By: Jacki Moon
Detroit-native and recent Bay Area transplant, Freddy Todd has been making music for many years now; his brand new release Golden Tremendous is a flawless example of how much the producer has grown, learned, and evolved in that time. Golden Tremendous is an abstract daydream of soundscapes, as it presents an appetizing blend of several electronic elements with sophisticatedly classic components. The full-length album features instrumental spotlights in the confines of its abstract tracks, including upbeat horns by Lowtemp labelmate Russ Liquid in “Time Beings,” and a gorgeous piano solo in “The Jestler.”
I had the chance to catch up with Freddy Todd a few days before his big album release to discuss the creation process behind Golden Tremendous, his personal evolution as a producer over the years, and what it was like to play a surprise set at Shambhala last month. I learned that Freddy keeps it real and is just getting warmed up; the producer has much more in store for his fans in the future.
Without using any genres, how would you describe your sound to someone unfamiliar with your music?
Without using any REAL mainstream genres, I'd go with FunkSlime, GrapeSlithering, BassPsychedlia, Dance-Enthused Lazer-Etched Soakings from a not-so-distant Ancient Future. Flight of the Chrondors.
How long has Golden Tremendous been in the works?
Over a year and a half! Since my last full-length record, Sick In The City, Alive In The Woods dropped on Australia's Adapted Records.
Who did the album artwork for Golden Tremendous?
This incredible artist named Ville Savimaa out of, I believe, Finland [did the artwork]. My girlfriend randomly showed me him one day so I had her send me his information. Our original artist fell through, and we couldn’t get a hold of him with an impending cut-off date for art for the label. We had to figure something out, and then a light went off in my head and I remembered this incredible, almost Dalí-from-the-future kind of guy, Ville. Luckily, I found the link I sent myself and immediately had my team track him down and work out a deal with his agents. The dude is really pro, and I hope to work with him on future projects.
How has your sound evolved from your older material like Ghost Dance Messiah and Hallowz Eve EP to newest Golden Tremendous?
Wow, it’s crazy because I'm still the same me…but yeah I guess the biggest things are really: detail, sound design, mix downs, and how this particular album was mastered. Obviously, since those early albums I've really worked on my craft and spent countless hours working on sound design on each song, but really when it comes to sounding "grown" or just better in general, it comes to mix downs – how each instrument fits in the song level. Beyond that, I spent a lot more time on this particular album on the philosophy of mastering. I used to just blindly send off my album to the label to get it mastered; they always did a good job, but it usually fell under the category of loudness instead of what I'm shooting for with this album, which is dynamics. Look up "the loudness war" for specifics, as this has been happening in the industry for a while.
For this task, I undertook the stylings of the one and only DREWMIN. I would bike over everyday to his Oakland studio and personally oversee his mastering process, in which he takes a more lush approach, making sure the treble and highs aren’t piercing to the ears. We wanted the album to sound good and clean over loud. Basically, if you want to turn it up...turn it the fuck up, because it should sound good at any level, I promise. It was designed to sound even better loud, as opposed to when it is already loud and turning up the volume only hurts the ears with treble. Anyway, DREWMIN is a wizard, and it was very cool to be there with him running the songs through his analog mixer and analog mastering/limiting NEVE compressor. We might even use his new tape machine for a tweaked mastering job for a possible vinyl release (stay tuned). We took a very analog lush approach with mastering this one.
Are there any collaborations on Golden Tremendous that we should be excited for?
Yes! The homie Russ Liquid is featured on one of the songs on the album, "TimeBeings." He recorded multiple horns harmonizing for me; the dude is a goddamn genius. Unlike the song I collaborated with him on his album, I wrote the entirety of this one and he provided the horns. Expect a lot more collaborations between the two of us especially since we're now Lowtemp labelmates, when he gets back from European tour with Gramatik in October. I smell a funky live band side project cooking up in the Bay (I do play live drums and pretty much every instrument).
You recently moved to the West Coast from Detroit how has this influenced/inspired your music?
On one hand I have the philosophy that you could be anywhere and write music, which is kind of true when you're in the zone, but in the long run your surroundings definitely effect you. Moving to the Bay has definitely been great, super duper beautiful weather and great food and all. [It has] definitely allowed me to make it to more shows on the west coast easier and cheaper, as well as allowing for collabs such as with Russ to exist. I definitely still have super love for Detroit and all the folk there, but I really only had a few people to fuck with in my scene in the D; there's just a lot more to work with out here in the Bay.
You recently played a surprise set at Shambhala when Thriftworks was not able to make it. What was that experience like?
I can’t thank Thrift and his team enough. [Shambhala was] probably my best / favorite set yet. The energy up in Canada at that festival is untouchable. It’s got to be my favorite festival so far, as well. It was just so crowded and packed while I was playing; everyone was getting the funk down. It was definitely a beautiful way to dive head first into my first Shambhala experience.
Side note on how awesome Thriftworks is: he recently, on our Michigan tour run, invited me up on stage to play live keytar with him when I tagged along to his set at North Coast in Chicago. The crowd was thick for that one.
What are you looking forward to most about fall tour?
I’m excited to be able to play my album out live for people after its released, so people have time to digest and experience something familiar when I play it live.
What can your fans expect from you next... now that Golden Tremendous is out?
What’s funny is it took so long to figure out what we were going to do with Golden Tremendous that I already have another solo EP almost done. [I also have] a 4 or 5-track hip-hop fusion collaboration project with the rapper NOTE out of San Diego that is just about wrapped up (for an inkling into what that’s all about, here's a tune we did together on a separate project a year ago). I also have another hip-hop project with the Bay Area's finest MC, Joe Mousepad. There are a whole lot of experimental hip-hop projects and an entirely new adventure of an EP, which will be slightly more energetic this time around [in the works]. I also have a ton of new, chiller tracks equating to the high probability of a Moonflavours Vol. 2 via my Bandcamp soon.
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