I’m no stranger to taking people’s advice in life, truth be told I probably do it too much; but when it comes from personal experience or it’s a preference of someone I respect, I listen. That’s how I got up on Don Froth. Similarly, if you’ve followed Bob West Norwood Cassette Library’s record label over the past couple of years, or you read the exceptional Truants blog, you should have heard the US dwelling producer jack out the jams in WNCL’s trademark style on the imprints 7th 10” release, ‘Balboa’ b/w ‘Von’. His music isn’t over worked, sure it’s pressured and means to impact on a dancefloor in that 4×4 bumping, acid leaning, hardcore channelling kind of way, but it doesn’t feel like it’s been that laborious for him to make. Obviously this is just speculation but tracks like those on WNCL007 sound like they came together poignantly, when following an idea through to the point of conclusion and that’s what I like about them; just how direct they are.
Don’s also the missing piece of the SR x WNCL family puzzle, considering that Bob ( #41), Knowing Looks (#112) and Milyoo (#45) have all contributed mixes to our ongoing series in the past so, with that in mind we started a dialogue. It’s just been announced that Don’s Reflex EP, a 4 track (and one Anthony Shake Shakir Remix) package, will be out on UNO NYC on the 27th November, so there really doesn’t feel like a better time to pull him to one side of his apartment and make him answer a handful of questions to better introduce him….
As trivial as it is, can you introduce yourself for those who maybe haven’t heard all that much about you?
Grade A Kook, likes to cook, 30’s something avid enthusiast.
You grew up over here right? But you’re not based here anymore, am I right? Do you think that distance from the perceived epicentre helps or hinders you in writing music?
Yes, I spent my youth in and around London, that was defiantly a defining factor to the music I was influenced by. I feel a lot from the UK Power House; that signature heavy, bass driven, stepping, garage thing. Of course Stateside I am inspired by the NY, acid jacking, and West Coast sound. I get inspired equally, but the output defiantly reflects the UK sound, that’s where most of the support comes from. I don’t consciously think that when I am putting something together, somehow it’s just made its way there.
When you spoke to Truants, you mentioned being into punk music and stuff like that. How did you get into making electronic dancefloor music? Who were some of the producers/DJs who influenced you?
I can’t seem to cover all the bases, the list is long. It happened somewhere between a break up, a solo UK / EU trek, dark nights at the Higgins Gallery and playing at the local gay bar in Venice Beach. I am endlessly inspired by a network of friends, heroes, supporters, lovers and haters and humbled by the talents they possess. My surroundings affect my inspiration and everyone I have been surrounded by, known and witnessed have directly influenced my creative process.
Obviously you’ve hooked up with Bob Norwood, who’s label seems to be finally getting the attention it deserves of late. He’s a complimentary guy but the way your tracks seem to fit into his jack heavy vision for his label is one of the most fortuitous things about the partnership. Do you ever write tracks for a certain purpose, like I know you’ve said about no tracks really working out the same way, but like, did you write for WNCL or was it just them picking your shit and it being a coincidence? Do you think it would change the way you worked if you did start writing for a certain purpose or label?
The first track we shared a common interest in was a track that ended up on WNCL 007 called ‘VON’. After some communication, Bob mentioned something about cutting a dubplate of it. We just had the same taste on that one and things started off from there. Once we started to have a rapport, I started to produce toward WNCL naturally. Bob has been instrumental in the development process of some of these tracks. He has a great way of giving useful feedback without borders – he can articulate his ideas in a creative way. It’s a quality operation, that’s why he is – actually – THE man.
As far as custom design, if I hear a tune that inspires me, I jump in and start working, going off that initial spark. After that I listen up for a potential sound in the track that might work for a certain label but even then I tend to take it where it wants to go rather than keep it on track. It makes for a non-linear pace.
One obvious thing I’ve noticed is like the ‘strictly for dancers’ tag that gets used a lot when people talk you up. What makes you want to write for the dance floor? Like a lot of producers might balance it with some more internalized stuff but all I’ve heard from you is like bangers…
Those floor based tracks are fun to make. I have sessions of late night experimental/ambient things I have made. I like it all but it’s probably a reflection of my lifestyle as well. I spend a lot of time participating in loner activities, so for me the flip of that is getting after it.
Your mix is pretty weighted towards the floor too. Is that a fair reflection of what you play when you DJ out? What are some of your highlights/favourite moments from it?
Yes, but it really depends where I play, I curate based on location, sound and where I am at in that moment with influences and productions.
The mix – gracing the intro, a compilation of voicemails from my boy, Chain. Among other things, he makes his own hard apple Cider. He’s a living legend. The Locussolus track is a beast. Of course Bob’s tracks, undeniable bump. Esh 1’s new 130 material. Warlock! The garage classics. I also slotted in a few personal tracks that should be out sooner than later.
Where do you look for new music? Like, are you a vinyl buff or an internet type of guy?
I do purchase vinyl, I like to enjoy the tactile nature of vinyl, taking in the art, having that experience. I don’t trust digital technology for all of my listening. I like antiquated methods of discovery, makes for a higher margin of error and effort, so when you finally come up on something – the reward is cherished. I find a lot of music that comes to me from the people I am surrounded by – trading with other producers, sharing with friends etc. I don’t have reliable internet at home, but at times I download youtube videos from the coffee shop and watch/listen to them at home at night. It slows the pace of everything and lets me curate my listening instead of hopping thru endless blogs and soundcloud clips. I get overwhelmed by that.
What’s coming up next for you?
12″ LP on UNO NYC with a very special remix from a Detroit legend! Out November 27th. My EMU – FREAK Remix out on Brap Dem later this month.
DOWNLOAD: Don Froth – Sonic Router Mix #148
Chain – Donnie, It’s Your Boy Chain [Froth’N Records Dub]
Don Froth – Dip Dive [forthcoming WNCL Recordings]
Don Froth – Industry [forthcoming Rag & Bone Records]
Esh One – Creach [dubplate]
Don Froth – Max Swoll Vip [dubplate]
Warlock – Space Junk [Rag & Bone Records]
Don Froth – Lift’N Weights [WNCL Recordings]
Umba – Frippertronics (Tommy Kid Remix) [Soukouch Ethnik]
Emu – Freak (Don Froth’S Deep Dive Remix) [forthcoming Brap Dem Recordings]
Cajmere Featuring Dajae – I Need U Remixes (Hugo Moya Mix) [Cajual Records]
The Sounds Of Blackness – Pressure (Booker T Pressure Lick) [Am:Pm]
Esh One – The Purple Bag [dubplate]
Grove Armada – Pull Up (Wncl Remix) [Hypercolour]
Locussolus – Berghain [International Feel Recordings]
Rainer Weichold – Bamboo [Great Stuff Recordings]
Last Magpie – Roots [Losing Suki]
Don Froth – Tunnelvision [forthcoming Uno! NYC]
West Norwood Casette Library – (We Have To Live) In The Future [dubplate]