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In a year where seemingly every producer gravitated towards conservative, indistinguishable house music, LA producer Don Froth, has offered a rudeness and weirdness that feels thoroughly refreshing. His releases haven’t exactly come thick and fast – a few remixes, a couple of tracks for West Norwood Cassette Library, the gigantic ’10,000 CC’ on Phonica White and some bits and pieces on his own recordings, Froth’n, are all that he has put his name to thus far. It’s this quality control that assures that everything put out under the Don Froth name is worth paying attention to.
‘REflex’, his new EP for oddball New York label UNO that has been two years in the making, is unlike anything else around right now. Comprised of four original items and a remix of the title track by Detroit legend Anthony ‘Shake’ Shakir, the tracks hint at recognisable sounds and genre conventions – a rave siren here, a bit of 303 there – but are presented in a way that feels uniquely his own.
We caught up with Don Froth (real name Julian Smith) earlier this week to talk about his latest Dummy mix series.
Hi, Don Froth! Are you stoked for Christmas?
Hey! Christmas or not I am always stoked.
Can you tell us a little about this mix?
A few highlights: The security guard’s voice, It’s just too good. The track before last is a special one, we recorded Brother Hans in the woods, a Shaman who apparently opens new dimension portals.
You’ve spoken about your releases on WNCL in the past, but your newest ‘REflex’ EP is out on UNO. What is it about that label that attracts you?
They are a clan of Futurists not afraid to put out what they like, ear to the ground folks, with a lot of talent.
The legendary Anthony Shakir remixed REflex. What was it like getting to hear that for the first time?
I opened up the AIF in a quicktime player, stretched it out across the screen so I could get a more accurate view. I kept having to pause it and think about it. It was beyond anything I was expecting. The next morning I played it again on the monitors. Yeah, amazing deal – it was so acidic and heady!
You said in an interview with Sonic Router that you sometimes make experimental and ambient sounds. Would you ever want to release a non-dancefloor record, or do you just make these for yourself?
Tough question, for the moment I will stick to recording things. I am working on one minute soundscapes from the canyon I am living in – it can get very Twin Peaks-like, I need to document it.
You’re a designer by day. Do you view your design work and your music as separate entities?
Very separate. Unfortunately the commercial design process does not attract me as it once did. Not necessarily because of the brands or agencies themselves, it’s just the current state of work-flow expectation, everything is pandering to this this instant, social, transparent world of communication. There is no time for quality work. With music I can take my time, that’s the only way I can get anything done, though working with labels is a good exercise in working more efficiently.
You engineered for DJ Harvey. What was that like?
Oh yes, that was a good one. I mangled the first edit! I recorded it as mono. The studio guys who were mastering it were pretty bummed on me, so we had to jump back in and start the edit again. Turns out second version was better than the first, and as much as I can remember, Harvey felt the same. It was easy to work with him, he is a natural talent. He just gets it – a true composition genius, his musical prowess attracts people for a reason.
Assuming the world doesn’t come to an end, what do you have coming up in 2013?
The world is coming to an end! In the meantime I am working on two EPs: West Norwood Cassette Library and Rag&Bone Records. A remix for Esh 1 on the FUTRA label in Los Angeles, ongoing productions with Jason, who we just put a six track EP from him on Froth’n Records, and a new mystery project with artist EMU.
Security Guard – Security Call [Froth’n Records]
Don Froth VON Vs. Federation Feat. E-40 – Hyphy (Edit)
West Norwood Cassette Library – Acid Jazz (Dub)
Don Froth – VAP [Forthcoming UNO! NYC]
Bobby Champs – NYC Panther [Hypercolour]
Aquarian – Motherisk [UNO! NYC]
Presk – Nobody Makes Me [2020 Midnight Visions]
SVC Acid – As Is [UNO! NYC]
Don Froth – REflex [Forthcoming UNO! NYC]
Tommye – I Need To Go Away (All By Myself) (Principle Theory Version) [ID Records]
Scriptures to the Future with Hans Hartman – Journey to the Center of the Sun (Dub)
Children’s Prison – Mandarin Rental Star (Dub)