As a freshman in college, I was introduced me to Drum and Bass by way of DJ Freaky Flow, a Toronto scratch-master, floor-shaker, and all-around brilliant track selector. His intro tape (long before tapes were again fashionable and in vogue) quite literally changed the way I listened to music, and it wasn’t long before I myself scouring through Skyehigh (RIP) on S.U Hill looking for the hottest dubplates I could find, often spending my weekend evenings in some darkly lit club bouncing around at 180 BPM. Like many styles and substances college kids often try, it’s wasn’t for everyone, but I was hooked.
Almost 2 decades later, I still think this guy is the shit! With his latest mix, Vol. 015 (which you can get for free right here,) Freaky Flow continues his long tradition of dropping massive Drum and Bass selections from some of the hottest producers currently on the market, with a penchant for blinding scratch patterns fit snuggly in the mix.
I caught up with Freaky Flow in Rochester, NY at Pearl Nightclub (a rare treat for a Tuesday evening) to talk about his latest mix, the massive rise in EDM’s popularity, and where he feels Drum and Bass fits into the equation some 20+ years after taking up the 1’s and 2’s.
G- What’s up and thank you very much for taking the time to speak with Live High Five today!
F- Thank you for having me, man. I appreciate it!
G- Absolutely! To be honest, here’s a little confession, you’re the first Drum and Bass I ever heard. An ex-girlfriend showed your tunes to me, and it was coolest thing she ever showed me during our time together.
F- (laughter) Cool man!
G- So, you’ve been doing this for a long time, man…
F- It has been a minute, man. This is my 20th year as a DJ now, and it’s crazy to think of it like that. In some ways, it doesn’t feel like 20 years at all. But in other ways, it DEFINITELY feels like 20 years. You have these memories from 20 years ago like ‘I remember that like it was last week!’ It’s really strange, but it’s cool.
G- Right on. Now, you’re on the west coast now in L.A. How long have you been out there?
F- I’ve been out there for just about 4 years. I moved out there from Toronto in 2009. Of course, there is lots of stuff I miss about Toronto, but the winter is not one of those things!
G- (laughing) Yeah I’m sure.
So, your latest release is called Vol. 015, and you can download it for free from your Soundcloud page. There is so much music out there right now for DJ’s and I’d like to know where you still find your tracks and everything? Also, are you still keeping it vinyl like back in the day?
F- Yeah I play all vinyl still. In some ways, I’m probably doing myself a disservice because there is more DNB available digitally than there is on vinyl, but there is still a great variety of DNB available.
There are no physical record stores (for DNB) in L.A. that I know of, but then again I don’t know it too well. I’ll usually order my records online from overseas. There’s still a great variety, and stuff I enjoy, I can get. So, it’s no problem.
G- And how would you say the West Coast DNB scene compares with the scene out here on the East Coast? Any positives or negatives?
F- Yeah, well it’s hard to say. When I lived in Toronto, people used to ask me a similar question. They’d say ‘How’s the Toronto DNB Scene,’ and I’d say I don’t really know, because I only played in Toronto once or twice a year. It’s the same with L.A. and I only play there once or twice a year. I try to not over-saturate myself in any particular market, because if I played L.A. over other weekend, I feel like people would get sick of me and they wouldn’t come out to see me. I like to keep it special, once or twice a year.
Every once in a while, I’ll go out to a DNB show, and the ones I’ve been to in L.A. are really solid, so I can only assume that it’s a solid DNB scene in L.A. as well.
G- Alright. Now, you are on a very short run of dates right now. What are the rest of your plans for 2013? Any extensive traveling or touring going on?
F- Yeah. This week, after Rochester, I have Ottawa and Halifax, NY, and Minneapolis. I was in Worchester, and I have Philadelphia coming up. There might be something in San Diego in the near future. My booking agent is always trying to set stuff up.
But, to tell you the truth, I’ve taken a little bit of a step back from touring as much as I used to, and this week is reminding me why.
This is a pretty tight week of 5 shows in 7 days. I forgot. This is why I took a step back in 2004. I was doing 20 shows a month, and I was on an airplane every weekend of my life, and I toned it down a little and decided only to do 3-4 shows a month. I upped it a little this month, and I think I’m going to scale it back a little. I’m older now and I’m tired (laughing.)
I love the DJ’ing, of course, but I do not like the air travel or the TSA. The TSA… God. All the rigamorol that goes along with that. If they could invent teleportation, I think I’d be ok with 12 shows a month. Until that time, I’m gonna tone it down.
G- That’s the one thing I wish they create, too. I’ve got a nice drive home tonight, but it’s worth it.
So tell us… If you could recommend 4 albums every fan of you should know about…
F- Oh wow.
G- To get interested in turntablism and what you do, in terms of DNB and EDM in all it’s forms, because you’re a prolific producer as well, what 4 albums would you give them?
F- To introduce them to DJ’ing, or to Electronic Music specifically?
G- Electronic Music specifically.
F- It’s a difficult question.
G- Well, give us 4 tracks.
F- So, this probably wouldn’t interest people too much anymore (because) these are 20 year old songs. I started off spinning Hip Hop and I had never heard of DNB, and the first mixtapes that I heard were Kenny Ken and Mickey Finn tapes with MCGQ mc’ing, and these were from England. Those were the 2 tapes that really got me into it… They were just awesome!
And then, I was also listening to DJ Hype tapes back then, and even Andy C tapes back then were just dope!
G- No doubt!
And to finish up today, you’ve been doing this for 2 decades, and you’re still going. Through the ins and outs and ups and downs and travel miles, for anybody that’s interested in getting into the music scene as a whole, what advice can you give some of the young, up and comers?
F- You know, there’s a few things I would say. One of them is you’ve gotta have some kind of sound that is different from somebody else, or else why are they going to book you when they can just book the other person you sound similar to?
But, keeping that in mind, your musical sound and how good you are technically, even those it’s gotta be there, that’s going to be the smallest percent responsible for how successful you are. The vast majority of how successful you are is going to have to do with how professional you are, how reliable you are, how well you market yourself, and how much you hustle. It’s all about that.
There were guys I knew while coming up that were as good as me, some were better DJ’s than me, but they didn’t have that drive and hustle that I think I had. You’ve really gotta do that. Get yourself out there and make yourself known. Make yourself different.
Be respectful, be nice, nobody likes a jerk. Be polite to your fans, unless they’re really rude to you for some reason. But if they’re not, people are are people and respect them all!
G- You’ve been pretty nice to me so far.
F- So far. Just wait ‘til this goes off. (laughs)
G- (laughing) Well I owe you a beer, so don’t hit me before you collect!
Anyways, it was great to meet up and interview with you today, man. Again, thank you very much for taking the time to speak with Live High Five today!
F- Yeah man. Thank you for having me on!
G- My pleasure. I’m looking forward to a great set tonight!
F- You got it. Thank you again!