This Friday, Philadelphia-based musician Dapp brings his distinctive and self-entitled “frunk” sound to Café Nola in Frederick. The show is just one in a string of East Coast stops for Dapp, his drummer Derek Smith and keyboardist Eric Aldrich, in an effort to expand the trio’s audience.
“We’re starting to branch out ...” Dapp says. “Delaware, Vermont, Maryland.”
“We’re getting a pretty good response,” Smith adds. “People are seeming to like it.”
Raised in the suburbs of Philadelphia, Dapp, 33, who goes by his last name only and says he prefers to keep his first name a mystery, grew up in a musical home.
“My dad is a drummer and was in a band when I was a kid,” Dapp says. “He was a professional drummer before I was born ... [so] it was pretty natural for us to be into music.”
By the age of 9, Dapp was playing the saxophone, and by middle school, he’d started the string bass, almost by default.
“There were certain instruments no one wanted to play,” Dapp says. “Like the string bass.”
After his orchestra teacher offered him free lessons, Dapp started playing the string bass regularly and eventually picked up the electric bass.
He played with a variety of bands for several years before breaking out on his own in 2010, performing solo shows in clubs and bars in Philadelphia.
By 2011, Dapp had picked up Smith and Aldrich and the three began playing as a trio.
Much like his first name, Dapp says the band’s sound is a bit of a mystery.
“We call it ‘frunk,’ which is just a word we made up,” Dapp says. “It’s a combination of funk, rock ... there’s sort of a jam band feel about it.”
“I would really categorize it as a funk/rock type of band, but you get all sorts of influences,” Smith adds. “Latin influences ... reggae.”
Generally, the trio likes to leave it to audiences to “make up their own mind about [the music],” Dapp says.
“As a group, we’re not concerned about sticking to any particular genre,” Aldrich adds. “We treat each tune as an individual.”
While Dapp and his band mates haven’t pinpointed the band’s sound, fans and others have compared them to current pop superstars like Jason Mraz and Maroon5.
But it’s others, not these more contemporary artists, who Dapp says have influenced his music.
“The stuff I listen to is pretty old, he says. “Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder and, of course, The Beatles.”
Dapp, who has been writing songs since 2003, does all of the songwriting for the trio, but says Smith and Aldrich help with musical arrangements once he’s penned the lyrics.
“All the songs start being about something that’s happening to me or something that’s happened to me,” Dapp says. “But ... the words will change based on what sounds good and what fits.”
While the band has started recording music for a debut album they’re hoping to release in the spring, for the moment, Dapp, Aldrich and Smith say they’re just enjoying the ride — literally.
“The thing I’m most enamored with right now is traveling with the guys,” says Dapp, who adds the band recently got a van to help them make their way up and down the coast.
“It’s so much fun to travel together,” he adds. “[It’s] as much fun to go to the show as it is to perform the show.”
“It’s fresh and it’s something I’m enjoying,” Smith adds.
Such camaraderie is something that hasn’t always come so naturally with other groups, says the band.
“I started playing with these guys and realized these are the kind of musicians I want to play with for a long time,” Aldrich says. “It’s a pretty good setting and just a fun group to be a part of.”