Born Music Online takes you through the Internet’s disco, Future Funk.
Many genres have music have been created with the advent of the internet, but not many are instantly recognisable as vaporwave. A genre born out of nostalgia, many saw the plunderphonics nature of vaporwave as a jab at consumerist culture and nostalgia from the 80’s and 90’s. Some also called it elevator music.
In all honesty, a lot of vaporwave can be reduced down to lo-fi, slow distorted samples of pop music from yesteryear. But don’t let that description discourage you. The birth of this movement has lead to the creation of many different sub-genres, one of which being future funk. Future funk, like vaporwave, is sample heavy. Utilising 70’s, 80’s and 90’s funk disco and R’n’B, future funk is the fast, bright cousin of vaporwave.
Take a journey through some of the best of future funk, and some of its ancestors, in this handy five song guide to the genre.
Flamingosis x YUNG BAE – Groovin’
Sample: The S.O.S Band – Groovin’ (That’s What We’re Doin)
‘Groovin’ is a perfect example of the ability of future funk to turn what is seemingly a calm, more groove-focused song into what can only be described as a disco banger (something that I’m sure has never been used to describe disco before). Flamingosis and Yung Bae are two veterans of future funk, and here combine to make a thumping disco beat that is suited for a Utopian future with neon lights, flashing colours and a disco somewhere in the deepest parts of Shibuya. Like many of the veterans of the genre, both Flamingosis and YUNG BAE have evolved their sound of the years to incorporate more of their own sounds and samples. YUNG BAE has an extensive back-catalogue, with his BAE series being a particular highlight.
MACROSS 82-99 – Fun Tonight
Sample: Armenta & Majik – I Wanna Be With You (Part 1)
Future funk, though lavish, excessive and all around not subtle, is a genre that is built on distinct subtleties. With many of the classic future funk songs, only a little bit of tweaking and additions are needed to that original sample to make into an absolute banger. MACROSS 82-99 is another household name in the community. Originally from Mexico but now based in Osaka, MACROSS 82-99 (or sometimes known as Mookie) has an extensive back-catalogue that takes heavy inspiration from Japanese culture, especially Sailor Moon (he REALLY likes Sailor Moon). ‘Fun Tonight’ takes the original sample (a fantastic 80’s funk song in its own right) and turns it up to eleven. Speeding the track up by a good amount and adding disco drums that Daft Punk would be proud of, the original song becomes an off-shoot of Daft Punk’s album Discovery. Let us all not forget that Yoshi sample; there aren’t many times where a green dinosaur makes great funk.
TANUKI – BABYBABYの夢
Sample: Mariya Takeuchi – Yume no tsuzuki
We couldn’t talk about future funk without mentioning this. With the most views on Youtube on Artzie Music (the adopted home of most future funk music videos), TANUKI’s BABYBABYの夢 is the most popular for a reason. Mariya Takeuchi’s original city pop song (we’ll come onto city pop later) is an already perfect pop song, but TANUKI adds that signature future funk style to make it what can only be described as a classic. Admittedly, future funk can become an exercise in adding drums to a funk song from the 80’s, but BABYBABYの夢 became a benchmark for any prospective future funk producer to work from. TANUKI, like some of the best of plunderphonics, takes one sample and turns it into its own beast. This is a short and sweet dance track, that bursts into life and disappears in a flash. If only it was longer.
Skylar Spence – Fiona Coyne
Sample: L.A.X. – All My Love
Many from future funk have evolved their sound, coming out of the original trappings of future funk to make more fleshed out music and form careers on their own talents. Though still containing samples, Skylar Spence’s (formerly known as Saint Pepsi) ‘Fiona Coyne’ was the mark of a pioneer of future funk making that bold step out into the wilderness. Exploring more than just future funk, ‘Fiona Coyne’ is a mix of Daft Punk and Chromeo, a track that features the bold vocals of Spence himself, crooning over a nu-disco instrumental that is bursting with energy and charisma. As Saint Pepsi, Spence released the album ‘Hit Vibes’ in 2013, considered by many to be a seminal classic in future funk. Spence’s subsequent career shows how future funk can evolve to become something grander.
Tatsuro Yamashita – Love Talkin’ (Honey It’s You)
And now we arrive at the forefather of future funk. With 18 studio albums to his name, of which many reached number one in Japan, and a Christmas song that has remained in rotation in his home country every Christmas some twenty odd years after its release, it is fair to say that Tatsuro Yamashita is a household name in Japan. His timeless pop music is contagious, and has made waves in many underground Western music scenes. One such scene is future funk. It would be impossible to find out every time Tatsuro Yamashita has been sampled by a future funk producer, but his song ‘Love Talkin” has been sampled by at least eleven future funk producers, including the aforementioned Skylar Spence. ‘Love Talkin” is a perfect wave of serenity. With funk guitars spluttering over the track, piano rings out with Yamashita’s enigmatic vocals spill out all over the track, like a sweet honey.