Welcome to today’s edition of Behind The Boards, the series in which Backseat Mafia sits down with a producer or musician who works primarily in the hip hop or beat tape world to find out what makes them tick. We head over the Canadian border again, to the great city of Toronto, where there is a thriving hip hop scene, and by that, I don’t mean Drake. I’m talking about that grimy, greasy, dirty, scuggzy (I invented a word) and scuzzy underground sound from the streets, real hip hop, created by the strivers, the strugglers, the flippers and the spitters. The truth.
From Da Grassroots to Ghetto Concepts, from Kardinal Offishall, until today, Toronto has produced rap artists who would sit comfortably beside the greatest in the game. Asun Eastwood, Daniel Son and Saipher Soze are three artists who spit with abandon, storytellers who construct graphic odes to the streets, and the hard knock life. Learn their names, people.
The man who gives much of the Toronto underground its gritty sound, a sound like the underbelly of the city itself, is producer Futurewave. Futurewave, along with one of his most frequent collaborators, Daniel Son, also runs Wav. God Music, https://www.wavgodmusic.com/shop In addition, Futurewave has worked with other luminaries of the underground, including Kool Keith, Rome Streetz, Mooch, Rigz, Recognize Ali and Justo The MC. A good example of Futurewave’s aesthetic is the 2018 album, Wav.God. Originally conceived of as a beat tape, the album ended up as a mixtape, featuring hardcore rappers putting in work over the Wav.God’s ominous, yet textured sound.
This interview has been lightly edited for publication. Photo of Futurewave, in the hat, along with his brother in music, Daniel Son, is courtesy of Futurewave.
Backseat Mafia: What inspired you to create music? What inspires you every day to create?
Futurewave: It’s hard to say, because music is something that I’ve loved since I was a young kid. The area I grew up in has a deep history in Toronto hip hop. Ghetto Concept, Red Life & Jellestone are from the same neighborhood I was living in. There is a different type of connection to hip hop when you know that these guys on TV walk the same streets as you do. And back then, hip hop had a certain mystique about it; not just anybody could make music. That really influenced my passion to get involved. I fell in love with creating and it still drives me to this day
BSM: Where is your favorite or usual place to work/create?
FW: My favourite place to create was at the Pressure Cooker studio and at home. But I prefer the studio only because I can have my people there. Some people prefer to create in their own space, I love creating in a social environment.
BSM: Are you a crate digger? Where is your favorite place to dig? It can be a store or a city, or anywhere you like to dig. What was your greatest digging find?
FW: I would consider myself a former crate digger only because I don’t have space in my apartment to hold my records. I haven’t looked for records in a few years, but I have a closet full of vinyl at my mom’s house, from the days I used to go vinyl shopping. My favourite spot would have to be Cosmos Records. It’s a pretty popular vinyl shop in Toronto. But as of right now I don’t discriminate where the sample comes from. As long as the quality of the sample is good, I’ll use it. (Editor’s note: Cosmos Records – https://www.cosmosrecords.ca)
BSM: What tools/hardware do you use when you are creating music or producing a track for someone else?
FW: I’ve used the [Elektron] Octatrack and Aple’s Logic for many years, but I’ve recently been using the [Akai] MPC Live. I also have a few synths to add bass or ambient sounds, to make things interesting.
BSM: What is your favorite piece of audio gear/instrument and why?
FW: I would have to go with the Octatrack because there is nothing else like it on the market for mangling samples. It has a very gritty character that no other machine has, in my opinion. I love that machine. The MPC Live is a dream come true though, too, it just needs a few more improvements for it to fully replace my Octatrack. (Editor’s note: Akai, are you listening?)
BSM: What is the one-non-musical item that you must have with you when you are working?
FW: A Corona beer.
BSM: What track or album are you most proud of? Why?
FW: As of right now, I gotta go with a record called “Human Meteor” off of the new album I have coming out with [Massachusetts rapper] Al Divino “KATAKLIZM”. It’s a gospel loop that I completely mangled. This beat is exactly the reason why I love the Octatrack. Also the song called “Kip Raines,” off of Moonshine Mix 2 with Daniel Son. That’s gotta be one of my most favorite songs. I love the vibe on that one.
BSM: Dream artist or artists to work with?
FW: I would love to build with the RZA, not just in music, but in life. (Editor’s note: If you don’t know who RZA is, man, I can’t help you. Go to the hospital, or something.)
BSM: Favorite artists or artists that you admire, or who influenced you the most?
FW: RZA. There is no other producer in this game that has influenced me more then he has.
BSM: Upcoming project(s)? Give us a scoop!
FW: I got Bite the Bullet with my brothers, Daniel Son and Asun Eastwood, releasing in June. Kataklizm with Al Divino releasing early July.
Selections from the Futurewave catalogue of sound:
Futurewave produced two tracks on the newly released Noise Kandy 4, the forth album in the series from Brooklyn rapper Rome Streetz.
The second Moonshine Mix, with Daniel Son:
2018’s Magnum Opus, and a great introduction to the Futurewave sound:
The 2019 EP with Rome Streetz, Headcrack: