Interview: Fat Freddy's Drop
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For ten years New Zealand reggae-soul behemoths Fat Freddy’s Drop have been spanning the globe with their infectious grooves and sunshine tunes. They have two albums racking up almost half a million sales worldwide, over 800 shows (412 appearances in Europe, 27 in Australia and over 300 in their homeland). What’s more, they have done this all without major label support! We are stood on the roof of Shoreditch’s Village Underground, where the band is serving seafood BBQ to friends and press to introduce them to their new (and third) album Blackbird. “This is all about celebrating the new album, that is kinda why we are here doing a small gig, in a small intimate venue. We just wanted to put on a nice little event for the press, a little treat. We’re all foodies, especially our keyboard player, he’s a real hunter/gatherer. At our studio, back in New Zealand we have a big kitchen – you know food’s just a big part of our culture and what we’re about really”, explains Chris Faiumu (also known as DJ Fitchie) the band’s resident beat-maker and DJ. The intimate gig at Village Underground follows a special, short set at Rough Trade East for fans who bought an advance copy of the record in the store the previous day. Despite its short length, the band whipped the crowd into an electric frenzy with improvised versions of their new songs. “We love all the gigs, the big ones but we love the small ones because we started on a more improvised, jazzy tip and it was in rooms of 100/150 and we did that for years. And, not that we took advantage of it yesterday, we get to play songs we don’t always get to play. We can play the more intimate, mellower tunes that you just can’t play in a bigger venue,” says Faiumu. Their love of gigs has seen their popularity rocket. Keeping on top of demand is a feat for a band with so many members and an international fan-base. But as Faiumu says, it’s not easy hitting venues for all their worldwide fans. “I come to London all the time. I couldn’t live here, but I enjoy playing here. We love coming to Europe, because it’s pretty organised and we have our touring party down here. We have hooked up with the right people. There isn’t the numbers in Australasia for us to make any money, so we have to come here.” “America’s no good, it’s too big. And they make it hard for you to play in their country, they make it expensive. For us, to get 14 people into the States to do a tour, before we have even stepped off the plane it’s costing us something like $30,000 in visas.”
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