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Multicultural stew

Dopamine Flux blends diverse influences into soulful sonic brew

Greg Thilmont

It’s Friday night on an auspiciously named street—Golden Nectar Way. A pulsing hum emanates from a garage door. Inside, the walls are covered with red shag carpet. A bookshelf holding dozens of LPs fronts one side of the room; yard tools cover the opposite wall. In between, the six members of Dopamine Flux are getting into a deep groove with a Nina Simone cover.

Dopamine Flux might be familiar to many from its First Friday performances, not to mention the striking figure and voice of singer Liz Dickerson. Drummer Fabrizio Rozas, guitarist Diego Cano, DJ Stab (aka Alfonso Stabolito), bassist Gene Howley and percussionist Damien Drake create an aural backdrop equally influenced by Ella Fitzgerald, ’70s funk, Fela Kuti, Massive Attack and Motown. As the song ends, the musicians talk about their unique and expansive formula.

“It’s getting all the different backgrounds we have—Chilean, Mexican, African-American, Italian ...,” Rozas begins. “[And] a couple of white guys,” Howley laughingly interjects.

“We’re all from different backgrounds, so we put everything on the table, and we just start playing,” says Rozas, who counts Ministry, Antibalas and salsa legend Celia Cruz among his personal touchstones. “It’s very natural how Latin influences, funk, world music and soul come together.”

The very fact the band exists—let alone was born in Las Vegas—is noteworthy to the six members.

“You pray to be with people that have the same aspirations as you,” Drake says.

“Diego is like an archive, a plethora of music ... Liz is an inspiration with her style and her singing. And Stab is just the same—another archive. I am blessed.”

In Vegas, Dickerson adds, money often precedes the music. “I wanted to find people who were just as passionate,” Dickerson says. “[In Vegas] it’s ‘pay me to come play.’ But this band, I think, is more of people who just love to play.”

DJ Stab goes testimonial when he talks of the band. “Every time I come here I’m about to cry,” Stabolito says. “I’m so glad this is happening.”

Cano explains Dopamine Flux’s biochemical moniker: “It’s basically what happens in your brain when you get excited, when you eat something great,” he says, referencing another dopamine-spiking experience. “Orgasm. I don’t know if you can put that in the paper.”

Do the garage sessions disturb the neighbors? “We haven’t had any complaints,” Cano says. “Sometimes when we have had the garage door open, people start coming up. The neighbors come out of the woodwork.”

Given the promise of eclectic sounds and neurochemical adjustment, who wouldn’t want a taste of Dopamine Flux’s golden nectar?

Dopamine Flux plays the Freakin’ Frog on March 1. (myspace.com/dopamineflux)

Click here to watch video of Dopamine Flux. 

Photos and video by Greg Thilmont

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