DJ Fresh: Bass revolution
Wed 17th Oct, 2012 Features 564 viewsin
From Nile Rodgers in disco to Skream in dubstep, there’s a few key qualities that the pioneers of each respective genre share: a prolific and seminal discography, a long history in the scene and status as a mentor or inspiration to other important acts. For drum & bass, there’s one guy who has all of those boxes ticked: DJ Fresh. As one of the members of drum & bass supergroup Bad Company, he’s been responsible one of the D&B’s seminal tracks, 90s anthem The Nine. He co-founded Breakbeat Kaos, the label that signed and shot to success a little group called Pendulum. Then there’s his considerable solo work – starting with Escape From Planet Monday in 2006, through Kryptonite in 2010 and now onto the forthcoming album Nextlevelism, Dan Stein has always kept busy on the production front.
That’s not to mention the considerable touring. Just announced as part of the 2013 Future Music Festival lineup, DJ Fresh is bringing his flashy live show around the country in March. A few days ahead of the FMF bill landing, we spoke to DJ Fresh about where drum & bass is going and what’s holding it back.
You’re almost wrapping up the Parklife tour now. Between you, Benga, Rusko and Nero there’s a big UK bass contingent this year. Have you all been partying together?
Yeah we’ve all been hanging out, and Rizzle Kicks as well who I’ve worked with and get on really well with. I kind of see Harley like a little brother. It’s great being able to hang out with them. Me and Benga keep talking about going into the hotel room and making some music but we haven’t actually got around to it.
I guess time is pretty hard to come by when you’re touring. So the new album Nextlevelism is out in the UK already and is coming out here soon, what can you tell us about it?
Well, bass music has been exploding especially in the UK and Europe, to the extent that it’s starting to become the backbone for modern pop in the UK. I think there’s a tendency to associate pop with manufactured boy bands and major record label ploys to sell pretty shit music by formula – the thing that’s so amazing is that this music comes from a real place, and it’s the sound of the young UK. So to see that being embraced by the major labels and a major part of the record buying audience is amazing, and I’ve been a big believer in trying to make that happen. When I signed Pendulum and brought them over to England and had the first platinum, independently released drum & bass album. Then I signed early stuff from Chase & Status and Nero, so I’ve always been on a mission to try and push this stuff further and try and get it out there more and more.
And that’s what’s been happening with my own music lately. So Nextlevelism is that mix of influences to try and come up with something different that will get people in clubs dancing and singing.
How did the collaboration with Dizzee Rascal work? Were you in the studio together or was it a back and forth online?
The Dizzee Rascal one we did back and forth online. It just depends from collaboration to collaboration. So for example with Rita, I wrote the song and then she recorded it when I wasn’t even there with a bit of direction over the phone. Rizzle Kicks I was in the studio with, we wrote it together. But all of the songs started with backing tracks where I had a sort of rough idea for a song, then we’d get in the studio together and try and encapsulate their ideas and make it a true collaboration.