We’ve been fans of a Scottish producer/ DJ, based in NYC but currently adventuring across Europe, for a few years now. We first got Jonah Freed in front of you guys with a guest mix this time last year which, perhaps unsurprisingly, went down an absolute treat.
With his latest release dropping Friday 14th April on Quest‘s new Innerverse imprint, we figured it was high time to sit down with David, find out what’s been going on and tease out a new mix. We think you’ll agree, the following definitely does not disappoint…
Hey David! How goes? Yo guys, feeling pretty slomped after a busy weekend in England, but all good on my end.
Before we delve into the life and music of your music alias Jonah Freed we’re curious: is this your first-ever interview?! I’ve answered a few questions after doing radio before, but this will be my first written interview. Thanks for having me!
No problem – awesome to have you here! How do you like to stand out from other musicians? If you could describe your signature sound, what would it be? I think I’ve got two main styles and, I guess, my best attempt to stand out is letting them coexist under the same name. I’m a bit nervous to classify those sounds as there’s always someone who’ll say it’s not “real” hip-hop or “real” dubstep or whatever. Doctor Jeep called it “spooky trap” recently and I’ve been going with it since!
We’ve noticed you’ve been travelling specific parts of Europe recently. Can you share one of your most favourite music-related memories? Yeah! Basically, I’m in Paris for a few months for university, and the timing has been really nice with the release so I’ve been able to get some gigs in every other weekend or so. I’ve got high hopes for some of my upcoming gigs, but so far I’d have to say the sickest experience was at Young Echo in Bristol.
We were playing in a repurposed prison cell, and Rider Shafique and I decided to do a special hip-hop selection. For reasons that I’m still unclear on, I ended up playing at 1am; straight out of a Kahn & Ishan back to back. I was nervous how the tunes would all go over, but it was wicked in the end and Kahn even came over to rewind Santa Muerte. It’s actually made me a lot more confident in these productions that I’d previously been keeping quiet. I should say thanks again to the Young Echo gang for bringing me on, especially Rider, Ishan & Manonmars.
Where do you draw inspiration from for your music? Haha, well, I moved to the US from Scotland when I was about 8 and since then I’ve been in the ‘States almost exclusively. Unfortunately, I haven’t had too much time to produce here in France between school and travel, but we’ll see if I get back to New York feeling more inspired than before.
My main musical influence probably comes from film – I got that after meeting Quest and asking him about Vampires and Belly of the Beast. I usually like to come at a tune hip-hop style with a stack of records, but unfortunately, I don’t have a turntable set up here in France. Luckily, there’s loads of little cinemas here that play old films, so I go to those and check my watch right at the start, so I can remember where all the sick samples were when I go home and download the film.
How did music production come about for you? How long after you finished your first track did you get signed? I started messing about in FL Studio in around 2009/10 after a friend introduced me. It was almost like a competitive thing between us when we were in middle school, but we’ve kind of come into our own and he’s making really nice ambient music under the name Echo Kid now. I spent a few years making just horrible, horrible music and I’m not really sure when to say I started to take things seriously! I guess there’s stuff from 5 years ago that I called “finished” at the time, but looking back…
Anyway, dubstep was characterised by stuff like Kryptic Minds and stuff for a while, so I started making a lot of hip-hop because I couldn’t figure out the synths and what not. Then, funnily enough, around the time I met Quest and saw the way he was making beats (like Belly of the Beast), I realised it was just like the sample-based stuff I’d been doing. That was about 2 years ago and, in that sense, this record has been really full circle. I waited a few months after meeting him before sending anything, but right when I did he was in support.
Jonah Freed & Samba
What’s one piece of advice you’d like to give other producers who are looking to get signed or to start a career in music? If I figure out how to make a career out of this, I’ll let you guys know! For a signing, I’d say build a circle of people you really respect on both a musical and personal level. For most of us, there’s no real money being made in this scene, not enough worth worrying about anyway. What I value the most, and what’s helped me the most up until now, are the people I’ve met through music. Perhaps it’s sentimental, but I think being able to travel a bit over the last few months has really put that in perspective for me. It’s an incredible experience that wouldn’t be possible on my own.
For musical advice, I’d say try to listen to stuff from outside your own style of music as much as possible. It’s already such an uphill battle, especially for the dubstep producers when people have a calcified idea of what the genre is. Silkie said this weekend that he doesn’t even listen to music anymore. I suppose all the ideas must come fresh in his head, but for the rest of us, the best we can do is try and get eclectic with the influences we’re introducing to our sound.
What’s your motive behind signing music with a new label like Quest’s Innerverse? I finished Dream Sequence and sent it to Quest right away. Two days later I got this message from Samba:
Being that it was a collab, it took a bit of coordination figuring out where to release it, but I felt that Quest had been supporting me for ages despite not being particularly established – so I wanted to treat his label with that same respect. (Also, right away he told me a few of the later forthcoming releases and jheeeeeeeeeze). It was definitely the right decision, as the response has been incredible and I’m seeing people playing the tunes that I could’ve never reached on my own.
If you’ve got one sentence to describe INV001, what would it be? A long time coming.
Can you name five artist everyone should be keeping an eye on right now? I could easily say Oxóssi or Headland 5 times in a row, but I think I’ll get a bit creative as I’m happy to see those guys getting a bit of buzz recently.
1. WZ. One of the most underrated producers right now, sitting quietly out in Prague making the sickest dubstep, grime, hip-hop, and techno. I can’t play at set without playing Death Struggle, Passenger Dub or Gazelle.
2. Farsight. Farsight lives the creative freedom that I strive for, jumping between club, dubstep, & ambient with ease… Just wait for our split 12” in a few months and you’ll understand!
3. Anna Morgan. For fans of Ivy Lab, Om Unit, Chimpo etc, Anna is a crucial selectress at the moment. To see her go from an NYC local to having her tunes played on Boiler Room and what not is really exciting.
4. Saint George. With lines like “I’m Hyperdub’d on some stepped on coke & swishers”, Saint George basically epitomises the intersection between hip-hop & dubstep culture that I’m always raving about.
5. Marissa Malik. Because you didn’t specify if they had to be a musicial artist or not… Marissa is a viciously talented visual artist, currently working with Artikal and an essential follow on Instagram if you like pretty things in your feed.
Any final words or shoutouts? Just want to say thanks to you guys for your support since early, and also to anybody who has been feeling the record. Big up Quest & Samba, the pair have plenty on the horizon for you to look forward to. I’m on track with another release or two this year, as well as plenty more gigs in Europe and America, so keep an eye out! Thanks again FKOF.
Click to DOWNLOAD (275MB)
- Jonah Freed – Mastaba
- Unknown – Untitled
- Rareman – Tribute
- Otz- Warrior Dub
- Bukkha & Madplate – Nada A Dub
- Jonah Freed – Just Before Losing Everything
- Foamplate & Headland – Silver or Lead
- Jonah Freed – Spooky or Dumb
- WZ – Secret Message
- Muttley – Architect
- Oxossi – Sama
- Jonah Freed & Samba – Dream Sequence [Innerverse]
- Jonah Freed – Time Dilation
- Oxossi & Saule – Ride It
- Jonah Freed ft. Farsight – The Marshall Plan
- Akcept – Dreader Than Dread
- Mr. Len – This Morning (Jonah Freed remix)
- Lamont – Titanic (Anna Morgan remix)
- Doctor Jeep – Titan Riddim
- Bukkha & Innerlign – Foe Season
- Jonah Freed & Rider Shafique – Santa Muerte
INV001 is out Friday. Pre-order here.