Adam Freeland Biography by Matt Diehl
Q. INTERVIEWER: "Who killed the superstar DJ?"
A. ADAM FREELAND: "I hope I did…"
Of course, the above statements aren't exactly true: in fact, in many ways, Adam Freeland epitomizes the term "superstar DJ." A major presence on the international club/festival circuit for over a decade, Freeland continues to hold residencies at the best dancefloors around the globe (like London's prestigious Fabric club), and recently made his third triumphant appearance at the renowned Coachella music festival. As well, Freeland joins the likes of Sasha and James Lavelle in being chosen to release the latest installment in the prestigious "Global Underground" mix series, Global Underground 032: Mexico City. Mexico City represents Freeland's seventh commercially-released mix CD, following his successful compilations for the likes of Fabric and "Back To Mine," among others. "A Global mix is something I've always wanted to do," Freeland explains. "They've been a big part of electronic music's culture. James Lavelle's Barcelona mix was really special; it opened up the possibilities. To that end, I wanted to take that movement even farther in my own way."
His own way, indeed: Mexico City caps an extraordinary year for Adam Freeland. A renowned producer, he's remixed everyone from Kelis to Orbital, receiving a Grammy nomination for his 2005 remix of Sarah Vaughn's "Fever" and notoriety for his smash bootleg revamps of Nirvana and the White Stripes. However, the past year up to now has proven his most prolific yet, with remixes ranging from indie heads Fujiya & Miyagi to an official remix of the Doors' "Hello, I Love You" to Freeland's original productions (like Mexico City's slamming single release, "Silverlake Pills"). As well, Freeland was chosen recently to write and curate the score for the popular videogame Juiced-an unsurprising development considering his tracks have frequently graced soundtracks spanning the likes of Spiderman to "CSI." Then there's his triumphant return to touring and festivals, with sets ranging everywhere from Coachella to Glastonbury, as well as guest spots on influential Los Angeles radio station Indie 103.1.
It's all part of his plan to shake up genre expectations anew for electronic music. "A lot of what the 'name' DJs play sounds very '90s, very dated, and I want to avoid that at all costs," Freeland explains. That's clear from his wide-ranging turntable selections-he often opens gigs with Van Halen's "Eruption"-to his innovative Mexico City tracklisting, which hotwires uber-current dancefloor iconoclasts (Justice, SebastiAn, Phones, Prins Thomas, My My) with driving drone rock (Silversun Pickups, 120 Days, Spacemen 3) and unexpected offerings from big names like Mylo, James Holden, Carl Craig and Andrew Weatherall. "I was never quite one of those dudes trying to pay off a mortgage with each gig," Freeland explains. "To do that I'd have to play music I don't like. And I hate being pigeonholed!"
Freeland's renewed vigor mirrors his excitement for today's revitalized grooves. "For a couple years there, dance music sounded stale next to what was happening in rock," Freeland explains; in fact, he memorably explored that moment with his acclaimed rock-oriented 2005 Back To Mine mix, which featured tracks from the likes of TV on the Radio, Autolux, Interpol, M83 and Elliot Smith, among others. "Now, with the likes of labels like DFA, Kompakt, Modular, and Ed Banger, electronic music's got a new excitement. It's got attitude, an almost punk attitude, that makes it feel happening again like never before."
Add Freeland's own groundbreaking Marine Parade label to that list-as the label's founder and resident A&R, he's developed acts like Evil Nine into dancefloor headliners in their own right. The coming year looks to be one of the best of the Marine Parade movement, with likely new releases including the highly anticipated sophomore Evil Nine album, as well as debuts from new signings Alex Metric and Irish singer-songwriter Jape. Jape's track "Floating" is already getting radio support for both its original version and Prins Thomas' remix via BBC DJs Rob Da Bank and Pete Tong and influential Stateside stations like KCRW and Indie 103.1 (the Raconteurs have even covered "Floating" in their live sets). To Freeland, this recent activity proves there's more to Marine Parade-and him-than the breaks sound they've been associated with. "I was considered a breaks DJ because I had snare drums," Freeland explains. "I play a bit of house, but a whole set of straight kick drum would drive me crazy-you need snares to break up the groove. If you want to call that breaks, then fine, but once breaks became a 'scene' and a formula, that I was never into. I like great breaks, but I'm into good music, period. Great electro-house, rock, IDM, whatever-if it's got the right vibe, it will fit in to my DJ sets and what we put out on Marine Parade. After all, it's fun playing other people's records, but it's a lot more fun rocking crowds with your own"
Indeed, Marine Parade also released Freeland's breakthrough full-length artist album, 2003's Now & Them, which spawned the smash single "We Want Your Soul," a Top 40 chart hit in various countries 'round the world that also resulted in an award-winning video. Freeland expects the followup to Now & Them to be released in spring 2008: with production already in process, it's shaping up to be as genre-shattering as ever, with guest shots already recorded from Pixies guitarist Joey Santiago, Tony Bevilacqua (guitarist for the Distillers, Spinnerette, and the Drips), and Motley Crue drummer Tommy Lee. "Creatively, the sound I want to hear- somewhere between Soulwax and Sonic Youth, Justice and My Bloody Valentine-doesn't exist yet, so I had to go and make it," Freeland explains. "I've always played whatever I want, but the audience now is even more receptive. There's been limits, but now it's wide open."