Future Roots is a music label and production company that has been an integral part of Edmonton's electronic music scene for over a decade, known for bringing a variety of bass music shows to the city.
The collective of DJs, producers and promoters - with musical roots including Drum & Bass and Jungle, UK Garage and Hardcore, and Dub - was born out of founder Dean 'Phatcat' Musani's desire to set off in a different direction from the folks he had been originally working with to cultivate the community.
"The scene then was comprised of house, breaks, trance & progressive, and drum&bass/jungle. D&B was my passion but, as a result of Edmonton being so far removed from the worldwide scene, the stuff that was known here was simply the most popular and rarely the best. I knew I had to work to create a scene for what I loved, so started my first production company throwing parties with a help of a few friends."
- Dean Phatcat
Future Roots continued on the next few years with regular success but Phatcat was interested in a more underground sound, something that the crew as a whole wasn't fully committed to move forward with and invest in.
"Catering to what was popular was just not fulfilling me so I set off on a different approach modelled after the collectives, labels and artists that had inspired me the most. It was about nurturing artists both locally and abroad - about educating your local community by shedding light on those talents. I wanted to constantly introduce people to a new, exciting sound - what I considered groundbreaking music.
The future roots manifesto has always been "Take Risks. Grow. Evolve." and I've tried to hold that in my heart through all endeavours over the past decade."
Over a decade in the Edmonton music scene means Future Roots has seen a lot of change and progression within tastes and genres, especially as electronic music has taken on a wider audience.
"I've had the pleasure of watching and participating as dark garage and later dubstep went from the underground darling to rocketing in popularity till it was transformed into "brostep", "festival trap" and "arena", only to finally see the underground sound making its way back again. It's interesting how a movement can oscillate - the first couple years that sound was emerging, we did the first shows with Excision, Datsik, Flux Pavilion, Zeds dead and 12th Planet. These were amazing underground events strictly for those in the know and I'm so proud to have introduced that sound to our city!"
As tastes ebb and flow and genres get saturated by the mainstream, Future Roots moves away from the overly popular, always continuing to seek what is on the cutting edge of bass music.
"Most recently new jungle, grime, and 808 techno have re-seized my passions. That sound is currently in a future Renaissance, having taken in all the influences of the past 10 years, sounding newer and fresher now than it even did when I was 15."
Phatcat's personal tastes have always been diverse, which definitely shines through in the sound of Future Roots.
"While I have always reserved my deepest passion for Drum & Bass, I have so much love towards Garage, Grime, House, Techno, Soul, Reggae, Dub obviously, and more than a little folk and bluegrass music."
So what can a newcomer to a Future Roots show expect in terms of vibe, quality and sound?
"As a label and a collective, our sound is a bit more focussed but we will always widely lean on Bass, Jungle and UK Hardcore inspired music from 110-175 BPM. My friend Marcus calls it "the hardcore continuum" when he's referring to that wider sound that isn't either Jungle or House or Techno or Garage, but rather all of them and more, all at once. That is the Future Roots vibe."
Beyond Future Roots' involvement in the local scene, they are no strangers to the festival circuit, enjoying a steady presence in the west coast and Alberta festival community.
"Festival Season: the best time of the year! This year you can expect to see the entire Future Roots squad at Astral Harvest Music Festival in northern Alberta, as well as being able to catch yours truly at the beloved Bass Coast Festival in Merritt, BC."
Over a decade running strong with no signs of slowing, you can be sure Future Roots has lots on the menu looking forward.
"We marked our 10th anniversary last year, which we've celebrated at the culmination of a string of events featuring the likes of DJ Rashad, Addison Groove, Kahn, Joker, Machinedrum, Om Unit and Sam Binga, Taso, Plastician and more. After the 10 year milestone, long time collaborator Sorsari and I found we both wanted to do something more with the Future Roots identity and refocus more effort on developing artists which has slowly developed into this planned label launch for summer 2016. We will primarily focus on our amazing local talent with the odd remix or contribution from a friend outside the city. Keeping with the underground spirit, we will be releasing on limited edition cassette tapes with lush, full linear notes; the first of which will be due to drop this summer, featuring 10+ tracks from Jake Robertz, Kiytek, Midnight Movies, Sorsari and Phatcat (don't worry, the digital copy's included for all you analog averse folks)."
You can grab a pre-release of these coveted compilations at any of the artists' gigs this summer or visit their Bandcamp release page in August to order! Find the Future Roots crew at a bunch of upcoming awesome local events; their weekly Sunday School afternoon patio party under the YEGDNB banner (a joint production company formed with Phatcat's partner Donovan Spilchuk) and the All Hands on Decks vinyl event on June 10 are next up on the roster. Shortly after that, be sure to catch the return of Sam Binga on June 22 at 9910, who Phatcat exclaims "played the absolute best set of last year and exemplifies for me our mission statement". That is followed by Future Roots' friend, label boss, and Ragga Jungle hero Marcus Visionary on July 30!