In our latest Journal Entry, we sat down with Comakid, the producer behind SM 96 Future Funk, a futuristic, smooth and soulful collection of organic instrument samples and authentic analog synth and drum machine loops, fusing house, hip-hop, funk, soul, and chillout influences.
Where are you based, and can you describe the local music scene?
I have been living in London for 8 years now. When I was 19, as soon as I finished high school I left my home city, Bologna, and started living and studying here. I attended the Hertfordshire University as an undergraduate student and the Goldsmiths University of London for my Masters Degree. I might be stating the obvious here, but music-wise London is one of the best places to be on earth.
It’s a vivid, pulsating and relentlessly changing environment. I believe that if you are open and curious enough, you will always find new things and sounds to be excited about.
How did you first get into producing?
I come from a classically trained environment. I started studying the piano at the age of 4 and learned drums two years after. Growing up, there was always someone playing an instrument in our home.
My dad also taught me the basics of guitar when I was 8, which I continued playing as a self-taught musician. It is safe to say that because of this, I grew up having what I like to call a “360 degree view” on music. if I look back on it now getting into music production was the most obvious direction to take. At 16, I began playing around with a copy of FL Studio that a friend of mine gave me. I instantly fell in love with the DAW.
What made you want to work on a Future Funk sample pack? What artists/sounds did you draw from for inspiration?
The Future Funk sample pack was an idea I had for quite some time and proposed it to Sample Magic in early 2016. The team seemed enthusiastic with the idea, and I began production immediately afterward.
The sound of the pack is inspired both from old school / retro funk and newer interpretations of the genre from the likes of FKJ, MXWLL, etc. Future Funk is genre that is mainly based on gospel music chord progressions (which are my soft spot). A lot of groove and great attention to the aesthetic of the overall sound is crucial when producing this genre. This instantly resonated with my philosophy, therefore I tried to give it my best shot.
How long did it take you to complete the product from start to finish?
When I am working on a pack I usually work for 5 to 6 week, full time. Future Funk however took me a bit longer given I was obsessed with every minor detail. Thus, taking nearly two months for completion.
How did you prepare yourself mentally, inspiration-wise?
The process for getting inspired is always the same: I try to gather as many musical references as possible relating to the respective genre. I create an extremely ample playlist, which becomes my best friend for the weeks to come. I literally do not listen to anything else but that. This helps me out in two different ways: the first one is on a rational and logical level. In fact, after observing and listening, I analyze all the characteristics that make a genre what it is, music theory-wise and production wise. That includes choice of instruments, techniques, harmony and progressions, “feel,” and attitude. The second way is on a more subconscious level. I think that if you constantly bombard yourself with something, in this case, Future Funk references, you end up absorbing it on a much deeper level, and can allow yourself to be taken over by the music.
Tell us a little about how you sampled, recorded, and processed your gear. What types of techniques did you employ?
One thing I tend to do when working on a pack of this magnitude is making sure I have the right tools for the job. For Future Funk, I was lucky enough to find on eBay a Yamaha DX100 for a reasonable price, meanwhile a friend of mine lent me his Yamaha DX7. Both of the synths are all over the pack and are probably the first synths that come to mind when you mention any funk genre (especially the late 80’s/early 90’s funk styles).
A few other gems that reside in my studio include the Juno 6, the MS20 Mini, Korg Polysix & MonoPoly, Yamaha CS-15, Nord Lead 2x, Roland TR-909, 303, 606 and an old Casiotone 101. I also have a few other cheap sounding toys, which I’ve collected over the years. Another important piece of gear that I used quite often in this sample pack was the electric guitar and a vocoder. I processed a lot of the recordings through my ReVox B77 tape recorder as a preamp. I used the tape recorded merely for aesthetic purposes.
“Future Funk” has quite a unique sound. What makes it so special?
When working on a genre-oriented sample pack such as Future Funk, I try to be as honest and loyal to that genre, as possible. So again, the use of instrumentation and respecting the rules, criteria that have been engaged over decades in that particular genre, might have given lead to these results. But that is not for me to decide!
How did you get everything so sound so tight, and funky?
I am a very tidy person when it comes to music and production (not in my everyday life unfortunately though). So when I get involved with writing and mixing music I take care of every single detail because that’s how I like it to be. Even when something is supposed to sound dirty, gritty or dusty, that’s all intentional.
Another thing that makes the pack fun to listen, and quite playful according to my personal taste, is that one can hear I had a good time producing it. The whole thing was played live (guitar, synths and so on). I avoided programming with a mouse, sitting in front of a computer as much as I could. Of course this is something I had to go through in post-production, but the raw material is the result of hours and hours of jamming around. Again, even if listeners aren’t immediately aware of this, I think that it’s something that becomes evident over time.