Interview: DJ Fresh

Interview with DJ Fresh

DJ Fresh

Introduction

Following two number one singles and a sellout tour, DJ Fresh has just unveiled Nextlevelism, an album rammed with big-name guest vocalists and even bigger basslines. We spoke to the DnB heavyweight about the journey so far and his plan for world domination.

Questions and answers

Hi Fresh, how are you doing?

I’m great, I’m in Australia with the band doing Parklife festival.

Having already had two number one singles, there must be high hopes for Nextlevelism? What can people expect from it?

It’s out! Go check it out! There are lots of collaborations, as you would expect. I’m really proud of it.

Rita Ora was relatively unknown when she appeared on ‘Hot Right Now’: how did that collaboration originally come about?

The track was already written and I was looking for someone to sing. I tried a few people but it wasn’t working out, and then I saw a YouTube clip of Rita and knew she was perfect for the song. She recorded a demo, and smashed it.

The album features an impressive set of guest vocalists. How did you go about deciding on who you wanted to work with?

I usually make the tracks first and have an idea of chorus hooks/vibes before looking at who would be the perfect fit. I was lucky to get everyone I wanted on this album. A couple of tracks weren’t finished on time and will hopefully be on the US album.

What would be your dream collaboration?

Jim Morrison. I just look for something unique and keep an open mind when I’m working with people: the more unusual the collaboration, the more interesting the result.

So you’ve just finished your first live tour. As someone who has traditionally performed as a DJ, just how much extra work goes in to pulling together the live show?

A hell of a lot. Every tour needs at least a month’s solid studio work, rehearsals, programming and production rehearsals. On top of that, there’s often new lighting or a stage set that needs thinking about, and then designing and building.

Do you now have a preference between playing live and DJing?

I love both but I do really enjoying playing live. It’s great sharing the experience with other dedicated musicians. We’ve become like a family, and we all bounce ideas off each other.

What has been the live highlight for you this year?

Probably playing three shows at both legs of the V Festival! I think it was a first. Our afternoon tents were spilling over, then we played to about 30,000 people in the evening.

So what’s on your rider? Have you ever sneaked on any comedy items to see if they’re paying attention?!

(Laughs) Mine’s quite simple. The band one has tonnes of stuff on it but, including the crew, there are 12 of us so you need it! I don’t like being fussy. Having said that, I’ve just added cereal bars ‘cause I’m on a low carb diet.

There must be a big team involved nowadays: are you still involved in every decision or have you had to learn to delegate?

I’m involved probably a lot more than most artists. Coming from a label background, I have a good understanding of how things work. But sometimes you have to let go and let other people do the job that they’re ultimately best at!

Are you still actively involved with DnB imprint Breakbeat Kaos?

I am but we’ve slowed down our output. Sales aren’t what they used to be and we like to spend money on releases to help push the music.

Drum n bass and dubstep have had such a massive impact on mainstream culture. Was there a defining moment when you thought to yourself, “This is really going next level, and I’m a part of it”?

It’s been a constant stream of small battles won and sometimes lost. I’m very proud of what the whole bass music scene has achieved. I think it’s inspiring to young people today to see that you can make a difference. And if it can be done in music, then why not in everything?

Who do you like to listen to when not making your own music?

I don’t get time to listen to much music, and I like to keep my mind clear. The only album I’ve bought in last couple of years was Fleet Foxes’, which I love.

Finally, what’s still left to achieve for DJ Fresh?

Main stage at Glastonbury, conquering the American charts with bass music, and contributing to changing the music that invades our ears every time we switch on the TV and radio.