Freddy K is an Italian producer and DJ who has been involed with the techno scene since 1991. Freddy K runs his own label, KEY Vinyl, which releases hard-hitting, no bullshit techno. Finding his feet in Rome, Italy, Freddy had a radio show called Virus in the 90’s where he showcased techno from far and wide. Since the arrival of COVID-19, Freddy has made a new daily radio show, Krzrzrz, which he hosts via his Soundcloud. We spoke to Freddy about his new radio show, his label, how he’s been dealing with the lockdown and more.
Hi Freddy K, thanks so much for taking the time to speak with Monument. Your last ‘1995’ EP features three tracks from your ‘Rage Of Age’ album on ACV Records. I understand that these three tracks were never released on the vinyl version of ‘Rage of Age’. How does it feel to revisit them after all this time?
For sure it was nice to live again those times and those memories, I was 24 years old… and I was on fire, this explains the title of the album. Also now I am on fire, hahaha, but with more experience.
These tracks would not necessarily fit into what is now considered to be ’90s techno’. Did you feel like you were doing something completely unique at the time?
It was not about me but more about the techno that we used to listen to in Rome at that time and especially the sound coming from Rome…Rome’s influence. A kind of techno that was not really happy, it was dark and definitely it was different, especially from what nowadays they call ’90s techno. There was nothing trancey about it at all. My style was unique, but, honestly, not so special… it was a mix between that hard Chicago style and my rock influences.
The latest release on your label is by Dimi Angélis. The record is named 6th Floor Of Basement. What is the story behind this?
You have to ask Dimi about it hahaha.
6th Floor Of Basement is a straight-shooting thumping techno record which suits your style of DJing perfectly. How did you get in touch with Dimi Angélis?
Dimi is one of my favourite artists from these last ten years for sure. I have all his productions and I regularly play his records. It is a genre of techno where Dimi is absolutely one of the best. Straight to the point and no melody. It was kind of my desire to offer Dimi to prepare his first solo album for KEY Vinyl… and we have known each other for a long time, so it was not difficult to ask him. Honestly, I was wondering why he never did before. He is one of the most prolific producers in the techno scene in the last 10 years, always on point and only good quality and proper techno.
Dimi Angélis produces heavy, hard-hitting techno. When looking for artists to sign to your label, are there specific criteria that you look for?
It’s simple… I try to produce artists that fit with my style of DJing, my taste, my vision of techno. It’s very likely I am playing their old releases already. They always maintain a high quality of proper techno without following the hype. Techno is techno, that’s it.
It is my understanding that your current DIY radio show, Krzrzrz, was inspired by your roots. You had a radio show called ‘Virus’ in Rome back in the ’90s which you used to boost the scene there. How do you feel that the scene has evolved since the days of ‘Virus’?
Yes, I am doing one hour daily from my place, and I already have more than 70 days/hours/episodes. This feeling of the radio is something that always I loved. It is uploaded every day on my SoundCloud so you can listen to it when you want and where you want, downloading included. Definitely, it is different from the radio show back in the days… in the 90s there was no internet and your radio show was broadcast through the “real” FM radio, live and direct.
At that time it was the most important thing, you had to listen to the radio if you want to know where the parties were and which records were released. Well, the scene in Rome, like everywhere, changed completely and in my opinion not in a good way. There are no more keys to a movement, like it could be a radio show, a magazine, etc. The internet made everything easier but there is nobody that can guide you in the scene so the consequences are a series of parties, really random for style and crowd. There are clubs for sure, but there is not a real movement anymore, in my opinion.
Krzrzrz is a great concept, you have a daily show at 3 pm where you stream directly to your fans. How important do you feel that it is to be in touch with your fanbase, especially at a time like now?
Krzrzrz was born when the lockdown started. My goal was to maintain the community around me, always alive and united… sharing music, introducing records, talking… real communication, never negative, but actually always trying to maintain a positive vibe, we are going through a temporary moment and it is not the end of the world.
The result has been incredible, it is very deep and global… a lot of people around the world are feeling united through this hour every day. It is becoming a daily routine for those listening, and for me too. I feel alive, focused and close to all the community. It is a real “escape from the reality”.
I think it will be always in the memory of who is listening, we are living a deep and unique moment and “Krzrzrz” is a daily part of it…it will be there forever.
You are known for having an extreme love for vinyl. How did that come about? Also, could you shed some light on how many records (roughly) you may have in your collection?
I grew up with vinyl as a format for the music and then as a tool for DJ, so it is kind of normal and natural for me to still be playing vinyl. It is fascinating, challenging, and never boring. Also, I believe it is still the only way to support the music scene… behind a vinyl, there is an investment and a lot of effort, so it is something that has a lot of passion and work behind it.
Also, the vinyl market maintains one “chain” that it was and I think still it is the lifeblood of our network since the beginning: artist-label-distribution-record shop-customer. Beautiful. And for playing vinyl you need a lot of dedication that becomes a big filter for the quality and passion of the DJs. I have a lot of records here in Berlin but, really, I still have a lot of records in Rome, I couldn’t bring all of them here…slowly, slowly I am bringing them. There are thousands and thousands, I never counted them and I am still buying more every week regularly. Love and addiction.
The cover photos for Krzrzrz are curated by a different photographer every five shows. Do you have a particular selection process for this?
My idea was to mix different aspects of our community and also to give space to the photography that nowadays is an important part of our network. So I started with the pictures by Søren Drastrup, a Danish photographer that also curated the artwork of one series of releases on KEY Vinyl: “Leather, Steel & Fist”. He is a very good artist and I still have such a good relation, a friend. Then I start to ask some photographers in our network that I met abroad during the gigs, and then I started to receive so many pictures from so many photographers that were listening to the show since the beginning. Still, I am receiving nowadays so many, everybody happy to be part of this project. I am so thankful for this, for real.
Krzrzrz is a great idea, and I’m sure that you have a huge back catalogue of music that you can showcase on it. Do you find that people have been sending you demos more since the show has started?
Actually, the music on my shows is always only on vinyl and I received so many test pressings and vinyl from so many artists, labels, distributors. And yes, I am also receiving a lot of demos, just only for hearing my feedback and my honest thoughts. I was thinking to share a selection of demos… but then I have to filter with my taste and it is not fair in my opinion. Anyway everyone can send everything to the mail of the show firstname.lastname@example.org.
An important and nice thing that I am doing is sharing the vocal messages from listeners during the shows… introducing themselves and saying how they are spending this time and what they are missing. The same with the artists, promoters and clubs. The community is everything, together we are beautiful and strong enough also for going through these hard times. The connection is everything like in the DJing, together we are something … alone you are simply a DJ.
You had tech talks about DJing with vinyl nowadays at Berlin’s Paloma & Amsterdam’s Zwart Goud not too long ago. How did you prepare for these talks?
I am a communicative person, I like to share my experience and thoughts especially when it is about my passion and my love so in this case djing and vinyl are my life… so I just write down the main topic and then spontaneously I build all the rest around.
You are known for having legendary closing slots. How do you prepare for these? Is there a different mentality going into these sets versus playing at an earlier time?
Well, I like both but they are completely different. A long closing set is a journey where you share everything, your taste, your state of mind, your emotions … and when there is the right connection you become one thing with the dance floor and you never want to stop… in the end, if you like something, you want that never end. The shorter and earlier time set is the essence of everything you can give, trying any way to create a shorter journey even if you don’t have a lot of time to build it.
How do you feel the lockdown has impacted the techno scene?
In my opinion a break was needed, but of course no like this kind. I believe that everything will come back to the roots a bit… at least when everything will start again. A kind of reset but just for a bit then the usual dynamics will come back… but for sure people will remember what you did and what was your reaction during these times… it is complicated to explain here. Also, I don’t believe that when everything is over we will have so much good music out… because every artist needs a reason or I can call it a goal. At this moment you don’t have it. Gigs mean also sharing and testing, inspiration.
How are you dealing with the lockdown?
Honestly in the beginning, I was a bit lost and I tried to enjoy the free time but then I started “Krzrzrz” because I needed the connection, something in me very important was missed. I was doing already what I love the most, so I don’t discover anything more except the confirmation of how much I love what I am doing in my life.
Thank you very much for your time, from everyone at Monument.