An interview with Fat Freddy’s Drop
"Our UK fans are amazing – they get into it and don’t hold back. That’s very reassuring for us because it usually encourages us as performers to dig in and deliver our strongest performances."
One of the most forward-thinking reggae outfits to appear over the last decade, Fat Freddy’s Drop have sold in excess of three quarters of a million albums independently since the early noughties, with a sound that demands to be heard live. OX spoke to the group ahead of their performance at Boomtown in August.
Firstly, thanks for taking the time to speak to us today. How does it feel nearing your 1000th show? Was that a landmark you always had in mind as a band?
To be honest, I wouldn’t know how many shows we’ve done but 1000 does sound impressive. I don’t think any of us have been counting, but every year we manage to write new music and get out on the road and tour. That’s a blessing and a privilege.
You have a substantial fan base in the UK. Earlier on in your career, was Europe a deliberate target audience?
Looking at the rest of the world from the very, very distant land of New Zealand, the obvious targets are the US and Europe. As soon as I had made some music that I thought was any good, I always felt Europe was the place. I thought Europe was a little more progressive and probably friendlier than the US, and I also knew more people in Europe.
How many of your songs were born from on-stage improvisation? What was your most memorable or successful improvisation?
It’s hard to say exactly which songs and how many were actually written on stage, but many of them were certainly conceived there. Probably more of our earlier work, because in the earlier years the shows were smaller and lent themselves more to longer jams and more self-indulgent performances.
Independently controlled music is a rare thing in this day and age. In what ways has your decision to release your music yourself affected how you make and distribute your music?
Being independent means we are our own label. We have two record distributors – Rhythmethod for New Zealand and Australia and !K7 for the rest of the world. From the beginning it’s always made sense to us to run our own business. We backed ourselves and amongst our crew we felt that we had enough smarts to take it on and make it work. Of course, you make mistakes, but you also enjoy the triumphs. We have eight core members in Freddy’s and each individual has their own family to fend for, so we’ve always ensured that we are fully involved and in control of our future.
What do you like about performing in the UK? What are you looking forward to about performing at Boomtown?
Our UK fans are amazing – they get into it and don’t hold back. That’s very reassuring for us because it usually encourages us as performers to dig in and deliver our strongest performances. Our two shows at the Brixton Academy earlier this year were off the hook, possibly some of the best gigs of our career in my opinion. The audience were locked in and fizzing. There was something special in the air that night. I think we responded and played really well with energetic arrangements and solid playing by all on stage. I’m really looking forward to Boomtown; it feels like a freaky indie festival but with scale. Their website looks fresh with plenty of flavour.
What has been your most memorable festival experience so far and why?
We really enjoyed playing at the Secret Garden Party a couple years ago. We played on the last day and the line-up had been very cool. The highlight was David Rodigan’s set in the afternoon, he smashed it – a tasty, eclectic selection put together for the dance floor. What I also notice about Secret Garden is that there was a lot of exciting visual activity constantly in play. Aside from the main stages there was lots of eye candy, much of it didn’t make sense but it just looked cool. A lot of thought had gone into keeping people amused and engaged.
Which artists have influenced you most over the years? Are any of them playing at Boomtown?
It’s hard to talk about influences when there’s just so many. There are some artists performing at Boomtown that have given me much musical pleasure and inspired moments. Right up there is Roni Size & Krust rocking the Full Cycle Sound. I also have some good buddies playing – I look forward to catching up with George Evelyn aka Nightmares on Wax and also having a laugh and a pint with Brad and Dom – The Nextmen!
What should new fans look forward to? Will there be songs from the new album BAYS as well as some Fat Freddy classics?
New fans showing up should expect eight very excited musicians doing their damnedest to excite all those in front of them, and yes we will be playing tunes from our new album but we will also drop some old favourites as well. Can’t wait!
Fat Freddy’s Drop perform at Boomtown Fair, 11th-14th August. Tickets are available at boomtownfair. co.uk
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