NewTracks New Artist: Silas Futura

NewTracks New Artist: Silas Futura

Moving along from his previous project Bobandii, Auckland hip hop artist and producer Silas McClintock emerged under the new name Silas Futura in 2017, and has since released two albums, featuring, among others, local hip hop star CHAII. His new single Precious featured on NZ On Air Music‘s NewTracks compilation this February.

What’s your given name, where are you from and how do you make your music?

I’m Silas McClintock, I was born in Pakari and I grew up around the Mahurangi region. I play the keys, make beats and sing. I reckon DAWs are instruments as much as any other, so I play Logic haha. 

Was any high school or other music training especially important to you?

No, not really. I never got into the music curriculum at school. I did play a lot of guitar when I was home schooled from like, 9 years-old to 13. Me and my mates had a band, and we busked together. But there was never any structured learning. Not that I’m against it at all, it really works for some people, but I really enjoy tinkering and figuring stuff out through trial and error. 

Any other previous (or current) projects might we know you from?

Hot Knives is another project I’ve worked on. I was the lead singer in the band, alongside some of the most talented instrumentalists I’ve ever met. We started hanging around 2017, and we recorded an EP together. It was crazy actually; we had this insane underground following that came to our shows – they were always packed out, even before we released music. It was really something special. That band definitely shaped a lot of my style and sound today. 

Also, Nada Daff – a relatively new project made up of people from all over NZ. I think the first album had over 10 collaborators, and I produced the beats for that project and did some vocals too. Special shout out to Ebony Grace who wrote some of the most fire loops on that tape too. We’re all still making music together.

What’s the background story of how Silas Futura came to be? 

I used to make music under the name Bobandii, and I went so hard with that project. I was relentless, working non-stop to get my music out there. And I still look back and admire that side of myself, but it burnt me out big time. I went into hibernation after the Running Handshake Tour and reflected on why I was making music in the first place. I knew I needed it to survive, but I never let myself have the space to acknowledge that. 

So, in that time period, my style started changing, I was making totally new beats and they felt way more like me – if that makes sense. I wanted the whole thing to be more genuine, like from every corner looking in you could see me in it. Nothing larger than life. So, I wanted to use my own name. I love sci-fi and creating story worlds. So Futura just made sense. 

How has your music evolved from your beginnings in songwriting to now?

It’s pretty buzzy, I was listening to the earlier stuff the other day and I could still see so many similarities to how I write today. But in terms of the music, it’s kind of like I spread out as thin as possible, to try as many things as I possibly could in the earlier days, and now it’s all refining into something. It’s really hard to say specifically how it’s changed, I just know it’s getting tighter with every project.

Aside from this release, what’s been the big highlight to date?

Damn, so many. I can’t even think of what would be the big one. Recently working on my EP at Red Bull Studios with my friends who I look up to so much has been huge. That was like two weeks in nirvana. 

What makes Precious stand out for you as a single?

I think the fact that SmokeyGotBeatz and I started working on it in 2017/2018, and it’s still so great to us today. Most stuff loses its novelty when you’re working on music. It’s great for two months, and then it’s just average. But that song was always a standout to me, after all these years. Those are the special ones. 

What’s the story behind Precious?

I met Smoke at Roundhead when I was recording Nazarite in 2017 and we hit it off. We chilled a bit after that, exchanging beats and writing. And then we went off and did our own thing for a few years, catching up in between. I was writing from a place where I needed to let go of what I wanted the world to be like and just accept it for what it is. It’s precious.

I don’t want to sound corny but there’s magic in every day, the lows lead to highs, and fuck they feel good when you sit in them. We’re so blessed in so many ways, and we forget it. It’s so dope working with Smoke as well, I look up to him heaps and I’m super inspired by his work. It’s pretty cool to have homies that you look up to. I can say that for pretty much everyone I have surrounded myself with now. Which is that precious shit! 

What’s your favourite moment, musical or lyrical, of the single?

Musical, almost always. Nothing beats stumbling across a really good chorus, but for the most part, all of my joy comes from making the beats, playing the keys. That’s where I get lost and my brain is quiet. 

To add onto the story of Precious, Smoke and I caught up at Red Bull Studios to record. I was nervous as, so I skulled like four Red Bulls which was a super bad call. I was pinging, and real jittery. I could barely record a take because of how much adrenaline was exploding out of me. But Ben Lawson, the engineer – he brought me down. He’s king of the AKL behind the scenes as far as I’m concerned. So talented at his work, and so easy to get along with. I want to see the list of the work he’s done, because I feel he’s had a part to play in a huge chunk of what’s happening in NZ music at the moment. 

What would you like listeners to take away from this song?

I don’t know to be honest. They can take what they want. Something I’ve learnt over time is it’s not really my role to control the experience. I can only make it dope to me. 

How do you generally work out what song would make a good single?

It’s usually like what happened with Precious, if something stays dope for years, or at least a really long time, I know that it’s worth putting out. Single, B-sides – they are the same. I’m proud of all the work I put out, and all the songs have stood the test of time before they are released.

Who else is in your team?

There are so many people involved in this project now. It went from one person to heaps of collaborators very quickly. I consider every collaborator a part of Silas Futura. This is a good chance to say thank you to my people in my circle.

Thank you to my friends, Ezra, Michael, Mikey and JY for tracking my music from demos in Logic to a fully flared band. You guys are so talented you make it look effortless. 

Thank you to Smoke, you’re a real one man. Precious is what it is because of your input and attention to detail. Thanks for backing a Mahurangi kid. 

Thank you to Benji Taylor, my creative brother and the only one crazy enough to start a business with me. You’ve always been in my corner since we started chilling, and I’m so much healthier and stronger because of it. Thank you for filming the dopest music video of 2020. Thank you to the Benjineer for taking the project to the next level, co-producing the tracks with the band, mixing and mastering the project, and being a general meme lord in the process. You’re a genius man.

Thank you to Fable, Tei, and PollyHill for being involved in making the songs amazing. Your vocals show me up on every song and I love it. A special thank you to PollyHill for being in the studio the whole time we were producing and being an even bigger meme lord than Ben. That was so much fun. 

Thank you Mere, my manager. She was there for the creation of Silas Futura. She helped refine my style and encouraged me to be myself, to take pride in my whakapapa, and to confidently speak my mind. 

Thank you to Nancy Blackler, my publicist. So warm and insightful. Also encouraged me to take pride in my heritage and helped me believe that my story was worth telling. 

Thank you to my family who have been in my corner since day one, even though I looked like an idiot who didn’t know what they were doing. You guys are my biggest inspiration.

Can you please name three other local tunes that would fit well on a playlist alongside yours.

  • Fable: 298
  • Keith: Backyard
  • ImugiWandering Recluse

There’s many more – I will make a playlist at some point! 

Have any previous NZOA applications not gained funding or been included on New Tracks? Got any advice for others out there? 

I got turned down heaps! For years! Keep pushing, keep trying. Remember it’s not personal, imagine trying to select a few songs out of hundreds every month – far, that would be so tough! You’ll get there. Just keep making the music you love; people will pick up on it.

Was there an NZOA criterion you struggled with in the application? How did you work it out in the end?

There was a few, mainly numbers ones – which I mean, gummon, they can be cheated. You can buy followers now – which is just a race to the bottom. But NZOA has been doing some great work to help the funding become more accessible for entry. It’s changed so much even in a year. Ka pai, NZOA keep up the great work and evolution. 

Are there any musical blogs, Youtube channels or podcasts you’re super into?

Everybody should listen to Hahko Meets Humans. I’m not biased because it happens in my studio, I was just exposed to it early. Isaac McFarlane is doing some amazing work, and the musicians he interviews are some really interesting people who mostly don’t have many interviews out there yet. I’m telling you it’s magic. Stop reading this. Go listen to that. Seriously.

Who did you make the video with?

I made the music video with Benji Taylor, my creative brother. We started our studio together, and we work on almost everything together. He’s a wizard, for real. He can do so many things well that it’s insulting. I love him, and I’m very lucky to have him in the band.

Any last words?

Go cause a ruckus. The world’s better off for it.

New Tracks is a compilation of new music from New Zealand artists which is distributed to broadcast and online platforms on the first of each month. Previously the Kiwi Hit Disc, New Tracks is one of the ways that New Zealand On Air promotes Kiwi music to the industry, radio, streaming services, and media. To apply for New Tracks you must have a completed, airplay-ready song and a promotional plan.