A drum & bass history from Freddie Dixon.

Freddie Dixon—or FD, as he's more commonly known—began making music in the late ’90s alongside Nick Douwma, better known as Sub Focus. “He did all the work and I shouted ideas at him,” he recalls. 

This was enough to ignite a fire inside, and, after buying his own setup in 2005, he invested all his time in refining his methods. Upon returning to London from Surrey University in 2006, he started a night called Medium with friends Sigha and Tasha at Shoreditch’s legendary Plastic People. “We were some of the first people to ever put on drum & bass there,” Dixon recalls. Among the headliners were Ostgut Ton’s Martyn, Ben UFO, and Marcus Intalex before be became Trevino, plus Dixon’s drum & bass favorites, including D Bridge and Danny Breaks. 

It wasn’t until the turn of the millennium that Dixon dared to actually release his own music, connecting with Critical Recordings for 2010’s Canopy/Remorse. He’s since put out crisp tracks on labels like Soul:R, Spearhead, Sun and Bass, and Metalheadz, establishing himself as a flag-bearer for the so-called "liquid" sound but keeping himself away from the spotlight. “I’ve just always been much more drawn to the underground and the music that that kind of environment seems to be conducive to drawing out of its creators,” he explains. 

Then, earlier this year, after joining Lenzman's The North Quarter with 2017's Alone With Everybody, he returned to the label with Better Days, his highly-sought-after debut album. Drawing on the nostalgia of his London youth, the UK producer, now based in Switzerland, delivered 16 tracks of jungle, techno, 2-step, techno-influenced breakbeat, and soulful drum & bass in his inimitable style. 

His XLR8R podcast, which has been in the works for some time, continues with this nostalgic tone, and aims to capture the full range of drum & bass, both classic and contemporary. It opens with tracks from Lee Gamble, Shed, and Joe, techno inspired by drum & bass, before venturing into the latter around the 10-minute mark. "I really felt like I wanted to show the XLR8R readers some of the incredible music and the range that drum & bass has to offer," he says. "For me, this is one of the main reasons why I think I've stayed so in love with the music for so long; it has an amazing ability to include so many different influences and encompass such a broad range of emotions."

What have you been up to recently? 

I've just finished and released my debut album actually, Better Days. It was something I've been waiting for, and wanting to do for quite a while, but I was waiting for what really felt like the right time and place.  

How did you find your way into music? 

To take it right back to the start, through my parents; music has always played a very important role in their lives and so that rubbed off on me. I was then always very passionate about music from an early age, and when I found drum & bass and jungle when I was 16, I very quickly decided I wanted to DJ it, which then morphed into promoting it and producing it. Since then, it's been what I spend almost all of time doing and working on.   

What are your wider goals with music?

I guess I want to be able to make a valuable and valued contribution to something that has always been so important to me and bought me so much joy and happiness. I also want to be a part of something that I feel is so important to me and help that not only survive but flourish—both for myself and also for the community as a whole, as I know what this can give a person, as I myself have felt it for such a huge part of my life. 

Where was this particular mix recorded?

This was recorded at my studio in Zürich. 

How did you choose the tracks that you included?

When I started to think about this mix, I really felt like I wanted to show the XLR8R readers some of the incredible music and the range that drum & bass has to offer. For me, this is one of the main reasons why I think I've stayed so in love with the music for so long; it has an amazing ability to include so many different influences and encompass such a broad range of emotions. I decided that I wanted to pick a wide range of tracks in terms of where they come from and also the vibes they have; so the tracks are a mix of some of my favorite older cuts, along with some from the more "modern" era. I also wanted to open the mix with some tracks that really borrow their aesthetic from drum & bass, as I thought this could be a nice way to introduce the styles that would follow and show how many people are often influenced by drum & bass.  

Where do you envisage it being listened to?

I always like the idea of people checking mixes in their car, windows open or top down, blasting it out as they're enjoying it so much and want to "share" it too! Otherwise, anywhere where they have a good system with proper speakers: a full range with good bottom end is essential.  

How does the podcast compare to one of your club sets?

This is quite representative of how I play a club set overall in terms of vibe and feel. However, usually in a club set, I would play a much higher percentage of new and unreleased music as I feel it's often the job of a DJ to show the crowd music they might not know and wouldn't have had the chance to hear before. I love to play older tracks too though as drum & bass has quite an amazing history by now, with a huge raft of old tunes that people might not have heard. But in terms of vibe, I love to mix it up in my sets, touch quite a few different bases, but try and keep a thread and narrative between it all.

What’s next on the horizon, looking forward?

I'm back in the studio working on new music. I've had a little while since the album was finished and so I'm looking forward to composing more. I've been looking at a few different avenues of how I could change up my workflow for the next batch of tracks in case this could help me bring a bit of a different approach to the table; however, I also want to balance this with my existing methods and find a kind of hybrid between the two. I'm also reading a lot in terms of production techniques and workflow approaches; I want to keep developing my skills and see what new ideas and methods I can bring into my music, and how this might affect it.

Due to issues regarding the GDPR, EU readers can download the podcast here.

Tracklisting

01. FD "Wrapped Together" (Interlude) (The North Quarter)

02. Joe "MPH" (Hessle Audio)

03. Lee Gamble "Rufige" (PAN)

04. Shed "Ostrich-Mountain-Square" (Ostgut Ton)

05. Special Request "Capsules" (Lee Gamble Full Length Remix) (Houndstooth)

06. FD "Left You Once Before" (The North Quarter)

07. FD "Left You Once Before" (Prelude) (The North Quarter)

08. Rezzett "Worst Ever Contender" (The Trilogy Tapes)

09. Source Direct "Secret Liaisons" (Good Looking Records)

10. Chameleon "Links" (Good Looking Records)

11. DJ Crystl "Warp Drive" (Dee Jay Recordings)

12. Da Intalex "I Like It" (Remix) (Intalex)

13. Moresounds x Fracture "Dead & Bury" (Astrophonica)

14. Chimpo "Frontline"ft. Fox (Calibre Remix) (Soul:R)

15. Cybotron feat. Dillinja "Threshold" (Prototype Recordings)

16. Photek "The Lightning" (Digital Remix) (Science)

17. FD "Deadly Styles" (The North Quarter) 

18. Jonny L vs. Instra:Mental "Output 1-2" (Darkestral)

19. Forest Drive West "Never For Tomorrow" (Rupture London)

20. Matrix "Mute" (Prototype Recordings)

21. Unknown "Stoneface" (Stereocilia)

22. Boymerang "Still" (Prototype Recordings)

23. FD "Timberline" (Dub)

24. Digital "Spacefunk" (Timeless Recordings)

25. Marcus Intalex & ST Files "Lose Control" (Metalheadz)

26. London Elektricity vs. Robert Owens "My Dreams" (Total Science Remix) (Hospital Records)

27. Redeyes "The Rhythm" (The North Quarter)

28. Calibre "Smother" ft. Marcus Intalex & Bricktop (Soul:R)

29. Total Science "Not Again" (CIA Records)

30. Calibre "Train Version" (Creative Source)

31. Break "Overdub" (Symmetry Recordings)

32. DJ Die "Play It For Me" (V Recordings)

33. FD "Top2Bottom (Roller)" (The North Quarter)