Freq Nasty

Freq Nasty is one of those people who are just ‘different’. He looks different, with his mass of dreadlocks; he sounds different, with his accent sounding British and Kiwi all at once, and he makes music that is just different, and unashamedly so. The thing is, it works. It works very well. Even the casual listener can hear some amazing stuff off his latest album and know that not only is it different, it is damn enjoyable too. Unlike other producers who go out of their way to make things different, and end up simply losing their audience, Freq Nasty doesn’t lose sight of his listeners or the dance floor.

Darin McFadyen came up with the name Freq Nasty through thinking about sci-fi B-movies. “From all those superheroes from the late 50’s early 60’s that had really stupid names and crazy super powers”, he says, “and Freq Nasty has one of those kind of retro-futuristic sounding names, like it would be one of those retro-futuristic cartoon characters. That was the kind of vibe I was on – a lot of the samples I used at first, and the tune Booming Back Atcha, all the artwork on the first album was themed around that type of sci-fi.”

Growing up in New Zealand, he faced the same difficulties as we do here in Australia – isolation and a very small music scene. There was no internet, so he had to rely on radio, and as here, radio was all about rock music. “I love the intensity of rock music, and always have,” he enthuses. “I’ve listened to everything from AC/DC, which I still love to this day, through to your Carcass and Entombed and bands like that. But there’s also this idea that you end up getting the English stuff before the American stuff and the American before the English, so you’re in this weird mid-ground, and you end up taking on a lot of influences. If you live in England, you get an impact of the American stuff, but there’s a lot of stuff you miss out on, and I think if you live in the States it’s the same thing. But if you live in New Zealand or Australia you get a very wide spread of stuff from Europe and America, and I think in that respect I have an even-handed approach to listening to music, and the way I hear music”, he says of the influences on his music. “When I first left New Zealand I was going to move to either New York or London, and I think the way I make music is very much from that perspective – the American thing of hiphop and funk style, with the progressive of the UK dance scene sums up my sound.”

McFadyen is unashamedly honest about trying to make his music different. “The way it comes about is I just try to make something different. The way Plumps do their thing is amazing in their right, what Aquasky does is amazing in their own right, what Rennie (Pilgrem) and BLIM does is all amazing, so when it comes to me making an album I say ‘right, all this has gone on, I’m going to do something that isn’t really happening at the moment’, and present people with something they didn’t realise breakbeat could be. It’s that simple,” he states. “Someone asked me what inspires me a while ago, and I was saying that a lot of the stuff that I hear out there, but it probably wouldn’t be breakbeat records that inspire me. I appreciate a well done dance record for sure, but I hear an amazing dance hall record or old dub tune, or some mad breakbeat garage tune, some 8-bar tune on a pirate radio station that some 17 year old kid has made, and I think ‘fucking hell, that’s incredible, I could do something with that’, and I twist it up and do my own version, and the way I make it coherent is that I’m always nicking influences from elsewhere, but the other half of what fits in will be that thing I do.”

“And I hope that in a year or two’s time people start listening to it, and people start making their own versions of that, and in a way another sub-genre comes about; in England these things happen so quickly and so easily if a sound picks up” he continues. “And the whole Ragga-dancehall kinda dub-reggae thing is starting to pick up momentum over that mixture of breaks and those sounds and it will probably be a lot prevalent in the next year, year and a half. I’m already hearing records out now that are using those kind of beat patterns that didn’t happen a year ago.”

McFadyen is also about to create a different expression of his forthcoming album Bring Me the Head of Freq Nasty, incorporating a character made for the single into a whole audiovisual experience. “Initially it was going to be a ‘dex and fx’ thing”, he says “but that’s now been translated into the Video Nasty Experience. It’s a character designed by Jamie Hewlett, who did Tankgirl and the Gorillaz stuff, he’s created a Freq Nasty character for the video but then there’s a whole lot of other stuff that’s been created around that, with the character being integrated with real photo’s and film using new CG stuff. There’s lots of graphics and text chopped up, and everything is going to be themed to the album. There’s not a lot of old video and that… it’s not about recontextualising the old; for me, what I’m doing is creating everything from scratch, there’s probably not going to be anything nicked in there.”

Unfortunately, the Video Nasty Experience won’t be coming to Australia this time around, but we can expect it sometime next year. Fortunately, the Freq Nasty website features the kind of thing to expect from this exciting producer, and he’s set to play in Adelaide in December.


Junior Senior

Not a lot of people are very aware of Denmark beyond a two hundred year old play written by some bald hack, popularised for the modern audience by an Australian actor. So it comes as some surprise that one of the biggest “new” things to captivate the American Music Press is a little group from Denmark called Junior Senior. “Nobody knows much about it… it’s very small. It’s very Danish,” says the Junior of the band, Jesper Mortensen, of his home country’s music scene. “There’s a few really big Danish bands that have never made it out of Denmark, because they were lagging behind, they weren’t really original enough, or didn’t have good song writing. And we’ve always been in the shadow of Sweden, especially in the indie scene.” He pauses slightly, then continues in his softly spoken English “It’s kind of weird for us to make it outside of Denmark, we’re the first to make it big outside, and it will be interesting to see how that impacts on the scene.”

Junior Senior developed the name for more than the obvious fact that one is older than the other. “I’m kind of petite compared to senior, he’s very tall, very big boned,” he laughs, talking about his partner in music, Jeppe Breum, “and in Denmark Jesper is a very common name, and in school there would be about 5 Jaspers, and I was always the smallest one.”

If you haven’t heard their infectious ‘Move Your Feet’, off their debut album D-D-Don’t Don’t Stop the Beat, it’s a poppy, up beat tune celebrating music and life in general, and has a happy little animated filmclip to accompany it. It’s been compared to everything from Echo and the Bunnymen to Wham! The rest of the album is just as infectious, and demonstrates a range of influences. “I wouldn’t be able to narrow it down to one influence, but black music from the 60’s – early Stevie Wonder, James Brownthe Rolling Stones, the Ramones, The Clash, Run DMC, the Beatles. I’m personally very into the old black music, and the good disco music, like Chic,” Mortensen says. “I tend to go for good song writing and original ideas, I always appreciate that in music no matter what the style, whether it’s Sly and the Family Stone, or if it’s Dolly Parton, or if it’s Graham Parsons – it can be anyone, as long as there’s something in there, good songs, nice singing, or clever arrangements, you know. But we never set out to be a retro band,” he remarks. “We always wanted to make it into a 2000 band… none of us really wants to live in the 60’s or 80’s or anything like that.”

This remarkable blend of influences has capture the American music press by storm, as well as American audiences, which is no surprise considering the substantial lack of originality in the US pop music scene at the moment. “I think it’s a combination of things why people like us, but I really hope that when push comes to shove its really the music,” Mortensen says. “Everything we do we try and do it slightly different, in our own way, and not be too stereotypical. I think some of our songs are good enough to come out of the indie scene, which goes beyond the selling 500 record thing.” He trails off slightly, as if thinking that was the correct way to get his point across. “We never thought we’d amount to anything”, he continues, laughing. “We’d never thought we’d get outside of Denmark. We always thought we had something, but we didn’t think anyone would actually care about us, so it’s been a pleasure.”

Another thing about the band that’s not stereotypical is the blend of gay and straight sensibilities. Their tune Chicks and Dicks clearly demonstrates the fact that Junior is straight and Senior is gay, and this has been lauded in the US press quite a bit as something rather unusual. “It doesn’t really annoy me,” Mortensen says of this undue focus. “I think to some people that it’s a bigger deal than it should be. We don’t really care about it that much, we didn’t feel like hiding it, because it’s such a big part of the chemistry between us and the music we make. We not really big about saying our political views and stuff, but when it comes down to it, I’m happy that it hopefully helps to broaden people’s horizons, and shows that gay and straight people get along well.”

Some of their unusual achievements to date include being played whenever the Mets hit a home run, and being included in the coming “Worms 3d” video game. “I don’t know very much about baseball, but it’s one of those weird things where you don’t get a feeling about it because you’ve never been to the stadium where they actually play,” Mortensen says of the baseball accolade. The Worms thing came about by the game developers approaching the band directly. “When you’re in a band and you get all these crazy offers all the time, and most of them you reject, because we don’t want our music in all these commercials. Although I lost interest in computer games when I was younger, Senior and some of the other guys who play with us are really big fans of The Worms games, and we chose to be in the game. Maybe get our music out to people who might not have heard it,” he adds.

It appears that the addition in the game won’t really be necessary to further their career, as they play 22 gigs across 8 weeks in America to packed out shows. Their energetic live performance, catchy radio-friendly tunes, and combination of uniqueness yet retro sounds in the Gay/Straight package is sure enough to get them more than enough attention. “All the people seem to like us,” Mortensen says about the current American tour. “A lot of people seem crazy about us, which is really nice,” he adds politely.


Gervase Cooke, the Boy Lost In Music, certainly has a lot to say about music, and we could have chatted for hours if it wasn’t for the phone card giving up the ghost. Getting into dance music because he was self confessedly too pretentious to listen to indie as it exploded into commercialism, he’s become one of the most important figures on the Breaks scene today, and cites Australia as the reason that breaks parties are some of the best parties in the world.

Cooke got the name BLIM because he literally was ‘lost in music’. “I used to write music on headphones in the corner of the lounge room of where I lived so other people wouldn’t get annoyed by it or if it was late at night,” he says of his name. “And I used to do it for quite long periods of time on end, and if anyone come up and tapped me on the shoulder or anything I’d jump out of my skin because I was just somewhere else completely. A blim is a very small piece of hash here in England, the very last little bit,” he adds “so I thought of that and how it could come to mean something else, and thought up Boy Lost In Music, and it stuck.”

His introduction to dance music came from early Warp releases. “I was into indie music and rock, and when it came to about 1988-1989 I was primarily into a lot of indie – Stone Roses, Happy Mondays, Inspiral Carpets, and a lot of underground stuff as well; and I went to Manchester because that was really good for that kind of music. Just as I arrived there it exploded on a commercial level, and made me not want to listen to it. Coz I’m pretentious in that kind of way,” he says, and I’m not really sure if he was joking or not. “Then I heard some Sheffield techno, some really early Warp releases, and because I was a scientist at the time, I was studying mathematics, the logic of the way the music was put together was instantly recognisable to me, and appealed to me and made me want to buy some machines to make music.”

Whilst some may think that beginning his musical life from an essentially classical orchestral base of piano and violin would aid him in leaps and bounds, Cooke isn’t so sure. “Learning an instrument growing up as a child is a frustrating experience really,” he says candidly. “Because you kinda don’t want to do it, you know what I mean? You see it as a chore.” So Cooke doesn’t think that it has had a big influence on the way he makes music. “Just the experience of growing up in constant contact with musical instruments, however badly you interact with that” may have had an impact, he says, “but I would have to say it’s intuitively… I have to say I’m not consciously aware of it.”

Cooke started his electronic music career producing drum and bass for Emotif and SOUR, before moving over to Botchit & Scarper with labelmate Freq Nasty. “The simplest way to explain it is I just wasn’t happy doing it anymore,” he says of the change in musical direction. “I didn’t feel it anymore, I didn’t believe in my music, didn’t believe I had an opportunity to make myself heard in drum and bass, for a number of reasons – some to do with the music itself, some to do with the people involved in it. And when I first started to make breakbeat, it made me feel happy, and that’s the choice I pursued. It’s not even necessarily a conscious decision; it was a matter of doing what I wanted, what I liked.”

Cooke is known for making and playing music with a party vibe, and is partly responsible for the term “festival breaks”. I say partly, because it seems it’s a joke that, due to the music press, has spiralled out of control. Certain aspects of the UK music media have pointed to it as a move away from the harder sounds of breaks, but Cooke says, “It’s not a move a way from anything. It was just a joke me and Rennie (Pilgrem) had in the studio one night when we recognised the sound that we were making. I don’t think we deliberately set out to make anything… it was just something that when Rennie and I get in the studio we make music in a certain way – it sounds big, like its at a festival, we’ll call it ‘Festival breaks’, just laughing and joking about it… and one of us mentioned it to somebody and then all of a sudden…” he trails off with a smile.

Cooke believes the real party vibe comes from visiting Australia. “Everywhere I go this year it’s exactly the same,” he says. “I’ve got a digital camera, and at some point in the night I take a picture and everyone’s got their hands in the air, and I’ve got them all in a line, and unless you take close look of the racial mix in the crowd you’d never notice the difference,” he says. “And it’s been the same everywhere I’ve been… all around Eastern Europe where I used to go 5 or 6 years ago and they had a scene but really tiny and small. They all got scenes going on now. I used to play in Israel and it was just dead – it was good, you had a couple of people into it but you couldn’t get a party going. Recently they had a rocking crowd and I ended up playing for 4 hours – they kept the venue open for two hours longer than it was supposed to be! I just played in China and they fucking loved it, and they never even heard it before. They just couldn’t help themselves.”

He cites Stardust in Adelaide and Two Tribes in Perth as the places he started to notice this. “This year all the gigs are like that, everywhere I go. It’s phenomenal, absolutely fantastic,” and you can tell he is really enjoying the breaks scene at the moment. “I think the music has become a lot more fun, and I feel that it’s the British DJs who go down to Australia for the summer bring back that influence.” An unusual statement, considering it’s usually the English scene that has been seen to influence our dance music scene in the past. “Breaks parties are the best parties to go to in this country [the UK] now, there’s no question about it. I wouldn’t have said that if I didn’t think it wasn’t true, it definitely didn’t used to be true,” he states. “You go out now to a breaks night, and it’s a real fucking party. It wasn’t in London for so long. We were amazed to find out that in Australia that was like the norm. In some ways I think Australia’s party and fun vibe has filtered back into England and made the vibe fun back here.”

“You know what I mean, just real fun, proper parties,” were the last words he said to me before the phone card cut us off, and you can see exactly what he means as he hits Adelaide.