Freestyler Aston Harvey
Whether you think it’s for bean-grinding, drum ‘n’ bass-fearing, hoodie-wearing chavs, or if you appreciate its syncopated sliced ‘n’ diced reverberation, there’s no mistaking the crunchy drum loops of breakbeat music, and no disputing its undeniably London sound.
BRITISH breakbeat pioneers Freestylers first came to prominence in the mid-Nineties as a refreshing electronic alternative to the generic dross of house and trance music with Drop the Bomb (AK-48). Their single B-Boy Stance hit the UK charts in 1998, but despite selling over 350,000 albums they have still remained relatively underground.
From 2002 they began releasing singles under the artist name Raw as Fuck, an alias they wore ‘just to get past some legalities’ when they were recording their third album. Now west London’s finest are back with a new EP, Past, Present & Future, on their very own Freestylers Records, and we caught up with DJ/producer Aston Harvey on his home turf.
Where do you live in London?
‘I live in Stanmore, which is technically Middlesex, but I grew up in Heathrow, which is great as I spend lots of time there!’
You’ve had a brief break from the music scene – what have you been doing with your time?
‘We’ve been DJing loads and touring. We were going to put a ‘Best of’ out in between that never came to fruition. I would love to say we’ve just been sitting under a palm tree in the Bahamas but that’s not happened either.’
How long did it take to make Past, Present & Future?
‘The EP came together quite quickly actually. We’ve been working towards a new album but we thought it’d be good to get some new music out there as it’s been a while.’
How has your sound evolved since the last album, A Different Story?
‘A Different Story was a mix album so the only similarity is how eclectic our musical taste is. The EP I guess is a hybrid of styles but centred around breaks.’
Who collaborated with you on your latest project?
‘MC Tali, Alaska – who’s this hot new rapper from Miami – and Belle Humble who was a great find through a friend of ours. They all feature on our new EP. SirReal, Valerie M and Tenor Fly will all be guesting on the new album as well as a few surprises.’
Who inspires you musically?
‘I’m really inspired by artists and producers from the ‘70s and ‘80s, from early rap and B-Boy electro to the early days of acid house and rave.’
What is your ideal night out in London?
‘Don’t want to sound boring but a great restaurant or going to see a good movie…or going for a quiet drink down at Fabric!’
What do you love and loathe most about London?
‘I love the summers we have in London and it’s home to Tottenham Hotspurs Football Club. I hate those overpriced poncy bars that charge you £15 for a drink and play shit R&B!’
Any summer festival appearances lined up for 2010?
‘Yes, hopefully lots. We’re just planning our Canadian, USA and Australian tours at the moment as well.’
First published on The London Word, February 2010.
© Abbey Stirling