Yung Bae Is Bringing Future Funk Into The Mainstream

Getting lost in the disco.

NYLON Manila caught up with rising producer, Yung Bae, to talk about new music, musical inspirations, and who he would like to work with in the future.

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Ask people if they know what that future funk is and most likely you’ll get a blank stare. A sub-genre of vaporwave, future funk is described as the expansion of the disco/house elements thereof. Future funk relies mostly on samples and is known for its 1980s Japanese city pop-inspired sound. Vaporwave and its sub-genres grew out of internet culture and niche groups before slowly making its way to more mainstream avenues. So, while most people may have never heard of future funk, they may have heard of a song within the sub-genre, and this is where Dallas Cotton, or more popularly known as Yung Bae, comes in.

After initially releasing music through sites like Bandcamp independently, Yung Bae has since built himself as one of the more popular future funk-based musicians out right now. With over six albums and a collection of singles, EPs and B-Sides so far, Yung Bae is helping bring the sub-genre from its niche underground internet culture into a cult-like phenomenon.

And now, Yung Bae is back again to serve another dose of funk and grooviness with the release of his latest single Silver & Gold. Featuring Sam Fischer and Pink Sweat$, the track has a sound that’s ready for the mainstream airwaves but still true to Yung Bae’s roots.

FROM NICHE ACT TO RISING ARTIST

The internet no doubt helped establish Yung Bae as an artist. That is where future funk and vaporwave, in general, grew in popularity. This is also where Yung Bae got his start as a musician where he initially posted his work, which soon gained him a following. It’s also on the internet and social media where Yung Bae got his biggest hit to date thanks to his song Bad Boy going massively viral on TikTok with over one million videos using the sound.

To listen to a Yung Bae track is to experience a mix of traditional and modern sounds. He’s dabbled in smooth jazz, funk, city pop, old school hip-hop, Studio 54 disco, and more. He credits his diverse range of sounds to artists like Neon Indian, The Doobie Brothers, and Madlib. He also cites anime like Sailor Moon as one of his musical inspirations, “anime with bright music” as he calls it. This anime and Japanese influence can be seen early in his career like in his first album, Bae, released in 2014 and even until today with a lot of his visuals.

SILVER & GOLD

Yung Bae, who made that name up as a teenager and decided to stick with it, makes most of his music through obscure samples he finds online. Even after he became a signed artist with Arista Records/Sony Music Entertainment, he still follows that practice. But when it came time to make Silver & Gold, he deviated. “The beat for Silver & Gold was made from scratch,” he confesses. The beat was actually done for a while before Sam Fischer and Pink Sweat$ came on board. In April 2021, Yung Bae traveled to Nashville to work with Pink Sweat$ on the song and by May 2021, the song was finished. But the song was pushed back before its eventual release in early August, though you could say the timing was right since it was released in the middle of the Tokyo Olympics.

Silver & Gold is a playful and uplifting track with an energetic beat highlighted by jovial horns and claps. The anthemic chorus delivers an inspiring message for people to unite and reach for their goals. It also has a motivational and highly danceable tune likely to get the party started, or at least keep it going. With Yung Bae’s beats backing them, Sam Fischer and Pink Sweat$ take turns singing about positivity, appreciating life, and working hard for your dreams. If the song is fun to listen to, then it was just as fun making as Yung Bae described working with Sam and Pink as a joyous experience. And if you’re wondering, no, the corgi on the single art is not Yung Bae’s.

WORKING DURING LOCKDOWN AND FUTURE PLANS

When the pandemic hit the world in early 2020 and people were forced into lockdown, it negatively impacted a lot of people in a variety of ways. Though for Yung Bae, being in lockdown was actually a boon for his music-making. “Lockdown gave me more time to work on my music. It felt less rushed than before,” he says. He started working on his newest album in lockdown and was able to make it without the need to meet rushed deadlines.

And the best part for Yung Bae was that he still had creative control over his music despite being signed to a major label. When someone goes from being independent to a signed artist, there is a worry of losing that creative control, but Yung Bae feels that his “creativity is still the same.” In fact, he says it’s better because his label is able to help him do things that he couldn’t have done as an independent artist.

Aside from his upcoming studio album, Yung Bae expressed how he would like to work with more legacy acts in the future. He also added that he’s open and would like to work with K-Pop acts since they also do “funk, fun, bubbly summer songs.” He’s also excited to travel and get back to performing live on stage.

Finally, if you want to get into future funk or you’re a new Yung Bae fan and don’t know where to start with his music, he suggests you first listen to Welcome to the Disco, a song the exemplifies his city pop and funk style very well.

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