Freestylers’ Aston Harvey talks collaborations and career moves...
We hear you’re skiing in France at the minute. How’s it going? It’s going really well. I’m at this event where a load of university students come over and party hard for a week, and we come over to DJ and get a bit of skiing in, so it’s very good for us.
Be careful. You don’t want to break your mixing hand before you play Dubai. No, don’t worry about it. I’m a professional. I’ve been doing it since I was a little kid, so I’m pretty good.
What can we expect from your Dubai gig? What to expect? Some good tunes and a good party drive. I’m looking forward to it. I’ve been to Dubai once before and it was really good; it was around May, so the weather was really hot. I just sat by the beach and had a nice time.
You’ve been in this business a while – how has the industry developed during that time? I’ve been involved in music since ’89, when the whole dance music thing was just beginning. It was like a cottage industry, like a small group of people trying to do something, whereas nowadays it’s hundreds of thousands of people competing. And the way people buy music has changed, too – 10 years ago we released our first album on vinyl, cassette and CDs, but now you’re lucky if you manage to sell just one CD. People just want to buy off the internet. It’s changed a whole heap.
What about your career? Did you expect to become an international DJ when you started out? I don’t know, I just thought I was making music for fun but it’s kind of taken me here. I’ve always wanted to have success of some level, and that’s the good thing about making music – you can make a piece of music that takes you to different places. And, I guess, you can do a piece of music that takes you nowhere. So having success is a bit of a luxury.
How is performing in the band different from DJing in a club? Well, with a band it’s a proper setup; we’re playing our own music and we have to rehearse, so there’s a lot of teamwork. Whereas when you’re a DJ, you just turn up with a bag of records and go on and play.
Is DJing lonelier? Yeah, it can be. I mean, I’m coming to Dubai by myself this time, but a lot of the time I’m travelling as Freestylers with my business partner Matt [Cantor, also of the band]. But yeah, if you’re a one-man act it can be quite lonely, I guess.
Your next album is set to be released in 2010; who have you collaborated with? We’ve worked with a couple of different people: Valerie M, she sings for us with the live band; SirReal, who’s our MC and also comes with us when we do group DJ sets; and a couple of other different singers and songwriters. We’ve been signed to Sony, so they helped out in getting some singers and songwriters involved. The most well-known current artists we’re working with on the album are [UK rapper] Lethal Bizzle and this [electro] group called The Loose Cannons, who also have a live side project called Lego Johnson.
How will this album be different from your past works? Basically, it’s very vocal. It’s a real mixed bag of styles and ideas put together. I think this is probably our most advanced-sounding album.
Have there been any funny mishaps on stage in the past? Loads. Like the power going in the middle of a song or people jumping on stage and smashing the equipment.
That’s not so funny, is it? No, there’s nothing funny about that. Well, it’s sort of funny in retrospect, but it’s quite upsetting when it first happens. But last year I had some girls – drunk girls – throw water all over the CDs and all over the guy that was doing the lights and stuff. It always happens when security isn’t around, for some reason.
According to your MySpace page, you’re single; do you see that changing any time soon? I’d like it to change. But at the moment, I can’t help it. I haven’t met the woman of my dreams. Maybe I’ll meet her in Dubai…
What advice can you give to readers who want to break into the dance music industry? Do your own thing. Try to be unique. Try to stand out from the crowd. And just be different. Don’t be scared to be different. A lot of successful artists have their own sound.
Aston Harvey plays See You Next Friday at Alpha, January 15.