Born and raised in East London, Mike’s first instrument of choice has always been the drums:
“Whether it’s live drums, sampled breaks or programmed beats, nothing hits you like the drums, and there’s no feeling like pounding the shit out of a real drum kit!”
Aged 12 he got his first drum kit and would literally seek any opportunity to drum,
“I remember I was about 14, there was some band playing a public gig in the street, having had a couple of drinks I was compelled to go up and have a go, completely bemused the drummer agreed and I ended playing some mental 10 minute drum solo, I’m sure it must’ve sounded shit but the crowd loved it!
Meet Mike Freschezza. (Pronounced 'fres-kett-za')
Producer, drummer, multi-instrumentalist,
bass addict and all round music obsessive.
That’s the drums then, so where does the bass come in?
“Bristol! I moved there when I was 17, my older sister was going to Uni in Bristol, I went to visit her and she was going out with a guy who was signed to Melankolic (Massive Attack’s Virgin Imprint). I’d just started producing and he liked what I was doing he suggested I moved down there, a month later I did just that, I was sleeping on his sofa for months!”
Swiftly assumed into the Bristol music scene, Mike began working with a huge variety of different vocalists, recording in a small studio in his flat and mixing in Massive Attack’s well-equipped vast studios.
“The Massive guys were great, pretty much everything we put out was mixed in their studios, they’ve got some amazing gear and super- talented engineers, I learnt so much from them.”
The small studio in Mike’s flat saw a never-ending stream of collaborators,
“The first artist I started working with was an MC called K.NERS. I remember the first session we did, he spat over a couple of my beats and as soon as I’d burnt them off he drove straight down to Passion FM (Bristol's biggest and oldest Pirate radio station), Literally within half an hour of recording I was in my flat listening to my music on radio for the first time, I loved it!”
And it didn’t end there, soon after came airplay from 1Xtra, Kiss and Radio 1.
A collaboration with East London MC Klashnekoff made it onto the 1Xtra daytime playlist and a video for a different version of the track made it onto MTV Base and several specialist music channels.
For Mike, a personal favourite achievement was a Maida Vale live session for Radio 1, orchestrating the live band and drumming whilst running the samples from his Mac.
“It’s an amazing studio with the most talented engineers I’ve ever worked with, we had a full live band, three singers and The MC was on fire, the vibe in there was incredible"
More and more vocalists continued to pass through and Mike continued to fill up his hard drives with all the talent he could, a huge range of MCs from Sway to Rodney P, and incredible singers such as Raleigh Ritchie, Tanya Lacey and Nicole Jackson.
“Usually either my manager or K.Ners would just turn up with whoever was about that day, Jacob (Raleigh Ritchie) really stood out as a talented performer, even though he was young he was very focused and professional."
So what got you into Drum and Bass Then?
“I’d always liked listening to Drum and Bass, but the record that changed it all for me was 'Aztec' by Spor, I clearly remember I first heard it on Rampage’s daytime show on 1Xtra, they played it in the mix and I actually texted in to ask what it was, I just had to get hold of it!”
Having decided to move back east, a world away from the intensely networked Bristol music scene, Mike made the decision to dive solely into making Drum and Bass. And with that also a new studio which he built from scratch to suit his needs, complete with real drums and a wide array of instruments.
“I’ve always had studios in my flat, which is cool but to be honest I got sick of doing everything on headphones, you can’t blast out bass music at 3am every night! Now I can listen to everything through the monitors, plus I’ve got a proper PA system in there with an 18 inch sub!”
“The other luxury for me is that I’ve got a drum kit permanently set up, it’s great if I have an idea of a break that I want to have in a track, If I can’t find one that fits I can just get on the drums and record exactly what I want."
Mike is clearly a talented producer and musician, passionate and enthusiastic about music in every way, I’m curious to know his ambitions for the future, does he consider himself an ambitious individual?
“Am I ambitious, er... yes I am I guess! I’ve always had milestones I’ve wanted to achieve, and then it’s right onto the next one; first it was getting played on pirate radio, as soon as that happened I wanted to get played on 1Xtra and Kiss, that happened, so then it was Radio 1, then MTV, then Maida Vale... and so it goes on!’
And so what’s next on the list?
“I want to make a really strong and coherent Drum and Bass album, with a consistent tempo and feel, there's a few vocalists I'd really like to work with. Doing something like ‘Later with Jools Holland’ would be cool, other than that we’ll see...
a Mercury Album of the Year would be very nice, Haha!”
The truth is though, I’m pretty sure he’s serious!
Luisa Gianfranco 2019