Behind The Boards
Future's engineer Seth Firkins talks about how he met Future and what it's like to work with him.
Words: Emmanuel Maduakolam
Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared in the Spring 2017 issue of of XXL Magazine, on stands now.

To be Future’s main engineer, you have to be ready to work. Fortunately, the Atlanta trapper rapper’s engineer, Seth Firkins, does just that. The 35-year-old Louisville, Ky. native first got his start in the music industry as a production manager at a local studio, but soon realized he enjoyed the mixing and engineering side of business. In 2003, Firkins opened his own studio, Elite Studios, in his hometown and spent the next three years working from there as an engineer. After working with artists such as Jay-Z, Gucci Mane and the late Static Major, Seth crossed paths with Future in 2007. The two connected and have been working together for the past decade, most recently on Future’s two Billboard Top 200 No. 1 albums, Future and HNDRXX, which came out within a week of each other.

XXL spoke to Seth about meeting Future, his output of music and why this is only the tip of the iceberg.

XXL: When did you meet Future?

Seth Firkins: I mixed “Yeah Yeah” and “Watch This” back in 2007. He took off with Y.C.’s “Racks on Racks” record and I remember I hit him on his phone and told him, “No one can really understand you, I really want you to find someone that can record you better.” He kind of cursed me out like, “You don’t fucking tell me how to do my job, I don’t have to tell you how to do yours.” I said, “Cool, no worries.” So then his dude, his main guy was Steve [Fisher] at 11 Street. But, at that time, Steve was trying to transition into
a studio owner from studio engineer. So, one night Steve didn’t want to record and Future’s guys at the time would call me and ask, “Hey Seth, we need you to come in” and I went in. Future paid cash, a lot of cash, so I was like, “Fuck it, I’m there.”

Future’s output is insane. What is his recording process like?

Nonstop. I’ve been locked in the studio basically without any lights for like, probably mixing on these, three weeks, 24 hours a day. We just spent a week and a half at Tree Sound. When I tell you we still have a couple 100 songs that are hard, that’s no hyperbole. There are so many songs that have to come out before I die. He’s prolific when it comes to recording. It’s nonstop and that’s where I think he’s most comfortable, in a studio.

The two sides of Future look like the theme behind the two albums that just dropped.

These two projects represent a broadband width of what Future is capable of; it still doesn’t encompass everything he is. There are still a lot of records that haven’t been made, there are still records that haven’t been heard. I think Future and HNDRXX is a good cross section of what you can expect if I’m Future at this moment in his career.

Check out more from XXL’s Spring 2017 issue including the cover story with DJ Khaled, Joey Bada$$ discussing his ALL-AMERIKKKAN BADA$$ album, Freddie Gibbs and the trial that almost cost him his freedom, Young Dolph surviving a hit on his life and more.

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