Emily Burden interviews dub and bass legend and number one selling producer DJ Fresh who played Fusion Nightclub on Friday 28 December.
Emily Burden interviews dub and bass legend and number one selling producer
DJ Fresh, pictured, who played Fusion Nightclub on Friday 28 December.
He is one of the biggest DJs on the planet currently, with two number one
hit singles under his belt and tour dates coming out of his ears.
But last Friday Dan Stein, aka DJ Fresh, was behind the decks in Fusion much to the delight of the hundreds that went to see him play.
Being a drum and bass head myself, I was intrigued to interview a man with
such a fruitful drum and bass background, who was underground and then
So before his set I had a 10-minute window to pick his brain.
EB: Have you heard much about our scene over here?
Fresh: I have to admit, the Guernsey scene has been some what elusive to me.
I don't know much about it and I haven't really seen much of Guernsey. I
flew in when it was dark, I saw the outline of a few houses. And I'm not
really going to have time to see much of it tomorrow as I am pretty much
flying out first thing but hopefully I can come back and explore the place
soon. The people seem really nice.
EB: Has Darren (dBridge) not been in touch to let you know about Guernsey, as he played over here in the summer.
Fresh: Oh, I didn't know that. We don't really speak that often anymore and
when we do we tend to talk about technical stuff, massive geeky chats.
EB: So obviously that's how you started off your career, being in Bad
Company with Darren and a couple of others, how was that time for you?
Fresh: Well I was really nervous when I left Bad Company. It was a really
big deal for me and Bad Company at the time was pretty big within the drum and bass scene so it was a big sacrifice to leave that all behind but it was kind of what was right for us all at the time. The guys sort of wanted to do what they were doing and I wanted to do something slightly different, so I think it all kind of worked out for the best really in the end. (Dan pauses for a moment) He says with two number ones under his belt.
EB: I know, I know, how was that for you? I was coming to that, but that must of been a big moment for you, going from being in Bad Company which was an underground drum and bass thing to then having the very first drum and bass number one single, it must of really been something?
Fresh: Yeah, it was really cool and an amazing achievement not just for me but for the whole scene itself. Because I had history in the game, people were happy that I was the person who had done it. I've done a lot of stuff for drum and bass and I'm very friendly with everyone, I'm kind of part of that family, so it was better than somebody from outside doing it. Everyone has been really respectful about it and really supportive - it just was an amazing moment - many of us have been fighting for drum and bass to be taken seriously in the mainstream for so long, so that was really for me the pinnacle moment that a drum and bass track made it to number one. I never thought that was going to happen.
EB: When you were making that track did you sit there and think this could
be in the top ten?
Fresh: I guess after Louder I did wonder because it's song-based and it's
still a track a lot of DJs would play underground, well, the instrumental
version of it. That's really what I think I've stumbled into, that's sort of
my thing; the mix of real club music with a song that will really stand the
test of time with people that don't really listen to instrumental music. So
it kind of had those ingredients but I didn't think it was going to go to
number one. I was really surprised.
EB: Where were you when you found out it had gone to number one?
Fresh: Well at the time it was selling really close with an Emili Sande
song, which is an amazing track and its a real shame she released it that
week because that really deserved to be a number one I think. So at one
point it was kind of quite tense because it was that track, then it was
mine, then hers then mine again on iTunes all week. And obviously when you
get into that position where it could be number one, you really want it to
be number one. So that was kind of nerve wracking and I only really found
out on the Sunday that it was actually at number one. I think it was one of
the biggest first week selling singles so far that year at the time and it
was just really exciting especially for Rita (Ora, who provides vocals on
the track). All of a sudden all the things I had thought about Rita becoming
a really big pop artist were happening and now she is on the road, the doors
have opened for her now.
EB: So doing this album you have worked with a lot of really big acts and
up-and-coming artists, how did you choose who you wanted to work with?
Fresh: It's really based on the tracks. Normally I'll write the backing
track first, test it out in clubs, then I'll write over the top of it and
then I'll try and find the person who is going to sing it or co-write parts
of it. Basically for Rita I tried four or five different singers and when I
heard Rita singing it, it just blew me away, just her energy and her vibe
with everything was just perfect for a track like Hot Right Now.
EB: So is there anyone else you'd like to work with?
Fresh: Rihanna obviously. I'd like to work with Calvin Harris, those are
really obvious big people, Coldplay I'd like to work with them. Also
people a bit more obscure, such as Fleet Foxes, The Cure and The Pixies.
EB: That would be so good if you got to work with Rihanna....
Fresh: Yeah, her voice sounds to me almost like a synth, it's got a really
interesting sound to it, so I'd really like to mess around with that.
EB: Who's been your biggest influence over the years?
Fresh: Probably, I guess, hardcore, jungle but before that indie music, The Cure, the Britpop scene and I think the Happy Mondays as there is a lot of electronic elements in there and quite a lot of that music, like the Happy Mondays, was based on the rave scene at the time up in Manchester and that whole movement is encapsulated in their music and that was kind of a bridge for me into the Acid sound which lead me to jungle, so that's where it kind of started I guess.
EB: So for you what was the point where you decided to move into jungle and
drum and bass and start making music?
Fresh: I just kept hearing these tracks and I knew that one person was just making these tracks on their own, like one person could just sit at a computer and create these tracks and I am a bit of a geek at heart. I'm heavily into music software and stuff and making music since I was really little. I'd listen to stuff and I liked it, but I always thought I could produce something as good as that or I always thought I could make something better than that, do you know what I mean? Not so much better, but something that I thought I could be really proud of. So I started when I was at university, spent the whole of my student loan on a sampler, got in a lot of trouble with my parents, and yeah from there I just worked really hard and just wouldn't take no for an answer and it all kind of just unfolded.
EB: Obviously getting to number one has been one of the biggest highlights for you in your career, in terms of gigs, what has been a highlight for you so far?
Fresh: So far, probably with the live band, Fresh Live, at V Festival, that was amazing, headlining the second stage <\#208> 30,000 people and everyone singing the words to Louder and Gold Dust.
EB: Must have been such a rush...
Fresh: Yeah it was amazing, really amazing, and you know, I only started the band a year ago and it was something I always wanted to do, so for it in a year to go from playing to 500 people and losing a lot of money on the shows. I had to invest a lot of money into them - to playing to 30,000 people on the second stage at V, it was such a massive achievement for all of us.
EB: So what's next for you then?
Fresh: Well this year I've been in the studio with Ellie Goulding recently,
which has been really cool, working on some new stuff. I'm doing a lot of
live touring, we're going to Australia in March to do a tour, so mostly just
doing a lot of touring, getting back out there into the clubs, getting my
head into what's going on because I've been very on my own tangent last year and I haven't really been able to get out much, so yeah getting back into it and getting ready to write the next album I guess.