To quote his recent smash hit, DJ Fresh is undeniably ‘Hot Right Now’. Starring tipped vocalist Rita Ora, it became Fresh’s second UK number one in a row in February, following 2011 smash ‘Louder’. Both have become dancefloor anthems, but after years tinkering in the studio as an influential but underground drum ’n’ bass pioneer, Daniel Stein’s sudden fame is hard to comprehend.
‘I’ve always been in the background,’ explains the 35-year-old DJ. ‘I’m much more Daft Punk than Example, for example – I prefer to just make music and let that talk.’
Fresh hoped to make it three in a row with last single ‘The Power’, featuring Dizzee Rascal, but it charted at number six. ‘To do something like that and miss out on the top five by 100 sales – that’s annoying,’ admits Fresh. ‘When I first met Dizzee he called me up all excited, and was like [adopts an East London accent] “Bruv, listen bruv, I couldn’t believe you made all those other tunes. I was listening to those way back.”’
Those ‘other tunes’ he refers to are the underground productions Fresh created over the past decade, which have helped to shape modern drum ‘n’ bass. Understandably, some of Stein’s older fans feel short-changed by the commercial career path he’s taken, which began with 2010’s ‘Gold Dust’.
‘I think my journey with drum ‘n’ bass has been a long one,’ says the DJ in defence. ‘Over time I’ve changed my sound. I’ve always wanted to do something new and challenge myself. Having gone through most of the styles of drum ’n’ bass, the challenge [now] is to explore the mainstream.’