When Joshua Sitron first thought of the idea for FunkeyMonkeys in the year 2000, he was the composer and musical director for Nickelodeon's Dora the Explorer. Seeing no possibility of putting on tights and performing on Dora (as it is a cartoon), and frustrated with the creative constraints and marketing agendas of big-time kids TV, he soon left the show to dedicate himself full-time to the monkeys.
The debut album, FunkeyMonkeys!, was recorded in the Spring of 2001, and featured the vocal stylings of some of Broadway and TV's best child stars. It's Boots the monkey (a.k.a Harrison Chad) of Dora the Explorer who intones the album's opening call: "All right FunkeyMonkeys! Are you ready". Released in the fall of 2001, FunkeyMonkeys! was received with wild enthusiasism by 3-year olds and 50-year olds alike. Soon after, Josh began getting requests to hire the 'monkeys' to play live. He had to explain that the 'monkeys' were a studio creation and there was actually no 'band' per se, as he played all the instruments on the record, and the 7 kids and one adult vocalist were recorded at separate times, in separate studios. Tired of having no real-life monkeys to play with onstage, Josh decided to find some.
While working on the demo for the album Jewish FunkeyMonkeys, Josh met Carey White, a teacher of music and violin at the Ramaz school on Manhattan's Upper East Side. Her zany humor and vocal/violin virtuosity gave her instant FunkeyMonkey membership. Josh's experiences performing improv theatre led him to meet Mike Gold (a.k.a ballooniac), a hysterically funny, multi-talented, musical making, balloon twisting maniac, who actually looks like a monkey. Finally, while taking drum lessons in his home town of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Josh enlisted his drum teacher, 'boom boom' Brian Carter to round out the group and play skins. It turned out Brian had a killer voice, ability to play guitar and keyboards as well, and previously had made his living as a public school music teacher.
The FunkeyMonkeys band made their live stage debut on Sep. 7th, 2003 at Makor on the Upper West side of Manhattan. Described as a "Seinfeld as the Wiggles" the show incorporates funny sketches and improvised bits, along with their unique brand of truly funky kid's music. Taking inspiration from diverse sources such as The Muppet Show's breaking of the 4th wall, Saturday Night Live's combination of sketch comedy and music, and Moulin Rouge's freedom to mix and match original and cover music in medleys and mish mash, the show was such a hit, they were instantly asked to perform on an ongoing basis. 6 months later, the 2nd album: Sing, Dance, and Underpants arrived to express this new energy with original, heartfelt, quirky, eclectic and always fun music. The Funkeymonkeys closed their 1st year of performance with shows in front of hundreds of people in Riverside Park, and at the South Street Seaport. So.........
Monkey Josh got a car, and the FMs hit the road, playing 25 shows mostly in and around NY, CT, NJ, but including a triumpant trip to Houston, TX where the FunkeyMonkeys were lucky enough to share a Marriot hotel with Halliburton executives. January 2005 saw the recording of the 1st FunkeyMonkey music video: 'I'd Like A Banana', directed by Paul Urciolo and shot by Andrew Sitron and Kevin Scott. 2005 also marked the induction of the Bananas kids chorus into the show, online videetos, and the first appearance of Froggy (Stuart Bogie) and Beyondo, two super musicians and members of the Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra who have been sidemen to Phish, Arcade Fire, Davey Jones & The Monkees, Bon Iver, TV On The Radio, Iron & Wine and many more. By the time the 2nd performing season ended in June, the FunkeyMonkeys where well on their way to finishing their 4th CD Tastes Like Chicken, which arrived in December 2005.
10 years later, the project encompasses nine albums, hundreds of performances, and dozens of collaborators.