Todd Stoops of Kung Fu Talks Tribute sets, New Album and Bear Creek

For those who aren’t familiar with Todd Stoops, he is one of the funniest men in the festival circuit, oh yeah almost forget to mention, he is one of the most talented keyboard players I have ever had the pleasure of witnessing. I caught up with Stoops shortly after catching him play with Kung Fu at The Big Up music festival in Claverack, NY.

P. Sunkel: I recently caught you with Kung Fu at The Big Up, you guys did another tribute set this one dedicated to Prince, I also caught your Stevie Wonder set with Nigel Hall at Aura, how do you guys choose Prince and Stevie over other greats?

Stoops: Well right off the bat, Prince and Stevie Wonder are just sexy. In my experience girls tend to gravitate more to Stevie Wonder and Prince. Basically to the Stevie Wonder set at AURA, Daryl Wolff and I had been talking about playing a Stevie Wonder set, he always asks me to play Stevie Wonder stuff. So we had a late night conversation for about an hour or so and he was like “How can we make this happen?” We sat down and actually started talking logistics, “Well we would need someone to sing, who can pull it off?” My good friend Nigel Hall, who I’ve known for years, came up first. So I said “Hang on one second.” While I was talking to Daryl, I texted Nigel down in New Orleans and he immediately texted back “Yes, I’m in.” It was kind of serendipity.

067-DSC_4362With that being such a success, we spent some time with our friend Zach Levy who runs The Big Up festival. He was like “Listen, we’d love for you guys to try and pull off Prince.” I was like it can’t be done. Like who can do Prince? You can’t imitate it, he’s just such amazing talent that it’s almost impossible to pull it off. So my first idea with all this was for us to learn the Prince songs and to hire a Vegas Prince impersonator. So basically we were looking for someone who dressed like Prince, played the guitar and who literally looks like Prince. So we started shopping around, in the end it wasn’t the money that held us back from doing it, it was really the availability. In the summer time those guys are doing stuff 6 days a week. So we started thinking, who else could do it? I had done a show with The Motet and I was talking to Jans Ingber and he was like “Man, I can sing that stuff, Motet’s done it a bunch.” And he pulls out his Ipad and shows me a video of Motet doing Prince and I was just like oh my god, your crushing it. So it was another one of those late night things and Jans was in, so we put it together that way.

060-DSC_6677P. Sunkel: So speaking of Jans and The Motet, Bear Creek is coming up, what are you most excited for?

Stoops: Bear Creek for me is one of the coolest hangs. You know we were lucky to get asked to do it last year. It’s basically like the funk summit. Every band is just crushing and you gotta be there. Suwannee is also one of the coolest places in the world to have a festival. They run a really tight ship, its really well run and the artists are just so well taken care of down there, that it really is the show we all look forward to every year. And you know its also exciting for the chance to do some collaborations. Other than Jans, we’ve reached out to some other friends about jamming at shows and everyones response is always “well at Bear Creek…” So it’s going to be really nice to spend a lot of time on-site there, instead of just popping in. Bear Creek is one of the festivals where its like a destination, once your there, your there to play and hang and play and have a good time.

P. Sunkel: It’s definitely the festival every band wants to stay at. You mentioned there will be some collaborations. Scotty Zwang will be there with his band Greenhouse Lounge, can we maybe expect a surprise BangBang!! set?

Stoops: Hahahahaha it might happen, we’ll see. Greenhouse Lounge actually asked me to sit-in with them at Bear Creek, I’m looking forward to that. I was supposed to sit-in with those guys late night at The Big Up but my wife and 5-year old came to the show and there was no way he was staying up til the early morning. But you know Scotty and I are always trying to set stuff up but we’re both always doing stuff with our main bands. Really it’s just about when we can line up our calendars to make something like that happen and whenever there’s chances we try to do so.

P. Sunkel: Hmm well maybe we’ll get to see you guys throw down one of those legendary Bear Creek late night campground sets.

Stoops: Exactly, Exactly.

059-DSC_6645P. Sunkel: So Kung Fu’s self-titled release came out a couple years back, have you goes been recording and when can we expect it?

Stoops: Yeah we actually have a whole album thats about ready for release. We’ve been talking to a couple record labels, we’re really trying to decide right now whether or not we want to self release it or go with a little label. So we’re still under talks with a couple labels in case we want to go to that direction but we may decide to do it ourselves. But we are looking to hopefully drop the record in the fall sometime after September.

P. Sunkel: So this past year has been pretty crazy for you, we saw the return of RAQ, multiple Bang!Bang! sets, Kung Fu on tour and at the same time your balancing the family life, how do you keep it all together?

Stoops: Well, behind every great man, is a great woman. We definitely have a special relationship, you know she understands me and she’s very supportive. We’ve come to realize that we are very lucky to have this life that we live.

075-DSC_4530P. Sunkel: So lets say you were to give me 5-6 bands on your summer playlist, who would they be?

Stoops: You know this might sound crazy man, but I don’t listen to music. For the past year or so I’ve been in a really creative spell, I’ve been writing a lot of music. When I’m writing I don’t want to be influenced by stuff thats going on in the music world. Even when I’m in the car it’s silent, when I’m at home it’s silent, I try not to listen to music when I’m in a really creative mood for writing. I know it sounds crazy and weird but I don’t want outside influences to influence what I write. I find that silence really adds to my creativity. Well with that being said, I have checked out a few bands haha. Superhuman Happiness is awesome, I mean I obviously listened to Daft Punk for a little while, I’m kind of over that haha.

P. Sunkel: Well with that said, do you have any goals for this next year?

Stoops: Just to create the most honest music of my career. I’m coming to an age where, I don’t want to do music so people will like me or my band. I want to make music that resonates in my soul and with other people. I’m striving to produce music that I believe in and that is honest. So hopefully, a year from now you and I will hang out and it will be achieved, but hey it’s a work in progress.

Here is another interview I did with Stoops and the other guys of Kung Fu at AURA:

For more info about Stoops and Kung Fu check out:

For more info about RAQ check out:

For more info about BangBang!! check out:

-Phil Sunkel


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