Ten Tracks: Fraxinus

We’ve all had those moments of revelation when experiencing a certain song or sound for the first time. ‘The Ten Tracks’ explores the musical history and influences behind the careers of some of the leading artists in the scene; The tracks that inspired them to be producers and Djs, and how others music shaped their style and genres.

Fraxinus released his inaugural EP this month on the scene changing label Her Records. A vinyl only white label two track affair, ‘All Ends’ and ‘Off Ends’ have been pined after by DJs and club music lovers for nearly a year. Featuring the vocal samplings from Big Ria’s 1996 Baltimore Club classic ‘Knuckleheadz’ both tracks send the club into some sort of sing a long frenzy.

With an almost sold out debut record a week after release and a ton of bookings coming up, we asked Fraxinus to talk with us about the ten tracks that got him to this point and continue to inspire him.

1. THOMAS BANGALTER – OUTRUN

“I was really into the game Midnight Club II when I was about 12. As a youngster I enjoyed the soundtrack in particular. ‘Outrun’ was one of those tunes that sounded so great while thrashing a Supra lookalike through rendered city streets. Before having played the game, I held some interest in electronic music already (in the form of an ‘Ultimate Drum & Bass’ compilation and Amnesia Underground mix CD from Ibiza that I rinsed on my walkman). The Bangalter pieces featured in the game were really exciting to me, although I had no idea about the scene they came from. Eventually I discovered Bangalter made these tracks nearly a decade before MC2. I still play the track today!”

2. HUDSON MOHAWKE – FREE MO

“I can’t remember exactly when I discovered Hud Mo, but I was hooked on his early sound during my teenage years. Hudson’s Heeters is an incredible collection of beats and Free Mo is my favourite of the bunch. Although I’m not producing things like this as Fraxinus, the style has definitely had an impact on my musical endeavours. It led me to follow Scottish label LuckyMe & the LA beat scene. Artists like Flying Lotus captivated me at the time too, I have a lot of respect for their contribution to the world of hip-hop.”

3. ROMMEK – KALEIDOSCOPE

“When I was at secondary school, the Dutch duo Skip n Die (aka Jori & Catarina) came over to head a two day workshop in art and music. This is when I started playing with sounds and producing basic compositions. The next year I started sixth form college & after a few months there I discovered lots of new music. I was in the same year as Rommek & hearing his tracks was really inspiring to me. At college I also befriended Alfie aka Circula, as well as meeting a bunch of other people who were either making or listening to club music. I remember hearing ‘Kaleidoscope’ & being stunned that someone my age was making tracks like this. It’s got a really nice floaty feel, and the vocal samples really capture Rommek’s style at this stage. It got me motivated to produce more and keep my mind open to sounds from across the electronic spectrum. Those two years were a really exciting time for me.”

4. FRENCH FRIES – YO VOGUE

“So this has been played a lot by many DJs since release, but I’ve got a particular fondness for it. When it came out, I started going to proper club nights. It holds good memories for me. The rhythm of the first 32 is so infectious, the subs work really well, the Ha crash tops it all off (the first time I heard it in a track). The half time breakdown is killer too.”

5. NGUZUNGUZU – TIMESUP

“Nguzunguzu’s XLR8R Podcast in 2011 was a milestone in my interest in club music. It’s still my favourite mixfile! The tracks had me in awe. The way the mix opens with an Araabmuzik x Beyonce blend, twisting into a succession of Nguzu’s own tracks, the bouncing ‘Moments In Heartbreak’ edit, a dash of ghetto via DJ Deeon – everything came together so nicely. It opened up a new avenue of musical experiences for me. From this point on I knew I would always be drawn to this music. Timesup is an amazing track. I love the melody & beat sequencing. After listening to the XLR8R mix I searched for the Timesup EP online. I came across the crazy sand video for Water Bass Power, as well as the original EP art; both seemed to encapsulate the release perfectly. I’ve been a dedicated Fade To Mind fan since.”

6. KOWTON – DES BISOUS

“Kowton knows how to make simple string patterns really effective (check TFB too). It’s what inspired the use of violins in my edit of Fiedel’s ‘Doors To Manual’ amongst other earlier tracks of mine. ‘Des Bisous’ featured in some crucial mixes of 2012 that I couldn’t get enough of, managing to blend with other rhythms with ease & alter the pace of a set. It showed me how a simplistic piece with limited ingredients can be really effective. I might use more strings in my tracks in future – I hope Kowton gets back on it too.”

7. DJ SLIINK – GLADIATOR (ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?)

“This track introduced me to the world of Jersey Club. I had heard scraps of the sound here and there not knowing what it really was, but after hearing ‘Gladiator’ I took note & delved deeper into East Coast US club styles. The thing I love about Jersey is the fact that the beats come in so hard, the kick drums are always monolithic, yet there’s always a sense of playfulness. This is encapsulated in the vocal snippets from the film Gladiator. It’s a concept that i’m very much into.”

8. DIZZEE RASCAL – WHEEL

“My favourite grime rhythm of all time. It was inspiring to discover early grime instrumentals and understand it as a movement. I love the sound palette used in Wheel, so much so that I bootlegged it myself! I didn’t want to change it too much, just put my own spin on it – chopping everything up and re-sequencing it, adding some kicks. I’m happy with how it sounds, but the original is still where it’s at. I could listen to Wheel on repeat for a long time.”

9. MISS MODULAR – REFLECTOR PACK

“I became involved with Her Records just over 18 months ago when it was a real small collective of friends. It felt (and still feels) really exciting to be part of a burgeoning club scene. I’ve made some amazing friends over the years thanks to the internet. These people consistently inspire me in making music and keeping a positive attitude. At the time of being signed I was feeling Miss Modular’s productions in particular. I remember being sent a demo of Reflector Pack and it really took my attention. The versions kept getting better over time and when I heard the track ready for release, it was super exciting. It felt great to have one of the Her family producing this really original piece that effortlessly drifted between club styles. It was a groundbreaking moment for the label and I know plenty of other people took inspiration from it. The 8 bar version is the one!”

10. LOTIC – CHUNK

“Lotic’s Damsel In Distress mix (recorded for the Janus collective which he is part of) is really powerful. The first track ‘Chunk’ immediately knocks you back during the first 2 minutes with this crazy, abrasive sound selection. I like the mixture of artificial and organic – the faux bird call in juxtaposition with gnarly overdriven percussion. There’s a lot of negative space – the moments of silence are particularly powerful & the timing of the hits is impeccable. Scenes & communities like Janus in Berlin are really exciting to follow; I have lots of respect for my peers establishing creative outlets with highly original content.”

Closing words from Fraxinus: ‘I would like to say thanks to Cass & Jack Insert for their ongoing support. Also I must show my gratitude to everyone who has been into my music and helped me this year, it means a lot and I have respect for all of you who’ve pushed me forward.’

You can catch Fraxinus playing in Torquay this Saturday at Club Works.

All Ends / Off Ends preview