FRED EVERYTHING might have a funny name, but there’s a very good reason for it. He originally earned his moniker because he played “everything” in his live sets at events in his native Canada, from House and Techno to Ambient and Drum’n’Bass.
And now it’s taking on a different meaning: from remixes to original productions and a never-ending tour schedule, just about everything you hear these days seems to have Fred Everything’s fingerprints all over it.
Fred Everything was born in Hull and reared in Quebec City, Canada, and started out not as a DJ but playing live sets at electronic music shows and raves. After moving to Montreal, he began a steady stream of releases on a variety of labels before teaming up with 20:20 Vision for his first two full-length albums, Under the Sun (2000) and Light of Day (2004). His unique sound (which can veer between old school and new school, encompassing – once again – everything) led to Fred becoming one of House Music’s heavy hitters and most popular remixers, editing tracks by the likes of Mood II Swing, Dennis Ferrer, Derrick Carter, Kings of Tomorrow, Kaskade, Ladybug Mecca, Robert Owens and Roy Davis, Jr. He also received acclaim for a number of what I’ve heard referred to euphemistically as “underground remixes” of popular artists such as Missy Elliot, Outkast and MIA.
This month, Fred’s releasing his third full-length album, Lost Together, on Om Records (for which he also recorded an installment of the popular House of Om mix series in 2006). Get ready for it: the sound encompasses just about… everything.
The first single, “Here I Am” (reviewed in our July 2008 issue) features Lisa Shaw on vocals and really is about as deep as Deep House can get. Other collaborations include Chicago’s Roy Davis, Jr. on the Timbaland-esque “On My Own”, “Lying to You” featuring Tortured Soul, “Don’t Nobody” featuring The Brand New Heavies’ vocalist N’Dea Davenport, and the funky but chill “Shinjuku Ramen”, which is already receiving an incredible amount of new school play in its original album mix.
5 Magazine talked to the mild-mannered French Canadian as he was wrapping up the House of Om tour and getting ready to shift gears to traveling the world in support of Lost Together.
Are you still living up in Montreal or are you stateside now?
No, I’ve been living in San Francisco since last September. I had a need for change. I don’t really play a lot in San Francisco – maybe once a month – so it wasn’t for those reasons. I do the same thing I was doing in Montreal, playing here from time to time but traveling a lot. Living in San Francisco makes European trips more painful, but Asian trips less painful.
This is your third artist album, which are aimed at consumers rather than DJs, but the concept is in a weird place these days. I’ve listened to your whole album but haven’t seen the artwork or even the CD yet. And you can buy them piecemeal through iTunes or what not where you can pick your favorite track and leave the rest. Does that change the concept of the album for you?
FRED: Yes, well, you have to let people be able to pick and choose individual tracks, what with the iPod generation and everything. But I hope people do listen to the entire work, because if you listen to my album as a whole, I think it makes more sense than listening to one or two or three of the tracks.
I wanted to ask about that because it flows through so many different styles. The track with Roy Davis, “On My Own”, sounds like really chill Hip-hop, there’s almost an ’80s vibe on “Stay” with Tim Fuller, and almost a disco influence on “Lying to You” with Tortured Soul.
FRED: It’s very intentional on this album. I’ve always allowed myself to be open to different sounds over quite a long period of time. I was writing stuff and doing other things and then coming back to writing. I’m not sure what the concept is and I’m not sure where, for instance, the ’80s sound comes from – it’s just there. It wasn’t really conscious but after awhile when you put the whole thing together, there are certain links. One track links to another one. That’s why I hope people will check out the entire album as well as have favorite tracks.
How did some of these collaborations come about?
FRED: Well, the first track was actually the Roy Davis track which we did about three years ago. We’d done some stuff before – I’d done some remixes of his, we’d done a track together and so on…
Roy was in Montreal, where I was at the time, and came by the studio. Like I often do, about an hour before he came, I had nothing. I went through everything to find something for him to sing on. But that was the first collaboration from the material that’s on the album.
With Tortured Soul, they were playing at the jazz festival in Montreal, and it was kind of the same thing as it was with Roy. They called and said, “We’re leaving the hotel now” – we’d hung out together the night before – “and we’re coming to your house.” I had to get something ready! So I put some quick keys together before they came and everything flowed from all of us working together.
With N’dea Davenport, that was a long process. I had remixed one of her tracks that she heard in New York, and we just kept in touch all of this time. We met up in L.A. in a rehearsal studio and worked on it for a day. Lisa Shaw on the other hand actually did her track from New York. With Tim Fuller, I played the track for him in the car and he just started singing to it. I recorded it into my phone, actually, so I could remember it!
You started out actually doing live PAs at shows?
FRED: Yeah, a long time ago. When I was younger I also did all of the band stuff and tried to write tracks with my friends, who weren’t necessarily musicians. We played shows and stuff like that. With so many people collaborating, it can get so confusing. I started playing alone, and it was fun but it was hard to carry all of my equipment around. Actually, I didn’t even get paid what the DJs were getting paid, either. It’s not a matter of money, really, but I decided to keep the studio at home and travel as a DJ, which is something I wanted to do anyway.
People ask me if I’ll do live shows now, and I did the jazz festival a couple of years ago. But live performance is really so complicated. It’s hard to get people to rehearse and get as into the music as you are. And it’d be different than being in a band because you’re not playing together all of the time.
You do a lot of great remixes and have gotten a huge reputation for them. But do you ever find yourself thinking that a beat is so good that you maybe want to keep it for yourself?
FRED: Hmm, I have thought that to be honest, but I’ve never actually done that, nor would I. You also want your remixes to be good. The thing is to sell yourself and you have to think that you can always do better than something you’ve done before. That’s the way you should always look at music.
Your productions were identified with 20:20 because of the albums before, and probably will be with Om now, but you also have your own label, Lazy Days Recordings and release a lot of great music. What new stuff do you have coming out there?
FRED: On my label, I have an old track coming out that I originally did for 20:20 Vision called “For Your Pleasure” featuring Karl the Voice and some of my remixes. I have another track by Marko Militano that will also be coming out shortly.
How do you balance this grind on the road vs. working in the studio?
FRED: I’m working constantly – I’m in the studio five days a week and go away on the weekend. There’s always something you can do even if you’re away from home.
So when can people get out and see you in a town nearby?
FRED: Right now we’re still doing the House of Om tour. I’m playing with DJ Heather, Colette and Andy Caldwell. My album tour will start in late August and go through late Fall or early Winter.