Story and Interview by DJ Mixolydian
DJ Mixolydian is back with another feature interview for In Session. This time, KZSC presents to you: Sir Froderick. A laid-back beatmaker, record store (and label) owner, hip-hop connoisseur, and king of the tape machine, Froderick has been producing music for decades and running his own record store in San Diego (FIVESPACE).
Since 2010, Sir Froderick has been producing some of the funkiest, grittiest, rawest instrumentals in hip-hop. You know a Froderick beat when you hear one- always sounding like it came straight from the cassette deck. An avid record collector and crate digger, he manipulates old soul, bossa nova, electronic, funk, and R&B music (as well as his own field recordings) into truly new pieces of music via his arsenal of samplers and drum machines. His list of collaborations is long. And impressive. From Stones Throw’s Knxwledge, Swarvy, and Mndsgn to beat-makers like Ohbliv and Ras G, Froderick has worked with some of hip-hop’s biggest names.
Sir Froderick was kind enough to grant an interview to KZSC’s DJ Mixolydian. The video for part 1 is attached below. Unfortunately due to some technical difficulties the second half is only audio, but a full text write-up is included. You can also find a playlist of Froderick’s beats, sound collages, and field recordings at the end. A big thanks again to Sir Froderick and FIVESPACE records in San Diego!
All right. Joining us back now, Sir Froderick. So before the break we were talking how your album art influences the music, I believe, right?
Sir Froderick 0:08
Yeah. So I was saying, I was chopping, you know, samples from old records and stuff; so I figured I’d try to do the same aspect to comic books. I was just reading over old stuff. And I was just like, man, let me sample some of these pages and sample some of the sound effects and just, you know, rearrange and see how I can per se make a “beat” but with with a pieces of onomatopoeias. I don’t know, man. I think it came out- I don’t know to this day. I mean, I’m still I’m still a skeptic with it all. So I’m surprised when anybody- if they take a liking to it. Same with the beats.
Oh, man, there’s no need for surprise. Are you kidding? That swing? When I hear one of your beats, I know it’s you for sure. Just by your sense of rhythm. And it’s so sweet.
Sir Froderick 1:04
Thank you man, I can’t even tell man, I can’t even tell. Thank you.
Of course. So I think I read that for Consolidate (Sir Froderick, 2017), you made the album art first. And then the beats afterward. Is that how most of your projects start?
Sir Froderick 1:19
Yeah. Yeah. All within, like I said the same format. Like, think about a wild man, you know, in his room, having the easel over there, the beat machine over there and just bouncing back and forth. Whatever works, whatever’s [in] that day. Consolidation is the format of what I was telling you, like before with, like, you know, just a bag of treats, just a bag of stuff that I’ve just been sitting on and I had to consolidate it into one and you know, put something out?
For sure. Well, I want to ask you, since you said you didn’t start on an MPC for a while, you know, you’re just you had family members that were DJs and stuff. It’s probably so hard for you to say but, you know, maybe a few artists that you heard growing up and you’re like, “Wow, I want to making some beats, like, I want to try this now?”
Sir Froderick 2:15
There’s too many to mention. There’s Biz Markie- number one for me, man. He’s like the loop God to me. He’s the true loop God. Showing how prolific and simplistic he was, you know, approaching these, these loops, as they like to call it today? Yeah. Oh, yeah. Biz Markie would be my first and foremost. But, I’d say I didn’t really get crazy intrigued with how deep or how obscure you could go with it until I heard Paul’s Boutique (Beastie Boys, 1989). And so, hearing how to chop blew my- my head exploded, you know, for that. And then I stayed down that rabbit hole, you know, I listened to Q-Tip and Tribe. That whole jazz influence, that whole Native Tongue Movement. And, last but not least, when I heard DJ Shadow’s Endtroducing (1996). Just how he layered, it was like “wow”. And then I should mention as well, The Avalanches. First one. That’s the one I feel like that’s never gonna top that. You know? You can’t sleep on it. And it was amazing. From top to bottom.
So anything in the works musically right now, or just been too busy with life and FIVESPACE these days?
Sir Froderick 4:04
I’ve been telling everybody I’m still trying to fill up side B. Once I fill up side B, maybe I’ll go back and listen to it. If I like it, I’ll share it. If not, you know, it’s just more tapes I’ll just keep throwing in the bag, throwing it in the vault. Until I get pushed along and people just say “put something out”. Like the late, great, Ras G told me man, “If it ain’t right with I and I, don’t put it out.”
Love it. R.I.P. to Ras G. I actually wanted to talk about Ras, man. Did you ever get to work with him much? I know you’re on Raw Fruit, Volume 3 (Ras G, 2014), but were there more projects?
Sir Froderick 4:46
Yeah, yeah. Besides being blessed to be on Raw Fruit, I was also on, uh… Why am I blanking out? Give me one second. *Froderick runs to grab vinyl* Down to Earth, Volume 2! That was a really cool last moment, you know, I just went and visited him down in LA- I was living in Highland Park. If it wasn’t Highland Park I think I was living in Lincoln Heights. You know, just went to go visit him, got dropped off there, and chilled, you know, smoking me under the table and drinking chlorophyll and just broke out the MPC. And I was like, “Damn, you’re still using this old ancient 2000’s shit? We went back and forth, showing him little tricks, and those beats came out all from that one session, and I thought nothing of it. Next thing you know, I see my ass on an album. I’m like, “Oh, man, that’s awesome.”
What was it like, chilling at Space Base (Ras G’s home studio) with Ras, and making beats?
Sir Froderick 6:14
Like I told you man, it was chlorophyll and constantly smoking. That’s it. Listening to stuff and, you know, just conversing back and forth. Like, when we hear something crazy, just jumping on the [drum] machine and just capturing that moment, you know, and not being too tired to not do anything. But yeah, it was just vibing, man.
Yeah, totally. Well, speaking of, you know, listening for something on a record- I know, like you said, you can’t give out the Wu-Tang. But when you’re listening to a record, are you listening for like chord changes? Or, like, one-shots or specific sounds? Or is it just anything, anything that really just grabs your ears?
Sir Froderick 7:10
Yeah, if I if I’m sitting there, you know, make the the face I guess, you know, whatever that that scrunch face, whatever what it is, I run it back. That’s it. You know, again, the vibe, just the simple vibe. Like for instance, a story with Ras G- when I was chilling with him during those sessions and, seriously, we were drinking some chlorophyll (laughs) and he was like, “Are you thirsty?” And I asked if he had some water. He’s like “Yeah, I got you on some water. So we go over to his little kitchen- Space Bace was in the kitchen, it was all in one spot. He pours me the glass and he’s just like, “Oh, hold on”. And he grabs his phone and he records, you know, he records the pouring of the water, and I was like “Oh man!” You know what I mean? It was that nautral vibe. Anything and everything will go into the mix.
And you put your own field recordings in your beats, right? What does that look like?
Sir Froderick 8:24
These days it’s when I’m out with like my daughter, you know? And I catch her like, maybe, banging on some shit and I’m like “Oo, hold up”. I’ll grab my phone and capture that moment and just put it in a vault. Eventually I’ll come back and fiddle with it when I get a moment to sit down and mess with some sounds. At any given moment, if I see it, I capture it.
Well, I mean I don’t want to take any more your time I know you got business to take care of and-
Sir Froderick 8:58
Believe it or not is the slowest Friday, so happy to connect! Some people came in earlier and stuff but before I before I caught on with you it’s been been quiet so I definitely appreciate being able to chat it up now.
I appreciate you taking the time to chat with this college radio station so much, man. You’re one of my personal heroes.
Sir Froderick 9:18
Ah, I’m humbled by that! Like I said, I’m always taken back by that.
I’m telling you like, when I’m getting in a musical mood I just throw on my headphones and put some a project of yours and just focus on those drums, those chops you choose. It always works so well.
Sir Froderick 9:46
You brought a smile to my face.
Well I love the raw sound, I love what you’re doing. Keep it up. Everybody go check out FIVESPACE Records in San Diego.
Sir Froderick 9:50
WWW.FIVESPACE.com, all my inventory is up there, all your hip-hop needs, as well as vintage shirts. You can also push that “set an appointment button” and come to set up a time to shop with us!
Make sure to go check out Sir Froderick on Spotify, Apple Music, Youtube, Bandcamp, and SoundCloud.
Sir Froderick 10:05
Get a tape! Before it’s gone! Before I take all of them down, hah.
That’s right! Go get yourself a tape and listen to Sir Froderick on a cassette deck, the way he wants it to be heard. Frod, thanks so much again and have a great weekend.
Sir Froderick 10:42
Key words right there. Thanks again, man.