Freq’s Geeks & Mutilations
[Botchit & Scarper – 1999]
02. Boomin’ Back Atcha feat. Phoebe One
05. Revolution Inc feat. Akure Wall
07. Crypt-City Of The Bassless One
08. I Was Made For Loving You
09. Check It Out feat. Skibadee
10. Inner Minds Eye
11. Incredible Accoustic Properties
12. Underglass (Remix)
3×12″ Vinyl / CD / Download
The debut album from FreQ Nasty, and one of the first ever breaks LPs, released on OG breakbeat stable Botchit & Scarper. Following a series proto-breaks 12″s that set dancefloors ablaze, this highly-anticipated debut LP delivered with glorious technicolor funk and groundbreaking production, as well as guest spots from London vocalists including Phoebe One and Skibadee.
“This was my debut album and it was something I really didn’t think about too much in terms of sound or vibe. Your first album comes out of desperation to release music and often includes ideas gestated for many years that you may have repeatedly played with in different forms. The ‘difficult second album’ syndrome is no myth, as for many artists like me, album #1 was a combination of years of life experience, listening to a huge variety of sounds and artists over that time, and a compete naivety about the music business.
If you are fortunate enough for music to start blowing up you have very little time to go to the quirky little shows you used to go to, as you are too busy playing your own. You are too busy to listen to all those odd leftfield albums you used to, as you are too busy making your own records. You are don’t take time to head out to some strange part of the world and mingle with the locals and their music, you are too busy seeing the world’s airports, hotels, and venues.
Am I complaining? Hell no, I was more than happy to leap into that life at the time, and from the outside it’s everything an artist ever dreamed of and more. But little did I realize this was the last time for a very long time that I would be able to live my life the way I was accustomed to, to make music as a whim rather than as a business, as an expression of what I had been through rather than as a necessity. So ‘FreQ’s Geeks and Mutilations’ is a record that marks a very cool time in my life. It has all the who-gives-a-shit abandon of a new artist that isn’t being watched by a scene and its critics (and some of the less inspiring moments that this entails), and documents the rise of the breaks-&-beats scene in London in the late ’90s and early 2000s.
And listening back to it now… I actually still like it!
‘Boomin Back Atcha’ was the first single I put out and I did it initially for a compilation of electronic beats based artists called ‘Beats by Dope Demand – Volume 4’ which included Fatboy Slim, Bassbin Twins, and the Jedi Knights amongst others. London’s Botchit and Scarper (sister label to classic jungle and DnB label S.O.U.R records) put it out as the first FreQ Nasty single, and it was my first Giveback campaign in a way as I donated 50% of the proceeds to The McLibel campaign going on in the UK at the time. It’s an amazing story where a postman and a gardener went to court with McDonalds after being sued for distributing leaflets criticizing their misleading advertising and cruelty to animals amongst many other grievances. They took two and a half years of their lives to fight the case which became the longest running and expensive libel case in English history… and won! The McLibel 2 as they became known in the press then took took the British Government to the European Court of Human Rights to defend the public’s right to criticize multinationals… and won again. Very relevant for all that’s going on with the Occupy Wall St campaigns as this was one of the first major victories against a multinational company by an average person with no money or backing. Check it out here: www.mcspotlight.org/case …so I was very happy with results of the trials and it must have put some seriously good karma into action as not only had McDonalds been forced to clean up their act but I was suddenly on college radio all over the world when the vocal version was released (featuring Phoebe One).
‘FreQ–A-Zoid’ was a homage to old school electro (otherwise known as REAL electro lol), ’70s funk and disco (think Chic’s ‘Le Freak’), and a little jungle 808 bass in there too. The funny thing is I must have subconsciously been following in the mighty George Michael’s foot steps as the bassline sounds like his former 80’s pop duo Wham’s hit ‘Wham Rap’ – they were ripping of Chic’s ‘Le Freak’. But it doesn’t stop there. The lead synth bass line is “highly reminiscent” (i.e. a rip off) of the “hey sucker, what the hells got into you?” line from WHAM’s worldwide pop hit ‘Young Guns’. This last musical “reference” may have been the second ever white rap record behind Blondie’s ‘Rapture’, but it is still possibly the most cheesy and embarrassing reference for an underground music producer ever. I like to think we were both influenced by the same great soul and funk records but the truth is WHAM were huge in New Zealand and I must have soaked it all up and stored it all away. I’m not sure why I am telling you all this, so please keep it to yourself!. This had done really well as the 3rd single on Bothcit, along with Boomin’s follow up ‘Underglass/SE15’ and so I built the album around those three releases and then fleshed it with some great leftfield listening tracks.”
‘SE15’ – The name comes from the postcode (or ZIP code in the US) of the suburb where I was living in London at the time: Peckham, a couple of suburbs over from Brixton and was kinda dark, and I was in a dark place at the time. I was living on an estate there across the road from the notorious North Peckham Estate, a huge government housing mistake created in the ’60s that was slowly being shut down and boarded up as people moved out due to the extremely high incidences of hard drug selling and the associated violence. Consequently those who still lived there resided in half-boarded up buildings down corridors where you weren’t safe to walk at night unless you were selling drugs and violent, and even then you took your chances. Stabbings were regular and shootings too, and although our estate was sedate by comparison, when I moved out a year or so later I heard a disembodied female voice shout accusingly from behind her white curtains “Can’t you handle it here ya fackin’ lightweight?”. A fair enough comment that summed up the siege mentality of the area. Peckham was like Brixton without the music, art and venues, which didn’t leave much… Tho it did have the Peckham gallery that housed some epic Gilbert & George exhibitions. As usual with other parts of London it was a mix of poverty and opulence, inspiration and segregation. An art college opening the students minds and the north Peckham Estate populated by people trying not to lose their minds. I don’t think this dark tune gave old Peckham a fair chance, but that was where I was at around that time. This record probably says more about me than sunny Peckham, London SE15.
‘Revolution Inc’ was a theme that I worked with throughout this album and onto the next and it featured a supermodel-turned-poet. Sounds ridiculous but Akure Wall was one of the most profound and outspoken talents in spoken word at the time, and just happened to be stunning as well. She kinda rallied against the idea of Revolutionary chic – Che Guevera T shirts being worn by people who bought them from Gap – once again consumerism had taken the ferment and anger directed against it and turned it into just another item on the shelves to be consumed and thrown out for the next. It was a jazz’n’bass workout that played with the idea of a beat that started with a snare beat instead of a kick, heavily syncopated drums were over the top of an upright bass, with Ms Wall’s whispering vocal dropping the science. I still really like this track to this day.
‘Mindsweeper’ was a deeper track that was about letting the vibes of the previous track sink on a subconscious level. Once I had the idea for what the album should include I kinda mapped the flow of the energy through the journey and filled in the gaps as I went. It’s really contemplative and relaxing which I like.
‘Crypt-City Of The Bassless One’ started off as a pitch for an advert that I got asked to do. They wanted a Manga-type feel and they gave me a really cool looking animatic to go off of. Needless to say I didn’t get the advert but it made a nice aural skit.
‘I Was Made For Loving You’ – I remember this song because KISS came to New Zealand when I was a kid and My Mum and dad said I couldn’t go because they were all Satanists. This may well have been true but the original was the best cod rock disco pop tune made by transvestites in theatre makeup spitting blood ever made …in fact probably the only one, but it is a cracker! So I wanted to make a version that really played on the sweet lyrics, but bought a more sultry vibe. Many people heard the album and asked me WTF is that? Check out the original HERE.
‘Check It Out’ I did with Skibadee who is still making sick rave MC records now. He more or less did it in one take… it sounds like it was recorded in a rave, just straight up hype lyrics. Probably shows up my naivety on the mixing desk most out of all the tunes on this album. In retrospect it was a good idea that could have been executed much better. It worked well on the album to have something a bit hype at the end, and Skibba did a wicked job as always.
‘Inner Minds Eye’ – Believe it or not kids there was once a time pre-electro when house records and basslines were more or less mutually exclusive. Yes I know, hard to fathom now but when this album came out, doing a house style breaks track was a little bit of a leftfield maneuver. I wanted to make something that had the bleeps of Detroit or Sheffield Techno but with a breaks feel. Listening to it now I think I was just smoking too much weed. All the best parts come in at three and a half minutes, which probably sounded just right in my green haze. If it had two minutes taken off the intro it would be a much better tune. Aaah hindsight (and not smoking weed first thing in the morning) is a wonderful thing.
‘Incredible Acoustic Properties’ – One of the samples that came off the mysterious DAT tape from the studio in SOUR Records basement in Dalston East London while making the original ‘Boomin Back Atcha’ single. I think I mixed it with Ramjack in his studio in the East London markets after writing it in the spare room of the Peckham studio I shared with BLIM (which had been transplanted there after we were kicked out of our Brixton space for staying up too late). Again it was one of those Detroit techno meets beats-and-bass, and it smacked up the dancefloor pretty good.
As was ‘UnderGlass’. This was a Kraftwerk-meets-Metalheadz tune that fused my love of DnB, ’80s German and US electro (not electro house!) and seemed to go down with the Ninja Tune-types around London. If you play the breakdown bassline on a piano it sounds like a Frank Sinatra tune. I used what I call ‘the Tom Waits effect’ – where you use a tune that is really cheesy but play it on a synth that is hard and gnarly and it ends up sounding catchy and crazy heavy at the same time – just like Mr Waits.
I hope you enjoyed the record! Writing all this gave me the excuse to listen to it for the first time in a very long time which I did actually enjoy. Thanks for listening!”