Behind the Buzz of Latest EP, Upward Spiral, Freddy Todd Reflects on Detroit, Drums & Diversity [Interview]
If you’re familiar with the wondrous and whimsical, you just might be a fan of bass music star, Freddy Todd. The Detroit-bred act’s fun and free-spirited nature shouts through his music, and continues to expand in mind-blowing fashion through a paradigm of discovery.
From the endless scroll of Tik Tok and its ancient NFTs to even the Buddhist temples of Crestwood Colorado, Todd’s personality and interests are far-ranging. Todd caught up with MP3 MAG a few weeks ago following a recent trip to Colorado, where he mixed down tracks for his BLAAP project—a collaboration between himself, Of the Trees and Nat Nat—and played an intimate set at the Black Box.
“We went down to Creststone to visit my friends,” said Todd, who hopped on a Zoom call in late March. “They have a really high concentration of Buddhist stuff and an energy vortex, similar to spots in Sedona, that twists trees into a vortex spiral and is traveled a lot by healers.”
During the interview, Todd also provided insight on where his diverse palette stems from; sourcing his creativity to his roots. Todd’s journey into music began with percussion, an instrument he picked up at the age of three.
“I definitely thank my dad,” said Todd. “He’s a drummer and would bring me down to the basement when I was kid to play on his set.”
By the age of 14, Todd joined several bands as a drummer and began branching out in the local music scene. Living near the vivacious music scene of Detroit, Todd benefited from and befriended other local artists like GRiZ, who happened to be in the same jazz band in high school. These early collectives heavily influenced his all out approach to music, and also helped him learn the art of collaboration. At the end of the day, Todd embraces all styles of music, but thrives in his own lane of electronic music.
“What got me into writing electronic music then was basically the acid IDM stuff,” said Todd. “Aphex Twins, Square Pusher, Warp Records, Stereo Lab, and all this really cool stuff. That really shaped a fun, unique oddball take on electronic music and just music in general cause those guys pushed the boundaries a lot.”
Once he got a little older and into the festival scene, he took to acts like Pretty Lights, Glitch Mob, and Big Gigantic, artists he would eventually play shows with. Today, when there isn’t a pandemic cramping the music industry’s style, Todd is a frequent performer nationally and on the festival circuit.
2020 was set out to be the year of bangers, which Todd admits he finds funny in hindsight. After releasing the flavorful FREDCRUMBS EP last February, Todd was locked and loaded while finishing up his latest project, Upward Spiral. In light of the pandemic, he decided to hold off, and wait for a chance to accompany it with live performances.
“I was planning on releasing a lot of hype stuff in 2020, then the pandemic hit,” said Todd. “I was like, ‘I don’t wanna release bangers right now because everyone’s down and there’s no-shows. They’re really hype and intense, [so] they needed to be heard on a sound system.”
Instead, he spent his days at home in his studio working on whatever he wanted each day. He says that more often than not, it was, “What am I gonna wrap up today?” Todd also used the extra time at home to reflect on what mattered most to him. Self care became a prevalent theme of his quarantine, which provided objectivity that can be lost with a life on the road.
“Taking care of yourself is the only way to attempt to be truly happy, so I think that’s the first step,” said Todd. “From there, it’s perspective [and] being like, ‘All right, I’m good, I’ve got a roof [over my head.]’”
With hope now more tangible and over 100 tracks in the chamber, Freddy Todd is back to his consistent, diverse release schedule. Earlier this year, he guided us through lunar tides in Moonflavours II—a downtempo follow up to his 2013 EP— and finally released Upward Spiral via WAKAAN on April 4. These five phantasmagoric brain bangers are meant to resemble “psychedelic colors and sweet little robot angels,” and provide Todd a reloaded arsenal of high-energy tracks to rinse out.
“I’m happy [Upward Spiral] came out now, closer to possibly the light at the end of the tunnel,” said Todd. “It’s the crispiest, most concentrated stuff yet, but most of them are that ‘Freddy Todd’ brand of banging, driving, intense electronic stuff.”
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