DJ Fresh: Fresh By Name, Fresh By Nature
There are few people who can claim to have given as much to a specific music scene as DJ Fresh. One of the originators of drum & bass, Fresh began his career as founding member of the super group Bad Company going on to write a string of classic tracks that helped define a movement whilst still only a teenager. Fast forward a few years and you get to the DJ Fresh of today, who with his massive crossover appeal and a series of chart successes to his name seems far removed from his seminal D&B tune making teenage self as he has seen his sound continually evolve throughout an illustrious career that has seen him hook up with some of the music world’s biggest and coolest names.
Now following on from his collaboration with Mad Decent label boss Diplo on ‘Earthquake’ featuring Dominique Young Unique, DJ Fresh is back and currently riding high in the charts with his new single ‘Dibby Dibby Sound’ featuring St Louis producer Jay Fay and legendary garage vocalist Ms Dynamite. So with DJ Fresh seemingly more relevant than ever we sat down with the DJ and producer to catch his views on the current music scene, take a walk down memory lane and of course take a glimpse at his plans for the future.
Thanks for talking to us this afternoon. The first thing I wanted to ask you, so as to get the historical questions out of the way early and to make sure certain members of drum and bass writing staff do not kill me upon my return is Bad Company. Obviously there was the hugely heralded reunion this year of Bad Company as an outfit for gig for which you were absent; if the opportunity were to arise again might you be tempted to slip back into the fold for a performance or is Bad Company firmly consigned to the history books as far as you are concerned?
Well they asked me to return. I was on holiday in Thailand at the time and I received a call from Darren (dBridge) asking me if I’d go and if I’m honest I wasn’t really that amazingly up for doing anything Bad Company related because at certain points in the past there has been opportunities to do that and the others didn’t want to do it; but then when I saw everyone else was up for doing it I thought it’d be a good opportunity to catch up and see everyone. Then they were supposed to contact my agent and check with my agent as to what my commitments were and then by the time they did I was booked to do something else that I couldn’t get out of so unfortunately in the end I couldn’t make it down there.
But I don’t know, it’s a weird one for me as I wrote most of the music and I left those guys with the label when Bad Company kind of dissolved and I wanted to go and make music on my own and their attitude to that was if you want to do stuff on your own then you’ve gotta leave, which after I had kind of been the main person in the office pushing on on the label front and felt that I had done a lot of work behind the name felt was unfair. So I wasn’t really left in a great situation and thought “Fuck… what am I going to do?” I was in this drum and bass outfit that was really successful and then it was like I had to start all over again whilst those guys still had control over the whole thing but I still for the sake of the fans and the history and what that meant I still obviously am really proud to have been part of it. It’s just a really awkward situation because of personalities and while I still get on with the guys I just think it is sometimes just best to move on and see things for beauty of what they were in one point in time and appreciate that some things are just not destined to be amazing forever. Do you know what I mean?
Cool. Yeah I understand that. Now the other question I am compelled to ask is in regards not to that era but to that sound. Your career and signature sound has massively evolved as the years have gone on so could fans ever expect to hear the type of output you previously released on Ram Records like the Future Jungle EP or is that sound firmly staying in your back catalogue too?
Possibly. I guess because drum and bass is becoming more popular at the moment I am getting asked that question more and more. I’ve always loved drum and bass through thick and thin and that’s been a long time. When I get inspired to make a piece of music I make it; it doesn’t matter what else is going on and whether or not it’s popular and good for me to make it as the artist I rather make tracks when I’m inspired to make them in the studio and recently I just haven’t been inspired to do that.
I made so much of that style of music and just kind of feel so much more inspired by trying to do things that I haven’t done before and rather than traversing that territory that I’ve covered a million times. That said, if something new happened in the scene that excites me or I go in the studio and make something like that I’m genuinely excited about, as I was with a few of the tunes on my last album then I’ll do it. Definitely.
Cool. If we could now move on to your current sound and your hook up with Jay Fay as that’s quite an interesting collaboration. Can you tell us how that came about?
Well basically we started talking because I had heard a early version of Dibby that he was working on and we felt that we could do something more with it and turn it into more of a full blown song and so we decided to collaborate on it and it’s been kinda cool because sometimes with collaborations you go into a situation where you are both good at doing the same type of things and you can end up with two geeky studio heads sitting in the studio fighting it out over who gets to design the synth sounds or whose turn it is to be in control of the mouse! Where the good thing in that situation was Jay took more of the kind of engineer role on most of the track and I gave more of a creative overall input into it.
I added all the Brazilian elements to it and studied Brazilian percussion and worked with Brazilian percussionists, wrote the song, drafted in Ms. Dynamite and wrote the hook with her so that was my type of involvement. It was really cool as we were both putting work into our different areas of expertise into one project and often when you collaborate it can feel difficult to feel like your not battling each other so it was a really good example of people working together to put different elements into one track.