Welcome to the Utopia District Podcast! Today, we have a special guest who will take us on a funkadelic musical journey that will have you grooving in your seats. That’s right, we have none other than the Scottish future funk producer, Mélonade!
Not only is Mélonade a master of funk, but he’s also a game developer! He’s been busy cooking up a storm on Steam, and his indie game is set to blow your mind (if you like fishing!) We loved hearing about the inspiration behind the game and the challenges he faced in its development, as well as his new upcoming game for hoverboard/skateboard game!
With the sold out cassette for Mélonade’s latest album “From the Heart”, the vinyl is set to drop on April 14th, and let me tell you, it looks gorgeous! The vinyl release promises to transport you to a disco wonderland with its mesmerizing vibes.
And while we’re on the topic of exciting developments, join us as we dive into the latest advancements from OpenAI, including updates on ChatGPT, Bing, and other interesting new developments!
But before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s sit back, relax, and let the music take over. We’ll be listening to some of Mélonade’s latest tracks, as well as some other funky tracks, so put on your dancing shoes, turn up the volume, and let’s get grooving with Mélonade!
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On today’s episode our conversation revolves around YouTube and the creators that played a crucial role in the continued life and ongoing exploration of the Vaporwave genre. We discuss the extent of YouTube’s place in the cultural resurgence of the g…
Welcome to the Utopia District Podcast! Today, we have a special guest who will take us on a funkadelic musical journey that will have you grooving in your seats. That’s right, we have none other than the Scottish future funk producer, Mélonade!
Welcome to the Utopia District Podcast! Explore with us the numerous facets of the internet that we have forgotten over time. Remember the day when you could customise your desktop and use special media players? We talk about how these things are now…
ElectroniCON is an incredibly important event for the vaporwave and adjacent communities. Presented by George Clanton of 100% Electronica, ElectroniCON 3 was a pilgrimage that brought vaporwave fans together from all over the globe, to Brooklyn NY on Aug…
If there’s one aspect that is definitive to vaporwave, it’s nostalgia. The same goes for synthwave, future funk, and all those genres that came to be with the ‘80s revival that has been going on in the last few years. All of these genres are defined, at least partly, as being a sort of lamentation for the loss of certain aspects of culture: fashions, certain sound tropes, certain places, and the general feeling of novelty there was towards technology. But more than grieving them, these genres celebrate those aspects, presenting them with a sleek coat of varnish so as to show them in a new context.
But the fact remains that these genres were born as a way to seek familiarity. It’s not terribly unlike what one might go through after they’ve lost a close relative. One might find themselves going through their belongings, remembering the times spent together, and later, trying to re-experience their presence. A cardigan with that special scent, a wristwatch only for special occasions, the uniform worn to work for so long. The same thing happens with culture; one might find themselves looking for these “talismans,” because their absence is simply too painful. In being defined by nostalgia, all the aforementioned genres are defined by loss. Music, among all art-forms, is reproducible in ways that no other artform is, and thus, can be revived more easily
Which brings us to the album in question. What better genres to explore loss, regret, and, of course, the acceptance and optimism for the future, than these? Where else might one find this kind of respite? In a statement for UD, Strawberry Station told us:
“It’s a story of how I processed living through the pandemic and lockdown on my own in a foreign country. It covers all the emotions I’ve been through in the past two years – isolation, depression, loneliness, and regrets about missed experiences. But also acceptance, hope and optimism for the future.”
Strawberry Station presents the listener with an album that is, by his own admission, a departure from his body of work. Lowlight 2 is a multi-genre affair, notably distant (for the most part) from his usual future funk. Apropos to what inspired it, the album has a very wide range of emotions, with very distinguishable passages of melancholia. The whole project is imbued with a lingering feeling of lethargy, which at times becomes much more apparent. Certainly, a feeling that will come across as all too familiar. But, as we’ll see later in the album, this is not a permanent state of being. And that, above all things, is the most important one to take away from this project.
Now then, on to the album!
Album Art By Strawberry Station
(As the tracklist was not finalized during the review process, the final tracklist differs from what is presented below.)
“Yes, No, Maybe”
Somewhat reminiscent in form and feeling of HOME’s Resonance. It fills the listener with a sensation like looking out the window of a spaceship. The repetition of the main “phrase” of the synth creates a sensation of calm wonder, a sort of relaxed uncertainty.
“Things You Can’t Fix”
The closest in sound to Strawberry Station’s former work that the album gets. The song opens with a robust bass section, punctuating with a playful “Oh well!” It’s a very stark (yet friendly) declaration of powerlessness. It’s a call to snap out of a funk and spring into action regardless of bad circumstances, which is very appropriate. This track marks the start of an emotional high in the album, if placed a bit early. This peak is signaled not by the tune, but by the beat.
The strongest song in the album. The beat in this track is decidedly in the trap side, which is then balanced by the synths, which keep it “on topic”. Strawberry Station noted this album marks his debut on the vocal section, and he does so outstandingly. Combining soft, harmonic passages with strong rhymes, he states, in very succinct terms, what he wants this whole project to be: “I’m staying right where I am, and I’m still here, under cloudier skies.”
A combination of the first and third track. Much more emphasis is placed on the beat, similar to a french house track. The feeling of uncertainty from before is explored again, in a much more confident manner. The vocals remain soft, as they were in “Still Here”, so as to signal the stability the artist had found and which inspired the creation of the album.
With certain shades of Trevor Something and Slick Moranis, the new sound grows more and more confident, this time entering the realm of synthwave. Of particular note are the vocals, which demonstrate how in his element Strawberry Station is with the genre. The faster pace and the lyrics match the title of the song, which continues the line of thought presented in the last track.
“Stay With Me”
In a marked change of moods, the album goes from synthwave to lo-fi. The title speaks of a separation, a plea of sorts. Which is, again, very appropriate to the subject. So as to not lose unity, the synths from the first tracks are reprised, and the sweet and playful voice sample used drives the point home in an almost painfully pretty way. It’s almost as if one were hearing the voice of a loved one in their mind.
“See The Sunrise (Ft. Phaun)”
The second cheeriest track in the album by far. If the rest of the album was an exploration of present circumstances, See The Sunrise is the setting of a goal and a promise for the future: Eventually things will be better. The song states this with complete calm and conviction. It’s reminiscent of Macross 82-99’s “Aogashima Island.”
The mood changes once more rather drastically, this time into vaportrap. While not increasing speed, the song is very focused, as if made in a moment of pure inspiration. The vocals also change into something one might expect from the later works of Chester Bennington, only softer, so as to retain unity with the rest of the album. The most dramatic song in the album. While short and focused, it has a clear feeling of tension not seen throughout the rest of the album. It imbues the listener with the feeling of taking a big decision.
“My Oh My”
“My Oh My” feels like the climax of the album. It is the cheeriest track, and, in following with the themes explored throughout the album, speaks of a bright future waiting past the current hardship. In contrast with “See the Sunrise”, “My Oh My” speaks as if it were already in said future. Compared to the rest of the album, it’s relentlessly happy and playful. It would feel out of place in the album, were it not for the drums and beat, which keep the song in the context of the rest of the project.
“Filling In the Gaps”
Sounding like an early Aphex Twins track, “Filling In the Gaps” is once again a combination of the moods of two previous tracks. Here, the listener is presented with the focus of “Peace,” combined with the careful confidence of “Comeback Kid.” While one of the shortest tracks, it serves as a bridge between the earlier fantasies and real life.
We see some of the ideas explored earlier in the album revisited here. We have the vocals from “Comeback Kid”, the “call to action” feeling of “Things You Can’t Fix”, plus the addition of guitars and the fastest beat in the album. So as to cement its point, the album begins to close with this invitation to be optimistic while reminding that looking on the bright side means acting upon the things one is optimistic about.
“Bright Side (Reprieve)”
Finally, we reach the end of the album, which restates what Bright Side did, but shifts the pitch of the melody, giving it a sense of finality. But most importantly, so as to make its conclusion clear, the track restates (while lending the vocals more protagonism) what mattered most in the last track, and what is ultimately the whole point of the album: “we cannot erase the past, it’s a losing game”.
You can grab a copy of this cassette here from Business Casual Starting 9/17!
And so the album ends, in stark contrast to its hesitant opening, with complete confidence. This album shows us a more integral artist, molded by circumstances into a richer, more versatile musician. While certain passages feel slightly less confident than the others, the project manages to remain a cohesive story, and states its point loud and clear. This project, in line with the genres defined earlier, is defined by loss, but more so than loss, the will to overcome and dream of a better future.
There are a few albums that may come to mind when thinking of future funk “staples”: Yung Bae’s BAE, Desired’s self-titled record and Night Tempo’s Pure Present to name a few. However, if there was a record I’d recommend to someone who asked me “what is future funk?” without a doubt it would be CHAM! by マクロスMACROSS 82-99 (now known as MACROSS 82-99).
The album keeps your attention from start to finish, and manages to take risks while still remaining true to the roots of the genre. Wispy, bubblegum 80s pop melodies, trap beats and even catchy synth leads make it into 14 tracks of vaporwave (and vaporwave adjacent) fun.
Those expecting a typical “by the numbers” future funk might be surprised, as house, future bass and even remnants of lofi hip-hop show their face on the album. It was a breath of fresh air during a time where every future funk artist seemed to have another remix of Mariya Takeuchi’s “Plastic Love.”
From the very start of the album, it’s obvious MACROSS 82-99 was trying to break out of the future funk cliché. You have to remember, this album came out in 2015, what one might consider a make-or-break point for future funk. Many artists were starting to shift away from the plunderphonics roots of the genre and beginning to form their own sounds. Tracks such as “Rainbow Roads (feat. Timid Soul)”, “Peach (feat. Diana Shroomy)”, and “Whispy Woods/Game Over (feat. Strider Kun)” would fit better on a future bass record rather than future funk. Cutesy melodies and video game samples layered over trap beats capture MACROSS 82-99’s bubbly anime aesthetic very well. Though not the expected sort of stuff, it’s a welcome breath of fresh air.
CHAM! includes plenty of traditional future funk fare for those looking to groove. “Miss Macross” is a fun, bouncy track that’ll have you dancing and singing along for its entirety – lots of feel-good bass, horns and vocals. “I Miss You (w ローマンRoman)” and “Perfect Blue” show a more sentimental, bittersweet and melodic side of future funk, with lots of interesting chops on the latter. “Fun Tonight”, one of the most recognizable songs in the whole of the genre, perfectly encapsulates the essence of future funk: an unforgettable melody, a fantastic singalong, and plenty of retro influence to distinguish it from its french house cousin.
If there was a downside to this album, it would be that CHAM! isn’t exactly cohesive. There are a few outliers on the record: “Dark City”, while good, is a jarringly ominous track considering the rest of the album is so damn upbeat and fun. “Lost Without You”, is an interesting nod to lo-fi hip-hop, but it’s short and seems unfinished. However, while there are a couple duds, the good tracks are great, and more than make up for it. CHAM! is a must-listen for any vaporwave fan. It represents an interesting time for future funk. Producers were learning as they went along, finding out what does and doesn’t work for the genre and CHAM! is a prime example of that in the best way possible.
Taking an old piece of music and reworking it to become something new and exciting again is a beautiful thing – art within art. That’s where much of the appeal for future funk and vaporwave in general lies; Its ability to conjure up nostalgic feelings, thoughts and perhaps even memories that didn’t exist in the first place. While CHAM! might be unpredictable in its overall sound, it’s a testament to this weird and wonderful thing we call internet music — an ode to the producer. If you have even a passing interest in future funk, vaporwave, or french house, give CHAM! from MACROSS 82-99 a spin.
Nanami Blitz’s debut project shows off a style that speaks to the artist’s skill as a producer. Future funk may controversially be considered by some to be low-effort (a discussion for another day), but this musician makes it clear that the genre can be as skillful as it wants, and accepts this wholeheartedly; in fact, acceptance is a strong theme throughout the album. A smooth opening into a suite of equally charming tracks — followed by an obligatory burst of hyperactive energy that all future funk needs a little bit of. The album ends with another relatively calm set that maintains the catchiness proudly upheld throughout the release while providing a satisfying winding-down to follow the energetic climax. Keep an eye out for Nanami Blitz’s special brand of future funk in the coming months. Infused with dreamy smoothness, it’s sure to please anybody who loves the style, but just doesn’t have the energy to keep up with a 24/7 sugar high.
Favorite Track: °˖✧(*/_＼) CAUGHT CROSS DRESSING AT 3 AM😢✧˖°
The famed nu disco / future funk artist with a disco ball for a head joins the Disco Forever lineup to bring their brilliant sound to this rockin’ festival. Between the deluge of phenomenal remixes to their name, or the myriad of original tracks, Discoholic always delivers where it counts: catchiness. Look no further than recent singles “Discadance,” or the remix of Mere’s “Draw The Line” if you don’t believe us.
Owner of Montaime, the disco-centric label, as well as being one of the most recognizable names in future funk, Fibre is responsible for many of the genres very best. With appearances on their own Montaime, as well as Business Casual, and Coraspect, they’ve been involved with many of vaporwave’s best and brightest labels. With tracks dating all the way back to 2014, Fibre represents one of the elder-statesmen of future funk, and for good reason.
With appearances on Fibre’s Montaime, Tiger Blood, and Business Casual, the Boston-based Mere Notilde has accrued quite the following. Look no further than their patreon for proof of this, where they release a track a week to a devoted fanbase. With a unique, more eclectic chopping style, Mere’s music is particularly adept at getting up in your face, and encouraging you to dance. And in future funk, there’s no higher compliment than that.
Music producer, co-founder of the Skyline Collective, and co-presenter of Disco Forever, ED. (also known as Elektric Dreams) is a well known figure in future funk. Hailing from Miami, Florida, ED. has been dropping fresh tunes since 2015, and their latest album Enter The Night released on My Pet Flamingo in mid 2020. They’ve also inspired countless others to begin their musical journey by sharing their wealth of knowledge and experience with the community via a sizable number ofvideo tutorials on YouTube.
Tampa based Future Funk Monthly is a DJ and curator of (surprise!) future funk music. True to their name, they’ve been releasing mixes of what they consider to be the best future funk tracks produced every single month since 2016. No stranger to live performances, they’ve DJ’ed at events like Aessential and Flamingo Fest, and are sure to bring the heat as usual to Disco Forever.
A member of Kawaii Bass and Nightfall Collective, this Toronto based DJ/Producer is a relatively new addition to the future funk scene. Their debut album, 5!ve 5tar -featuring collabs with the likes of DUCAT and Tokyo Wanderer- dropped on cassette via Neoncity Records earlier this year, and has made a strong showing. Infusing the sound of vaporwave and future funk with elements of trap and hip hop, it’s clear that Pan!c Pop has a bright and funky future ahead of them.
With instantly recognizable branding, (the titular “Mélon”) the Scottish-based Mélonade offers some impressively unique takes on future funk. With their heavy emphasis on driving rhythms and chops, Mélonade’s the creator of some truly one-of-a kind future funk. This includes releases that dabble in genres you don’t often see overlap with future funk, such as mallsoft on the brilliant Dream Plaza. This experimentation allows for brilliant soundscapes you can’t find anywhere else in the scene.
Between their deluge of releases, booming patreon, or written pieces for the now defunct Private Suite magazine, Strawberry Station’s name has been plastered all across the scene for years. Between appearances on First Class Collective, Coraspect, Gulf Audio Company, My Pet Flamingo, and even more, it’s an understatement to describe Strawberry Station as prolific. And that’s to say nothing of the now legendary video that closed their WAVEPOOL set in 2020.
Living and working in Mexico, Rhodes Rodosu has been putting out infectiously dance-able future funk singles and compilations with their signature chopping technique since 2016. Rather than define themselves by a single genre, though, they’ve also recently branched out with their latest self-released EP Aeris, full of sample-free compositions. Whatever the style, you can be sure their music will get you moving.
Though they started out with a focus on vaportrap in 2015, Cobalt Road has since evolved into an accomplished future funk and disco producer in the intervening years, appearing on labels like DMT Tapes FL, Business Casual, and Montaime Records. From their home in Orlando, Florida, they appeared in some of 2020’s biggest live events, such as We <3 DMT and WAVEPOOL. With plans to showcase all new music for Disco Forever, it’s clear that the best is yet to come.
Catch us as we raid All Hell Breaks Loops’ Twitch channel around 12:30PM EST on Satuday. He’ll be offering up some excellent visual material to be sure! Follow on Twitch below! He’s also open for commissions at the below email. firstname.lastname@example.org
All Hell Breaks Loops takes an analog informed workflow to digital media. The “ghosts in the machine” are put to work using techniques spanning machine learning, networked video transmission, bespoke shaders and upscaled visualizers. These techniques are combined with an aesthetic that acknowledges the legacy of the past, the promise of the future, and the reality of the dystopian present.
SquizzleKop is a Multimedia Artist currently specializing in Audiovisual work. Based out of Tampa, Florida, their work utilizes a mixture of creative coding techniques as well as traditional video editing to try and tap into the heart of a subject, regardless of what it is, in order to make it flow on screen. From the very big projects down to the super small edits you can tell there’s a
little kiss of love in there.
SleepPattern is a Seattle-based cursed image curator and analog / digital hybrid hardware visual artist with a concentration on found footage, glitch, and video synthesis. Performing for just over three years now, they first fell into the art form after finding old public access television equipment while rummaging at an estate sale. It was all downhill from there. Aside from creating moving images and other TV Wizardry, they enjoy creating DIY hardware, collecting older cameras for use with their work, and pushing for a VHS revival. If they were a hot dog, they would indeed eat themselves.
A visualist that lives for the thrill of finding that which has come before and making it brand new again. Look no further than Carbon Copy’s Youtube channel, to get a look at an extensive number of visual experiments and more recently, music videos, as proof of this. Between their use of distortion and visual sampling, Copy’s visuals are sure to be a boon for Disco Forever!
You need look no further than Moirebender’s instagram to get an idea for what their visuals are all about. With a particular emphasis on hypnotic swirling vistas, the only thing more impressive than their magnetic visual style is the array of incredible colors they are able to imbue in each and every piece. Just make sure you don’t stare at any of the pieces of art for too long!
Producer, dirtector, journalist, audio engineer, video artist, and more, Indy is the founder of Utopia District and is an irreplaceable member of the vaporwave scene. He’s produced / directed award winning short films / documentaries, worked as an editor for MTV Canada, and regards storytelling as the most important asset in the filmmaking toolkit. This love for the medium and a keen eye carry forth in the incredible, meticulous visuals he crafts for sets.
A digital artist, M▲XΣMUS is able to weave fantastical visual landscapes out of recognizable faces. Between the utilization of clip art, and a natural sense for marvelous color schemes, M▲XΣMUS is able to turn familiar images or ideas into almost completely alien concepts. This transformative nature is especially well suited to vaporwave, providing a brand new means of exploring nostalgia.
Prenoko is a visualist all about the “here and now.” To this point they have preferred to creat visuals live alongside the performance, so as to capture the visceral nature that music affords. Disco Forever will actually represent a first for Prenoko, as this event represents the first time they have crafted visuals for a pre-recorded set. Join us in our excitement to see how this change in approach translates to the festivities!
Music producer, co-founder of the Skyline Collective, and co-presenter of Disco Forever, ED. (also known as Elektric Dreams) is a well known figure in future funk. Hailing from Miami, Florida, ED. has been dropping fresh tunes since 2015, and their latest album Enter The Night released on My Pet Flamingo in mid 2020. They’ve also inspired countless others to begin their musical journey by sharing their wealth of knowledge and experience with the community via a sizable number of video tutorials on YouTube.
Vaporwave culture, art, and community website. Showcasing the wonderous offerings the vaporwave community has to offer. Complete with Podcast, Art Exhibit and Index, Events Tracking Page, Articles and Reviews, and much more.
After ravenously listening to as much vaporwave as he possibly could for years, gbanas92 eventually decided to do something with all that passion, contributing a number of articles to Private Suite Magazine before its unfortunate closure.
This led to his joining up with the Utopia District team, to continue to writing about vaporwave about as much as humanly possible. Reviews, news, and anything in between. When he’s not listening to vaporwave, something that happens admittedly rarely, he is probably playing PlayStation way more than he should. Either that or watching hockey.
3D Artist, video artist, and DJ. All Hell Breaks Loops is quickly gaining a reputation for the best vaporwave afterparties and livestreams around. Time and again raising the bar in the vapor visuals community! They have worked with countless vaporwave and future funk artists bringing their music to life through the visual medium: Sound Market, Tupperwave, and Saint Pepsi
They are also the resident VJ at Pacific Plaza Records’ VIRTUAL MEMORY events, and host their own Twitch channel you should definitely check out.
Creator and collector of vaporwave artifacts; formerly lead editor at Private Suite Magazine; editor, writer, & admin at Utopia District and Arcology Online. On a mission to drift and compile across the wide and deep wave.
A netizen since Web 1.0, cerulea_d.lux seeks to illuminate all the corners of vaporwave and bring its treasures and their creators into the spotlight. As a long time fan of all things chill, utopian, and lo-fi, they proudly lend their support to Utopia District in bringing Disco Forever to life.
An experienced DJ and future funk enthusiast, icelevel’s passion for obscure music knows no bounds! A new member of the team, he has opted to leverage that passion into managing Utopia District’s social media. And he even chips in some writing with the occasional review.