"What is Future Funk?"
By Pad Chennington
The cosmic grooves of the internet’s funkiest little sub-genre, Future Funk, has come a long way… A long, long way.
It seems like just yesterday, I was typing in “Future Funk” on Youtube and a large selection of tracks would pop up, almost all the time with the same ol’ sorta stuff:
a solid, catchy measure of an old 80’s city-pop song on loop for 2 minutes straight
some fun simple drums
a nice fuzzy retro-anime gif to accompany the whole thing, most times not even synced to the kick of the song.
Very aesthetic indeed, and with a formula so repetitive, yet contagious, the emitted grooves brought out by this Vaporwave sub-genre became beloved by many around it’s birth in 2013… We saw titans spawn in this time period, future funk legends like MACROSS 82-99, YUNG BAE and Night Tempo just to name a few. Vaporwave existed for almost 2 years up until this point and most people welcomed in this higher-tempo, generally more optimistic sound pretty quickly as it was a nice breath of fresh air from the crooning, droning sound styles found often in your stereotypical Vapor track at the time. It got down to the point, producers stripped away all the excess fat of an old 12” disco sample, take the catchiest part and inject into the listener’s ears for a minute or two. Quick hits and long lasting highs, it really was like a drug.
However, time has passed and when time passes, people’s tastes change. Many began to grow tired of the overdone, and pretty lazily constructed, future funk formula that was going for a couple years strong. Artist as well began to crave newness, and luckily for us they went to work. We’ve seen a solid handful of producers who have stuck around with that fire burning passion for disco, latin drums, french house - pretty much anything that can contain a groove you can possibly manipulate with a modern touch. That burning flame inside has made artists craft tracks in a much more deliberate, dense, and creatively thought out way more than ever before, making 2019 and the future such an expansive time for the sub-genre and the talent coming out of it.
So yes, we have seen some crazy growth in the scene and I absolutely love how exciting it has all gotten, but with all of the releases coming out, you may ask “where do I begin?”. So today, I want to give you 5 releases we have seen in the recent days of the scene that I believe do an excellent job at showcasing just how wild the production and groovy sensations can get for a Future Funk experience. So put on some swim shorts, make sure you catch a Lapras and teach it surf, and bring a lot of sunscreen, because you and I going to sizzle on this hot summer day at the beach… You’ve just entered the “Future Funk” zone.
Unibe@t - Origins
Unibe@t opened up 2019 with a colossal bang.
For those who haven’t heard of Unibe@t, this artist is super low key and likes to make his mark on the scene strictly with the final result of his music... Let the product speak for itself.
Bandcamp describes the artist best: “an artist's artist beloved by some of the biggest and most respected names in Vaporwave and Future Funk”. So yeah player, do not mistake Uni’s quiet ways to sneak into his musical output, because ”Origins” is anything but shy. This “wall of sound” that you will have absolutely no way around or ability to scale, “Origins” is massively colorful with jolting sample chops (I love that snazzy piano reconstruction on “Internationale”) knowing when to peak in and out of instrumental subtleness with filters and mixing. It is an absolutely bouncy Future Funk release, depth woven into each measure on an almost hour long tracklist. “Origins” came out in January with 12 tracks, averaging between 4 and 6 minutes each so you are in for not only a lengthy listen, but a superb one to say the least. Tracks like “Konnichiwa” and “Multi-Lover” are so musically hefty, so listen up you better come hungry.
BarbWalters - Pleasure
Barby baby let me tell you player the step up here from “Reconnect”, BROTHER, you can feel the attention to detail that went into this project! And I really liked “Reconnect” too, an album I recommend you listen to before jumping into “Pleasure” so you can see the growth of his musical artistry. But for real, “Pleasure” just blows that thing out of the water! “Pleasure” can easily be one of the best Future Funk releases of the year, measures are sautéed in their own unique way. Every single moment separating itself from the previous one and making sure no two sections on the album sound the same. Whether it is some empty spaces that are nothing short of ticklish between the sample chops or an added layer of a secondary sample to create an extra melody for ya, Barb delivers every beat on here with a cherry on top.
You can definitely see the Ed Banger influence on here. Tracks like “So You Wanna” have this clunky, chop-job execution, that reminds me of the classic track “Arabest” by French House legend SebastiAn (and I know how much you love that French House Barb). I love this meaty, clustered sound; a straight up cosmic electro-funk salad, that sounds like a bunch of robots working on some assembly line. Also the track “Go Easy”... THAT BASSLINE! AHHHH
HATENA - PARADER
Next, let’s take a look at my boy HATENA and his May 2019 release of PARADER - An extremely charming future funk release with some quality chopping on a superb selection of samples to undeniably keep you listening from start to finish (listen to ya boi, this is an album that is hard to put down once you rev up the first track). Fans of the Future Funk scene, who are looking for a return to a sample-heavy emphasis production wise, HATENA is your go to pick for that simple summer lovin’. Each track blends smoothly with one another, and at a tasty pace to say, the least! (Hatena really loves them good ol’ white noise risers!)
The sample chopping is really HATENA’s bread and butter on “PARADER”. Your attention is always spent on awaiting what little quirky variation the vocals will chop up into. I had a blast in visiting the musical carnival he’s operating up in here. My personal favorite track on this album is “Cheap Thrills”, some great workout music! Also “Loser”, I see you with that homage to The Phantom’s Revenge! You can tell the french house legendary DJ is a huge inspiration to the young Future Funk artist for “PARADER”.
Most of the tracks contain the same formula, but when it’s done with such humble, yet, quality execution, you just can’t help but fall in love. HATENA is a great dude, who is super active in the scene and community. With “PARADER”, we really see his passion for the sound of classic French House and Filter House come to life! I can not wait to see what the Australian producer cooks up next. keep grindin’ my man.
Next up, I want to talk not necessarily about a specific release, but an entire label: Montaime
Featuring releases from fan-favorite producers like FIBRE, Discoholic, Cobalt Road, and many more, Montaime is your go to platform if you are someone who can never get enough of that modern disco heat. I also really want to applaud the label for their frequent, yet quality, releases. A couple weeks ago, we got the single “Still Down to Get Down” by Discoholic ft. bruce take nap & PHAUN. With some proper jingles, a crunchy bassline, a laid back drum track, and some added killer vocals, the track blooms with sophistication and dedication - kinda sounds like some Breakbot, and trust me, that is a huge compliment. It truly is wonderful to see artists so passionate about disco and wanting to create their own music from start to finish. Personally, I recommend just jumping straight into their “Montaime - Volume 1”, a collection featuring 11 great artists all looking to shine.
A diverse palette of artists inspired by Disco, does it really get any better than this?
Vantage - Aloha Island
The homie Vantage, damn it has been almost 4 years since Metro City was released? Time flies! Even in 2015, Vantage’s classic album “Metro City” was pretty intricate for a time surrounded by a lot of Future Funk flooded with lazy looping and over-simplistic formulas (Listen to the opening track 50//50 on here...still love all those changeups!)
“Aloha Island”, released in 2017, is easily Vantage’s best work yet (opinions!). Here, we have another case of a producer who, after coming into the scene, has gradually began to put more and more of his own organic touch on his releases. “Aloha Island” is spacious, roomy, and grand. Many tracks have this floaty feel due to there not being this jumble and mish-mash of overcrowding instruments trying to climb over one another. It is a humble ride. Tracks like "Street Chorus" have that fun filtered vocal chop laying over some minimal synths, drums, and more hand-selected instruments that keep the track clear and aerodynamic. Same vibe on the track “With Me”, a very Toro Y Moi-meets-Future Funk (as if Toro isn’t groovy enough already!)
Vantage is the perfect music to accompany you on a flight or long train ride, so make sure you get a window seat. Surprisingly, the vinyl for this album is still available despite there only being 300 copies pressed, so record collectors jump on that because this is a damn good release that definitely goes under the radar for many.
At the end of the day, Future Funk will always be what you make of it. I mean, calling it all “Future Funk” is just a label for it all, just a word to easily umbrella everything we’ve seen these past couple of years, at least that’s how I sum it all up. It’s subjective; is Future Funk limited to that repetitive looping formula combined with a 1980’s anime gif? If we place more instruments, vocals, secondary samples, heavy drum mixing, etc., are we just entering territory claimed by other genres like Nu-Disco, French House, etc? Whatever you think of it, just always remember to groove, have a good time, and lose yourself. Dance like nobody's watching!
Much love, ur boi, Pad Chennington
"Also known as "Youtube's Vaporwave Valedictorian", Pad Chennington is a content creator who has created a substantial following on YouTube for his videos discussing all things Vaporwave. Starting in the Fall of 2017, Pad's videos range from reviews to breakdowns, interviews to unboxings, and much more, always revolving around odd and interesting music genres found throughout the internet. Pad has also recently released an album in February titled "CONTRAST" that is available as a free download via the My Pet Flamingo label."