DJ Fresh

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DJ Fresh


Louder, the first single from DJ Fresh’s soon-to-be-released third studio album released mid last year, stormed the UK Single Chart, landing at number 1 – with featured vocals from Welsh singer-songwriter Sian Evans of British trip hop rockers Kosheen. Now, a bunch of mainstream artists are falling over themselves to work with him. In his own words: “I’m literally on the TV all the time.” But, what might appear as overnight success has been a very passionate and studied approach to drum and bass for nearly 20 years, culminating with “massive artists asking me to work with them and…my life turning into almost being a bit like a pop star.”

Daniel Stein is heading Down Under in his fifth trip to our shores. From the tender age of 19, Stein was a founding member of the English drum and bass supergroup Bad Company who enjoyed glorious amounts of success with their 1998 track The Nine – having been voted the Best Drum And Bass Track Of All Time by online bible Drum And Bass Arena since 2004. The other members of Bad Company were prolific music producers of the ‘90s in their own right as drum and bass exploded within the UK underground scene. Although disbanding in 2005, all members continued to work in the industry and it was this early exposure to the scene that encouraged Stein to live out his passion not only in the studio, but in as many ways possible.

Along with Bad Company, Stein started up the online community Dogs On Acid in 2001 which allowed users to share upcoming releases, mixes and gigs – a connective portal that had since been missing. In 2003, he embarked on a solo career and formed the record label Breakbeat Kaos with highly regarded UK producer Adam F and soon after, life skyrocketed.

After forming the label, one of their first releases Barcelona peaked at number 11 on the UK charts and his solo effort, producing the Pet Shop Boys track Miracles, hit number four on the UK charts. As a producer from a scene that was very much underground, producing a song that ranked so high on the mainstream charts was quite an achievement.

With an ear for what both hardcore underground listeners liked and what mainstream audiences could dance to and enjoy, Stein signed popular Australian boys Pendulum to Breakbeat Kaos in 2003. He sites this as a major turning point and he enjoyed helping them to get a leg up in the UK scene with their debut album Hold Your Colour.

But, it was all the time and energy that he put into developing other people’s music that distracted him from making his own beats. “I was suffocating all this creativity to make music and I was putting all this energy into other people that we were trying to help out and push,” he says. But the success of Pendulum proved too much for the smaller label and, as Stein admits, most artists want to keep pushing themselves and so with no hard feelings, Pendulum left the label and Stein took the opportunity to get back into the studio.

The result was 2008’s Gold Dust, a tune re-released in 2010 with vocals from dancehall artist Ce’Cile, that marked his first UK top 40 track. “It gave me the platform to do these things I dreamed of doing with other artists to now do for myself, which was really exciting,” he says, talking of the track and label. It’s this success that has kept the DJ, producer and label owner grounded. “What I’ve kinda realised going through that process, is how shallow the music industry is,” he says. “When you’re on top…everybody wants to jump on what you’re doing which is great but I always try to remember that it’s not really real, people just gravitate towards success.”

And while money is important, it’s not what drives him to make music and he’s even less impressed by the shallow nature of the business. “I went out the other night and I haven’t been out for ages and it was insane and everyone was like, Oh my god, you’re DJ Fresh!’ and I thought, ‘This is why I don’t go out’”.

His style has evolved, mixing house, dancehall, acid jazz and ambient vocals to create a unique sounds which straddle the boundaries of underground and mainstream. “Over the last two or three years I’ve been playing a much wider mix of stuff and now only a percentage of my set is drum’n’bass,” he says.

And as for his show this Sunday night, punters can expect an energetic, intense and genre-varied set. “When I started DJing in more commercial kind of venues I was like, How do I sort of take my mission, which is try and cross this music over to people who don’t know about it’,” he says. But, as for his sets nowadays, it’s a “mad style of DJing and it’s a mishmash of all kinds of music really and it’s very fast and intense.”