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 www.freqnasty.com features the kind of thing to expect from this exciting producer, and he’s set to play in Adelaide in December.