Freaky Flow is a well known name when it comes to turntablism and DJing. Originally from Pennsylvania, Flow, aka Stephen Grey, spent most of his life in our beautiful city of Toronto. At the ripe age of eleven, he took an interest in hip hop, soul jazz, and garage house. This interest in music naturally led to Flow picking up scratching, cutting, and mixing. By blending his hip hop roots with jungle and drum & bass, this led to the cultivation of a unique signature sound.
As a pioneer of breaking down genre barriers and standing out from the crowd, Freaky Flow has been referred to as “Canada’s Jungle Scratchmaster”. Freaky Flow returns to the city that has a special place in his heart after two long years. Be sure to catch Flow throw down a technically skilled set with incredible track selection at Aria on Thursday February 27th in a one-off rare Toronto appearance!
SARAH: First of all, I must commend you on your true passion for music and making it accessible for as many people as possible via free downloadable mixes. How do you manage a hectic schedule both touring and create mixes for your fans?
FREAKY FLOW: Well thank you for the kind words! Honesty, putting together a free new mix every few months really isn’t all that time consuming. It’s not like I’m doing them every day, ha! But over the last couple of years, there have definitely been a good handful of new ones that people have been downloading for free over on my SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/freakyflow/. In fact, I’ll be dropping a brand new one, Freaky Flow – Volume 017, at that very same link, on Tuesday, February 25, right before the Toronto show. All kinds of good new bits on there, like tracks from Optiv & BTK, Bladerunner, Total Science, and a couple of old classics, like Top Cat.
SARAH: You were notably more involved in creating your own sounds in the late 90s to early 2000s. Are you still producing? What can we expect in the near future?
FREAKY FLOW: Indeed, I have been. But when I moved out here to Los Angeles almost five years ago, I left most of my studio gear in boxes, back in Toronto. So I’ve been working with other amazing producers (like Atlantic Connection, Bank, and others) out of their studios. We’re all so busy, so it’s difficult to find time when my schedule intersects with theirs, but when they do, it’s been a good time for sure. Hopefully, we’ll see some of these things getting released over the next few months. I’ll definitely keep everyone posted on my Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/djfreakyflow.
SARAH: With electronic dance music on the rise and the masses of emerging DJs, what advice can you give to those aspiring to become a DJ?
FREAKY FLOW: Oh man, that’s a big question. There are really two parts to success as a DJ (or any kind of musician) in the music business. No surprise, the first is the music, and the second is the business. Early on, lots of DJs have the music part going great, but are truly lagging on the business. On the music side, it’s really important to do what you love, but also to do it in a way that nobody else does. Even if you’re great, you’re not going to really be in demand if dozens of other people are doing exactly what you do. But on the business side, it’s all about being professional, and marketing yourself well.
Back when I started, this involved hustling and getting mixtapes (yes, tapes), out to promoters and on consignment to retail outlets. Today, the game is different, but the hustle is still the same. Today, you still have to be professional, but instead of mixtapes, there are so many new free tools available to DJs, but DJs have to put in the time and energy to hone their websites, Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, SoundCloud pages, and so on. Always keep your word, work your ass off, stay professional, put out some bangin’ beats; with all of those things, you can go far.
SARAH: You have massive variety in your sets. What would we find on your ‘most played’ list on your personal iPod?
FREAKY FLOW: Oh yeah, in my live sets, I’ve always enjoyed mixing things up. I think my last free mix, Volume 016, had some tracks by Prince and Wang Chung, as well as a whole mob of new drumandbass. It doesn’t matter the genre – if there are songs that I think will sound good, and flow well with the rest of the stuff I’m playing, then I’m gonna play them, even if it’s not drum and bass. That’s always been my way.
But on the old iPod, things really open up even more. To tell you the truth, when I’m listening to the iPod, most of my time is spent listening to philosophy and current events podcasts, ha! There’s one in particular called Free Talk Live, that I really dig. It, as well as a number of other resources, really helped me fine tune my whole perspective on life. I’ve always thought about things a little differently, but that podcast makes me think about things a lot differently.
As for music on the iPod, lately, I’ve been rockin’ that last Jay-Z album, some Large Professor, Pusha T, but I’m also feeling a lot of old funk lately, stuff by James Brown, The Meters, Edwin Starr. And I can’t stop playing Random Access Memories by Daft Punk – it’s unbelievable. And I always go back to the classics too: Led Zeppelin, Beatles, and I think the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds will always be on my iPod. You really asked me the wrong question here. I could go on for days, ha!
SARAH: What do you miss about your home town Toronto? What are your must see/do things while you’re here?
FREAKY FLOW: You know, I really miss scraping ice off my windshield in -10 weather, several feet of snow and slush, and generally freezing my ass of in the winter time. Seriously, though, besides the obvious family and friends – whom I miss dearly all the time – I really miss some of my favourite food spots in Toronto. Los Angeles has some amazing food, no doubt, like In-N-Out burgers and such, but I can’t find Indian food as good as Sher-e-Punjab on The Danforth, I can’t find schwarma as good as Schwarma Empire in Scarborough, and there are no rotisserie chicken places in Los Angeles that have the dope Chalet Sauce. Damn!
Check out Freaky Flow on Thursday February 27th for a very rare Toronto Homecoming. $10 all night in the Aria Complex mainroom.
– Interview by Sarah Alexys Y –
FEB.14 – EVENT INFO – SpinzCycle & ForwardDnB present FREAKY FLOW
Door Cover: $10 all night
Facebook Event: http://www.facebook.com/events/278577158961582/
SIM Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/SoulInMotionEvents
SIM Twitter: http://twitter.com/soulinmotiondnb