Interviews

Yung Bae Brings Future Funk to Wynwood

Future funk producer Yung Bae
Future funk producer Yung Bae Photo by Bailey Sondag
With electronic music pumping through its veins, the Magic City is a welcoming place for future-funk producer Yung Bae (AKA Dallas Cotton).

"We were there for Music Week and Art Basel," shares Cotton, who opened for Zedd during Miami Art Week and hosted a Yung Bae & Friends set during Miami Music Week. "Miami takes my soul every time."

Cotton returns to Miami with a full-production show in tow as part of his Groove Continental Tour, which stops at Oasis Wynwood on Friday, October 7. Other alternative electronic heavy-hitters on the bill include Saint Pepsi and Vantage, plus Washed Out and Roosevelt delivering DJ sets.

Hailing from Portland, Oregon, and now living in Los Angeles, the 28-year-old producer has pioneered the name Yung Bae in the future funk genre with his internet-famous albums, including the Bae five-part series, the first of which debuted in 2014, and the Japanese Disco Edits series.

The 1970s and '80s Japanese city-pop genre — which includes a fusion of styles such as funk, boogie, jazz, disco, soul, and Polynesian — found its way back into the internet mainstream in the early 2010s. Discovering the genre through YouTube recommendations (you might have seen the track "Plastic Love" being suggested on your sidebar with the captivating thumbnail featuring a fun, monochromatic portrait of Mariya Takeuchi), Cotton began using samples from city-pop songs which set in motion future funk as an upbeat subgenre of vaporwave, alongside other producers such as Saint Pepsi, Macross 82-99, and Flamingosis.

Cotton is diving back into working independently after signing with Arista Records (a sublabel of Sony Music) in 2019, but admits the record deal was a positive experience. 

"I know a lot of people look at the label experience as a horrible red flag off the get-go, which obviously there's a track record there somewhere, but they were great to me," Cotton shares. "I had these extra tools, resources, opportunities, and access to features I've never had in my life."
Released in March, Cotton's latest album, Groove Continental: Side A, is a funkier, fresh twist on his usual city pop/disco edits with the addition of prominent artist features, including Channel Tres, Earth Gang, John Batiste, and Awolnation.

"Everybody on [Groove Continental: Side A] is someone I'm a fan of, first and foremost," he says. "So I've been trying to push that agenda more than just, 'Oh, let's get that pop-bag.' I love their project, and that's what I had in mind."

The album also marked a new sampling process for Cotton, often called interpolation. He works with studio musicians to recreate samples of his choice instead of obtaining permission to use a sample from record labels, music publishers, and artists.

"It sounds really identical, and it gives you the fun added part of having the original stems of this project. It creates all these new avenues," Cotton shares. "It allows me room to explore and express myself more, especially when it comes to sampling. The amount of days where I'll be digging for samples, and I'll be like, 'Yes, wow, one, two, three, perfect,' and the fourth bar will just be terrible. And now I can just fill that void and do what I want."

Cotton's upcoming releases include Groove Continental's side B, plus a record titled Back to the Classics that promises to sound more like his "old-but-new Yung Bae mixtapes."

Working with his team, Cotton is setting up a fresh new look to the Yung Bae universe and hopes it might get him and his music into new ventures such as video games or fashion. With a recent wardrobe purge and meetings with a stylist, Cotton's latest looks are inspired by '60s fashion, such as knit polos and loafers.

"I want to do fun capsule collections versus just merch. I see Billie Eilish and Gucci, and that shit's so cool," he notes. "I need the Gap Kids collab: Yung by Bae."

Yung Bae. With Washed Out, Roosevelt, Saint Pepsi, and Vantage. 7 p.m. Friday, October 7, at Oasis Wynwood, 2335 N. Miami Ave., Miami; oasiswynwood.com. Tickets cost $25 to $85 via tixr.com.
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Catherine Toruño is a music and arts writer from West Kendall. She enjoys sustainable fashion, attending local music shows, and exploring Miami on her bike.

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