Photo by Joshua Hanford Photography
by Kyle Taylor |
The electronic music community has blossomed and grown a lot over the past few years. It has extended further and further, both developing and accepting new genres and sub-genres.
Yet, even in this vastly diverse modern dance scene, glitch has remained undeniably on the outskirts, generally only finding its place among niche audiences. This phenomenon is easily understood; the genre’s name speaks for itself, exhibiting a coarse, offbeat sound that frequently leaves the listener feeling as though their sound system is suffering through technical difficulties.
Detroit native- now Oakland based- producer Freddy Todd hasn’t let this deter him in the least bit, however. Like any true artist, he’s in it for the creativity and fun of the craft, not to conform to already appropriated structures and sounds.
“Structured compositions are played out, boring to me. I like to push boundaries and be creative. That’s the most important thing to me. I find the glitchy stuff to kind of uphold the idea of ‘making something amazing out of an accidental thing that shouldn’t have even existed’.”
To that exact effect, Freddy Todd’s music manages to always find a groove, even in its thickly spastic style. The experimental and unpredictable nature of glitch music is undoubtedly a contributing factor to the genre’s relatively small audience. Still, Freddy Todd is a driving force in the genre’s development, and growing to be one of the its most recognized artists.
Frequently utilizing jazz elements, Freddy Todd’s sound hinges on a loose, minimalistic approach, but still a musical one, nonetheless. He manages to work in quirky, broken rhythms and grooves, layering them against viciously chopped beats. Even in the world of glitch, his sound sits far apart from any other artist, capturing an essence few others have been able to achieve.
Freddy Todd – Website // Bandcamp // Soundcloud // Facebook // Twitter
Previous Infrasound 2015 Artist Spotlights:
Spotlight #1: Thriftworks [April 8th, 2015]
Funkadelphia: “You’re originally from Detroit, now based in Oakland, California, correct? How do you feel those different environments have affected your music, if at all?”
Freddy Todd: “On one hand, your environment affects everything…. if you go out much. On the other, I could stay inside forever and make music and it wouldn’t matter if i was in Africa or on the Moon. I don’t like to go out often, because I’m always ‘out’ when I play shows; but, I do like to live in a place with good food and progressive people. West Coast is a tad more progressive, but honestly, Detroit and Oakland are very similar, which might be why I decided to move there. Oakland is like the West Coast’s Detroit; but, to be honest, I have no loyalty to anywhere. We’re thinking about moving to Colorado or even Asheville, North Carolina if we don’t stay in Oakland. The rent is just too damn high in the bay!”
Funkadelphia: “When did you first garner an interest in music production?”
Freddy Todd: “I would say when I first opened FL Studio in 2004, but to be honest, I was messing around with Cubase and recording guitar and vocals for a good couple of years before that. I must have been 12 years old, and before then I was always playing instruments, drums being my first. But ,in terms of actual recording and production, that didnt’ come until fluid computer knowledge.”
Funkadelphia: “Did you play any instruments before getting into producing? What about now?”
Freddy Todd: “[Before:] Drums, piano, and guitar. Now, all of those things, plus a few exotic things like the Indian percussion instrument tabla and, that one super exotic one you know… the bass guitar. Just kidding… but seriously.”
Funkadelphia: “Producers or otherwise, what musicians do you feel have had a strong influence on your music?”
Freddy Todd: “I listened to and researched a lot of weird music in high school. A few of those strong influences i’ll just list off: Add N to X, Mercury Program, Aphex Twin, Squarepusher, Stereolab, Radiohead, Boards of Canada, J Dilla (later on), and of course earlier on before high school I was way into classic rock.”
Funkadelphia: “You’ve collaborated with tons of musicians including GRiZ and Russ Liquid; are there any musicians out there that you haven’t had the chance to yet, but would like to collaborate with?”
Freddy Todd: “The homie Haywyre and I have stems to Gramatik’s “Take It Back”, and we’re just trying to find the time to crush that one out, either in person or over the internet. Internet collabs are hard for me as I like to have the aesthetic and aura of the person right there in the studio with me. But yeah, Haywyre ive been wanting to collab with for a while and looks like we will soon! Other than that would be tight to collab with someone crazy huge and talented like Skrillex, or Aphex Twin!”
Funkadelphia: “Your music is very experimental in structure, particularly through utilization of glitch elements- is there a reason you tend to use these looser compositions rather than tighter, more structured ones?”
Freddy Todd: “Structured compositions are played out, boring to me. I like to push boundaries and be creative. That’s the most important thing to me. I find the glitchy stuff to kind of uphold the idea of ‘making something amazing out of an accidental thing that shouldn’t have even existed’. For example, when Russ [Liquid] and I collaborated, I brought my Macbook. Now, I produce on FL Studio on a PC tower at home because they don’t make FL Studio for Macs (yet; they’re working on it). So in order to collaborate mobiley, I tried to download the beta version of FL for Mac, which was very buggy at the time. I hadn’t tried it out until I got to Russ’, and we were trying to chop up vocals on it and use a MIDI keyboard to play them. So I was trying to play with the buffer settings within FL Studio to get it at the perfect spot where the program isn’t glitching out and where there isn’t too much of a lag in the MIDI keyboard. Long story short, there was no sweet spot and it was very glitchy, but it was the most organic glitch sounds I had ever heard, moving the buffer setting while playing the MIDI keyboard Destiny’s Child chopped up vocals, which is something I’d never done before, and literally couldn’t before because I never use a sh*tty beta FL Studio on a Macbook. We could not find the sweet spot, but it was making the most awesome glitch noises. So while the program wasn’t conventionally ‘working’, we instead decided to route the audio output of my computer into his, and straight up record the super organic glitchy sounds my supposedly useless machine was making. In my opinion, those vocals are the backbone to that song. So in short, we made something awesome out of something broken, instead of saying f*ck this broken thing, we made it beautiful.”
Funkadelphia: “What’re your go-to tools in the studio, both hardware and software?”
Freddy Todd: “Software-wise, FL Studio with plug-ins like U-HE’s Zebra and Dival, native instruments Komplete, which includes things like Massive, Razor, and Kontakt Instruments, as well as image-line FL Studio native plug-ins.
Hardware-wise, I just built a new super PC tower to produce on- prior to that, I’ve had the same computer for a decade… about time. Other than that, I recently got my first analog synth, a Moog Little Phatty, which I absolutely adore. I’ve been using it to record bass sounds and lines, which I will then resample to hell and back, as well as using it for lead synth lines. The past year I’ve also been borrowing Russ Liquid’s analog Roland JX-8P and have incorporated that into a few songs for certain melodic things. In the post-production phase, my mastering homie Drewmin is the analog guru and really goes to work- since Golden Tremendous- on mastering with his analog mastering [and] limiting NEVE compressor, analog mixer, and analog EQ’s.”
Funkadelphia: “What are you primarily using in your live setup?”
Freddy Todd: “Right now I use a Macbook Pro with Ableton Live, controlled by my custom Livid Ohm64 MIDI controller, in conjunction with the Moog Little Phatty analog synthesizer that I recently got, and [which] really adds depth- and makes me a lot more stoked to play live. That one MIDI controller with my dad’s white vintage KORG keytar.
Something worth mentioning is that my team is now shopping around to promoters with the possibility for the Freddy Todd Live Band, which includes a core of me and my live synthesizer getup, as well as a live drummer. Ideally, we’ll have different talented musician friends cameo, sit in and jam live with us at different shows or festivals that they are at. So say a certain talented horn-playing friend is around, if the Freddy Todd Live Band is playing, they will sure as hell be invited to play with us.”
Funkadelphia: “You had a collaborative project called SplaTTerboX with GRiZ a few years back- is there any chance we might ever see that project come back to life, either in the studio or for a live performance?”
Freddy Todd: “Who knows? Perhaps down the road. I would suggest asking the man himself; although, we’re both very busy doing our own things right now. He’s the homie for life though, for sure.”
Funkadelphia: “You just released Golden Tremendous earlier this year, but do you have any other releases coming up that you’d like to mention?”
Freddy Todd: “I’m actually wrapping up a short 2-to-4 track EP that I’d like to have out within the next month or two. Album title and release information pending and will be announced soon!”
Funkadelphia: “Is there anyone else on the Infrasound 2015 lineup that you are hoping to see in particular?”
Freddy Todd: “Most Definitely! Ozric Tentacles, number one, hands down. Forgot to mention them in the list of inspirations, but I definitely listened to them a lot. The fact they’re playing the same festival as me is freaking awesome.
Other than them, the entire lineup is pretty phenomenal and I’ll just list off the rest of the people I’m excited to see- basically the entire first few rows on the flyer: Tipper- with Android Jones, tight- The Opiuo Band, Benga, Ott, Ozric Tentacles of course, the homie Thriftworks, TRUTH, Bil Bless- who interestingly enough mastered my first two full length albums, Neon Spectacle Operator and Painting In a Silent Eternity– the homie Mr. Bill, and Mumukshu.”