Fred P AKA Black Jazz Consortium has come a long way in both his personal and musical lives. Hailing from Flatbush Brooklyn, Fred P can now be seen regularly touring the globe, representing his own style of music and his own imprint, Soul People Music.
Even though he grew up listening to the likes of Larry Levan’s disco and R&B house on Brooklyn’s popular radio, his first real connection with dance music took place in some of New York’s legendary clubs, in particular Pyramid Club, not as a DJ, but as a breakdancer. After a musical career in hip hop where he nearly secured a six figure record deal that fell through (they wanted more hardcore rap, which didn’t exactly suit Fred P’s tastes at the time) and experimenting on tape decks during the early eighties, he returned to the sweaty dance floors this time the other side of the DJ booth as Black Jazz Consortium. His liking towards jazz as a free art form translates into his own music style. He takes his listeners on an emotive trip into his own free, alternative universe of layers upon layers of manipulated musical elements. He includes samples played backwards, digital sounds created with his trusty Abbleton Live and exclusive live vocals.
His deep, atmospheric and of course, cosmic tracks that define his musical style can be heard on his own Soul People Music, Jus-Ed’s Underground Quality and DJ QU’s Strength Music Recordings. Since Edward McKeithen taught Fred how to make a record, he instantly became a compulsive producer and holds a strong musical catalogue of quality tracks, reshapes, EPs and albums. His open minded approach to music also led him to produce tracks for labels such as Spanish minimal techno imprint, Esperanza and Japan’s label, Mule Musiq for a not so nu-disco track:
This year as a second instalment to his C.O.M.E. series, he self-released Anthology: Fred P. vs Black Jazz Consortium, which is a unique mix of unreleased material, demos and reshapes. According to the description on Discogs, it is “a snap shot of the past, present and future”.
This year we also saw him teaming up with Kai Alce to release US label’s Finale Session’s Volume 1 and then again with Terrence Dixon to release Two Worlds on the same label. He also remixed a track by Israeli producer Yogg for young record label Parallax’s first release.
The Selector has also been busy with podcasts for the online community, in particular his radio shows on Soul People Music. Both a talented producer and DJ, Fred P has certainly made a name for himself, and today is regarded as a true underground dance music pioneer. Here at MEOKO we spoke to the legend himself about jazz, his own productions and his upcoming gig in London.
Can you explain what makes you attracted to jazz and deep house? Why do you think the two genres fit so well together?
In my opinion it’s a evolution of one in the same. In the right hands both can be very moving.
Who are your biggest jazz influences, both modern day and those of the past?
Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea, past present and future hands down.
What instruments do you play?
How do you still manage to retain a free sense of improvisation in your music, despite the house genre having an overall methodical structure and beat – it’s obviously your jazz influences that are speaking, but how do you achieve this balance?
There is no difference to me I don’t think in terms of genre. I make what I am inspired to make.
You launched Soul People Music in 2005, which was first a digital platform, and since then has grown into a mostly vinyl one. Can you explain why you made the switch from digital to vinyl?
A opportunity was presented to me to make records so switched. It is as simple as that.
One of Soul People Music’s aims is to “connect both past and present while looking to the future”. Why do you think it is important to consider the past, musically?
The past provides a foundation and a point of reference. It’s important to have a look then proceed. Don’t stay there or try to relive it. Better to learn from it and and improve on it if possible. That makes the now more rich with possibility, making the future more probable.
Do you stand by this particular mantra in your personal life?
Yes, one day at a time.
Last year, you launched Boards, a sub label of Soul People Music. Science is a recurring theme in the label’s productions, in particular your “Determinism” EP with Jose Cabrera. Are you particularly interested in physics?
Quantum physics to be exact.
I am often the observer so the theory itself is a bit disturbing but makes complete sense.
You have done many nice reshapes of productions of your own tracks as well as other tracks from different artists. Why have you chosen to release tracks in this way? And can you explain what exactly is the difference between a reshape and a re edit?
Im grateful people are interested in my approach coupled with being a workaholic, it’s a bit natural for me. A reshape in the simplest terms is a reproduction. A re edit is an edit of a edit which is something I don’t do.
You once said the most important thing for artists is to “honestly express yourself”. When you make music today, what exactly do you express through your music? Emotions from your daily life, or emotions you feel once you get into contact with musical gear?
Being a man in the 21st century coming from a place where opportunities like what I am living are far and few in between.
Do you feel that personal hardships help create beautiful music? Do you think someone really happy and totally OK with his/her life can still make soul-stirring music?
No I do not prescribe to that at all. You do not have to suffer to make amazing music and because you suffer does not make your music amazing. There is talent and skill involved. The term suffer for your art is not literal. It means pay your dues, put in the time and live for it.
You do not have to be a hot mess to make moving music.
You once said that Jus-Ed taught you how to make music and your first release on Soul People Music featured a Jus-Ed remix of your track. How does it feel to create music with a close friend like him?
I never said jus Ed taught me how to make music. I said Jus Ed taught me how to make a record. Those are two different things. He gave me an opportunity and we did a couple records together on UQ and Soul People Music.
It was stated on a review of your compilation that was released on Boards this year, that some tracks “will leave you longing to see Fred P DJ—preferably at daybreak somewhere, at that dislocated point when a crowd’s collective mind becomes open to such gossamer enchantment”. You will be playing an early morning set at much anticipated Cartulis Day for their 5th anniversary. What can we expect from it?
To be honest I could not tell you. Each experience is it’s own. It should be a good time though, London is always amazing.
You mentioned that Underground Quality “is a family more than a collective”. Are you pleased that you will be playing with fellow UQ member, Anton Zap for Cartulis Day?
Anton is an amazing artist and a brilliant selector. It’s an honor and a treat to share the bill with him.
What is a track you will surely play to wow the crowd?
If I do my job right all of them.
Fred P has a busy weekend in front of him, as he plays three gigs in just one weekend at some of the finest venues and parties in Europe: Dude Club in Milan, Crucifix Lane in London and Concrete in Paris.
FRIDAY: I’ll be your friend: LEVON VINCENT + FRED P. + ABSTRACT at DUDE CLUB, Milan