Craig Charles: ‘It Thrills Me That Funk and Soul Is So Popular’
Actor, stand-up comedian, poet, radio presenter and club DJ Craig Charles has been a pioneer of the funk and soul movement for decades.
With his Saturday night 6Music show and his regular club nights he’s brought the music he loves to the masses. Now with his new compilation album he’s spreading the love even further.
We caught up with the main man to find out what all the fuss is about.
Can you sum up the album?
It's 19 very special party-starting songs. The tunes on the CD give you a feel of what you get when you’re at the club or listening to the Craig Charles Funk & Soul Show on a Saturday night. The album is born out of the 6Music show and the club night. Funk and soul is what I do and I hope the album reflects that.
How did you get into this type of music?
Well my dad came over from the West Indies, Guyana, in the late fifties with a few shillings in his pocket and a bag of records. I grew up listening to Nat King Cole, Ray Charles, Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin, Al Green, that kind of stuff, so this iconic black American music was always in the house. That’s where it all came from for me. When punk kicked off and all that kind of stuff, I was in the shebeens listening to Parliament Funkadelic, that kind of thing.
So how did you get into DJing?
When Kiss FM stopped being a pirate station and became a bone fide station I was their breakfast DJ, so I’ve been doing it for quite a while.
Does it surprise you that so many kids are into what you’re doing?
It doesn’t surprise me, because we’re dealing with the golden age of black American music, so there’s no bad tunes! Every song is a stonker! It doesn’t surprise me but it does thrill me. When we play our club nights there are 20-year-old girls in the audience, it really has got a young vibe to it. The music is eternal - just look at the biggest album of last year, it was Adele’s album, Adele’s a soul singer. It’s the same with Amy Winehouse, Mark Ronson - it’s all crossover soul music.
What’s so good about the scene?
I love being involved in the scene because it is very vibrant and very now and natural. What I like about it is that it’s all about the music, there are no egos and no knobheads - everyone is into the tunes, into the music, whether that’s northern soul or southern soul, or electro swing it all comes under the funk and soul umbrella.
I hear your boat party gig at the Soundwave Festival in Croatia was quite eventful, tell us more?
Well, it was hilarious. The boat was rocking and everyone was tearing the place apart and the captain goes crazy, he’s going ‘this is no good, no no you’re gonna sink the boat!’ People were jumping up on the left hand side then on the right, and the boat was really rocking! It was great. Ha ha.
How does the DJing fit in with the acting work, in particular Coronation Street?
The good thing about Corrie is that it’s Monday to Friday, which aren’t great DJ days so I play live on a Friday or Saturday night so it all fits in quite nicely. A lot of them come to the gigs, I think they like it.
Can you tell us a joke?
I texted my wife last night, it read: “I’ll be home in 20 minutes. If not, read this message again.”
The Craig Charles Funk & Soul Club hits the shelves on November 22. Craig Charles plays live at Jam in Brixton on November 17