The time…. A seriously hot Wednesday afternoon in July. The place…. historic Canterbury. The Sideways team, complete with photographer, set out to meet their latest signing…. Fraser Owen.
The unsettling pitched down vocal and dramatic melodies of Fraser’s ‘Up To Me’, his recent single with Noir on NM2, are the calling card of a serious new talent.
From his Canterbury HQ the young producer has already had a successful collaboration with Noir – ‘&U’ – under his belt and a string of remixes including Sideway’s own Robot Child (AKA Tim Green).
But it’s with his ‘Nascent ep’, forthcoming on Sideways, that he’s really hit his stride. Conjuring warm, multi-textured grooves from his machines, Fraser is making a new kind of house informed by current tech flavours but with disco-edged emotion.
We met up at the converted old cinema ‘The Picture House’, a local haunt for Fraser and his in-demand dj talents.
S: Give us some background, how about earliest influences?
F: I remember having Michael Jackson’s ‘Bad’ on cassette, and listening to it constantly…on my parents hi-fi at home, in their car, my walkman, on a small ghetto blaster type thing I had in my room. Completely wore it out in the end! Then some kids up my road played me The Prodigy ‘Music for the Jilted Generation’, and that really started my obsession with electronic music. At school I took at lot of classes with a certain Ben Macklin who introduced me to French House music. First with Daft Punk, and then with the amazing Roule, and Crydamoure record labels. From there I bought my first set of decks and started buying vinyl with every spare bit of money I had.
S: And some current ones?
F: There are so many people out there making great house music at the moment!
People like Nico Lahs, Hot Since 82, Alex Niggemann, Andre Lodemann, Larse, Laura Jones, Finnebassen, Andre Crom, Maxxi Soundsystem, Danny Daze, Fur Coat, Solomun, Tim Green, Adana Twins, Kollektiv Turmstrasse, Tale of Us… I could be here all day 😉
S: How would you describe the music you make?
F: I’d say house, plain and simple. It’s all house, sometimes deep, sometimes techy, it depends where my head is at the time and who I’m working with.
S: That brings us to our next question, how did the Noir collaborations come about?
F: The first track we did together, ‘&U’, started life as the first tech house track I had tried to produce! I sent it to Noir to try and get it signed as was a big fan of Noir music.
He loved the idea but at the time my technical ability was not up to scratch so he offered to work on it as a collaboration. This was a brilliant experience for me, and it ended up reaching as high as number 11 in the Beatport top 100.
The next time I had a track that I thought was right for the label, I sent it at 9am and it was signed less than 12 hours later! He has been a great support to me, offering up some good advice about the ins and outs of the industry.
S: On your new ‘Nascent ep’ with Sideways you are working with two other names, tell us more about them.
F: As I mentioned earlier I went to school with Ben Macklin and so have been friends for a long time. He was just starting out producing when I started DJing…which was great for all the exclusive Sucker DJs tracks, months before they were released!
He has been very much in demand for his production, which includes writing for ‘The Saturdays’, but we managed to squeeze in a couple of studio sessions to get ‘Elixir’ done.
The track has its name because working with Ben really was an elixir for me at the time.
As for Bradley, we’ve been friends for over 10 years, brought together through a mutual appreciation of house music. Before we worked together I had been making tech house but Brad wanted to work with me to try a deeper musical direction…and it worked instantly; with our first tracks getting signed straight away!
S: There’s an Omid 16b remix on the ep, how did that come about?
F: Omid is an old friend of my manager who wanted to get him on the label for some time.
He liked the track and was available so it all came together. We’re all very pleased with his take on it!
S: Tell us about Fraser Owen the DJ.
F: Whilst living in London I played clubs including the Brixton Academy, Ministry Of Sound, Turnmills, Egg, and Scala. There was the South West 4 pre party and the Gallery.
After moving back to Kent I was made resident at Electrosexual, regularly playing at the Brewery Bar on Whitstable seafront and at the Picture House in Canterbury. I have also made several appearances at the Source Bar in Maidstone including a ‘Saved Records’ party.
S: So what’s next for you?
F: After the Sideways ep next up for me is an ep on the fantastic Savoir Faire Musique, along with Sideways label mate Thom Norton. After that I’ve got a remix out on the same label, a track called ‘Smokin’ Deep’ by French artist Hanri. Later in the year I will have my second ep with Sideways and two tech house bangers under a pseudonym.
Definitely a name to look out for…..
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