Five things you should know about Future Brown

From fortune-telling to South African subgenres, uncover the varied influences of Warp’s supergroup.
Fatima Al Qadiri, J-Cush and Nguzunguzu
Fatima Al Qadiri, J-Cush and Nguzunguzu © Benjamin Alexander Huseby
By Aimee Cliff

If you’re still in the dark, it’s about time you were enlightened to Future Brown. Something of an underground supergroup, the Warp-signed collective is made up of conceptual solo artist Fatima Al Qadiri, Lit City Trax boss J-Cush, and LA duo Nguzunguzu (Asma Maroof and Daniel Pineda).

Together, they make hyperreal club music that’s an ambitious fusion of grime, hip-hop, dancehall, reggaeton and more. For their self-titled debut album, out February 23, they collaborated with a dream roster of MCs and singers, including Kelela, Sicko Mobb, Tink and Ian Isiah.

With so many influences and such an intricate collaboration, they’ve got a whole world just waiting for you to dive into. To scratch the surface, here’s five things we learnt from talking with the group in LA.

Watch the video for Future Brown’s Talkin Bandz in the player below.

© Christelle de Castro

1. They’re built on trust
FAQ: I think collaboration is about trust, ultimately. If you really trust someone, you trust them to make the right decision, and together we really trust and respect each other. Those are the things that I think make collaborations work.

2. Inspiration comes from everywhere
FAQ: For me, the most direct form of inspiration is watching a film. I saw Marina Abramovic’s The Artist Is Present last night, and that was very inspiring, just as a journey as an artist. All the s**t she went through to get to where she is. I feel like, just, as an artist, it’s very important to understand the journey artists from older generations have made and to learn from their journeys. It’s a very valuable lesson. But other than that, I feel like that inspiration – things that you see that inspire you, things that you witness or whatever – they just sit and form a residue in your brain. It just grows. It’s not direct.

3. They’re always looking to the future
DP: We’re really excited to hear new talent, we’re really open to new and up and coming people. My friends are always putting me onto new music, that’s probably the best. Otherwise you’d be on the internet forever. But new music is everywhere you look.

JC: I heard gqom [South African dance genre from Durban] for the first time in late 2013. It’s pretty open-minded beats, there are not too many rules to it, anything goes. It’s like really free music. There’s a lot of power in minimalism. You can see that in some grime as well.

4. Their Vernáculo video challenges commodified beauty
AM: Vernáculo originally was called Sunny, so we had this visual element. We always thought it was like island breeze. We had that visual, maybe on a yacht or whatever – some kind of warm breeze. Sound can really evoke visuals.

FAQ: The [Vernáculo] video originally was the idea of DIS [Magazine], they’re the ones that came up with the idea of making it into a beauty commercial, and a foundation commercial. As a playful critical analysis of the bogus world of beauty, and this idea of universal foundations. If you’ve ever used foundation, you know that foundation is not universal... your skin tone is ‘sunset peach’, or whatever. You have to conform. It’s like buying clothes that are like, size zero or size 10, or whatever. It’s mass-produced. Human bodies are not mass-produced. They’re not production-line replicas – we don’t have the same skin tones or sizes or whatever. The beauty industry is trying to sell you this false idea, false notions about beauty based on a fake science. There are so many lies in the beauty industry.

J: They define what beautiful is.

Looking to the future with Future Brown
Looking to the future © Benjamin Alexander Huseby

5. Fatima could read your fortune
FAQ: I personally prefer not to think about the future. The only fun part, for me, of thinking about the future is fortune-telling. I read fortunes too. I really enjoy fortune-telling as thinking about the future, but it’s still something that’s like a form of entertainment. Actually making speculations or announcing your fears about the future I feel like is almost a dangerous activity.

I actually haven’t [read the fortunes of the other Future Brown members], we’re too busy working. But I’ll do it at some point, when we have a whole day off.

Future Brown are on Facebook.

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