Since WYS!’s first party in 2007, local talents have played a huge part in the outfit’s ethos. Their weekly Sunday night sessions have hosted some of London’s best-loved underground artists over the years, many of them now respected on the international stage.
One of these artists is Frazer Campbell. Campbell been releasing classy dub techno records via his labels Elliot Project and Open Recordings for a number of years, and recently collaborated with one of the genre’s godfathers, Steve O’Sullivan. Outside of his Open events he’s played for WYS! a number of times, and ahead of his next date this weekend he spoke to Jacob Husley & Peter Pixzel for an interview. He also offered up a free download of his latest record, Brown Eyes, telling us:
“A huge thanks to Jacob and Peter for supporting me and I hope you all enjoy the free download of Brown Eyes, which was mastered by Guy Davies of Electric Mastering. Looking forward to this Sunday 10th!”
You recently released your first full-length album – can you tell us about the process behind it?
It was something that I’d been thinking about over the last 4 years or so. A big driving force behind it was that I really love making electronica and ambient music and to be honest I spend most of my free time listening to pretty chilled out sounds. When I feel a little exhausted of working on dancefloor music I always sit back and reboot. Making energetic music for me takes a certain type of mindset; I need to be totally focused and happy. The more eclectic music always really flows well when I am a little down or troubled with life’s obstacles and retreating to the studio when I feel like that is a great way for me to channel those deep thoughts and express them.
So over the years I made edits of some of the tracks on the album such as Final Goodbye and Cooper and set them aside as they were not really the style that people would expect from me, although I suppose people that know me well are aware of my sensitive side. I was so happy with those tracks and really wanted to release them but wasn’t sure how I would do it. The album then became a real focus point based on these deeper tracks. I didn’t have an exact time I wanted to release it but slowly it became more and more of a focus in the studio.
I’m sure most producers are similar in that you get bursts of focus and inspiration. As soon as it hit me I worked non-stop with every free minute I had and got the tracks completed. I kept working on new projects too at the same time, Dream was a good example of that. I was happy that it wasn’t all old pieces and that it had a nice flow of my material past and present.
It was also my 40th this year so this played a part in trying to finish it up and release it as a personal milestone of sorts. Meeting John Osborn was a huge thing for me, especially when finishing up the tracks. He gave me a huge supportive boost when he came across my music and publically famed me!
I’m really grateful for that as it dampened any doubts I had for a long while, and then I set my goal and ran towards it. So it was essential that John did a remix for me. Made total sense. He played a big part in my confidence. We often talk about having a shoulder demon that tries to extinguish your confidence, so it was nice that he helped me pour a bucket of water on the thing!
At the launch of your album you performed live, can you tell us about your set-up for this and if it’s something you want to do more of?
The live debut came up by accident in reality. Ricardo from The Lion and Lamb and I were talking about geeky studio stuff one night and he asked if I had ever thought about playing live. As it happened I have a laptop with Ableton on it, which I only use when I go on holiday to keep me amused. I’d been constructing a simple live set to pass the time while my wife ignored me sitting at various pools reading books. I told Ricardo that I had toyed with the idea and he just fired the question to me “Will you do it here? How long do you need?” I agreed and said it was my 40th in April, so we should go for that. I set up a separate section in my studio, which was dedicated to the live set and worked on material for about 8 weeks. My set-up was pretty big; I used Ableton, launch pads, 909, 808Boutique, Electribe ER1, Elektron Rytm and various pedals. It took some time to work out how I would use them all safely and not overcook the performance. It was a big challenge but again this was my year to do things perhaps out of my comfort zone. John Shima messaged me when he saw a photo of my set up and he said “I saw it and thought, that would give me grey hairs!” Well, it did, but it was worth it. The turn out to see it was fantastic and it marked my special birthday perfectly.
Would I do it again? Yes I would. It’s a very different way to play and requires a lot of preparation and understanding of a crowd before you can even see them! Playing records can be safer as you have a package of goods that you can dip into. Being a DJ actually helped me as I made sure that I had different directions I could go within the live set if I needed to. Playing all my own material was a special moment to see people’s reactions – one I will never forget.
2018 has been busy for you so far – what's on the agenda for the rest of the year?
The year so far has been incredible for me and I am so delighted. I have played in London, Leeds, Moscow, Romania and am oing to Barcelona next week too so mega happy to be doing my thing. Studio wise I have just finished an EP for John Osborn’s Label DRED records which comes out in October. Steve O’ Sullivan and I have nearly finished another collaboration for Mosaic. Cinthie has signed a track for Beste Freunde as well as 2 tracks for you guys on the WYS! label. I am working with Ivan Kutz on a new dub techno label he is launching so the studio is getting a hammering right now, but as I said before you have to grab the moments of inspiration and jump on them! I have tour dates coming up in Colombia later this year, as well as gigs in Lisbon and Berlin.
You have a very impressive beard! Can you give some advice on maintenance, and what are best and worst things about having a next level massive beard?
My beard gets a lot of attention for sure! I often have people in the street commenting and touching it! In terms of maintenance, a good beard is always conditioned with Aveda conditioner and then when dry, applied with a leave-in conditioner and gently brushed through! Minimal trimming is important, as bigger is better!
Pros – attention. Looking really cool all the time!
Cons – many! Food debris caught in it most of the time. Eating is tricky as, my moustache often becomes part of my meal. Big risk of burning it when lighting a cigarette. The abuse I receive from people who really don’t like it. Receiving negative comments, but it’s firmly staying on my face people – deal with it!