Fine. (Fine Records) are a label on a mission to release the best in bleepy, dirty, housey electro. Trackitdown are thrilled to have their catalogue on board and we decided to mark this moment with an interview with one of their leading acts Freeform Five.
Anu Pillai is the man behind Freeform Five. He is also the man behind scores of hit remixes in the dance music world. Anu Pillai is, in short, a bit of a musical genius and he lists artists such as Mylo, Snow Patrol and Tiefschwarz among his circle of friends. Without further delay lets introduce the man himself, Freeform Fives Anu Pillai!
Jess: Hi Anu, its great to have Freeform Five and Fine Records material on Trackitdown.net. Do you use the digital format much? Do you have an mp3 player?
Anu: I use digital formats when I DJ all the time- I burn them to cds though as Im not convinced about taking a computer into a club just yet, and the sound quality of mp3s bothers me a bit.
Jess: In a strange twist of fate for me, being a fan of Freeform Fives music, you actually went to university with my brother and I remember hearing tails of the two of you DJing at gigs from Cambridge to London way back then. Was university the time you discovered you wanted a career in the music industry or have you always known that this is the direction you wanted to take?
Anu: I was DJing before I went to university, but that was where I met a lot of other djs- both friends and bigger names who I used to book for events. That obviously pushed me into starting to make records, but Ive always made music since I was about six years old. Its always been a passion of mine, but I never thought of it as a career, it just gradually became one! To be honest, I still dont think of it is a job, and I think thats why I still love it.
Jess: You are a successful solo artist in your own right having your name on some great remixes. Can you give us a run down of some of the remixes you are most proud of?
Anu: Its hard to choose one above another because I approach each remix completely differently. But I guess Ive been lucky to remix music made by heroes of mine- from Brian Wilson to NERD. And for them to appreciate what Ive done is very humbling- when David Byrne played my remix of Lazy live, that was pretty mind blowing. Recently Ive remixed some amazing records by Delays, Jamie Lidell Gabriel Ananda and Lindstrom.
Jess: You have toyed about with bands before since you were young. Were these bands more rock orientated or have you always been a dance music man?
Anu: Ive played in everything from rock bands to orchestras, but I guess Ive always loved electronic music, from that came an interest in the recording process and producing. The way I see it is that you can dance to pretty much any type of music, not just the narrow genres that people label as being dance. So yes, I am a dance music man, but maybe not in the way that people think!
Jess: How did Freeform Five come to be? Where did you meet the other members?
Anu: I met the different singers along the way, at school, university and parties, I guess Freeform Five is basically me, but Ive never been comfortable having too much of a focus on me. Plus it would be pretty hard to play live on my own (as Im not really into the bloke standing behind a laptop type show ) So Im happy to be surrounded by friends when we play live- its much more fun!
Jess: Ive seen you perform with the band as Freeform Five and also enjoyed watching you DJ on your own. Do you prefer being up on stage as a group or are you happy enough on your own? Do you ever get stage fright?
Anu: Playing live is a different experience because you need the interaction between all of you on stage to really come together to make a great show. When it does, it can be a pretty magical experience for the band and the crowd
when it doesnt though, its much worse than a bad DJ set. When I DJ, its much more down to me to make sure people have a good time. Theyre both great, just in different ways.
Jess: Correct me if Im wrong but I seem to have a memory of a press shot featuring all of freeform Five Naked apart from a strategically places cardboard box! That must have been a strange experience?
Anu: Not at all - you should try it! Although, Id say that doing it on a busy main road in Stratford opposite a building site might not be the best place
Jess: You have worked a lot with fellow Electro-house maestro Mylo. How did this partnership come about?
Anu: I did a remix of Muscle Cars a while back, before he became Eltons mate and a household name. He loved the vocals I wrote on it, and then used them on his album version. We became friends and went on tour together after that, and he recently did a great remix of no more conversations. Hes an incredibly talented guy.
Jess: Freeform Five is signed to the formidable Fine Records who are renowned for releasing hit after hit of electro and house gold dust. How did you go about getting your first Freeform Five hit released on the label?
Anu: They approached me to do the misch masch dj mix and remix compilation cd and it just grew from there really. Tiefschwarz are friends and helped establish Fines reputation so it seemed like a good place to be.
Jess: What do you hope for the future of Freeform Five?
Anu: Ive just started some new material, but you can never plan where its going to go. Thats all part of the fun. Theres also loads of dj and live gigs coming up all over the world. You can see where on myspace.com/freeformfive or freeformfive.com.
Jess: Do you as a solo artist have any plans for running your own label? Can you see yourself being involved in the dance music industry forever more?
Anu: Im just setting that up at the moment actually. I always get handed a lot of music when Im playing around the world so I thought its about time I started to help get some of it our there. Well also be putting out a new DJ mix later this year as well.
Jess: In your free time which artists do you enjoy listening to the most?
Anu: It would be ridiculous to try and make a list- it would probably never end
I actually quite like silence these days...