Radio BurgerFuel

Interview: Silas Futura

Posted by Lee Densem

Back To The Futura

It's been a journey for Silas McClintock. Over the years, we've had him in the purple walls of our studio and playing live out front on a number of occasions as Bobandi and part of Hot Knives. In the last couple of years, he's taken a backseat from the public eye and done some soul searching. The result of that is the new moniker Silas Futura. Back with a fresh EP 'Pluto', and a very grounded take on life. It's Boband goin' galaxy (that's his words not ours!).

One thing I love about my conversations with Silas is how he is always willing to speak the truth. What he says has always come from the heart. But this time it felt different, to me it felt really good - like it was coming from a safe and happy place. There were still the same old laughs and chats about the latest project, from two people who used to be colleagues here at BurgerFuel. But this time, we go deep into his personal journey, and a new lease on life. It's my pleasure to share this conversation with Silas Futura. He's one of the good ones.

"I was just saying how it hasn't really changed. It's kind of nice to walk into a familiar scene, after everything has changed for both of us."

That kind of sums up this chat with Silas Futura. He's no loger Bobandi, but you can still hear the genesis of this new project in where he's come from. The world changes, but things stay the same.

So the new name?

"I think 2019 was kind of like the apex of Bobandi. I was just going so hard. I was releasing and making so much music, that I just hit a wall, I was just burnt out. I was so dead. I decided to take a break. I never stopped making music, but I just thought nothing is going to be released for a while. In that period I started writing very different music. I was embodying an alien, or like a future human from Pluto. And so that character became Silas Futura."

"I had a few names along the way. But that song Breathe, when I wrote 'Boband goin' galaxy'. It was that kind of thing of just launching out of who I am and into this new character. And over time, as I wrote these kind of alien inspired songs, I realised 'oh, nah, I'm actually talking about the stuff I'm going through'. So yeah, this is still very much me, and if not more me than Bobandi was. It just became important for me to put my first name at least on the artist name. You know, I need to embody who I really am." 

"quite often our shame or pain is very illogical. You know?"

In the meantime his friends, family and team all encouraged him to check out his roots, "to go home and figure out who I really am." And while it was a new journey, it came from looking back and acknowledging who he was.

"I always knew that I was Maori. And I wanted to go find those roots, but I had a lot of shame around it too. I didn't want to pull the trigger and figure it out. Yeah. In that reflective time, I guess things were painful and pretty heavy. So I had to face it all. And that's when I started learning te reo and going home and asking my Grandma, like, where we come from and who we are."

"It's hard to say," said Silas, when asked where the shame came from. "As a kid, I remember my mum introducing me to Maori culture. And I remember being semi interested in it, but not enough to actually dive deep. Then high school was kind of like fit in with the rest of the crowd, you know. So when I started to think 'oh this is actually important to me,' I thought, 'wow, I've actually neglected this my whole life. Like, how dare I come in now and try and put my hand up.' It's completely ridiculous, but quite often our shame or pain is very illogical. You know?"

"It's not an overnight thing. Like, I didn't wake up one day, and I was Maori. I've always been Maori. But this awareness or this chase towards being who I am and writing who I am, everything that the Silas Futura project has become is not an overnight thing and isn't finished. I'm still on that journey. I just think it's gonna keep, you know, this is gonna be a lifetime thing. Yeah. And I'm excited for that. That's cool."

"I've never connected with my grandma before. But when I asked her that, everything changed"

So what does being Maori mean to him at the moment?

"I think that I think that I've come from a lot of spiritual beliefs in the past. I was raised in a Christian family, but I didn't really find my God there. I went way off into all sorts of different territories, trying to find what I believed in. And I think that the Maori way of life, or te ao Maori is a really beautiful way of looking at the world. People call them myths and legends, but it was their truth, and I think it's really beautiful. When you look at the world that way, when everything is tied together, and there's respect for Papatuanuku, all these things that like, seem really simple. And being happy with myself, you know, it doesn't need to be more than that. I don't need to sing about it. I just feel like it's exciting for me and it's nice to be on the on a closer path towards accepting who I am, you know?"

Despite venturing into his heritage, Silas says he still hasn't got the courage to go back to his marae yet. "I don't want to show up looking like I'm here for an Instagram photo. I don't want to show up for a weekend and help on the marae and then leave. That's why I'm learning te reo, so that I can go home and speak in our language to my whanau, and be like, I'm here to stay. I'm here to help. I want to contribute to our family. That's important to me. So that's why I haven't really done that yet. And that's just my approach. I don't think that's the right approach or the wrong approach. This is how I'm going about it."

"And it's, working for me. I've never connected with my grandma before. But when I asked her that, everything changed. I had the longest conversation I've ever had in my life with her. We were crying. We were hugging. There was a lot of love in the room and, you know, she is healthy, but she probably won't be around for much longer and to get that connection with her before she passes on is beautiful, man.

"accepting myself and being okay, in my skin. holding a little bit more pride about who I am. That in turn released a lot more freedom and a lot more happiness"

That personal story really comes across in the music too. The tone of Pluto could be descibed as happy or uplifting - in a roundabout way. 

"That's so interesting. Wow. It must have to do with accepting myself and being okay, in my skin. And just holding a little bit more pride about who I am. That in turn just released a lot more freedom and a lot more happiness. And so those songs are either playful, or they're happy or whatever. That naturally happened. Damn, yeah, you're right. I actually did that."

That must be really, really special. Yeah. Yeah. That's awesome. That's so cool. So, I guess you know, you you've told us a bit about your story, your personal story. And you said that that kind of comes across and Pluto in a way as well? How does, how does Pluto tell a part of your story?

Looking back at his previous releases - Running Handshake/B.L.U.E. (2019), Luminescence (2018) & Of The Forest (2017), Silas muses that he'd like to give himself a cuddle. [Side note - Of The Forest was released on a free distribution platform, "I couldn't figure out how to get it over to Silas Futura. Basically, I lost the password to it, so it's a Bobandi track now!"]

"As soon as I turn the songs on from those previous projects, I'm back in that headspace. There's a lot of sadness and a lot of pain there. And I'm glad that I was able to express that. I look back on it fondly, but it's also kind of like, 'aww Si, are you all good, man.'

The transformation to Silas Futura started around 2019, but some of these new tracks pre-date this transformation. You can almost hear the hybrid between old Bobandi and new Futura in several tracks. He mentions Breathe and Compulsion, but singles out Precious as "probably the closest link to what you'd have heard in the past."

Breathe started life in 2018 after Silas met SmokeyGotBeatz at Roundhead Studio while recording Nazarite the previous year. After throwing some stuff back and forth he got the beat that became Breathe. Despite listening to a lot of band driven music at this time, and ending uyp taking that direction for Pluto, he says "Smokey's programming of that beat was way too cool to re-record with a band. It was just too good. But for all the other songs, we recorded it with a band, which is a first for me."

Having a band wasn't the original intention either, but "I was selecting samples that sounded way more live. And then I was lucky enough to go to Red Bull Studios and record it. I thought, okay, we have the resources, we might as well go as far as possible with this. So it was time to find a band. It's just lucky that I've got so many cool friends that play amazing music. So we just pulled it in, put it all together. But for sure, man, it was just meant to be a bunch of beats."

"what a fire verse man. She fully shows me up on that track"

The conversation moves on to who is involved on Pluto. Funny. Those that have been around since Bobandi times, will recognise Fable, who is a good mate. "That guy's my brother man. For real" says Silas. He's always been there for me. And I've always been there for him. We write music every Sunday. So many songs together, most of which will never come out. But it's just one of those things we write for the car ride home. So yeah, we're always in each other's corner. And as soon as something comes up, it's just it's a no brainer. 'Get Fable on the track!' And likewise, I produce a lot of his music, too. It's quite rare that you find someone who's willing to show up every week, and is there for you all the time. You know."

There's also Tei and PollyHill involed. "I saw Tei for the first time here (at Radio BurgerFuel). Yeah, Friday Night Bites, and I was just completely blown away. We stayed in loose connection over the years. And then when we brought Compulsion into the studio, it was only a one verse song, and it cut off really quickly. I had always intended it to be a really fast song. Then we're sitting there listening to it and it just doesn't feel like it's finished. So I was scanning my brain for people who would be cool. And it was 'boom. Tei. Yeah, yeah!' I texted her, she wrote the verse and recorded the demo that night, then came in the next day and recorded her verse. And what a fire verse man. She fully shows me up on that track. She takes that track and she runs with it."

"And PollyHill as well. Polly and I used to go to school together in Mahurangi. We didn't really know each other at school, but we kind of found each other through mutual friends here in the city. I've been following her music from the very first release. And I find it quite exciting to watch because she just out the gate, she decided she didn't want to be doing what anyone else was doing. You know? As times gone on, that's just become so much more defined. Something really special. I think Polly is paving the way for a new version of hip-hop. Yeah. And I think that the next generation of rappers coming through, especially female rappers are going to look to her as like a figurehead of where we're going. And I think that's really cool."

"it's got to be cinema, bro. Like, it's got to be full on. It's got to be Pluto."

Now that Pluto is out, up next is the live show. At time of writing the details are still unannounced. "But the live music is definitely coming" says Silas. "The big thing for me right now is I have this beautiful band, just so talented. I could never show up with a just a laptop ever again. You know what I mean? We got to do this thing, justice. So we practice all the time. And I really want to make a spectacle of these shows. I don't want to rock up and play another Whammy Bar show. I want to play something that you kind of walk away with a memory of for a long time. So it's got to be cinema, bro. Like, it's got to be full on. It's got to be Pluto."

With that, we share the aroha. And I already look forward to the next time I get to do this with him. Long live Silas Futura.

Silas Futura's latest EP Pluto is out now and you can 'name your own price' to purchase it on Bandcamp, or listen on all good streaming platforms. Live dates haven't yet been released, but keep an eye out on Facebook to see when they drop. We'll be there.