle=’Drums, Keys, and Vocals’ link=” linktext=”]

Your band tours constantly, and life on the road can be tough. What is the easiest part of touring?

Lee – “Playing the shows. Music keeps us going, and reminds us why we continue to do this.”

Mary – “Keytar solos…haha. I love being onstage, performing, and connecting with the crowd as Mama Funk!” 

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[av_testimonial_single src=’9566′ name=’Mary Frances’ subtitle=’Keys, Vocals’ link=” linktext=”]

Mary, do you prep your voice differently when singing in the studio compared to a live setting?

“I prep my voice the same for the studio as I do live by warming up, drinking my tea, and making sure I get good rest. I do have to prep my mind differently in the studio in order to get the same energy flowing that a live show creates. I like to keep the lights lowered and have a big open space so I can dance around and let loose!”

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[av_testimonial_single src=’9566′ name=’Mary Frances’ subtitle=’Keys, Vocals’ link=” linktext=”]

What does it mean to live the funk life?

“It’s about breaking boundaries, living your dream, traveling, taking chances, being yourself, laughing, and letting go through the music. It’s a way of life that we live 24/7!”

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[av_testimonial_single src=’9565′ name=’Lee Allen’ subtitle=’Drums’ link=” linktext=”]

When you set a tempo for a song, does it change a lot during the recording process?

“During pre-production, we explore various tempos and use that for a starting point when we do the final cuts. When we play live, we have the freedom to push and pull the tempos depending on the night and the energy of the crowd.”

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[av_testimonial_single src=’9566′ name=’Mary Frances’ subtitle=’Keys, Vocals’ link=” linktext=”]

Mary, are you the leader of the group in the studio? Do you have a producer that guides the sound? 

Everyone is responsible for their individual contributions to the songs. Our drummer, Lee Allen, and engineer, Julian Dreyer, fine-tune the production by dialing in different tones for different songs.”

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[av_testimonial_single src=’9567′ name=’Yo Mamas Big Fat Booty Band’ subtitle=’Funk Life out June 2′ link=’http://www.bootyband.com/’ linktext=’Yo Mamas Big Fat Booty Band Main Website’]

Which stops on the summer tour are you excited about the most?

“Mountain Music Fest in Glen Jean, West Virginia (June 6th), The Hamilton in Washington D.C. (July 3rd), and Burning CAN Music Festival at Oskar Blues Brewing Company in Hendersonville, NC with Trombone Shorty and Rebirth Brass Band (July 17th).”

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Upcoming | Local DatesShare:
Date Venue Location Tickets
Jun 05 Family Roots Festival

Glouster, OH Tickets
Jun 06 Mountain Music Festival

Glen Jean, WV Tickets
Jun 18 Gottrocks Greenville, SC
Jun 19 The Charleston Pour House

Charleston, SC
Jun 25 The Broadberry Richmond, VA Tickets
Jun 27 Shepherdstown Street Festival Shepherdstown, WV Tickets
Jul 03 The Hamilton Washington, DC Tickets
Jul 05 Salt Ultra Lounge Emerald Isle, NC
Jul 10 Martin’s Roanoke, VA
Jul 11 24th Annual Fire on the Mountain Chili Cookoff Snowshoe, WV
Jul 17 Burning CAN Extravanganza

Hendersonville, NC Tickets
Aug 28 Southland Ballroom Raleigh, NC Tickets

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