Selector’s Afrofuturist series highlights the work of emerging BIPOC talent in U.S. electronic music.
It’s hard to imagine a time in the last three decades when Gene Farris wasn’t part of the house music conversation. A bonafide legend and constant innovator, he’s played a large part in why dance music is the behemoth it is today, all the while staying true to a sound that is fiercely authentic. He continues his practice of enlisting young artists, tagging in current tastemaker Wheats for “Freak,” their latest via Kaluki Musik.
Clocking in at nearly eight minutes, “Freak” does an outstanding job of letting the beats ride, something often overlooked in modern dance music. The first section sets things off with a pumped-up low end and a splattered patchwork of distorted percussive elements. Farris’ smooth baritone hits you in the sweet spot with a vocal hook that transitions into an atmospheric breakdown, giving you just enough time to catch your breath before the funk kicks back in. Wheats and Farris have captured the essence of the warehouse at a time when most can only imagine dancing in one. This is tech house with a classic sound and a decidedly modern twist.
Gene Farris has been a fixture of dance music since its heyday. He entered the scene as a teenager with the 1995 release of “Journey” on Green Velvet‘s Relief imprint. In the nearly 25 years since he’s continued to be a prolific figure. His own imprint, Farris Wheel, has a history almost as long as his own. Originally starting it as a platform for self-releases, Farris began to use the label as a launchpad for emerging artists to begin a career. As Green Velvet did for him early on, Farris has used his own platform to elevate fresh talent.
Like Farris, Wheats emerged in his late teens with a coveted signing to Kerri Chandler‘s Madtech record label. A quick rise followed. After a string of club residencies and festival dates he was signed to Toolroom Records at only 20 years old. Wheats was a standout of Toolroom Academy, the label’s artist incubator, catching the ear of Mark Knight and forming a direct relationship with the label head.
He names his father being one of his chief influences. Also a DJ, he brought up the young producer on a steady (and nutrient-dense) diet of house music. Wheats still scours his record collection to this day for inspiration and samples.
Purchase “Freak” in digital format via Beatport.