In talks with|Fat Freddys Drop*

Categorised as INTERVIEW., MUSIC.

If your not aware of the 7 strong dub monster that is Fat Freddy’s Drop then let me fill you in…Fat Freddy’s Drop are a seven-piece collective from the windy rises of Wellington, New Zealand. Their sounds consist of many different ingredients and flavors drawn from combination’s of dub, reggae, soul, jazz and techno (fruity!).  Leading to a haunting and unmistakable feel that’s all to easy to get lost inside…..We were lucky enough to hook up with the guys for a chat on the origins of Fat Freddy’s Drop, On tour Jagar habits & possible collaborations. Choice!

Hey guys thanks for joining us today, so first and foremost…whats the story behind Fat Freddy’s Drop, How did it all begin?

It kicked about 10 years ago as an informal jam based around DJ Fitchies sets in various Wellington nightspots – he was one of the go to guys on the turntables back then. He started dropping more instrumental joints and musicians would get up to jam over the top… among the first to get invited back were Antonio Chang aka Toby Laing our trumpet maestro and Joe Dukie aka Dallas Tamaira on vocals. Bit by bit the cast of players grew and Fitchie moved into production (MPC… of course!), live dubs and effects until it reached a critical mass.

To me it would seem that your live sound has a more improvised and jam style feel to it when compared to your studio recordings…Can you tell us a little bit about the difference between the two styles for the band?

Well that’s where the band started… and still feels most comfortable now to be honest. The vast majority of our music is worked out on the road in live situations and then our studio time is spent trying to tame the tiger. It can be really difficult trying to capture the spirit and spontaneity of our live approach when you’re locked away in a dark studio but we’re getting better at it.

When you released the Midnight Marauders EP in Europe in 2003 it did pretty well didn’t it? With a lot of Djs ‘particularly in Germany’ dropping it in their sets, Since then you have toured around Europe almost every year up to now, That must have been awesome, do you have any particular memories from your time spent on the road? Any bad habits or pre-show rituals to speak of?

Yeah, Marauders has a lot to answer for. Come to think of it so does Germany… and Berlin in particular. If you’re talking about bad habits on tour look no further. I mean that in the nicest possible way of course – they know how to party over there. Actually, we’re very lucky to be hosted by some amazingly generous people on our trips… and most memories come from either killer gigs or sampling some beautiful food and wine. Food and the social aspect of sharing a meal together have been a constant part of our tour ritual, though that has been joined by fishing, digging for records and playing golf in the past couple of years. Jetlag Johnson (guitar shredder extraordinaire) has a pre-show “jager” ritual that is threatening to become a bad habit…

Fat Freddys Drop have collaborated with various artists including Alice Russell and Mc Slave as well as having countless track remixes by Djs such as Jazzanova, Digital Mystikz and Artificial Intelligence. What would be the ultimate artist to collaborate with Fat Freddys Drop in your opinion? Any artists past or present…

Wow – how about Carl Craig… James Brown… Coxsone Dodd… Tom Moulton… Bill Withers… Sly Stone… Prince… Tim Maia… hell, where do ya start?! We’ve always loved the idea of working with The Ratana Brass Band and they’re based not too far from Wellington so maybe that’s a goer.

The epically haunting vibes provided by the horn section of Fat Freddy’s Drop are ever present in the above video for ‘Ernie’

The sound of Fat Freddys seems to be built and layered out of a diverse range of sounds and vibes, where do your draw your influences and inspirations from when doing what you do?

If nothing else, we are all very open in our listening to and appreciation of other music. We pick up new (and old) music where-ever we go and one of the great things about coming from a young-ish (and pretty open) musical culture like New Zealands’ is that we are quite comfortable grabbing ideas from whatever takes our fancy, we’re not locked into any rules by having a really hardcore dub, disco, soul, roots etc scene to please. I mean, the vast majority of gigs we play we can drop a roots/reggae influenced tune without having a section of the crowd turn their backs on us.

Whats in your headphones at the moment? Can you tell us anything about Fat Freddy’s Drop in 2011?

Well, I’ve spent the last year or so on the road picking up disco 45s and afrobeat lps, so a lot of that. I’ve been getting into 80s boogie too – and a lot of music influenced by those sounds – Dam Funk, Nite Jewel, Onra. On an NZ tip I always check out my man Julien Dyne (he’s got releases on BBE Records), Ladi 6, Shapeshifter and Lord Echo. The other guys in the band? Your guess is as good as mine… but I trust ’em, they got good taste. Hell, I can’t wait to get back in the tour bus for an iPod challenge now.

The band will be playing a one off show at Londons Brixton Academy on the 18th of June and this should definitely not be missed!

Photography Kerry Brown.

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