Growing up in Edmonton, Brandon Smith didn't have access to the internet (somehow). But once he did, it dramatically altered how he consumed music and led him on a path to create his own, under the name Tendencies.
"I was completely oblivious to anything remotely different music-wise," he explains. "[But once] I got a computer and the internet, I tried to absorb as much music as I possibly could. I learned that there was so much different music that I really enjoyed and things went from there."
It's quite an appropriate origin story. As Tendencies, he's part of a wave of a new electronic subgenre called future funk. While future funk takes several Tumblr/internet-based visual cues from its older sister vaporwave—think 80s shopping mall music brought screaming into the '00s by nerds with samplers—the similarities end there. Future funk heavily favours disco and French house samples over the chopped and screwed, smooth jazz of vaporwave. The touch of irony known to pervade vaporwave's aesthetic is nowhere to be found either; future funk opts for total poptimist sincerity.
For Tendencies, it's all about re-contextualizing the best of the shiny 80s: shimmery synths, ridiculous bass sounds and distinctive drum machines. The sound captures the joy of a Saturday night, unearthing the sounds of disco roller rinks from yesteryears. Tracks such as "I Need You" and "Footsteps" meld house sensibilities with a feel-good atmosphere to create effortless pop juggernauts.
It didn't start off this quickly for Smith, however. There were speed bumps along the way. A year ago, he was toiling away at music and uploading tracks to SoundCloud under a different moniker. He's tight-lipped on the name but mentions that a cease and desist order came his way as a result, forcing him to choose something else. Thankfully this didn't stop him. After the name change came a flurry of activity. In a year's time, he has put out a split EP with fellow future funk artist Supersex420. He has released several singles through web channels such as SOMICO, ArtzieMusic, and Stratford Ct., and is racking up thousands of hits on his SoundCloud. For someone who only recently turned 18-years-old, that's not a bad start.
Smith describes his personal workflow as varying. "I try and go for the same vibe in my tracks. I like that particular feeling you get when you listen to old disco, funk and synth-pop," says Smith. "I'm really fond of that type of music and that I'm able to make a similar song or make a song in the same genre…it feels good." Although it may take him weeks to finish a song, the end goal is always to bottle a good feeling within a few short minutes—a goal that seems to be shared by many others within the future funk community.
Many future funk producers, like Smith, found their start through vaporwave. Although both share a love for anime and aged HTML graphic decor, vaporwave separates itself with an emphasis on capitalist rhetoric and slowed down tempos, making it almost inaccessible. But much like the angsty young punks of the 80s who started bands that sounded radically different from their predecessors, a shift is occurring between future funk and vaporwave. "I know a lot of the vaporwave producers gravitated towards making house music and called it future funk," says Smith. "But I think future funk gets associated with vaporwave because it involves the same people and uses the same imagery. It's cool that people that put up videos of my songs set it to old 80s anime videos. It's just something people tend to do [with future funk]. I don't know if they necessarily put much thought into it."
"[But] most people doing that are just curious," he adds. "They're getting into production and it's one of those things you can do easily with a laptop, a sampler, and the internet. If they're making a certain type of music when they're starting out and a year or two later they're doing something completely different, it doesn't make sense for them to categorize it as the same genre."
Smith's major upcoming plans are to release more tracks with Supersex420 and prep an upcoming split through Edmonton weirdo-rap/electro collective Macaulay Culkin Legacy Foundation. A new collection of music is also forthcoming—half of which is original music and the other half collaborations with names he's afraid to mention. "Pretty much everyone who is well known in vaporwave and future-funk, I'm likely doing a collaboration with," hints Smith. "I don't wanna give away any names—I have no idea when they'll be finished, but there are some well-known people involved."
Despite his quick catapult into the spotlight, this is still the beginning for Tendencies. "This is just practice," says Smith with a laugh. "This is me practicing for bigger things."
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