I Want Your Love—A Guide To Future Funk

By Stuart Oakes

To be clear, I dislike the term “future funk”. It is not a term I would have come up with. In an ideal world, we would never have to use “future funk” (or “witch house” or “chillwave” or, heaven forbid, “pornogrind”). However, despite the general contempt of genre-perversion in electronic music – new synth, new genre; new BPM, new genre; new beat, new genre; “ugh” – the style demands it, especially if you plan on having any sort of coherent conversation. The problem is not that that the lines are set too strictly, but rather that everything is constantly blurring: one artist may have ten entirely different songs on one album and, unlike “folk” or the “blues”, no one word is going to quite capture the wildly diverse influences and traditions that differentiate each track from the others.

All of that to say beware! While this is a list of tracks that, if push came to shove, I would label “future funk” (in order to differentiate them from “country” or “Mongolian throat singing”), these artists are all incredibly versatile, and often put out music that share little or no characteristics with the ones below. The structure of a list like this requires that the music gathered has common characteristics – indeed it draws attention to those characteristics – but I consider it an acceptable price to pay for getting to share some music that I really like, especially when there is little chance of any unnecessary pigeonholing (these are the very people to blame for all that blurring I mentioned earlier).

So, what is “future funk”? The knower of all things, Reddit, describes it as music that “emerged from the Vaporwave genre [good luck] in the summer of 2012”. A mix of 70’s and 80’s funk and disco (specifically, stuff like this), J Dilla sampling chops, and that fascination with aspects of Eastern culture that has overtaken the trendy Western world, “future funk” is mostly just a good time. Currently in that messy, youthful phase where no one has quite figured out what it all means, everyone keeps striking gold, and addictions are not an issue, it sounds like people got tired of waiting for the second The Avalanches album and decided to make it themselves. Sure, the proliferation of Internet-based genres is overwhelming and “future funk” is probably just a drop in the ocean, but it is a hella groovy drop, and that is always the most important thing.

Young Montana – “Sacré Cool”

FF influences span from 80’s Japanese singer Kaoru Akimoto – a source of much sampling – to French artist The Phantom’s Revenge, but one of the first to put everything together, Young Montana, did so two years before the movement even started. Besides being an early sign of what might grow if Dilla met the Internet, 2010’s “Sacré Cool” is also just a great track, earning the UK producer both a Pitchfork mention and general acclaim among those that followed in his footsteps. Although it lacks the vaporwave influence – the final piece in the puzzle, so to speak – it is instantly recognizable as a predecessor to the rest of this list and is well worth a listen.

Yung Bae – “Anibabe”

Yung Bae is mostly the reason why I wrote this list. He is from Portland, Oregon.

Skylar Spence – “Pineapple Juniors”

American producer Ryan DeRobertis, formerly known as Saint Pepsi (until legal problems over the name arose), is the best-known name to dabble in the genre. Much beloved around these parts (his track “Fiona Coyne” was second on my list of favourite songs from 2014), he functions mostly as a songwriter these days. However, it was not too long ago that he was riding the funk wave, as “Pineapple Juniors” gloriously demonstrates. From his 2013 release, Empire Building, “Pineapple Juniors” is all party. Watch for the piano line around 1:00 that takes everything to a whole new level.

マクロスMacross 82-99 – “Bad Girl (Feat. Lancaster_)”

マクロスMacross 82-99 is a producer from Mexico City. Lancaster_ is a producer from either Pennsylvania or Massachusetts, depending on whether you believe his soundcloud or his bandcamp. “Bad Girl”, a track off of Denver-based, internet-only label Keats//Collective’s 2014 compilation, Keats//Collective Volume 5, is like descending into an ocean of Chic-lite guitars and heavenly horns. Let it wash over you, wherever you happen to be. Also a party.

Flamingosis – “Don’t Leave”

One of the most versatile producers on this list, Flamingosis is actually New Jersey based artist Aaron Velasquez. His gift for dusty, nostalgic soul samples and hip-hop inspired beats is clearly displayed on “Don’t Leave”, a late night slow-burner that was also released on Keats//Collective Volume 5. I recommend his latest release, 2015’s Kahunastyle.

Harrison – “Help Yourself To My Love”

Harrison, whose real name is actually Harrison Robinson, is a prolific Toronto-based producer who is very much on the rise: one friend of mine, after attending a Ryan Hemsworth show in November, thought that Robinson (the opener) put on the clearly superior performance despite being only nineteen. “Help Yourself To My Love” is basically a random pick from his brilliant collection, Future Blast (all 45 tracks are really good).  Built from a 1983 Kashif track of the same name, Harrison makes everything sharp enough to draw blood, proving himself worthy of the title “future funk” specialist.

コンシャスThoughts– “Goodbye『さようなら』”

A British producer, TコンシャスThoughts is a lesser known entity namely because they generally tend towards the vaporwave side of things. That being said,  “Goodbye『さようなら』”“ is classic ‘future funk’: the horns are entirely triumphant, the drums kick, the sample feels wistful despite being screwed into incomprehensibility and the whole thing keeps the party rolling for another three and a half minutes.

ローマンRoman – “I Miss You (Feat. マクロスMacross 82-99)”

ローマンRoman is from Osaka, Japan, which clearly did not stop him from getting in touch with the States-based Macross (all hail the internet). Here, the focus is on the vocals, underpinned by a driving rhythm guitar and brass flourishes. Other than that, it pretty much sticks to formula. However, as I am sure you have figured out by now, the formula is glorious.

She Said Disco – “Perfect Effect”

French producer She Said Disco is another one of my favourites. Although 2014’s “Perfect Effect” is notable as a sign of growth in ability and technical skill among the genre’s producers – notice how much clearer the production sounds when compared with something like the earlier Skylar Spence track – the real grab here is the steel-pan drums and a truly heart-tugging vocal line. Pensive, tropical vibe? Yes, please!

Yung Bae – “Still”

Yes, Yung Bae again. There are a lot of other really cool people I did not get to mention, so please check out artists like Vanilla and Kev//bot if you get a chance to do some digging (I very firmly recommend Vanilla’s Sweet Talk, though it is not specifically ‘future funk’). However, I would like to rep Yung Bae forever, so here you go.

3 Responses to “I Want Your Love—A Guide To Future Funk”
  1. yungbaehater says:

    yung bae fucking sucks

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