Freelance Hellraiser - Interview
When freelance Hellraiser Roy Kerr created a mix of the Strokes 'Hard to explain' and Christina Aguilera's 'Genie in a bottle', not even the greatest act of divination from the musical haruspices would have predicted how the next few years would have gone.
So does this interview help predict what could be around the next corner for Roy?
But it's musically informative and will fill a few minutes - soothing your passage into the future, which will then actually become the present.Anyway.
Contactmusic got the chance for a chat with Roy at the Secret Garden Party.
Contactmusic: A lot people, me included, first heard of you after 'A stroke of Genius', were you surprised how well it took off for you?
Freelance Hellraiser: Yeah totally, it really took me by surprise and I wasn't prepared for it at all. I had a friend in distribution and once we made it into a 7" it just blew up.
CM: I've been having a look at your remixography and there are a lot of different types of artist that you've mixed for. Is there a particular thought process you go into when you're picking a track? Or is it just personal preference?
FH: Sometimes I pick them because I want to do them, sometimes I do them as favours for mates and sometimes I do them as the pay really well and sometimes it's a combination. But out of all of those factors you've gotta like the track and if there's one tiny thing in there which can be made into a mix then I'll do it.
CM: So what kind of reception have you got from any of the artists that you've remixed?
FH: When I've done it on spec for big artists the only person that has contacted me to say they liked it was Richard Ashcroft, which was like one of the first ones I did. He actually phoned me up and said "Well done man", but most of the times it's a record label who'll come to me and it's all kinda seedy, you know 'Christina would like you to do this remix." and you know she's not gonna hear shit. But when you do it for mates or cool underground artists, then they are always much nicer to do.
CM: So where did it all begin for you musically then?
FH: At university really. I started doing club nights at university and then I came back down to London and started doing club nights again, but I found it really hard work and got a day job and kinda sunk into that for a few years. Then decided I'd had enough and the bootlegs came out of DJing, so that's how it all kind of happened really.
CM: You mentioned your day job and you worked for the post office, was there a specific point when you thought that's it you were definitely quitting?
FH: Kind of I was living with this girl and it wasn't working out and I hated my job and I didn't have time for her or the music. Then I just snapped one day and thought right, I'm gonna do the music as long as I could whilst working at the post office. Then when I did the MTV awards in New York and flew back on the Monday morning to go to Bow delivery office I realised I had to leave the post office.
CM: There's been a lot reported about you exclusively working on Paul McCartney's back catalogue, but how did it actually come about?
FH: People had been doing bootlegs of his stuff like Radioslave did some tracks, so he was interested in a DJ opening up on his tours, so he kinda just put the feelers out and came to my manager and said would I be interested. I thought it was a joke and that nothing would ever come of it. But I did a really short mix, it was only about 9 minutes long with loads of his stuff in it and he really really liked it. So he phoned me up one day out of the blue and that was it, I was honoured. I ended up doing Glastonbury pyramid stage before he came on, which was ridiculous. Then last year we did a tour of America.
CM: What's he like? A nice guy?
FH: He's fucking amazing.
CM: So coming up to date with your album, what's the story with the title 'Waiting for clearance' is it to do with the actual laborious process?
FH: It's kinda of is a bit, but the irony of it is that people think that there are no samples on there and they're like "Why have you done that?" but every song is a sample and only one of them I could clear and the rest of them have been replayed and redone. But it's also a little pun, I love a pun.
When Eddy [Temple Morris] played 'Stroke of Genius' in the daytime on his radio show, he sent me an email saying 'watch it fly' and everything just flew from there for me totally so it's the next step onto something else.yeah a serious album. [Laughs]
CM: I really like the album and I've been looking on your site and at your album cover and the design is brilliant. Is the design like the second part of the package?
FH: The design is done by a really close friend of mine who I was at university with and he's absolutely amazing and this club I've got Good Luck studio he does the flyers for. He just really understands what to do and he's really clever and talented.
CM: I was listening to your kitchen session's podcast's.
FH: Which was a bit like this really.
CM: Yeah this can be the backstage sessions. How did they come about?
FH: That was friend of mine and it was her suggestion to do a podcast and I didn't want it to be formulaic in any way like a record company designed thing. So I just thought my brother and my mates are funnier than me lets just get them sat down talking about bollocks which is what we always do and hopefully talk a bit about the album, you know we played the album through it. I dunno we'd probably drunk a few to many of these [beer].
CM: So what's next?
FH: I'm doing a lot of remixing now, I've got a remix of my own track 'Weightlessness' coming out soon and I'm really going for the DJing side of things now. I mean I've got the live thing going on which is great - I've got a really good band together, but I've just been playing a few festivals DJing recently and I fucking love it and I just wanna sort of develop that side of it now.
CM: That's it, cheers man.
FH: Cheers man.
Interview by Adam Adshead
Checkout the album 'Waiting for clearance' out now.