We got familiar with Freddie Joachim around the time he released his critically acclaimed debut ‘In With Time’ in 2008, and haven’t forgotten about him since that day. His jazzy and soulful style is one of its kind and all his (free) releases are on point. Next to that, he created the Bridgework Mix together with Mellow Orange last year. After the interview with Mellow Orange last week, here’s a conversation with Freddie J!
Before becoming a producer, you first started out as a DJ. When you made that transition, did you always envision being as big as the producer you are today? What challenges did you have to overcome at the beginning stages of your career?
I never even thought about producing music when I was a DJ. I actually started playing a couple instruments first and was in a very short lived rock band. With that came the process of recording and slowly from there I got more into the technical aspects of making music, which led to producing my own music. Becoming a popular artist was never my intent when I began producing and I still continue to think that way. The early years were just a big learning process – everything technical, business, and creative. Whatever walls I ran into on the way never stopped me from doing what I wanted to do.
A lot of big-name producers began in the DJ business. In what ways did DJing aid you in becoming a producer? Where can the people catch you spinning today?
Being a DJ not only opened me up to new and different music, but it also turned me onto new and vintage studio gear. I’ve always had an interest in technology so mixing music and technology together is a beautiful thing for me.
I’ll spin in spots here and there, but I really like doing radio shows the most – only because I get to play whatever I want. But if you ever catch me out spinning at some night spot, it’s a rare occasion.
Your music is known to be heavily influenced by jazz and soul. How did you develop this style? Why do you think hip-hop’s fusion with these two genres gravitates to so many people?
I’ve always been a fan of jazzy and soulful beats since I was a kid so it was only fitting that I would be producing that type of music. A lot of late-80s to early-mid-90s hip-hop contained jazz, funk, and soul samples so I guess when someone can reproduce that type of sound, it reminds people of the hip-hop that they grew up on.
How has your production work evolved over the years? Do you have a standard method for crafting a beat or do you approach every song differently?
I started experimenting with original compositions when I first started trying to make beats and as time progressed, I got into sampling and looping, then chopping, then adding my own instrumentation, etcetera. I kind of have a format I follow just to get started, but I’ll branch outside of those lines from time to time to discover something new and different.
You’re planning on releasing a new album in June titled ‘Midway.’ What can you tell us about this project? Is the LP going to be like ‘In With Time‘ where you have various MCs spitting over your beats, or is it going to be an instrumental album?
‘Midway‘ will be an instrumental album like a lot of my own projects. I try visiting both ends of the spectrum, but I feel ‘Midway’ is a little bit more “bold and brighter” than my regular chill stuff.
What are you trying to portray in this album? Why name it ‘Midway’?
‘Midway’ is collection of new and old tracks which touch base to different hip-hop, soul, and house styles. Around a third of the album is all original composition. ‘Midway’ itself has a couple meanings to me. I feel I’m at the midway – point of the creative aspect of my music and the other is a little difficult to explain, but it involves the heavens, signs, symbols, and the universe.
Why do you believe so many producers are hesitant on recording instrumental albums? Why are instrumental albums still important?
Producers used to be background players. It used to be almost like a secret society of some sort and for a long while, producers didn’t even think about being the main act – we always enjoyed being in the shadows. But with the change of music and technology over the decade – especially now with beat showcases, battles, and (the ability for) producers and musicians to have live performances via MPCs and computer software – producers can now be main players.
That’s why now more producers are releasing instrumental albums. Also, if you’re a producer, you understand the lengthy process you go through when working with a MC or singer. Recording an album with a MC or singer could take several months to years so putting together and releasing instrumental albums by yourself takes very little time.
You and Mellow Orange recently contributed mixes for The Find Magazine’s ‘Bridgework‘ mix. When did you first meet Mellow and what do you admire about his work?
I met Yusai of Mellow Orange a few years ago when I produced a Himuki remix for this compilation he was helping out with DJ Tonk of Milkdipper. From there we actually had a few similar interests other than music and just built (our friendship) from there.
What impression do you want listeners to walk away with after listening to your music? Where do you draw inspiration?
I just hope people enjoy listening to my music, generally speaking. If there’s one thing I’m trying to achieve, it’s having a “universal” sound. I enjoy being able to produce different styles. Inspiration comes from all walks of life and art. I feel it’s important to listen and pay attention to different mediums and styles, just so I can touch upon various vibes and feelings when I’m putting together my own music.
Besides ‘Midway,’ what else should we be looking out for in 2010? What do you hope to accomplish by the end of your music career?
Question and I are just starting this new project, which is more live instrumentation – we’re not sure when it’s going to be done though. Lauren Santiago and I are still working on her album, which will hopefully be available sometime this year. As far as the end of my music endeavors go, I just hope to have several albums under my belt and to be able to look back at it all. (Basically) just to be happy and proud of everything I was able to accomplish.