While individually Luke Solomon and Justin Harris have been behind some of the finest electronic music to grace our ears, together they’ve proven that they’re greater than the sum of their parts and their FREAKS project has seen them trouble the charts and take their live band around the world to great success.
The fourth album from the collaboration arrived recently in the shape of “Psych” and showed without doubt that, even with 20 years of material behind it, there was still very much life in the project and together Solomon and Harris well deserved the respect they receive.
Do your ears a favour and get your grubby mits on the album over at Juno.
We were keen to find out about the tracks that influenced the duo back when the first started producing and that have also influenced them along the way, there are some absolute belters in here…over to the FREAKS…
Under The Influence with Freaks AKA Luke Solomon & Justin Harris
BT – Remember (Mood 2 Swing dub)
The original promo dub – never officially released initially.
Mood 2 Swing were making some phenomenal records around this time, and it was all about the swing on the drums.
Justin and I tried relentlessly to get the same swing with our drums, but kind of failed miserably – but – the end result kind of gave us our trademark Freaky drum sound – a huge influence on Freaks.
Prince – Controversy/Erotic City
Prince influenced our music from day one – adding the funk and the crazy sounds to Freaks records. These were 2 of his tracks along with The Future (from the Batman soundtrack) that we used to try and imitate on a daily basis, again, we never quite got it right – and I guess that was the pay off in a way.
Grace Jones – Feel Up
Again – another production sound that we aspired too – but also the whole concept of song structure and arrangements etc – we try to take those moments and add them to house music.
I remember us being asked in an interview years and years ago if we thought that songs with stories would translate to a club environment, especially around the time of the “Man Who Lived Underground”, and we were like erm “why not …..isn’t that what disco did?”
Herbert 1 – Phonography
We were signed to the same label as Swag, Herbert, and Morgan Geist from the outset. Totally out of our depth in hindsight – but great company nonetheless.
When Herbert 1 appeared, it was a line in the sand from a production point of view – no one had made music that sounded like this at this point in dance music – Matthew was inspired by Dance Mania records and their simplicity – but the drums were so compressed and snappy.
Matthew even lent us his mixing desk – we hoped it would make our music sonically sound like his – but, well it doesn’t quite work like that.
The Beloved – The Sun Rising
Jon Marsh has been like a mentor to us from the very beginning. He became a good good friend – he lent us equipment over the years and offered advice. From a man who’s music we both admired from our early raving days, this was quite a remarkable thing – it was Jon, our friend Jon, but it was also “Jon Marsh from the BELOVED FFS’ – we would grin like super fans.
Jon has always been a guiding light, a big supporter, and a huge inspiration.
Derrick May/Rhythm is Rhythm – Strings Of Life
When this record came out, nothing like it had really been done in terms of it reaching out to a wider audience.
Whether it was a happy accident or a carefully calculated piece of genius it was emotive to a generation and certainly had an effect on both of us. I think we both had a ‘moment’ with this record at some point in our early introduction to house music. It’s a techno record but that term is really an understatement. It has orchestral depth without ever becoming too much.
A classic influence.
Masters At Work – To Be In Love
A firm favourite at Space (the legendary residency run by Luke and Kenny Hawkes in London back in the 90s which really would need an article of its own in terms of its influence on Freaks). This was a record that had everything and demonstrated that you could have a simple pop song that also had some guts under the hood rhythmically to make people dance.
MAW were to us, the masters of their beat and featured heavily in both of our DJ sets (and still do). Also undoubtably influencing how we put rhythms and drums together ourselves..
Derrick Carter – Tripping Among The Stars
This beautiful track is a prime example of Derrick’s ability to produce a downtempo masterpiece which is both ethereal, funky and classy all at the same time. I bought this record when Luke took me out to Chicago for the first time in 1996.
I think we both aspire to create something as complete as this record to this day…
Lil Louis and The World – I Called U (The Conversation)
Not much you can say about this record really. It just kept giving. All the mixes on this EP have a place with Freaks and Music For Freaks… it’s a perfect example of an influence on what we do.
Will Powers – Smile
The obvious Will Powers record to put here would be “Kissing With Confidence” which is also a pretty strong blueprint in terms of influence. However, Luke’s discovery and presentation in to the studio of ‘Smile’ and the subsequent use of it in Freaks’ – ‘Journey’s Through Happiness’ (the A side track on our second EP for Phono Recordings) make this record a big influence along with a lot of the music by Will Powers.