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Listen out for Fat Freddys Drop

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With all this doom and gloom looming oppressively overhead we could all do with something to bring a little sunshine to our lives.

Fat Freddys DropThe unique blend of hi tek soul, jazz and reggae of Fat Freddy’s Drop is just the tonic! The seven-strong New Zealand collective are set to return to these shores bringing their incendiary and unpredictable live performances with them in the run-up to their hotly-anticipated second long-player penned for release early next year.

Fat Freddy’s have been winning an ever increasing global fan base since the release of their exceptional debut album Based On A True Story in 2005 and were the first independent act to debut at number one in New Zealand in May of the same year.

Their debut overflowing with soulful cuts like the insidiously infectious ‘Cay’s Crays’, the chilled-out ‘Ray Ray’, the hypnotic ‘Wandering Eye’ and the epic ‘Hope’, has sold 200.000 copies, and made them firm favourites with audiences worldwide.

Gushing praise was heaped upon this groovy classic, the Observer called their debut “a slow-burn winner” while the Guardian chipped calling it “transcendental”. Hell, we at The National Student liked it so much that we stuck ‘This Room’ on our Fresher Sounds Volume 2 compilation in 2005, and it was one of the highlights of the disc.

The band was birthed from jams in local bars and clubs, where main-man, producer and beat-master Mu, born Chris Faiumu, aka DJ Fitchie’s legendary DJ sets soon expanded to feature the sweet soul vocals of Dallas Tamaira, aka Joe Dukie, and the freestyle trumpet of Tony Laign, aka Tony Chang.

“Everyone had slightly more important projects. People were digging those vibes and it became our main focus,” explains Mu about their organic evolution out of a rich Wellington scene which has also produced the comedy duo Flight Of The Conchords, as well as Bongmaster, the group he, Dallas and keyboard-player and chef extraordinaire Iain Gordon, aka Dobie Blaze, played in before the Freddy’s.

The name Fat Freddy’s Drop came from Fat Freddy’s Cat, a fictional feline in The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers underground comic strip drawn by American cartoonist Gilbert Shelton in the seventies, though the expression was also apparently slang for a strong batch of LSD popular in Wellington in the nineties.

In 1999, the Freddy’s began contributing tracks to various compilations and their reputation grew with the release of the Live At The Matterhorn album in 2001. By the time they issued ‘Midnight Marauders’ – credited to Fitchie and Joe Dukie – in 2002, they’d been joined by Dobie, guitarist Tehimana Kerr, aka Jetlag Johnson, and saxophonist Warren Maxwell, aka Fulla Flash – who has since been replaced by Scott Tower, aka Chopper Reedz. Trombonist Joe Lindsay, aka Hopepa, arrived the following year.

In New Zealand, people were clamouring for the Freddy’s music on the back of five years of live appearances and, when they finally released Based On A True Story, the demand was such that it instantly topped the charts and remained the best selling New Zealand album for the following two years (it is now 8 x Platinum). The group went on to win four New Zealand Music Awards in 2005 and a further three in 2006.

In this age of cut-and-paste music where acts pillage innumerable genres to create a aural melting pot of unfamiliar sounds, Fat Freddy’s Drop infuse the familiar grooves and sounds of soul, jazz and reggae with enough innovation to make them a truly modern act which makes the prospect of second album Big BW (dropping early 2009) a welcome one.

Despite the quality of their recorded output it is in the live arena where the band really shine with their penchant for funky improvisation meaning that no two Freddy’s gigs are the same. With their return to the UK this month we have the chance to catch this unique live experience for ourselves.

Go forth and check out Fat Freddy’s Drop on record and on their tour and bring a bit of sunshine back into your life.

 
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