“Funk is not something you learn—you either feel it or you don’t,” proclaims Alissia Benveniste, who records and performs under her first name. Straight outta Berklee, Alissia is already feeling lots of love from funk founders such as Bootsy Collins and Larry Graham, both of whom have taken an interest in Alissia’s uncanny ability to play with authenticity and reinvigorate classic funk with fresh feels and flavors. Originally from Switzerland and Italy and currently residing in New York City, Alissia is racking up cool credits, killing it on YouTube and social media, and riding a new wave of recognition in the wake of her debut EP, Back to the Funkture.
What’s the story behind “Let It Out”?
The live video for “Let It Out” was actually the beginning of my own project. Berklee asked me to play an original song for a video recording, a week prior the shoot. I didn’t have an actual band. I sent some guiding tracks to my friends, and asked them to meet me there. We didn’t even rehearse. We ended up using one of the first takes, and the next thing I knew, it had a million views online! So I started a project [Alissia & the Funkateers] and decided to do an EP. I am more focused on playing and recording for different artists. I have worked for a bit with Q-Tip, and I’ve also worked with Talib Kweli, Kimbra, and George Clinton, and I’m currently working with Bootsy Collins. But I love writing and performing my own stuff.
“On the Go” features snappy slap-and-pop playing. What are your thoughts on slap as a style in the modern music landscape?
Whenever a top artist like Daft Punk, Pharrell, or Bruno Mars puts out a song featuring a funky guitar part or bass line—whether it’s slap or fingerstyle—people go crazy! It really hits them. Most people “eat” what they are “fed,” but I feel that funk elements are slowly coming back into the Top 40.
How have you amalgamated specific influences into your own slap style?
Marcus Miller is a big influence; I admire his tone and tightness. I like Stanley Clarke’s melodicism. Louis Johnson’s speed and ideas are remarkable. Brown Mark [Prince & the Revolution] is another big influence; he’s nasty on the double-thumb slap technique. I am a huge admirer of how Larry Graham combines all sorts of techniques together. I’m also a big fan of Rodney “Skeet” Curtis and Lige Curry’s playing in P-Funk.
What’s the biggest challenge about taking funk forward to the future?
I want to keep the funk alive and contribute to its growth. Talking often with Larry, and having Bootsy as a mentor, is definitely inspiring. They push me harder and harder every day. We need to stay true to funk’s roots while bringing new aspects.
Alissia, Back to the Funkture [2016, Alissia]
Bass Lakland Skyline Darryl Jones 5-string, custom Mayones 5-string
Rig Aguilar DB 751 head, two Aguilar GS 410 4x10s
Effects MXR M82 Bass Envelope Filter, Boss PH-3 Phase Shifter, TC Electronic Helix Phaser, Electro-Harmonix POG, Aguilar Octamizer
Strings Dunlop DBSBS45125 Super Bright Steel Mediums