Here’s a quick look at how I made this future funk sounding beat. I was going for a Bruno Mars 24K vs The Neptunes vs Timbaland kind of vibe. I also tried to add in some synth sounds influenced by some of my favourite more modern electronic producers like Madeon to spice it up.
To start this beat I began with a wah wah guitar part. This became the initial groove of the song that I built the rest of the beat around. It’s a simple repeating pattern that outlines an Eb5 chord. I chose this because I wanted to go for a more soul/jazz influenced minor 9 sound for the eventual full main riff.
The guitar tone was a patch from Guitar Rig (fig 1 below). The wah wah sound is the guitar tone made famous by Jimi Hendrix in Voodoo Chile. I played the part in on my Fender Telecaster.
Underneath the wah part I then wanted to add some guitar chords to keep the organic funk feeling. Here I played in a part that followed the wah wah guitar rhythm but with some 2 note voicings that outlined a C minor chord at various points. Again this was with a plan to create an eventual Fm9 sound which I was looking for once the bass came in.
I double tracked the guitars and used a preset I love in Guitar Rig called ‘Super Clean Funk’. With the doubles laid down I panned them hard left and right to create lots of width in the mix. (fig 2 below)
Ear Candy Guitar
The final guitar part I added was more of an ear candy type of idea. Ear candy is a phrase you hear a lot in music production to describe little tricks or sound ‘candy’ that are thrown into a production to add the final layer of excitement to the mix. For this beat I used a held guitar note on a high G with a pretty cool Guitar Rig patch called ‘Orbiting Berlin’.
I also added some bitcrushing for high sparkle and some stereo delay. It’s also worth mentioning before moving on that all the guitars went through Waves R Axx which is great to add early in the fx chain to mimic some of the studio compression you might get in an old mixing desk.
For the drum part I mainly used Boi1da’s brilliant drum samples. You can check them out here. Although I often start with a drum rack in Ableton and then separate the individual drum hits out, to save time here and because I liked the sound I had off the bat, I just kept them in a drum rack and effected them together. Here’s a quick look at the Drum Bus plugin chain.
Bass – a quick bit of harmony
For the bass I recorded in my trusty Lakland DJ5 mainly playing on a root note of F. This creates the Fm9 sound I was looking for. You can hear this effect if you listen back to the Youtube video above. When you just hear the initial guitars alone it sounds like this could be quite a Eb major or Cmin riff.
The bass guitar changes all of this by converting the C minor sounds of the guitar parts into an Fm9 chord. (fig 5 below)
If we’re being totally accurate the Fm11 is actually ‘missing’ the low minor 3rd (Ab) to be a complete Fm11. But as always it’s ultimately what sounds good in the mix and production that matters.
The Keys Sounds
The final parts I added to the beat were some synth chords on the Nord 2X and some VSTs to back up the Fm9 sound.
The first VST was an Arturia Prophet V
Then I added in a second layer of some Rhodes with the brilliant Soniccouture EP73.
The final part of the main puzzle was to add in some very subtle sidechaining using the old faithful Kickstart plugin by Dutch house producer Nicky Romero. Although the kick is actually not a 4/4 pattern I decided the chords sounded cooler with a slight pumping happening on the 4/4 as well as some sidechaining off the main kick part.
Hope you enjoyed these vibes! Let me know what you think in the comments.