Freddie Joachim: 'Bootlegging my Albums Gets my Music to a Wider Audience'
Freddie Joachim (JO-AH-KIM) is a hip-hop producer and SoCal resident who draws from soul, funk, and hip hop influences. Though largely underground, Joachim's refined style is recognized and respected by listeners and artists from all around the globe. OC Weekly talked to him about where he's headed musically.
OC Weekly: Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you from and how did you get started with producing?
Freddie Joachim: I'm originally from San Diego. I started deejaying in '96, which progressed into recording and producing music. Since then, I've released three full-length albums, and have had the opportunity to produce music for a handful of artists and companies.
You're receiving a lot of attention for the music you've put out. (You are missing a Wikipedia page, though.) Any traits in your personality that helped you get to where you are now, in terms of production and publicity?
I enjoy every aspect of the creating process. It's definitely addicting. And I feel with music, (and art), its life extends further than just the finished product. For me, having patience, staying motivated, and also having a technical understanding of recording and production help me consistently put out quality music.
Besides the usual mix of soul, funk, and hip hop, what other genres do you enjoy drawing from on a frequent basis?
At the moment, I'm very much into the "fusion" of electronic music and hip hop. I also listen to deep house, and other types of electronic and downtempo music.
In terms of listening, you seem to keep a variety of artists in circulation. While you say you've been a fan of guys like Tribe, Kweli and J Dilla, how do you go about finding newer artists to follow?
Simple answer, the Internet. But also through friends and colleagues, and occasionally, while I'm out at shows and events. I also enjoy it when DJs put me onto new music through their live sets and mixtapes.
You said in a previous interview that your father listened to the jazz greats. How much do you think that has affected your attraction to the genre, and how strongly do you believe in getting into "good music" starting at a young age?
To be totally honest, I disliked jazz and classical music when I was younger. My dad would constantly play it in the car. It wasn't until I was a teenager that I would find that some of my favorite hip-hop songs came from jazz records. So with that came an appreciation for all types of music.
It really doesn't matter at what age someone should start listening to "good music," just as long as people listen to music. Only then can they determine which music they like and dislike. People's opinions can always change, but it's great when people can have an knowledge and appreciation for all types of music.
How often do you look back towards music that you've already produced?
Not too often. Sometimes I'll revisit some old tracks just for ideas, or maybe to remix.
Most of your music is free on your website. What is your opinion on music piracy?
It's a win or lose situation. For the most part, I enjoy releasing free music and I feel a lot of it should be shared. But when I do release a project that I have put a lot of work and patience into, (that includes not only the creation, but pressing, distribution, and promotion), I strongly encourage listeners to purchase it.
It's a little difficult to keep music away from bootleggers, since there isn't a strong enforcement with piracy laws. People are going to find a way to get music for free. I can't be totally angry about that. Bootlegging my albums gets my music to a wider audience. I just have to put good faith in people, and trust that most will support independent artists by purchasing their music and going to their shows. But as an artist and a label representative, I have to continually come up with ideas to prevent listeners/websites from pirating my music, and more incentives for them to purchase it.
Do you dig for samples, or do you use whatever comes to mind? What is your definition of a sample?
Occasionally I'll dig for samples, but it usually just starts with listening to music, and then, something will strike inspiration. To me, a sample is a small piece of a completed composition. I take samples not just from music, but from movies, videos or from anything else I can incorporate into my own arrangement.
Producers like J Dilla often constantly reinvent themselves to make a name for themselves. How often do you go out of your way to create a sound that's never been heard before? Are you ever driven past the desire to satisfy yourself musically towards the desire to impress the listener?
For me, it's a tiny bit difficult to break away from an established creative workflow, although at times, I do try to create and work in a way that is not my usual way of working or thinking.
Creating something solely with the desire to impress someone rarely to never happens with me. I always have to make sure that I'm the one truly happy with my music.
With the relatively recent passing of producer Nujabes AKA Jun Seba, people have begun wondering what a collab between you two would have sounded like. Were you ever in touch with Seba? How similar would you say your musical styles are?
Although Nujabes' and my styles are somewhat similar, I can't say that he was one of my true inspirations. To some that might be a little sad to read. But I have the utmost respect for him and his music, and I'll forever be a listener. I feel a lot of my early stuff is very similar to his, but since then, I've strayed a tiny bit away from that particular style, even though I still incorporate a lot of jazz into my beats.
How much time do you spend producing? Any hobbies or other activities besides?
I try to create something whenever inspiration strikes, which is almost everyday. But I still try to maintain a personal life. My day-to-day life is fairly normal. I enjoy watching movies, and going out and spending time with friends. I try to stay somewhat active, so I enjoy exercising and finding other activities to keep my heart rate up. And although I don't consider myself a "foodie," I do love to eat.
What can we expect from your future projects? To what extent and how permanent is your transition towards live instrumentation?
Currently, I'm just helping out with my label, Mellow Orange, with other releases. But also, I'm working on a couple new albums: a 12" vinyl for later this year, and a new full-length album for sometime next year, hopefully. Also, myself and fellow producer/friend, Question, are working on a new live instrumental album. But it's a process, so no timeframe on its release.
I'll continue to create music in the way and style of my choosing, so hopefully it'll be a good balance of everything I've learned and have presented as a producer and musician. So I'll continually release sample-based hip hop/soul tracks, but I'll visit other areas as well, whether it be more electronic stuff or more live instrumentation.
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