Freelance Hellraiser became famous for creating bootlegs (taking vocals from one song, and putting them on top of beats from another) out of his Essex bedroom. His early work (putting Christina Aguilera’s “Genie in a Bottle” over The Strokes “Hard to Explain”) showcased creativity, humor, and skill. This year, he’s done a string of great remixes, and will soon release his debut album. In this interview, Mr. Hellraiser discusses bootleg tips, the BBC and how his former careers help his DJing.
Is there one question that you wish the press would stop asking you?
Well I do get quite embarrassed when people ask me about the Nirvana v Destiny’s Child booty. For some reason everybody thinks I did it and it was 2 Many DJs. It’s a great tune and I feel bad that people think I’m claiming credit for it. For the record – it wasn’t me !
What has been your wildest gig?
Definitely Glastonbury 2002.
What’s the longest set you’ve played?
Probably about 7 hours at the FHM magazine “100 Sexiest Women” party in London. I was quite happy to play for that period of time.
Do you remember your first gig DJing?
Yes – it was at Dundee University in 1991. I remember playing ‘Sympathy For The Devil’ by the Rolling Stones and mixing in The Funky Drummer break using a crappy little sampler while my mate banged away on his congas. We thought it was the coolest thing ever!
You’ve done a lot of great remixes this year, what has been your favorite?
Probably “Fighter” by Christina Aguilera.
What is the biggest misconception people have about bootleggers?
That we’re Internet pirates who believe all music should be free for everyone.
Did your bootlegging start out as an experiment and grow from there?
It started so I’d have some interesting mixes to play out in my DJ sets. It still is.
What has been your quickest bootleg?
I did an Obie Trice one the other day in 4 hours. It’s actually quite good which is very surprising. I rushed it one Saturday afternoon so I could play it out that night.
Do you have any tips for people who want to create quality bootlegs?
Make sure both or all of the tracks are in the same key. I’m amazed at the ones I hear that are in completely different keys.
Who are some of your favorite DJs/Producers?
Blimey – too many to mention. Here’s a few of them;
2 Many DJ’s, Dr Dre, Timbaland, DJ Shadow, Norman Cook, The Neptunes, The DFA, Felix Da Housecat, Just Blaze, Jacknife Lee, Youth, Giorgio Moroder, Sir George Martin, Quincy Jones, DJ Yoda, Kanye West, Prince Paul, Moby, Prince, Nile Rodgers. It’s endless! …
Is there anything that you wish the press would ask you more about?
Not really. I’m happy that they’re asking me anything at all!
What was the oddest experience you had working as a freelance hellraiser (a person who is paid to get celebrities angry) for the tabloids?
I was asked to go back to my old school and talk to the young kids about how to become a hellraiser. I had them fighting the teachers in mock celebrity battles. Very surreal seeing your old head-master dressed as Liam Gallagher, being attacked by an 11 year old.
Did anything from your last career as a postman help to make you a better DJ?
It was working for the post office that pushed me into music. My advice is to get the worst job imaginable. Nothing spurs you on to succeed better than a terrible job.
What are some of your favorite tunes of the year?
“Crazy In Love” by Beyonce is one of the best tunes ever, The Speakerboxxx/Love Below album by Outkast, the Colder album, Final Straw by Snow Patrol, Electromagnetic EP by Freeform Five, House Of Jealous Lovers by The Rapture.
How long did it take you to complete “Want You To Know?”
About 2 years on and off. It’s still not finished to be honest…
Have you finished your debut album?
Not yet – still working on it. I’m hoping it will be finished by the end of Feb ’04.
Do you have a title for it?
Describe the sound of the new album.
Psychadelic folktronica rock and roll soul.
What’s your favorite thing about living in England?
Our radio is not as genre-defined as yours which I personally love. BBC radio and XFM in London play Hip-Hop and Rock n Roll and Pop and R&B and House music one after the other. Having said that – most of the music they play is American!
Keep an eye out for Freelance Hellraiser’s debut single “Want You to Know.” For mor info on Freelance Hellraiser, check out www.thefreelancehellraiser.com