Your debut album ‘Fruit Salad’ is out now, and features tracks influenced by Grime, Rap, UKG, Trap, and even R&B. Where does your passion for music come from?
When I was growing up I wasn’t in a particularly musical household at all, but as I became a teenager, I listened to UK Garage, and at that time there was a mixture of different styles (4×4), and Breakbeat, Jungle and Ragga influences. When I was younger, I used to listen to Oasis, Nirvana, and when I started being able to sneak off into raves, like Sidewinder, La Cosa Nostra, and Garage Nation, and buy Tape Packs, then it was UK Garage and everything within that, that really threw me in. Obviously that music has evolved over time, towards Grime, Funky House and Dubstep. What ever you want to call it, it’s our music. Hip Hop was also a big part of that, because Hip Hop was always around, on the radio and buying CD’s in shops. So that’s my childhood musically.
If you was to choose just one genre as your favourite, what would it be and why?
I always say Hip Hop/Grime, but for me just in my humble opinion, that’s the music that I make, the music that I’m most passionate about. I think everybody listens to a wide selection of music, depending on what mood you’re in, or maybe things you going through in life. But in terms of the records that I play in the club and that I make, I say Hip Hop and Grime.
The album follows two EP’s, ‘Pineapple’ and ‘Banana’, released via Fresh Fruit. Where does the concept of fruit come from. Whose behind the idea?
When ever I’m talking or in a studio or where ever, I have to give a project a name, and literally what ever’s in front of me. So there were records like ‘Red Cup’, or there’s a padlock on the desk, so there’s a record called Padlock. It really is that bait. And I eat a lot of fruit, so I made a few records and had to call them something, I was eating some pineapple chunks, I was like let’s call a Pineapple EP, as a place holder which kind of stuck. Then that food angle was well received by people (as a bit different and fun). Likewise, the Banana EP, I was eating banana’s, and then it comes to ‘Fruit Salad’, the album is a larger body of work (with a couple of Hip Hop records). That kind fruit salad mixture is where we’re at with it name-wise.
Was the build up to the album deliberate, or was it more of an organic or natural lead-up, felt like the right time to drop an album?
You’ve always got to have some kind of strategy or plan involved in what you’re doing, otherwise you might not execute things properly or how you want it to be. But the EP’s were at the start of the year, and there was always a plan to release a larger body of work, and the EP’s were so well received that it kind of made sense. I’ve been working on a lot of records over the last year, so it was the logical step. This year’s been crazy, it’s been a lot of hard work and we’ve done a lot, but it’s been worth it and we’ve had a lot of support from lots of platforms and national radio, DJ’s and fans of music, so just got to keep on going.
2017 marks your debut as a producer on the scene. Already a DJ, what impacted your decision to turn to production?
As a DJ you naturally play around with and edit records. You might hear a Rap record, and like the third or fourth verse, so you chop that up and you put that third or fourth verse first. Just little things like that as a DJ you do. I used to play around and make records a while ago, but there was never a strategy or plan as to how to put them out the best way. Now we have powerful tools like Spotify, Snapchat, Instagram and everything, you can develop your own fanbase or use your fanbase as a DJ, and naturally push people towards records that you’ve made. It just seems right at this time of year, everything’s in place to be productive, and I’ve got great videographers and graphic designers,a great record plugger, who I’ve known for years, so it just seemed like the right time.
Out of DJ’ing and producing, what can you honestly say gives you the most enjoyment?
Waking up and getting texts or Snapchats, or videos of people listening to your record on radio, and DJ’s playing it in the club, that is amazing. It’s a sick way to start your day! But DJ’ing in a club or at a festival, and just shelling it, the energy and hype you get off it is amazing and will always stand out to me. Live is so much fun! You have that real interaction with people that are right in front of you. So I have to pick live, but I find the production process and working with artists really, really fulfilling.
‘Tryna Get By’ is one hell of a collaboration between Grime Originals Monkstar and Gods Gift. But what would be your dream collaboration?
I don’t know if they’d sound good on a record together, but if I had to pick people who would be in a collaboration, then obviously Michael Jackson, in some capacity Noel Gallagher. This record is not gonna sound good together! Eminem, Kano, Wiley, and there’d be others as well, I could name you a hundred people, a real range of influences there. I’d like to think you could make (it wouldn’t be all one record) a series of records. Obviously the one with Michael Jackson might be a bit tricky to come by, but how ever long it takes, one day I will make a tune with him, I’m saying that now, you can quote me on that, I will make that happen one day, haha.
As a DJ, you host the Urban Fire show, syndicated on over 50 stations on both sides of the Atlantic. Are there any developments, plans or news regarding the show?
It’s been going for a few years now, and we syndicate to 50+ stations across the world which is great. In the UK as well as Australia, Germany, Italy, Spain…. but the expansion of that is always good. I have complete creative control over the input, music, features, people I want to interview. I play music that I want to play, from artists you might know to records that you might not know, but might become fans of when you hear their stuff. I’m always pushing that and it’s weekly, well received, but at the moment the production (taking the forefront) feed so much in to DJ’ing and doing stuff live, and people hear your records and book you for their event or club, or I’ve interviewed someone who I’ve been a fan of musically and they know my music, and we’ll do a tune together. Everything’s kind of swirled up together, the radio is a powerful tool that I use to play artists and music, and push the music that I love.
Your profession has taken you across the globe, working with the hottest artists from 50 Cent to Neyo to D’Banj, Craig David, Wretch 32, P Money, Charlie Sloth and many more. What are your proudest moments of your career so far?
One of them is this year, the very first time I got played on BBC Radio 1, big up DJ Target! That was always thing you’d want to happen, and your mum who knows nothing about what you do, it means a lot that they might hear something. Because when I was younger, I was a kid making noise with records. Being able to interview artists or do a show with them, it’s humbling because you’re a fan of their music, and being able to sit down and talk to them or see them operate at close quarters. I’m like a sponge, you’ve got to absorb it all, and you get the insides of their life or their creative process, that’s really interesting. It’s a blessing to be in those situations, you could maybE use an element of that to see towards what you want to do. Doing regular mixes for Charlie (Sloth) on his BBC Radio 1Xtra show for a couple of years now, that’s really, really great, and we’ve got a really good relationship with him, and he’s always been very supportive. That has been amazing to have from someone so legendary in what he does. And doing an album, completing and having it well received, finishing that project and getting records played on national radio, and getting messages from people saying how much they love a record, that is really humbling. It’s further ammunition to keep going and doing your thing.
Moving on from this project, what can we expect from you next?
We’ve shot four videos for the album, and they’ll be coming out soon so watch this space. That’s really exciting because we went to different parts of the country to shoot the videos They’re looking wavy as well! Won’t be long before you can see them!!
Have you got any tours or performances coming up, possibly to promote the new album?
We’ve got a UK tour wrapped around the album, we’re doing 13 cities, and done 4 already. That’s great, we’re going all over the country and done Winchester, Sutton and Woking, Salisbury, and along the way we’ve got Bournemouth and Manchester, Watford, Hull and York. So we’re going all over the place, which is great because it shows that the clubs and promoters are really excited about your project. And even the events we have done so far are excited for you to be there, and the customers are becoming fans, plug in to what you do and they’re gassed that you’re there. That is a real great chance to interact and connect with people that are buying the records or wanna see you DJ live
What would you like to achieve in the next year?
Obviously I’d like to do another album, I’m working on bits and pieces already. Continue to push the radio show, and the fanbase is developing and taken me to more and more places to DJ at, and more countries abroad, so a further expansion of that and everything that I’m doing, and certain artists that I’d love to work with, but I’ll make them happen. It is a slow process but you have to build up the credit until you can get to the person that is aware of what you’re doing, and you’re of value enough to do a record together. A lot more work to be done but totally worth it man!
Tell us where everyone can find you online?
All the socials are @jfreshofficial and the website is www.jfresh.co.uk and I’m really active and I do respond to everybody, I’m always there, on my phone!