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Who is this DJ Funktual anyway?
My parents in 1981 with Keith, Denis and yours truly, Jamie
Chapter 1: Becoming Billy Joel's Nephew & the glory of Wiffle Ball.
I don't know why I'm writing this but I am and here goes...
Birth of Funktual - Intergalactic Funk Monkey
Earth Name: Freund, James
James (2 of Christ's apostles were also named James, and are strangely referred to as James the Greater and James the Lesser) I would spend every day of my childhood wondering which of the two I would one day become. NOT REALLY.
Freund (which means "Friend" in German) although I am not German at all. Long Story.. Call me Jamie.
My mother got married to greatest guy in the world, Jim Freund when I was three so having a Dad was really never an issue. Grew up on Long Island in the towns of Farmingdale and Levittown.
I first discovered the power of music through my Aunt Carol...
Aunt Carol, Billy & Elizabeth Joel - 1981
When I was about 7 or 8 my Aunt Carol started working for Home Run which was the publishing company for Billy Joel's lyrics and music. In fact her name Carol Freund is listed in the liner notes of his album Glass Houses. She used to bring me into Manhattan all the time to play with "Uncle Billy", who would chase me around the desks of the office til he got tired and I would have to 'let him work'. (He was writing his Vietnam song "Goodnight Saigon" I would find out later.) It was run by Billy's first wife Elizabeth, who's personality was captured in Billy's pointed personal ode to her, "Big Shot".
Grew up with two awesome brothers, Keith and Denis who were five and seven years younger than me. Are you hearing the theme music to My Three Sons right now? Me too. They're both married now and still living on Long Island. (It should be noted that the ONLY PEOPLE who ever say the annoying phrase "Long-Gyland" are outsiders. We are to this day baffled by this pronunciation critique since we have no idea who actually talks like that. You've seen my vids, do I sound like that? No.)
Back to childhood..I was an altar boy at St. Kilian's parish in Farmingdale until I was "let go over Christmas" for lighting the chapel rug on fire before a mass. The wick broke off my lantern! What?
In 8th Grade, I got kicked out of St. Kilian's Catholic grammar school, so I finished at Wisdom Lane public school. In 10th Grade, I got kicked out of Holy Trinity High School too! I am proud of both of these facts to this day. Reason: each time I was kicked out it was over petty crap. I never smoked in school or cut class or cursed at teachers. I was the entertaining guy competing with the boring teacher which made me popular with all the kids. Teachers? Not so much. Every principle at every school I ever went to said the same thing to me. "You are such a nice kid, why are you always in my office?" *SHRUG* I learned soooo much more about real life and growing up in public school so fuck'em.
The work was more challenging at public school anyway. Division Avenue High School had a pretty tough reputation too but I survived.
I should mention that my first few DJ gigs were in 7th grade, including several youth group functions and even the 7th & 8th graders school dance at St. Kilian's. I still have the photos of it. I'll never forget DJing my first dance at age 14 and making out with some girl who was 17 and thinking "oh yeah, this DJin' is for me." But back to High School...
Varsity Football and playing Hero
DIVISION AVE. HIGH SCHOOL
They did not know what to make of me there.
I was friends with the brains because I was in all Honors classes, made friends with the burnouts because I smoked cigarettes and managed the local Diamond 'T' Records on Hempstead Turnpike. Knew all the football jocks and cheerleaders because I was the starting Tight End on Varsity football for 2 years.
I also made friends with all the band and theater people because I was the lead in the play every year too. In 10th grade, I played Hero in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and in 11th I played Albert Peterson in Bye Bye Birdie. Senior year, my town voted down the budget and we went on AUSTERITY. Austerity on Long Island sounds like an oxymoron doesn't it? Thank God for austerity too. because I started getting parts in regional theater productions all over L.I. under the stage name Jamie Daniels.
I was the best Wiffle Ball player on my block (which was my world). If you truly get to do what you want all day in heaven then I will be be in a sunny grassy spacious backyard with a picture-perfect Home Run fence and a Golden Lawn Chair for a strike zone. Topless ladies will serve me lemonade on the mound while I pitch and my mixtapes will be playing out a boombox through somebody's bedroom window.
I played Soccer then Baseball and by High School, just Football. I suck at basketball and always will. I love watching The Mets, Giants and Islanders, all of which won a title during my youth. The Giants twice and the Islanders won 4 straight Stanley Cups. My aunt and grandfather had season tickets for the islanders too.
Dumbest Childhood Decision: to play street hockey with Bobby Nystrom's stick that was signed by the entire 1979 Islander team, the year before they won 4 straight and a year before Nystrom himself won the very first cup for us with an overtime goal against the hated Philadelphia Flyers.
Started performing in plays and DJing full time by now and looking forward to finishing HS and starting real life...
Hair Hair Hair-Hair-Hair Flow it Show it, long as God can grow it!!!
Here I am as the Pharaoh in Joseph...(like ya know, The King)
Chapter Two: College a/k/a Not exactly the Real World
My college experience was just like any other young artists', I did a little LSD and some Magic Mushrooms, saw God, etc. Ecstasy was making it's debut around this time. Never did cocaine at all though. No Speed or Heroin either. That was where I knew to cut myself off. During this period, I lived mostly just on Marijuana and 10 cent Buffalo Wings. Ramen Noodles and Fruity Pebbles too. Then I did the classic musical HAIR at S.U.N.Y. Farmingdale which only added to the debauchery.
Then I did Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and Godspell and dozens of other plays, musicals, playhouse summer stock, etc.
I didn't want to do anything but perform after HS ended so I started doing children's birthday parties dressed up as Batman and The Joker or the Easter Bunny. Started working as a dancer for several DJ Entertainment companies. Singing telegrams too. What I really wanted though was to get away from my parents not that they did anything wrong but I was 19 years old and guess what?....ya gotta go sometime. After I met her theater friends, I moved to freakin' Albany where my friend Rosie was going to school.
There I learned all about the clitoris and what women really want. Was never racist but my homophobia was pointed out and corrected. Learned that my parents and most baby boomers had better taste in music than I did when I discovered Creedence and Al Green. But the biggest musical discovery of college was Parliament / Funkadelic. P-Funk, uncut funk. the bomb, you dig?
Read philosophy and psych books but became more and more interested in playwrighting, particularly, David Mamet, Eric Bogosian and John Patrick Shanley. I wrote a few short film scripts and revelled in the independent film movement of the 1990s was starting thanks to Quentin Tarantino and many others. Meanwhile in music Kurt Cobain had come and gone too soon. Ditto Bradley Nowell of sublime.
Went to Woodstock '94 with my friend Heidi and had a blast!
We saw Nine Inch Nails perform as Mud People which was dope!!
By 1995 most of my friends had left Albany for Manhattan and it was not long before I too arrived. Lived on 6th St. between Avenues B & C, which is of course downtown in the East Village area called Alphabet City. Started working at Jekyll & Hyde Club on 55th & 6th Avenue in 1996 where I proceded to have the best time of my life. I love those people who worked there forever. All of 'em. Actresses Missi Pyle and Mandy Siegfried came from that place too. Ditto Lucas Rooney.
Jekyll Fun: Waited on, met or actually had a conversation with the following celebrities during this period: Lauren Hutton, Marisa Tomei, Director Wes Anderson, Ace of Base, Mike Doughty then, of Soul Coughing, walked illegally onto the set of The First Wives Club and met Goldie Hawn, Bette Midler & Diane Keaton. Waited on Bob Costas, all three members of TLC at different times. Eddie Vedder, Ice-T, Stephen Spielberg, Kate Capshaw & Rita Wilson while her husband Tom Hanks was rehearsing for SNL, Then one night I literally bumped into Billy Idol at P.J. Carney's- which was the bar that the Jekyll staff always went to. It was across from The Russain Tea Room & Carnegie Hall. I actually asked Billy Idol if he wanted to smoke a blunt with me and my buds but his manager/handler pulled him away from us.
I also attended the following concerts in 1996: Saw P-Funk live in central Park, The H.O.R.D.E. Festival on Randall's Island with Lenny Kravitz, Rusted Root & Blues Traveler, Saw Maceo Parker & The JB All-Stars, Pearl Jam up in Augusta-Maine, Rage Against The Machine, Red Hot Chili Peppers with Silverchair, Dave Matthews Band at the Garden with Soul Coughing, Stone Temple Pilots, Rusted Root w/ G. Love & Special Sauce at The Beacon, and many more smaller shows.
I was dating a pretty famous actress and were together almost two years around her shooting schedule. Time of my life.............until.