Functions Of The Now XII: Guy Fridge

For our next session of Functions of the Now we’ve tapped LA local Guy Fridge, a character who has been quietly hard at work behind the scenes at some our favourite labels. After a stint working as A&R for Fade To Mind (where he was instrumental in bringing Neana into the fold) and Private Selection, Fridge has turned focus to his own methodologies and practices.

The mix tracks interaction between these artists’ vivid, grimey soundscapes and the humanoid contours of modern RnB and grime. What makes this instalment unique is a specific focus on vocal-led club music, one that refreshingly denies the empty and reductive ‘instrumental’ tagline that often accompanies new grime. Like many other apophenic mixes in the series, Fridge gathers data from a wide range of geographies and has them hit with the same reflexive, globalized energy. But here the cyborg collaboration, evident particularly in modern RnB, between human and machine is highlighted, spitting flames at the sacred binaries of yesterday and embracing a more ambiguous transhumanism. Suitable in a time in which artists like TCF are pushing the boundaries of anthropic artistic process. In a discussion after our Skype date Fridge emails me asserting “Latour says that in human-machine networks, such as the computer-user paradigm, machines play an active, rather than passive, role in creativity. The contours of technological systems shape, mold, and direct the human creative process… Consciousness is probably just a specialized organizational state of matter that can be replicated in any substrate- even synthetic ones!”

Fundamental for Fridge is an understanding of the constraints inherent to the computational creativity of Ableton and the drum machine, an age-old aesthetic question that harks back to Dogme 95 and the Oulipo movement but which remains crucial in our time. This mix tracks the various interpretations of these technological constraints so integral to grime and its praxis, particularly in its Fruity Loops era, and other sounds like it.

As usual, since our last edition there’s been a wealth of interesting music from the star system surrounding this series. Checking in first with our friends at Local Action we have Finn Remixed, a victory lap for ubiquitous 2014 grime anthem “Keep Calling”. Strict Face, the man responsible for the first mix in this series, turns in another fantastic instantiation of his ethereal signature sound on his remix of Only Boy but it’s Samename’s contribution that steals the show. Utilising the Japanese sound palette he perfected on eski-referencing debut ep Yume, Samename takes a sharp left turn from the vintage RnG of “My My”, and instead moulds it into a raucous hardstyle banger. Other FOTN alumni M.E.S.H. and Air Max 97′ also make a return with Infra-Dusk/Infra-Dawn and the Fruit Crush EP respectively. M.E.S.H.’s offering is the perfect sequel to last year’s Scythians, solidifying the ghostly presence of that record’s title track into something with a potent physical heft. Meanwhile Air Max 97′ continues the rhythmic trickery on his second release with altogether more playful results. There’s a definite point of intersection between the two if you examine the percussive skeletons but their respective moods demonstrate the breadth of the aesthetic we’ve been charting with Functions Of The Now. Out in the Soundcloud ocean we’ve been particularly enamoured with CLUB CACAO‘s uploads, ranging from classic 03 grime to noisier and more abstract excursions. Another essential transmission from those waters comes from Amnesia Scanner’s “As Angels Rig Hook”, a technoid backdrop to Jaakko Pallasvuo’s poetry that compellingly connects the dots between figures like TCF and the Janus crew. And though we’re sure you’ve heard it by now, it would be remiss of us not to mention Novelist’s first bold steps into the big time with his Mumdance collaboration on XL, “One Sec”. The 18 yr old MC sounds every bit the part as he navigates through stark and weighty sound design as well as its negative space.

So the first question I wanted to ask was about your work at Fade to Mind – you were an A&R there? “Basically I saw on twitter that Prince Will needed some help so I just hit him up. I didn’t know what they were looking for or anything but it turned out they wanted help doing like mail orders and shipping and just creating some better organisation in the business. We were also just sharing music, we’d just sit in the car for hours and play stuff for each other. At the time I’d been talking to Tim Neana for about a year and a half prior to that. I was a big fan… actually it’s funny, we used to have this pipe dream of starting a label together ourselves!” Hehe, what was it called? “Oh man, I don’t even know if it had a name. We were really young, Neana maybe 15 and me 17-18. Anyway, one of the first things I played to Will was this pack of dubs that Neana had sent me, and bang, it ended up becoming the basis of his upcoming EP for Night Slugs, as well as “Bow Kat“, the most recent release. Then L-Vis came out to LA for a weekend and Will hooked him up with the demos, immediately he was like ‘we need to work with this guy, he gets us’.” Sweet, such a nice little piece of history. To be honest I was surprised to learn that F2M had an A&R considering everyone is so on point. “Yeah, I mean the crew overall is very close knit and it really formed organically, they were all friends and knew each other online… actually everybody had each other as top friends of Myspace. Dave (Quam, Massacooramaan) also had this blog and would have people do mixes, and everyone loved his blog, loved the music he was covering and the shine he was bringing to global urban music. So it really started with these naturally forming friendships that happened online. Neana and Georgia Girls are really a newer generation, they were like 15 or 16 when Kingdom was releasing his first records. It’s a new set of people and they’re bringing their own ideas to the vision that the label has.”

In our email correspondence before the interview you mentioned that with the mix you were trying to draw the link between various urban musics, I was wondering if you could expand on that a little? “Sure, I guess one of the main things I was trying to do is show the versatility of RnB music. I mean RnB is really just the idea of a soulful voice, which can happen at any tempo, within any rhythmic context and within any melodic context. So that’s why there’s a diversity of tempos there, showing the connections between these various geospecific urban scenes and how they all kind of think in the same way, ultimately.” And also how they function in the same way. “Exactly. I would say all effective urban music has its number one principal as doing as much as possible with as few elements as possible and boiling an idea down to its simplest, most elegant state. And there a million ways of interpreting that simple formula, that’s why we have all these different styles and ideas. But that’s what I see as the uniting principle through all that music. A big part of that is because they’re all made in the same way, they’re all made basically using the same set of constraints. You’ve got a sequencer, a drum machine whatever or you have digital software, which gets a little more complicated. There’s a similarity in the production method, it’s just that the context is different and that’s why the results are different.”

Let’s chat a little about LA, what’s going on there at the moment? “I feel like it’s in a really good place at the moment, there’s a lot more space for new ideas than, say, NYC, with its huge warehouse districts. There’s also a great history of club oriented hip hop music on the West Coast. I mean, that’s really how I got into club music, through hyphy and West Coast hip hop. I would go to dances in middle school and I’d be super awkward or whatever but they’d be fucking playing Dubee or Sleepy D and that’s just… tight. That’s the music that hit me first as far as the club space goes, and got me into that way of thinking about music.” That’s really interesting coz that’s quite a different context for this series. “Yeah, but then when I was in high school I was super into Detroit and Chicago and got really into looking elsewhere, but that was really how I came into it.”

So what’ve you been working on recently? “I’m basically just trying to apply this aesthetic I’ve created to a template that could be applicable for a vocalist. So I’m basically trying to update or modernize urban music with my own aesthetic and my own sound palette. I’ve also been focusing on creating the most complicated signal path possible to achieve whatever result I’m going for. So intentionally trying to find the most ridiculous workarounds. I might write a melody but I want to misuse it and abuse it as much as I can. So I’m really interested in process and repetition. I’ll load a sample into a granular synth and manipulate it, then export it and keep re-exporting the output signal over and over until its something totally different and fucked up. So I guess I’m just trying to use these constraints incorrectly, doing something your not supposed to.” Cool, so by extension how has DJing played into your process? I love the dialogue between those two practices. “I’ve been working on a lot of edits recently, a lot of tool tracks, which rises out of DJing. I’ll be DJing and do a blend and really like it and that’s where a lot of my ideas for tracks come from. That transitional section, it’s amazing because you get these moments of chaos which turn into accidental beauty.” Yeah that really harps back to surrealism and exquisite corpse vibe which I’ve been super into. It’s old school! “Yeah totally. I love moments of violent, chaotic juxtaposition in club music. That’s why I’ll do stuff like play a drum track into something beat-less, abstract, or ambient; I feel like those intense club moments bang that much harder when you contrast them with moments of stasis. I think listening to club music on headphones before experiencing it in an actual club is to blame for this; I guess I have a bit less reverence for the dogma and formalism of that space than some. I also try to recreate these violent moments of conflict in my own production by simultaneously embracing economic and excessive uses of sound. By this I mean a careful combination of elegant construction and chaotic disruption.”

Tracklist:

1. GF – Automata V1
2. Arca – Bullet Chained
3. MC Messiah – Nelieskit Melynojo Gaublio (Jacques Gaspard Biberkopf Edit)
4. Luval – Arousal
5. Sage the Gemini – Gas Pedal (GF’s 01.15.30.09.11.13 Edit)
6. Sentinl – Shinkendo.nrl (Full Neural Rip)
7. Dinamarca – A.M.A.B ft. Gnucci
8. Tyga – Wait For A Minute ft. Justin Bieber (Total Freedom Edit)
9. Rayven Justice – Slide Through ft. Waka Flocka
10. Usher- I Don’t Mind ft. Juicy J (Playback Reduction)
11. ________V – 08182013VX
12. Jacques Gaspard Biberkopf – Screen
13. Dexter Duckett – Snowflake
14. M.E.S.H. – Scythians (Lotic Remix)
15. Rabit- Black Dragons ft. Riko Dan
16. Music For Your Plants – Fossil
17. Ty Dolla Sign – Bitches Ain’t Shit (Why Be Edit)
18. SD Laika – Flicker
19. Tinashe – Vulnerable (M.E.S.H.’s DAW Is My Sewer Remix)
20. Divoli S’vere- Too Much (ft. Beek)
21. Headlock – Hold

Tobias Shine

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