DJ Fresh tells The Edge about his upcoming movie plans, working on new tracks with Rita Ora, Dizzee Rascal and Ms Dynamite, and a song he’s just recorded with Diplo’s label.
What can we expect from the show tonight?
The unexpected! Hopefully not the unexpected for me, ‘cause that’d be a disaster, but we’ll be using some pretty mad technology, in terms of our lighting, the way we put together our tracks, and just basically trying to get like a sonic representation of my tracks – sounding as heavy as it does live as it does in a club, but with a performance element to it, a proper show, and the ability to interact a bit with the crowd and the set to vary every time. We’ve only been on the road a year now, so it’s going really well – from strength to strength and it’s really exciting.
What’s a typical day in the life of DJ Fresh?
Well, depends on tour. Basically get up, try to find a shower, which is not that easy in some of these venues! Then try and get on the internet, which I still haven’t managed to and it’s like 4 o’clock. We often spend a lot of the time messing around in soundchecks, trying to improve the set from the night before. And yesterday we nearly messed the whole thing up! We spent about four hours trying to do all this technical stuff, that was a nightmare. So it’s just kind of a non-stop evolution of the show, and even on the bus at night I’ll be talking to the lighting guys about the way the lights are set up and, you know, trying to think of ways to improve the show all the time.
I’m reading a script at the moment, for a film I’m supposed to be doing the soundtrack for.
Can you tell us a bit about the film?
I could but I’d have to kill you afterwards! I’ve just got loads of things going on at the moment really, I’m a great believer in challenging yourself and trying to do new things all the time.
What do you do to chill out/when you’re not going crazy on tour?
Well I have been trying to get into fly fishing recently, ‘cause I live in the country. I’ve done it about five times and haven’t caught anything – it’s really just an excuse to sit next to the river and just chill out. But, yeah I’ve been running, going to the gym, but at the moment there’s so much going on that it’s just sort of time at the moment to just try and, you know, max out as much as you can.
So what do you think you’d be doing if you weren’t DJing?
Trying to DJ! God knows, I’m sure it’d be music related.
How did you get into music?
Just from when I was a kid, my parents had a piano and I started messing around on that when I was very little. And since then, I’ve just been constantly trying to make music really, in one form or another, at school, everywhere.
You’ve worked with a lot of big names, how do you choose who you collaborate with?
Usually I have a pretty clear idea of what I want, before I go in the studio with someone. So when I’m writing something, I’ll have someone in mind ideally to do it, and I might have an idea of what they’re going to sing – like what the chorus is going to be for example. I’ll sing that myself and get them to resing it afterwards. A lot of the time, for like scheduling issues ‘cause people have got their own things going on you can’t always get who you want. But, the great thing about this album is that I pretty much got my first choice for every track! So that’s really great, being able to get so close to the original idea!
Anyone you’d like to work with again?
Yeah, well, everyone I’ve worked with so far! I’ve been messing around with Rita on other stuff, and Dizzee on other stuff. I’ve love to do something else with The Fray, but then they’re based in America so it’s a bit more difficult. Ms Dynamite and I are messing around on some other stuff too. I think once you hook up with someone, and have a good session with them in the studio; it’s something you’d wanna do again, definitely.
Who has the most energy on stage? I know you’re gunna be biased now ‘cause Fleur and Kodish (Fresh’s drummer) are in the room!
They’re all wicked in different ways actually. Weirdly enough all of those people are really energetic on stage. Rizzle Kicks are mad energetic on stage, Rita is, Pro Green is. Probably Rizzle Kicks or Rita I’d say!
Shy-FX has just done a re-edit of Gold Dust, what’s it like to have other artists play with your music and reinterpret it?
It’s cool! When we were doing the album, we initially wanted to put a version of Gold Dust on it, and I suggested Shy do it, just because he’s got a very, sort of, shy sound. And you can kind of imagine what Shy mixed with that tune is gunna be, and what he did was even better than what I’d hoped it was gunna be! It’s been getting a really good reaction, so we just wanted to get it out there and let people hear it.
Any dream collaborations?
Yeah my drummer Paul Kodish [in the room]. I was gunna say Fleur, but we just did something on my album.
Fleur: Yes! [laughs]
But we will do more stuff. Coldplay? I think that’s probably on everyone’s bucket list, just because Chris Martin is such a talented song writer, and I love their stuff. But, I mean, to be honest, anybody and everybody really! I’d love to work with some world music singers and artists, and just try new stuff.
What inspires you to start writing songs?
It depends really. Usually like a specific idea I’ll come up with and I’ll be really excited about trying it out. I wrote a track called ‘Floodlight’, years ago, because I was at home and I heard this bass in the distance and I wondered where it was coming from. So I wandered out into the fields, for like two hours. Finally ended up at this party – so I wrote a track and tried to copy that thing of like music in the distance getting close and two people talking about where this party was, and was what gunna be there when they got there. So usually something very specific will just trigger me to be inspired.
Where’s your favourite place to perform?
Maybe Puerto Rico, it’s really cool and I’ve got some good mates out there. I love playing in Belgium, mainly ‘cause I’ve got friends out there as well, and they love drum and bass out there. Ibiza – Ibiza Rocks – is amazing! Pretty much anywhere that isn’t freezing cold or depressing like England often is.
What’s the craziest thing that’s ever happened on tour?
My tour manager last week got turned away from UK customs at 7 in the morning, trying to go through the queue at customs wearing only his boxer shorts, holding his passport! That was pretty random.
What’s the worst gig you’ve ever done?
I had one gig years ago in America, where the guy that was promoting the gig worked for the club and he’d been sacked just as they were supposed to start promoting it, and the guy that owned the club hadn’t realised. He hadn’t put two and two together and realised the guy he’d sacked was promoting. My gig wasn’t the only one that it had happened to, but there were only about five people there! That was fucking weird. But luckily that doesn’t happen that often!
How did you come up with your name?
I just got asked to pick a name when I was on pirate radio, and I used to scratch a sample that was called Fresh, so somebody said “why don’t you call yourself Fresh?” And that was it, it just kinda stuck.
Have any fans ever done anything really weird for you?
Loads of tattoos! There was a guy on my Facebook that – ‘cause I wrote this song called ‘Immortal’ and it had this massive sample in it, this big, long dialogue, and he got the whole thing tattooed on his back! Pretty mad.
If you weren’t making drum and bass or dance music, what genre do you think you’d move into, or any plans to?
Not really, I like to be influenced by lots of different genres. But I just make whatever I kinda wanna make, which recently has been bass music, but we’ll see what happens.
You tweeted about making some underground stuff that you’ve got coming out soon, can you tell us a bit more about that?
Well I’ve done a trap tune for Diplo’s label and I’ve done a couple of drum and bass tracks, that may or may not be coming out on Realm Records – we’re just sort of talking about that at the moment! I always write stuff in the background, so it’s good to just get it out there, ‘cause I love that kind of stuff as well!
What’s the best thing a fan has ever tweeted you?
There was that guy last night…
Fleur: Oh yeah! He said: “In a mosh pit, did I give up? Did I fuck!” And then “survivor” of the mosh pit or something!
What are your plans after this tour?
Go on holiday! Maybe Bali or South Africa, which is where my Dad’s from.
Will you carry on writing or just have a big break?
I’m hoping to have a break for a bit, but it kinda usually just happens when I don’t expect it to, that I get in the mood to do something. Knowing my luck that’ll probably be the whole way through the holiday!