A new production house in Red Hook is bringing DJs of all stripes to the neighborhood for a weekly live stream that showcases their work.
Longtime friends and business partners Anthony Vitale and Michael Gentile opened The Funktion House in January of 2015, at 31o Van Brunt St. near Pioneer Street, serving as a brick-and-mortar venue for the 8-year-old DJing company, Funktion DJ.
"We basically turned our warehouse into a fully functioning broadcasting studio," Vitale said.
Gentile, 37, and Vitale, 35, met in the mid-90s through mutual friends as high school students studying at different Brooklyn schools.
While Vitale, who grew up in Carroll Gardens, was just getting started with his career, Gentile, of Marine Park, was already DJing and helped introduce Vitale to the business.
After working nightclubs such as Enigma and Gazebo in Brooklyn, the Metropolis in Queens and Manhattan's Palladium and Roxy, their careers took different paths. Vitale toured the world and DJed in Japan, Italy and France. Gentile focused on private parties before starting his own entertainment and DJ production company, known as Funktion DJ.
Now the two are back together and working to build Funktion DJ's clientele and turn Funktion House into a production venue.
To highlight professional and aspiring DJs, the Funktion House hosts live stream events on Tuesday nights that feature interviews and sets by a guest DJ.
"We invite older DJs, new DJs," said Gentile. They hope to eventually bring in other entertainers as well.
"They play whatever they want, however they want," he said. While DJing nightclubs, Vitale found that there wasn't a lot of room for creativity. Club managers and wealthy clients wanted specific songs, rather than let the DJ decide on their own sets.
"For me sitting in a DJ booth, I have to cater to that one person," Vitale said. "Because he's spending money."
"We have to listen to the management or you just won't get hired again," he said.
But through The Funktion House, the duo can "create and dictate what we want to musically," Gentile said.
When they aren't live streaming from the Red Hook venue, Gentile and Vitale use the space for light and sound production as well as demonstrations for potential clients. They're also keeping it open for photo and video shoots as well as private events.
As the brand grows, they hope to
have a "Funktion House" in every borough.
“If You Treat Djing Like A Hobby You Will Never Be Paid Like A Business “ 5 Insider Tips With Anthony Vitale
“I was hired to DJ in Brazil. I arrived early so I decided to go to hotel and then the beach. My hotel phone rang and it was the club promoter. He told me he was coming to my hotel and to not leave the room. He shows up and tells me I need to go back to São Paulo there has been a “little problem”. The drug lords in the favelas shot down a police helicopter and to get the police out of the favelas the drug lords sent people to the streets to burn the city buses. I was in and out of Rio within 5 hours. I liked how he identified it as a “little problem“”
I had the pleasure to interview Anthony Vitale of THE FUNKTION HOUSE. Anthony Vitale and Michael Gentile, began their careers as young teenagers and were true to the art. Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, Vitale and Gentile were passionate about DJing and found their career path at a young age. At just 12 years old, Vitale was quickly introduced into the party scene, spinning at night clubs across New York. He continued to grow and with more and more popularity he started spinning across the globe at some of the hottest spots in New York, Miami, Tokyo and Paris. Meanwhile, his soon-to-be counterpart, Gentile was 14, starting his career in the nightlife scene that would bring him to start a private events company. He was doing it all and was the “go-to” for private events across the tri-state. After years of DJing, being a part of the New York nightlife scene and running private events — Vitale and Gentile decided to combine their skills and opened THE FUNKTION HOUSE. The two took a warehouse space in Brooklyn and created a studio where DJ’s stories would be told. Before Facebook Live and the many streaming services we have today, Vitale and Gentile kicked off a show that featured veteran DJ’s along with up-and-comers to provide them with a platform to share their experiences. Being DJ’s themselves, Vitale and Gentile know the work that goes into it and are on a mission to keep the art of DJing alive. With their series, DJ’s of all caliber share their story, providing inspiration and advice. The series has given DJ’s the chance to discuss how they entered the industry, what they love about it and more. Now, with over 100 episodes under their belt, Vitale and Gentile are taking it to the next level. Currently, the entrepreneurial DJ’s are creating a new platform that is going to make a major impact for DJ’s across the globe.
What is your “backstory”
I was born and raised in Carrol Gardens Brooklyn. I come from a middle-class Italian family. My mom Angie, my dad Sal and my brother Sal are the reasons I became a DJ. My brother who is two years older would collect cassette tapes. He has an in depth knowledge of music. Being around him introduced me to nightclubs and parties a young age. This is what led me to get involved in DJing early on.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your music career?
Funniest story, I was doing a private party at 1oak on a Monday night for Jay Z and his friends. Kanye West shows up and walks into the DJ booth. Standing directly behind me with his arms folded, bopping his head, he says hello and asked me if I got his “new shit”. His album had dropped that night at midnight and he wanted to hear his tracks but I didn’t have them yet. He then told me go download them, so I pulled up LimeWire on my computer screen. Kanye turns and says “don’t download my shit go buy my shit” and stormed out of the booth pissed. One of his boys then handed me an iPod with his new album on it. I played it off that.
Most interesting, I was hired to DJ in Brazil. I arrived early so I decided to go to hotel and then the beach. My hotel phone rang and it was the club promoter. He told me he was coming to my hotel and to not leave the room. He shows up and tells me I need to go back to São Paulo there has been a “little problem”. The drug lords in the favelas shot down a police helicopter and to get the police out of the favelas the drug lords sent people to the streets to burn the city buses. I was in and out of Rio within 5 hours. I liked how he identified it as a “little problem“
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
My partner Mike Gentile and I opened The Funktion House. It’s a broadcasting studio based in Red Hook, Brooklyn. It’s a place where a DJ can come and broadcast to the world with high quality video and audio. We are currently in the development process of a new DJ platform that should be in first release by the end of 2018. We anticipate some major waves taking place in the DJ world.
Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?
I’ve crossed paths with a lot of celebrities.
I’ve curated an interesting Tuesday night in Tokyo with “Uncle Jesse“ aka John Stamos. I was introduced to him through people in NY. He was in town playing with The Beach Boys and wanted a night out on the town. I was the resident DJ at a club called Feria in Roppongi, Tokyo. I set up a dinner and very cool evening with some friends.
I DJ’d Alex Rodrigues 34th birthday with my friend Jake. When Alex got on the mic he thanked everyone for coming to his birthday. He then guaranteed to win the championship and jumped in the pool with all his clothes on, only to have the rest of the team follow. That year the team won the World Series.
It was a very high profile night in a private home in Purchase NY.
I was DJing a party in Paris for fashion week when Bruce Willis stumbled into the booth and slapped the camcorder out of my friends hand as he thought he was filming him. Lol. He was in Diehard mode.
Which people in history inspire you the most? Why?
Elon Musk is amazing. I like how he is on the forefront of breakthrough projects. He is one person that will be spoken about long after he leaves this world.
Can you share 6 “non-intuitive tips” to succeed in the music industry? Can you explain?
Always keep young, up and coming people around you. Listen to the kids.
Distance yourself from people who are negative.
Switch lanes when you have to.
If you feel like things are slowing down re-invent yourself.
We live in a very fast paced world with technology, one week it’s hot the next week it’s not. Stay on top of your stuff, always be learning. If you’re the smartest person in the room you’re in the wrong room.
“If you treat DJing like a hobby you will never be paid like a business “
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I have taken my years of experience to mentor up and coming DJs. I explain my mistakes with hopes they will actually listen. I love to see new DJs succeed it’s much harder now.
My partner Mike Gentile and I created The Funktion House to help DJs, and with focus on keeping the art of DJing alive. The craft is lost in nightlife and we are showcasing it to hopefully be a guide and inspiration to the young up and comers.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
Plan for the future. ( Invest in more than just yourself )
Keep it business ( Don’t get too friendly with the people who hire you. It makes things complicated)
Be careful who you keep in your company. You meet people in this industry that just want to use you as a stepping stone. (They are social climbers ) They are not your “brothers”.
Wish someone told me to buy stock in Amazon.
I have been blessed with the opportunity to interview and be in touch with some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she just might see this.
Musically, I would like to have lunch with jimmy Iovine . He grew up in the same neighborhood as I and is a key person in the music industry. I respect what he has accomplished and I think we have a lot in common.
Atlantic City - Acclaimed DJs Anthony Vitale and Michael Gentile chatted with Digital Journal about Funktion House, and the digital transformation of electronic music.
"The Funktion House was a creative idea that came about from a conversation," they said. "After starting out as DJs together and then going our separate ways, we decided to partner up again as DJs to perform. While building out our studio in Redhook we had this idea about showcasing DJs and the culture and The Funktion House was born.
"Most recently, from August 13 to 15, they had a pop-up at the DJ Expo in Atlantic City, New Jersey. "We are always looking for new ways to connect with people and showcase our brand. The pop-up gave us a cool way to meet and network with different people in the DJ Community. We set up the shop in a beautiful suite in the Harrahs hotel. PioneerDJ and BassBoss speakers provided us with all the DJ Gear for the event and BrealTv along with Beatport provided us with the streaming channel for the two days. We showcased some really cool DJs and DJ Sessions with Pioneer DJ, Serato and Denon DJ. DJ Kool even stopped by to talk about the convention,
" they said.They are drawn to electronic music due to its "variety." "Today, we have so many different genres of electronic music so it creates so many different styles of DJs. Through the different styles of DJs sprouts creativeness which is always showing the DJ world something new. The only downside is that because there is so much music, there is no longevity to the individual music tracks. Very hard to make a classic song these days," they explained.For aspiring DJs, they said,
"Create your own lane and stay focused on perfecting your craft. Keep up with your social media because it's necessary but understand that the DJ game has its own ecosystem. The true talent always survives. Great pictures will only get you so far, eventually, your true talent surfaces whether good or bad
."Digital transformation of electronic dance musicOn the impact of technology on the electronic dance music industry, they said, "Technology is a double-edged sword. It has helped and it has hurt the industry. Let's look at the pros. You no longer have to carry five crates of records to gig. The back is appreciating that one. Also, recording studios are now packed into a laptop. Ease of use and quality are at everyone's fingertips. The one real negative aspect of technology is the saturation it has caused. Everyone is a DJ and producer so you have a huge dilution factor. We have some really great DJs but we also have some really bad ones. It's easier to become a DJ, but harder to make it as a successful DJ. But again the ecosystem takes care of that. If you are true to your craft and put in the time, you will rise to the top.
"On their use of technology in their daily routine, they said, "We are producing live stream shows every week. There is a lot of hard work that goes into the production aspect of it and there are many technology tools that we use along the way. Whether its Photoshop for graphics, Logic for Audio, or Blackmagic for camera production, without it we wouldn't be able to look as professional as we do."For their fans, they concluded,
"This was the first year the DJ Expo saw a live streaming aspect to the event. It was a pleasure to work with some of the great brands of the DJ industry and to be apart of what they are trying to achieve. The DJ Expo definitely has more potential and hopefully, we can continually contribute to its success."To learn more about The Funktion House, check out the official website.