(Editor’s note: The voice of the Dap-Kings, Binky Griptite, graciously gave us the scoop on I Learned The Hard Way, the fourth studio album by Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings. For this this interview, we got miss Sharon herself to introduce Binky, which is somewhat of a role reversal, as he explains his duty as a King of Dap. Thanks Sharon. Big ups Binky! –DM)
Intro by Sharon Jones
I first met Binky at a session for Lee Fields, it was on 42nd Street in Manhattan. He still had on big dreads he’d wear under a beanie that looked liked a turban. I think he was still playing with Antibalas at the time. I remember thinking how so laid back he was. The Dap Kings hadn’t really formed yet, and Binky would just show up and do his thing. At the time, I was actually real afraid he’d leave our band and just stick with Antibalas full-time!
For the new one, he’s been working so hard. Some nights he’d come to the studio late and just lay down his parts; other times he’s playing the guitar half asleep with his eyes closed. He’s a stubborn perfectionist, really. He had me re-record a song over and over again because he said it ‘wasn’t soulful’ enough. It ended up taking four days! And I don’t take four days to record anything.
Really, I love what Binky does with the Dap Kings and his own Mellomatic stuff is great too. As an announcer, his voice gets people hyped. He’s like Bobby Bland. He’s a master. I really notice when he’s not at one of our performances. He’s that good.
You’re essentially the master of ceremonies at all the shows. Where do you draw your influences from?
BG: Well of course there’s Danny Ray, James Brown’s longtime emcee, as well as some gospel preacher. I come from a family of preachers so it’s not that much of a stretch. There’s also a real strong circus ringmaster influence there too. You know why people call the Ringling Bros. Circus the “Greatest Show on Earth”? Because the emcee told them to, that’s why.
My job is to prepare the audience for what they are about to see and hear, and to let them know what’s expected of them. We are not a ‘sit down and pay attention’ show, we’re a ‘get up and dance’ show. You’d be amazed at how many audiences still need to be told that they are a part of the show and that it is not meant to be a passive experience. Continue reading “Speaker of the House: Binky Griptite Interview”