As he hits Liverpool with his live show Emma Johnson catches up with bass culture hero DJ Fresh
LISTENING to his big beats and driving basslines it is hard to imagine DJ Fresh in a pair of waders, fishing rod in his hand, but the dubstep hero likes nothing better than a spot of fly fishing apparently.
“I have just started getting into it,” he reveals. “It’s great, you can just completely switch off, it’s almost like meditation. When you are in business for yourself you are always thinking of things, people are always calling you, you never really switch off and chill out. So to have something you can just completely focus on is really helpful.
“I have been doing it for a few months. I still haven’t caught anything though!”
It is no surprise DJ Fresh needs to chill. The self-confessed workaholic is riding high.
The Londoner has topped the charts twice in the last 12 months – with Hot Right Now (featuring Jay-Z protegee Rita Ora, more on her later) and the dubstep anthem Louder.
Don’t mistake him for an overnight sensation though. Now 35, Fresh – real name Dan Stein – has been making music since he was 17.
In the nineties he was part of Bad Company, regarded as one of the finest drum ‘n’ bass acts ever, and is one of the driving forces behind bass culture’s move into the mainstream.
“People talk about being in the right place at the right time but I was part of the movement that has helped to make this the right place and the right time for a long time,” he explains.
“I was there in the background hammering away with my label (Breakbeat Kaos), pushing tracks from people like Pendulum and Chase and Status and Nero before they blew up.
“It is really gratifying to see it finally starting to become a big part of mainstream UK music.”
With its stretched beats, dark drums and heart-thumping basslines to be heard everywhere, dubstep is certainly hard to escape.
Says Fresh: “It is the sound of young UK and finally the mainstream has opened its eyes and realised that. Maybe it just needed to come of age to be taken seriously.”
DJ Fresh is having no problems being taken seriously himself. With record sales topping a million he was recently named Best Producer at the Drum and Bass Awards and Best Dance Act at the Urban Music Awards.
He can also take some credit for helping catapult the young Rita Ora into the spotlight.
“I was introduced to her through some producers. I was looking for the right vocalist for the track and they showed me a Youtube video of her and I thought she was perfect. The more I saw of her, the more I thought she was going to be a massive force to be reckoned with and she is a really cool chick.
“People keep comparing her to Rihanna. I don’t think she sounds like Rihanna but in terms of being a credible, global superstar she is Britain’s answer to her.”
Rita accompanied Fresh when he played his sellout gig at Liverpool’s O2 Academy in May.
The 21-year-old is too busy with her own world domination plans to join him for his return to the city this month but Fresh promises a fantastic show.
“Liverpool was great, one of my favourite gigs from the last tour.
“This time we are a five-piece band with me on keyboards and singing and it is a cross between a full-on band experience and the really heavy dancefloor sound of my production.”
The tour fits with the release of Fresh’s third studio album – Nextlevelism.
Out on October 1, it features a host of guest singers and rappers including Professor Green and Juliette Lewis. Says Fresh: “Juliette is really cool, lovely, just like the characters she plays. . .she is not a lunatic but she has got that ‘out there’ vibe about her. She is a very deep and interesting person.
“I met Professor Green in Ibiza and we got on really well. I was looking for a rapper for a track so I gave it to him. He loved it, wrote a verse for it and it worked really well. American band The Fray are on the track as well.”
Ah America. Amid talk of him working with US rockers Linkin Park, that looks like being the next stop for Fresh.
“I signed a deal with Columbia (records) a couple of months ago,” he says.
“I have never really chased the American Dream, it was never something that really interested me, I just wanted a platform to get my music out but there seems to be a lot of interest from America, people are really excited about it.”
Breaking America, it’s not bad for someone whose parents never really wanted him to pursue a career in music: “It was the typical story, my parents weren’t really into the idea,” he recalls.
“I love looking at my dad and going ‘told ya’!”
DJ FRESH plays Liverpool’s 02 Academy on November 22.