By Deanna Marie Kempel
The DeFunked is an American pop band from Chicago, IL. The group is fronted by vocalist and guitarist Danny “Jay” Jacobson and rapper Eric Johnson. Their distinctive, eclectic sound draws influences from funk, reggae, soul and hip hop.
Jacobson and Johnson were introduced in 2008 by the music director of a Chicago Top 40 radio station. They began working together and within a year, decided to make the move to Los Angeles. Once there, they street-performed on the Santa Monica Pier for rent money and were discovered by Leopold Management who oversaw Melissa Etheridge and played a major role in Maroon 5’s commercial success. Immediately following, the duo now calling themselves Shytown, shot a pilot for TV series “Unfinished Business” starring rap mogul Suge Knight. After a long audition process, Knight chose them to be the featured act on the show. However; shooting halted due to his ensuing legal battles.
In 2011, the duo teamed up with super producer Jonathan “JR” Rotem (Rihanna, Maroon 5, Ariana Grande) on their song “Good Times,” which landed on the Fox TV series “I Hate My Teenage Daughter” starring Jaime Pressly. Following that success, they recorded their debut EP entitled “Single Again” with Aben Eubanks (Kelly Clarkson). The EP found itself on the iTunes pop homepage. It even landed them a guest slot on Lance Bass’s Sirius/Xm show to which they wrote and produced the theme song.
In 2014, Jacobson and Johnson took a backseat from being artists to form Jetsetter Music Group – their record label and production team. Opening their first recording studio in North Hollywood, California, they brought in famous artists such as rock band 311, Jay McGuiness of The Wanted, Post Malone and more. They began discovering and developing young, up-and-coming talent while simultaneously running the studio.
In addition, their now extensive song catalogue made its way into the hands of various music supervisors. From that, a number of their songs were featured in reality shows on the Bravo network, Oxygen channel and Free Form TV. And in 2019, two songs they wrote and produced made the soundtrack of feature-length film “Next Level,” which played in select theaters nation wide.
Despite the success away from the spotlight, the duo badly missed being on stage. They quickly assembled a band with long-time friend and drummer Dan Reynolds. Posting Craigslist ads and reaching out for help on social media, they then found bassist Tyler Kinsler and trumpet player Ross Plunkett. The band wanted a clever name that was equally self-deprecating and light-hearted, yet cool and unique. They came up with The DeFunked as a play on words and an homage to their old projects they were no longer pursuing. Citing the serious void of fun, upbeat music in the current landscape, their main goal was to “make people move again.” The band, which is still in its infancy has since gone on to play multiple shows at House of Blues Chicago and is planning on releasing its debut single summer of 2020.