DJ Fresh: Fresh By Name, Fresh By Nature
You’re now signed to a large independent label in Ministry Of Sound complete with a major label serving as a distributor for you in America. What’s that been like in comparison to releasing on smaller outlets or your own imprint?
To be honest I haven’t really had that much involvement with what happening in America yet but they seem pretty open because the quote unquote EDM scene is so massive in America at the moment and that they know that haven’t fully realized the potential of it.
They’ve had the likes of David Guetta and others but it still seems to feel pretty new and exciting to the major labels at the minute and they’re leaving a lot of trust in the promoters and smaller labels like Ultra and Spinnin’ who still have a lot of credibility in the eyes of the major labels who appreciate that they still have a lot to learn when it comes to dance music. Certainly Columbia are very open to learn about what’s happening in the dance music scene in America because it has so much potential.
So we haven’t really started to do much stuff in America yet. We’ve started to release ‘Earthquake’ but it takes a really long time and can take up to 18 months for it to get from its start to its end point. So far they’ve been really great to work with and I haven’t had the experience within the time I’ve been working with other labels that I’ve felt that I’ve ever been in any way hemmed in as an artist but in the same way I am a team player and I appreciate what other people do.
I don’t see myself as the only person with an opinion that’s valid and I do listen to the people that are around me and appreciate it as a team effort. Perhaps that’s the reason I haven’t fallen out with my record label when so many other people have!
It’s interesting you say that as having interviewed and met many big EDM artists not many of them seem as comfortable with what they’re doing as you do. Do you think that’s because they’re trying to sell records rather than making stuff they like or because they’re uncomfortable traversing new territory as opposed to what they were doing before?
I dunno. I think some people, especially journalists take it so seriously that they forget that sometimes it is really just about having fun and enjoying it. Lots of the people I know who have been and are successful just love what they do because they just love it and if you say to someone “Are you doing this because of that?” or whatever it’s a really cynical way of looking at something that people are devoting their lives to. If you are making music, you are doing something most people don’t have the balls to do and if you are taking that risk with your whole life to go and try and make a career out of music then the chances are you are doing it because you love it. Otherwise you’d be working in a bank!
Returning to your work with Ministry Of Sound, what was it like to be on the other side of the label process in comparison to managing artists on your own label? Obviously you just told us you don’t ever feel hemmed in but do you feel more conscious of who you are producing for and what they may want?
It’s more the other way round actually! I spent so much time worrying about what people on Dogs On Acid or Drum and Bass Arena or whatever would think about what I did and it made me really unhappy. Then I kind of had this opportunity saw people who knew nothing or little about my previous works coming out to shows because they loved ‘Gold Dust’ or ‘Louder’ and just loved the piece as a piece of music regardless of what type of style it was and that was a really refreshing feeling of just feeling like I could do what I wanted to do and people would like or not like it but not for any specific reason other than they just did or didn’t like it.
That is something that working on a label like Ministry has given me an opportunity to see whereas before as a label owner I was so close to everything that as an artist I found it difficult to step back do what I wanted to do and to truly say it was what I truly wanted to do because if you said that was what you wanted to do and that didn’t fit what people wanted you to do then you feel like you have to defend it. That’s what people do, they defend what they want to do because they feel that people won’t approve of what they want to do. And that is fucking mental! Especially when it’s done under the banner of “I’m doing this stuff because I love it” when they’re not actually doing what they love.
There are people that I could name that are considered some of drum and bass’ most underground people whose lives I would never make difficult by naming in an interview that you wouldn’t believe have plans to do stuff that would be so frowned upon by the underground but is what they want to do and for that reason they are afraid to do it.
Just imagine what the world would be like if everybody made music without worrying what other people thought of it. Now that would be the very world that the scene aims for and perversely makes difficult by creating boundaries and creating chains and keys and doors that serves as obstacles to its development.
That’s really interesting. Let’s talk about your new album. How near is that to completion? Can you tell us more about it and anything else you’ve got planned for the future?
Well it’s just a mix album so I think it should be wrapped up in around four/five months. There are a lot of different genres on it as it’s going to be more in line with the stuff that I DJ as opposed to my last album. That was designed to be listenable even though it was super, super dance-y whereas this is what I’ve made in the studio that fits into my DJ sets and sounds like when I’m DJing in a cool mix format.
Future-wise I’ve got some gigs in Asia, then Dibby Dibby Sound drops at the beginning of February. Then I’m playing a festival in South Africa which I’m really excited about as that’s where my parents are from and just finishing the album.
Exciting times! Thanks for talking to us this afternoon.