With a career in underground electronic music spanning over two decades, including residencies at some of Londons most renowned venues and founding two of his own pioneering imprints, we are happy to welcome respected artist Frazer Campbell along for a chat and a guest mix on our radio show, hosted by Just Her.
Welcome to CC 🙂 Firstly, what is your background and how did you get into music?
Hey ! thanks very much for having me ! I fell in love with clubbing to Drum & Bass and Hardcore back in the mid 90’s. My first experience was at Labyrinth in East London. It really blew my mind, all these dark rooms, psychedelic backdrops and filthy bass lines resonating through my young body! I was 15 on my first excursion and obviously lied to mum about my outing that night. I had a friend at the time whos sister said we should go…. So I made up a believable story for my mum and off I went ! Was so good ! It felt really naughty to be out all night dancing to music that was so far from a commercial sound. It hit me so hard and really moulded my path ahead to be honest. I was listening to mixtapes from the likes of Donovan Bassline Smith at Fantazia since I was 14 so I was already aware of this magical music but when I heard it in the right environment it was madness! From that I moved through different aspects of electronic music before finding my soulmate, House music.
Where are you based and how has your home country or town influenced your music & career?
I am based in the London Surrey boarders in New Malden. A nice quiet suburban place with plenty of trees, peace and older folk ! I grew up in Fulham in west London but always wanted to move out to the suburbs. Seems strange for a young guy to want to do that but when I was 25 I moved out to Surrey. Close enough to it all but at arms length, which is perfect for me. In terms of influence from my surroundings; of course London is a huge component to my tastes and vibe . No matter what you are into you will find it here although maybe not at the moment during the CV pandemic ! Because of that exposure to everything I got to enjoy so many different music scenes before settling into the House music armchair. London will always influence Artistic people as there are so many cultures and nationalities to absorb. London is a meeting ground for many things and music is no exception. I am fortunate enough to have met so many people who are now my best friends and that’s all due to music and the great hub that we all congregated in called London.
You are about to release your “Reflections” EP, consisting of five beautiful original tracks. What was the inspiration behind this project?
Ahh Thank you!! This was a very meaningful experiment … In fact I could call it therapy. Throughout 2019 I was dealing with some huge family issues. My mum was diagnosed with brain cancer following a seizure on Xmas day. From there she had operations, Chemo and all sorts of medical attention. I found it a super tough year as I tried to be there for her every step of the way and it really took its toll. Don’t get me wrong she was dealing with way more and really took it in her stride. Thankfully she got through it following a brain operation and months of radiotherapy and chemo but daily visits to hospitals and non stop tests, procedures and consultations was exhausting. During this time I really used the studio as a sanctuary to escape for a few hours. I didn’t have lots of spare time to be honest but still managed to find some me time to climb into my little bubble and express myself. Each track was made through the course of the year during the sequence of my feelings. The track order tells my story and I hope that the background will give some clarity to the productions. I don’t want sympathy just understanding.
What is your production process – is each project or track different? And what are your key pieces of studio kit?
My production process can vary to be honest. I can sometimes start with a previous project and alter some parts to get me moving or start totally afresh. It really depends on my mood and the energy / mind set I have when I sit down. The majority of the time I would lean towards altering a previous project…..Its art so who knows!
Key pieces are my Roland 909 and the Novation Circuit Mono Station. You can sit there for hours jamming with these 2 bits on their own and be fully content! Basslines and Drums….What more do you need!
As well as producing music and DJing, you are also the founder of two record labels – Counterfeit SOUL & Elliot Project. What challenges have you faced in developing and running these? And what advice would you give someone hoping to start up their own imprint?
Initially I was running them as vinyl only labels and that was definitely a challenge and an expensive thing to do . I would always have my mastering and vinyl cuts done by my preferred engineers rather than using a plants engineer as I liked to be there and be able to see what was happening and ensure that the sound was how I wanted it to be (but of course always taking on board the expert engineers advise) but this is expensive. Vinyl has become massively saturated again and I believe that quantities are a little trickier to shift in this busy market place. I have lost the passion for that side of things now to be honest. It was clouding my enjoyment and the pressure of wondering if things will sell, should they sound a certain way and the influx of new ‘trends’ of sounds that are the bigger sellers just irritated me so I now made them all digital and will only flow with that direction for now. I have bought , played and made plenty of vinyl so I did my bit ! Of course never say never for the labels to flip back to the wax but for now my focus is on making good music , making it available for everyone if they want it and DJing to the best of my ability.. That’s plenty to deal with for now.
In terms of advice; I am no expert by any stretch….. my advise would be keep crafting your trade, keep the passion levels high as this will shine through and when the tracks are where you want them to be, then think about starting labels. Its great to have your own labels to release your own music but keep working at it to make something different and try to be unique. I worried too much about the label side of things and feel I lost my way for a bit. Remember you are doing this because you love it … Don’t loose that as it’s the main reason you are doing it !.. Bandcamp is a fantastic way of starting the journey. Make sure you get things mastered, if you use sample loops; ensure you chop them up as so much stuff sounds the same …. Be brave, have faith and go do it !
Can you tell us something that most people won’t know about you?
Hmmmm… that’s a tricky one …. I once was used as a model for a St Johns Ambulance leaflet, I was posing as an injured child. Clearly a star from day one…
What do you have coming up in terms of releases and gigs (or live streams)?
I have just finished a run of streams and if I am totally honest I will be taking a bit of break from them for a little while and knuckle down on studio work. I have lots of stuff to finish and want to explore making tougher jams. The streams have been so much fun and I have got so much love !! People seem to really enjoy them from my studio in particular, I suppose its nice to see people in their own space. I must admit that doing from my studio is so much fun and when you feel at home the boundaries get pushed!
Gig wise – there is nothing planned as yet – everything was cancelled which is a huge shame but our health is more important and those shows will be re ignited when the time is right so its all good.
How did you put together your guest mix for the radio show & what have you included – any exclusives or surprises?
I am known for my high energy sets and this time I wanted to create something a little smoother to keep in line with the release. I have included a few tracks from the release and have blended it all allow tracks to breathe more than I usually do ! I hope it’s the kind of mix you can listen to when driving, walking or any type of motion. Headphones on and take in the brilliance of artists like Dorisberg, Alex Cellar, Eddie Richards, Dan Formless & Ivan Tileff, Sebo K and many more… Music in motion.
Check out Frazer’s guest mix on the Constant Circles Radio show with Just Her: