Cimafunk Brings the “Power of the Groove” to D.C.
September 1, 2021 @ 2:00pm
Afro-Cuban artist Cimafunk is all about the groove. The singer-composer-producer, and one of the most captivating new faces of funk music, describes “groove” as a euphoric, out-of-body, untamable feeling. Groove is the essence of his music and being.
This Friday, September 3, Cimafunk’s high-energy, entrancing sound is descending upon Union Stage at The Wharf. Ahead of his return to the District, we connected with him to discuss the origins of his name, what drives his creativity and the “power of the groove.”
District Fray: As an artist, what drives your creativity?
Cimafunk: Most of the things I move around in my head and [find] time to create [come from] the scenes I [imagine] and can communicate. Most of my lyrics [reflect] this reality. So if we say, “I love the way the rock falls into the deep of the sea,” I try to express this in the most normal and calm way possible, sometimes playing with double meanings. On my new album “Cuncunprá,” there’s a lot of [double] play with food and sex, [mixing] both into the same idea — such as, “she just cooked me.” For the music, every sound I hear, especially rhythmic sounds, inspires me to try to build something. There’s no specific way to do things: When it comes, it comes.
When did you know being a musician was how you’d leave your mark on the world?
When I moved to Havana, I saw [how people responded to] my show. I was traumatized from the reaction. People were clapping and yelling. This is something I wasn’t used to in my hometown because I was making Trova music: It has slower and complicated lyrics. This was the moment was when I thought, “This is what I’m doing, this is why I live.”
How would you describe the sound + vibe you bring to the stage?
It’s the tribe feeling. [It’s about] trying to get people, at some point in the show, to forget who they are, what they’re doing, and just jam and dance in the same group. [You see] this tribe state in Africa, when people strike some fire and get possessed by the gods. It’s all in the groove.
How would you describe the power of the groove?
The groove is something unique. It came before everything. It’s ancient. In the beginning, when [our ancestors] were in the cave, it was yummy with the groove. The groove was talking to God, for us, for the rain, for forgiveness, for everything. Now, with the funk and Afro-Cuban music, this groove has so much power. It’s necessary and powerful. The groove can [pull] you out of your body in a way which [you have] no question [about] anything. You just move with the groove. And the groove keeps hitting you, and hitting you and hitting you.
What feelings does identifying as an Afro-Cuban artist evoke?
Proud, man. It’s crazy, I chose my name, Cimafunk, because I didn’t know where I came from. I didn’t know my ancestors. [I learned] Cima is from the marróns. In Cuba, Cimarróns were slaves who escaped from the house of the master. Many came back to burn the house and kill everybody: It was a liberation movement. Then you come to the music, and you realize Afro-Cuban music, Afro-Cuban groove [and] the African groove have influenced all types of music — everywhere. I only can feel proud and involved and hungry for more information.
What does it mean to carry on the tradition of funk music, and perform alongside iconic artists like George Clinton?
It’s a dream. [And performing] with George was mind blowing, [really] mind blowing. I just enjoy all the funk and all the groove and all these artists like George Clinton and James Brown.
What other artists have influenced your music?
The Ohio Players, Sly, Sammy Davis Jr., Marvin Gaye, Sony Boy Williamson, Big Mama Thornton, Prince. All these people [were] the real deal.
Are you excited about returning to the District?
Yeah, of course. It’s always a really good crowd. The fans who go to the shows are super exciting. The last show was madness. I wasn’t singing. Most of the party, I was just yelling. One of the first shows we [ever had] was at Tropicalia in D.C. Because the music was in Spanish, I didn’t know [what] the reaction would be. But, the place got packed and the people got crazy. After that, I was like, “Yeah, Washington’s got some flavor and we want to get there again.”
Purchase tickets for his upcoming show at unionstage.com/shows/cimafunk. To learn more about Cimafunk, visit cimafunk.com or follow him on Instagram @cimafunk.
Union Stage: 740 Water St. SW, DC; 877-987-6487 unionstage.com // @unionstage
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