DJ Fresh: I’ve never been so excited about making music
“I wouldn’t say I’m going for my third consecutive number one,” says Dan, “It’s dangerous to become too concerned with chart positions as there are so many factors that govern how well something does in the charts.”
Dan, better known as DJ Fresh, answers my first question astutely. In the last eleven months, he has made history twice, with two number ones, taking both dubstep and drum’n'bass to the coveted top spot in the UK music charts.
An incredible feat for someone whose musical background is embedded in underground bass music, first as a member of seminal drum’n'bass group Bad Company and then running cutting edge label Breakbeat Kaos with Adam F.
There are also two critically acclaimed studios albums, his 2006 debut offering Escape from Planet Monday and his 2010 follow-up, Kryptonite. Next month sees the next phase in the producer’s career, the release of his next single, The Power, featuring Dizzee Rascal.
“I was just listening to some old disco records and I’ve always loved big falsetto vocal hooks and that kind of motown and disco energy,” he says, “I came up with this hook while I was on the way into town really late for a meeting.”
“When I heard Dizzee was into it and he started sending across ideas, I was amped – it was like it was meant to be, he was perfect for it.”
The pair are already back in the studio together.
“We’re working on something else at the moment and he’s as on the case as much as I am – I’ve got a very strong work ethic and it’s good to meet other people who are the same,” he adds.
Dan will release his third studio album later this year. He says the album is nearly complete, with just one track left to work on. Moving away from the underground sounds of his previous two records, his third effort will see collaborations with Rizzle Kicks and The Fray, among others.
“The great thing about all the final features and versions is that they all came about in a fateful kind of way,” he says, “I heard Rizzle Kicks when I was with them in Ibiza on stage and saw Jordan vibing and using his voice in a way I hadn’t heard on his records.”
“It gave me an idea for a track I’d been working on and they were also excited about it.”
He then started talking to Professor Green about a collaboration.
“At the time I wasn’t even planning on putting a rap track on it,” Dan says.
The forthcoming album will feature more songs with writing music an integral focus of this album.
“That’s what this album is about for me, landmark-wise within my career so far,” he says.
“I’m not really a singer so I have to work with other artists to write songs but when you find the right artists and have the right chemistry you can find a great balance while still having complete creative freedom over the music as a whole,” he adds.
The number ones and forthcoming collaborations with more mainstream artists have led to some fans, especially from his more underground roots, using those dubious two words: selling out.
“I haven’t had a lot of that – I would have expected it coming from such a hardcore scene,” he says, “I think everyone with drum’n'bass and the bass music world, in general, is largely thankful for the platform it now has.”
“I’ve never been so excited about making music and I feel like I’m no longer holding back in the way I was when my only fan base was the underground.”
“I think that selling out if anything means altering what you are doing to make money but I’m not some guy that’s just jumped all over the music because it’s getting mainstream support,” he says, “I’ve been there since the beginning – that side of music will always be in my blood whatever I’m making.”
But with two successive chart-toppers and a third possible, does he now, at least, consider himself a pop star?
“Being famous and driving sports cars is not what I’m making music for. If anything I feel embarrassed when people recognise me, so I’m trying to keep out of the limelight as much as possible.”
“I’m motivated by having a platform to make better music, work with artists I might not be able to otherwise and to have a platform for my live show.”
The mainstream acclaim may have propelled Dan to a new and larger audience but throughout our chat his roots in the underground have been one reoccurring theme.
“I’ve been responsible for tracks and moments that have been important in drum’n'bass history,” he says, “The scene is like a family to me and they all seem to be really supportive of what I’m doing.”
He is very optimistic about the future, especially with regards drum’n'bass, referring to the rise of producers such as Pendulum and Chase & Status.
“Think about how well these artists done during a time when the support from the mainstream largely wasn’t there,” he says.
But now with the support there?
“It just makes you think what can be achieved and a whole world of talent is excited about getting involved.”
The Power featuring Dizzee Rascal is released on 3 June on Ministry of Sound Recordings.Tagged in: Adam F, Breakbeat Kaos, dizzee rascal, dj fresh, drum'n'bass, Dubstep, Escape from Planet Monday, golddust, Kryptonite, music, Professor Green, The Power
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