Even if South London grime producer Darq E Freaker’s name doesn’t ring bells, the chances are you’ve heard one of his tunes banged out in a club somewhere. Freaker’s unique sound – described by DJ Gilles Peterson as “chronic grime” – takes in a myriad of influences from other genres, mostly electronica and hip-hop, but remains distinctly grime.
That metallic bass at the start of Tempa T’s club classic, ‘Next Hype’? That’s Darq E Freaker. Those swirling organs and keys in the background of ‘Blueberry (Pills And Cocaine)’ by the equally off-kilter Danny Brown? That’s him too. And it was ‘Next Hype’ that really announced Darq E Freaker to the grime audience, although he didn’t actually know much about the song when it was first released.
“I used to work in Uptown Records in Soho and intern for DJ Cameo,” he tells us. “I left a CD there to play during clean-up and DJ JJ (of Rinse FM) took it home and played some tunes for Tempz, who took the CD off him, went to studio and made a tune. Next thing I know I just heard it on radio”.
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‘Minger’, released earlier this year on Numbers
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At the time of our conversation, Freaker is in New York, having just played a few shows down America’s West Coast. “I think I’m gonna be coming back and forth because there’s a vibe growing at the moment,” he says. “There’s an awareness of UK acts.” He has found that he doesn’t have to adjust his sets for an American audience, and that they seem to appreciate grime as a genre.
“In America it’s a new sound,” he explains. “Everyone’s hypersensitive these days and music is so attainable but also disposable, so people are always looking for new sounds and the grime sound is still new to them.”
With no new projects announced, you could be forgiven for thinking that Freaker is taking it easy, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. He’s producing a track on Skepta’s new album and has been hard at work collaborating with other artists from the UK and abroad.
“The chemistry has to be right,” he urges. “The best thing ever would be for me to get an A-list rapper on a beat – a Kanye or even a 2 Chainz, because if he spat on something of mine it would sound kinda good.”
For now, Darq E Freaker is keeping his head down and making a living off the music he loves. “I don’t want to say nothing,” he says enigmatically, “just tell them that there’s something coming, but the day that it comes it comes.”
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Words: Paul Gibbins