Dam-Funk's Cousin Turquoise Summers Is a Funk Survivor | Page 2 | West Coast Sound | Los Angeles | Los Angeles News and Events | LA Weekly
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Dam-Funk's Cousin Turquoise Summers Is a Funk Survivor

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Wed, May 7, 2014 at 3:45 AM

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For Turquoise Summers, funk was both genetic and a seed waiting for germination. He grew up in Long Beach and Norwalk, where many of the people keeping the flame alive were Mexican-Americans bumping Zapp and The Gap Band in low-riders.

"It was straight choloville," he says with affection. "I saw the funk not from the black side but from the Mexican side."

After moving to Corona as a teenager, he became steeped in breakdancing and underground hip-hop. Upon high school graduation, his army vet parents encouraged him to enlist. While he was in training school, 9/11 occurred and his deployment to the Persian Gulf became imminent.

But before being sent overseas, Riddick learned to be a chemicals specialist at a base in Kansas. This barracks stint also brought him into contact with a recruit who taught him how to make beats on an MPC.
"It's one of the reasons why I have no regrets about joining. I might never have learned to make music," Riddick says.

Beatmaking wound up being a major consolation during his extended convalescence. But his approach to music shifted radically after his reconnection with his older cousin circa 2010. Dam-Funk's collaborations with Ariel Pink and Snoop Dogg remained years away, but the Stones Throw recording artist was already in the process of his one-man funk defibrillation.

"He invited me to [weekly club night] Funkmosphere, and I was instantly converted," Riddick says. "I started sending Dam music, which I now realize was terrible. He didn't co-sign me immediately because he wanted me to earn it. I kept doing it, and slowly but surely started to get it."

The lineage between kinsmen is readily apparent, but Turquoise Summers staked out his own soil: hydroponic patches of iridescent keyboards, and grooves so smooth and levitating that you'd think your Celica had been hover-converted.

He's currently studying music at Norco Community College, which has quickened the rate of evolution.
If Dam-Funk resuscitated a once-moribund genre, Turquoise Summers is evidence that its next generation is thriving and fearless, willing to live and die for the funk.

"I want to give people a special feeling when they hear my music," Riddick says. "It's recess. ... It's riding down the street on your BMX. ... It's modern and nostalgic all at the same time."

Turquoise Summers performs Friday, May 16, at Mission Tobacco Lounge in Riverside.

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