This Interview is linked from the Okeechobee Official Portal Guide.
Interview with Freddy Todd
SIGT: What was like the first show that you went to when you were growing up?
Freddy Todd: It’s funny because the first concert, officially with my dad, we got free tickets to Foreigner. Their single was “Hot Blooded.” I remember I was almost having a panic attack as a young lad, smelling pot for the first time and watching all these old hippies get hyped up when the band started. But what’s funny is this was way before I started smoking weed, and I definitely do think my relationship with pot has helped my anxiety and things like that. Of course, getting older and meditating and realizing being upset or anxious for no reason is so pointless. So that’s kind of how I got over stuff.
SIGT: Dude, weed is like a miracle drug for sure. You could be having the craziest day and everything could be going wrong, and then you could smoke, like, a bowl or a joint and then be like, okay, what the fuck was I mad about?
FT: Oh, for sure. All the politicians should probably smoke something. What’s funny is actually, because I’ve done psychedelics and believe in the power of psychedelics, a story about Ibogaine, which is kind of like Ayahuasca. It was a story about a lady taking Ibogaine and a gigantic Godhead in the Cosmos, appearing and yelling at her. She had anxiety problems. This is why I was interested in this article. And she was like, this Godhead appeared and lovingly yelled at me and asked me, “What are you so afraid of?” And that really resonated with me. I was like, “Wait, what am I so afraid of?” I’d be thinking about my own situation like, what am I so afraid of? The answer is nothing. There’s no reason to be anxious. So just hearing about this story of this lady getting over her own anxieties via a psychedelic. But anyway, rewinding, rewinding, rewinding. You asked about my first concert, and that reminded me of a panic attack.
SIGT: What you just said resonated with me because I went down this whole path a few years back where I realized that the first thing that we’re taught as humans is the word “no.” Like, what not to do, what not to say, what not to touch. And all of that is fear-based. So the first thing we’re taught really well is just how to be fearful of everything around us, and it really fucks with us. It turns us into these scared beings, which is essentially the best way to control somebody is to put them in fear.
FT: Yup. That’s how most governments work. But, yeah, that’s why we’re trying to do the opposite out here with psychedelic music festivals.
SIGT: So your first show was Foreigner. How did you get from Foreigner to Glitch music?
FD: Fast-forward probably four years later, I still have braces on, and my next official concert was with my sister and her friend when we went to see All American Rejects and Hoobastank opened for them. That actually prompted Young Me to buy the Hoobastank CD, which is hilarious.
SIGT: I had that CD. Guilty. So from there, you got into some punk stuff, some indie stuff, some alternative-rock stuff. And then where were you introduced to house techno, glitch music? Where did your love for that begin?
FT: When I was about 14/15 years old, my good friend Andrew’s older sister Rachel, his older brother Ben, and our friends, which included GRiZ who was in our friend group, really put me onto Square Pusher and Apex Twin. Luke Vibert, and then even weirder, more band stuff, like Stereo Lab and just that whole era of good electronic music.
SIGT: Do you remember the first time you experienced some of that live?
FT: I grew up in Detroit. I remember going to the Detroit Electronic Music Festival early on, which is now called Movement. I was exposed to a lot of house and techno, but I didn’t really “get it” literally up until a couple of years ago. Now I’m writing a house album right now. That’s because I finally went back to Detroit and immersed myself in the culture, and there was a lockdown, and then the lockdown lifted a little, but no one was going anywhere. So I was, like, forced to stay in Detroit and absorb all of this house and techno that’s, like, kind of turned more underground. This past year’s Movement was canceled, but officially Movement condoned parties at indoor places, like smaller parties. So it kind of turned underground again and smaller, which was this year. Kind of cool to just be steeped in that. But yeah, to go back to your question, I can’t really recall. I’m trying to remember, like a first. There’s definitely a bunch of early ones. Like, I remember seeing Flying Lotus early on. Speaking of movement, there was some guys that really blew my mind. I remember they booked Flying Lotus one year. They booked Pretty Lights. They booked Glitch Mob. I drove down to Chicago to catch PREFUSE 7 at a street festival. I hoped the fence at Lallapaloosa multiple years. I hop the fence to Thievery Corporation. The most lit shit ever. They’re my favorite band. But really, what did it was when I went to Rothberry in 2009 [which later became Electric Forest]. I came home and just unloaded everything I learned and wrote my first Freddy Todd solo EP, of like, Glitch-Hop stuff.
SIGT: Well, let’s talk about instruments. I know you were gifted a Keytar and you utilize that a lot throughout your set. Are there any other instruments that you perform?
FT: I play a lot of instruments. I started out on the drum set. I think eventually one day I’ll employ backlining drums and doing a super live set. Like Shigeto is kind of an acquaintance of mine, Michigan native, Ghostly International artist, who is really sick with combining the live drums and electronic stuff that I look up to. I see him doing that and I’m like, that’s cool. I actually started out doing that, laptop and drum set and things like that, but it’s so freaking hard to tour like that. One day perhaps I’ll do a complete Freddy Todd live set type of thing. I used to have a drummer, multiple different drummers for certain types of live sets. But yeah, I play keys, drums, guitar, bass guitar, and I can kind of blow on a flute or recorder and edit it together.
SIGT: Shall we expect the Keytar to make an appearance at Okeechobee?
FT: There’s a high possibility. High chance.
SIGT: Your music feels so fun. When I listen to it and it always catches me off guard. There are so many sounds I didn’t even know existed that just catch me by surprise or they’ll make me laugh or just put a smile on my face when they come through the speakers. Honestly, it makes me want to play drums. So knowing that you’re a drummer and connecting with it on that level just gets me super hype. When you’re producing and writing new material, what is the most important thing you do to ensure this sort of fun energy is translated into your music?
FT: The best way is to remove yourself from thinking anything’s important and to just flow with it and pull stuff out of the atmosphere. But at the same time, that’s not how we’re programmed. So I am actually dictated by being very cognizant of that, being on top of that. The best way to write music, I’d say, is to not worry about writing music. But it’s hard to get yourself in that mindset. It’s hard to write music when everything else in life is hard. But it’s also cathartic and necessary.
SIGT: Insomniac put in your bio, “hearing his music is akin to being abducted by an extraterrestrial cruise liner where everyone is tripping on space acid.”
FT: My boy Wes wrote that, and he’s been on my team since day one. He makes incredible music, too, but he’s known right now for incredible visual art. He actually did the artwork for Nineteen Ninety. He wrote that bio a long time ago. Wes is incredible. People should hit him up for work. His Instagram is @GoodKingHippo He makes amazing memes, too.
SIGT: Let’s talk about aliens. Let’s take a left turn. There’s the Drake Equation, which is insane. That basically says that there’s 100 billion trillion planets out there that could be similar to our Earth. So I got to ask you, do you believe?
FT: Definitely, yeah. I mean, there’s no way there’s nothing else out there. I can say I do believe there’s extraterrestrial beings, terrestrially, meaning, like people encounter weird stuff and dimensionally weird stuff and creatures all the time. And they’re here! I guess in the expanse of the universe. Simple answer. Yes, there’s got to be other beings, but I think they’re here. There’s possibly another dimension. There’s definitely other dimensions.
SIGT: I agree with other dimensions, too. And it could be us. We could be the aliens.
FT: Right?! Exactly. You have secret programs everywhere. They say the military is 100 years ahead of us at all times in terms of the tech that’s revealed.
SIGT: Have you ever had any crazy encounters or anything unexplained?
FT: At the Wakarusa Festival a couple of years ago in Arkansas, I did see some weird movements in the sky, but nothing weird enough to really tell a good story. But lately I have been fascinated with physical evidence and proof of construction of megalithic buildings and building sites around the world that are just completely unexplained by modern science. Of course, we all know about the Pyramids of Giza, but they’re everywhere. That right there is just like, all right, what going on, what’s privy to us? I’m more concerned with Giants than aliens at the moment.
SIGT: There’s so much documentation of Giants, like, 12/14ft people, skeletons that have been discovered, but they just keep it sealed up. And have you looked at any of the megalithic structures in Peru?
FT: Yeah, man, they’re everywhere. It’s crazy. There are pyramids under the rainforests everywhere that they’ve used LiDAR to show they are there without actually digging them out yet, Pyramids everywhere.
SIGT: And, like, in Antarctica…
FT: Oh, yeah, Antarctica is the weirdest one.
SIGT: It is so weird. Like, you can’t even go visit Antarctica without the military stopping you, right? It’s illegal to go there.
FT: Personally, I have no idea what the fuck is going on. And I can’t say I know what’s going on. I don’t know anything. But I have a feeling that what it is, is bigger than what we know. I feel like maybe our realm is a little bigger. I don’t know. Who knows?
SIGT: I had this thought the other day, like, I was walking my dog and smoking a joint, and I was thinking, okay, so what if me and my friends become Rocket Scientists and we are able to put together some sort of space vehicle to leave Earth, and we successfully get it up and running and try and go. We wouldn’t even be allowed to leave. We wouldn’t be allowed to get into the atmosphere without being shot down. Like, even if we tried, we couldn’t leave.
FT: Well, it’s funny, because the space station isn’t even that high up. And they’re also saying the space station is supposed to come down into the sea in a couple of years, which is weird . I don’t know what’s going on because, like, what you said, we’re not allowed to go up.
SIGT: Yeah, and we can’t go down either.
FT: Someone f*cking prove it to me. Someone just bring me up there for real.
SIGT: And then there’s all this stuff about subterranean civilizations and the Earth being hollow and the moon being hollow, and have we ever been to the moon? Probably not.
FT: You got a lot of astronaut anecdotes almost pointing towards aquatic stuff. Like, they’re up in space, but then all of a sudden, there’s algae on the ship, some weird, like, are they actually underwater? What’s going on? But anyway, I don’t know anything. I don’t claim to know anything.
SIGT: None of us do. Yeah, but it’s so interesting to think about our reality and how little we know about it. At least you’re making good music that takes us to space without having to go there. So bringing it all the way back, is there anything that you would like to say to your space alien friends that are coming to Okeechobee this year?
FT: I just have to say safe travels. Drive safe, fly safe, and I can’t wait to rock it.
Interview by Mitch Foster.
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