Explore the New Music that’s Lingering in the Underground Music Scene- Are You On the Future Funk Wave?
Written by: Mica Mackenzie
“Future Funk is really dope 80s music...2080s music.”
As a music enthusiast and lover of all things off the wall, I couldn’t help but cover one of the latest growing music trends on Youtube - Future Funk. I don’t want to ruin it for you, but let’s just say if you’re into Anime, 70s-80s disco and fun (think Bee-Gee’s and Sly and The Family Stone), electronic synths, 70’s Japanese City-pop or futuristic sounding music, you should give this genre a listen.
What is Future Funk music and what makes it so special?
Vaporwave + Japanese/Anime Influences
Let’s start with a quick introduction to Vaporwave because, in some type of way, Vaporwave is what birthed the Future Funk style. Vaporwave music is characterized by taking samples (very small parts) of 80s and 90s music, in particular, and chopping them up or mixing them to create something old, but also new at the same time. It’s important for you to understand that the musicians who create this music do this process over and over, creating layers of sound and music that envelops the listener and continues to build throughout the entirety of the song.
The aspects that distinguish the Vaporwave style from another style that also chops and mixes samples, like Hip-Hop, are the fact that Vaporwave samples are usually influenced by jazz, R&B, or elevator music; and that Vaporwave has a general lack of lyrics. You would be hard-pressed to find a Hip-Hop song that samples elevator music and doesn’t have much in terms of lyrics.
The Future Funk style is the basic editing principles of Vaporwave, but focuses more specifically on working with samples from the 70s, 80s, and Japanese R&B, and disco music. It’s especially common for Future Funk samples to be taken from Japanese anime soundtracks.
The result is a more fun and upbeat version of the Vaporwave style that leaves you feeling euphoric and ready to hit the dance floor.
Future Funk Sound and Style
The r/futurefunk subreddit describes the style as ‘music with sweet and funky vibes with a touch of 80's nostalgia’. I highly agree, although I’d like to add that there’s also electronic and futuristic musical elements in this style. When you listen to Future Funk, not only does it take you back, but it somehow sends you flying into the future at the same time.
Brass Instruments Galore
You’ll find out shortly after you begin listening that Future Funk is pretty brassy, but I find that’s one of the things that keeps me coming back to the style. The brass instruments, specifically the style’s use of the saxophone and trumpet, add a certain brightness to the music that it would otherwise lack.
Additionally, when using the brass instruments the musicians are careful to create a nice pattern of rise and fall with the sound. You find yourself rising with the music to it’s crescendo and riding the wave back down, only to get caught in the current and do it all again. It’s a great feeling.
70s and 80s Synthesizers for Days
Unfortunately I didn’t get to live in the 70s/80s and experience the true rise of the synths, but I feel like Future Funk gives me something just as good by providing a living, breathing experience of past music presented in a new way. Just as quickly as the brass instruments show up in the songs, so do the synthesizers.
Depending on the artist making the music, the synths may give off the more groovy 70s disco feel, or alternatively they may take you straight back to the 80s and make you feel funky. Either way, can’t complain!
Electronic/Futuristic Synthesizers and Samples
While there’s a strong focus on the 70s/80s disco/funk nostalgia within Future Funk, there’s also the futuristic/electronic element I mentioned earlier.
This comes, in part, because the Future Funk style has French House (type of electronic music) influences, and it’s being brought to life through synthesizers. These synths are manipulated to create futuristic listening effects. Using samples that sound robotic or otherwise manipulated to sound ‘out of this world’ also work toward the same goal.
If you go to Youtube and search ‘Future Funk’, this is the first video that comes up.
It’s a Future Funk DJ Mix called ‘SQUAD GOALS’ that has over 3.3 million views. As you can see, the video has a very unique cartoonish/anime feel to it, while at the same time creating a vintage feel that parallels the 80s nostalgia that comes from the music itself. Once again, the Japanese/anime element is what makes Future Funk what it is, so a majority of videos you find on Youtube in this style with reflect that taste.
Quick Interlude: I want to be clear that Future Funk is not to be confused with Phonk. The anime aspect of the Future Funk video style is it’s trademark. Alternatively, Phonk videos focus on cartoon clips, especially taken from The Simpsons.
When to Listen to Future Funk
Something I’ve come to admire about this style, in particular, is its method of listening. With most styles of music, you’re focused on singing with the words or watching the stories that play out in the videos. But with Future Funk, it’s a whole new ball game. There aren’t really words to sing to...so what are you supposed to do?
You’re not really meant to sit and focus on Future Funk music, you’re supposed to leave it playing in the background as you go about your day and tasks, feeling the vibe of the music and thriving off the energy of the beat. People listening to this style find that it gives them motivation and an uplifted feeling to get through the day.This makes sense considering many Future Funk videos on Youtube are over an hour- long enough for you to work on something while you listen.
The videos, of course, wouldn’t have been made if someone hadn’t intended for us to watch them, but they are very different from typical music videos in the sense that there is no storyline to follow. Most of the Future Funk videos I’ve watched are short Japanese/Anime clips put together, the majority of which have heavy 80s-90s influences.
The music videos are cool to sit and watch late at night when you’re too tired to focus on a TV show/movie and just want to enjoy some music. Not to mention it’s fun to watch the anime clips and see how it enhances the listening experience when you get to witness all the moving parts together.
The Best of Future Funk
Overall, I’m really intrigued by Future Funk as a style and the cultural elements it brings with it. I’ve compiled a list of my favorite Youtube videos/songs in the Future Funk style and hope you’ll check them out and let me know your thoughts.
Enjoy...and until next time,
Mica Mackenzie is the founder and CEO of The Quiet Nonsense, LLC. She currently lives in Dallas with her boyfriend, Hunter, and their goldendoodle puppy, Ted! Her dream is to see the growth and success of her alternative entertainment company, QN. She’s obsessed with all types of things philosophical and scientific and has a huge heart and passion for those struggling with mental illness. Feel free to keep up with her on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.