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Freestylers

SALT-4_The-FreestylersTwenty years of success in the music industry is a lifetime. To achieve that requires talent, tenacity and congeniality. Busting out with chart-topping albums isn’t easy, but there’s proof a smattering of key hits throughout one’s career will keep fuel in the tank and see you placed well in the longevity race. SIMONE HARLE talks to Aston Harvey ahead of the Freestylers gig with Colombo, Pyramid and James D’Ley on Saturday, January 11 at Villa.

So three 20-somethings get in my Tarago, we’re headed for the Southbound Festival and we’ve got a two and a bit hour journey ahead of us. The conversation’s grinding away – mostly about Australia’s most deadly animal stuff. Then we get on to another deadly subject – the music industry.

After a lot about them, they politely asked about me. I told them I had just interviewed a Freestyler, to which one replied, “I love them, I listened to them all the time when I was a kid.” The thought did not escape me that the kid would have been six when the Freestylers started their journey, but it did please me with goosebumps, that a great act was able to remain present without a huge trail of industry plug-ins to keep them firing in the public eye. The three kids were London Grammar.

The Freestylers aka Aston Harvey and Matt Cantor have enjoyed some great musical moments in Perth over the years. A solid friendship forming with Boomtick after a memorable performance at Perth’s favourite dance festival Breakfest, and if you were lucky (or unlucky) enough to be locked in the Boiler Room at the Big Day Out in 2005, you would have witnessed them commit headline robbery from The Chemical Brothers when they debuted their high energy, live show in WA. Harvey recalls that day.

“It was the final date of the Big Day Out and I heard that thousands of people were trying to get into this room with a limited amount being allowed in. I just remember it heaving and obviously being the last show, we really wanted to leave everyone on a total high. But it was weird because for people who knew Freestylers before Push Up our sound was quite underground; so when we had this quite commercial funky track, it appealed to a different audience we wouldn’t have normally reached, and they were singing along that day and it was great.”

It’s been over five years between albums for the Freestylers and while current release, The Coming Storm sits in wait for its day in the sun (in Australia anyway – it was released overseas last July), an extensive back catalogue of hits including collaborations with the likes of Pendulum (Fasten Your Seatbelt), Stanton Warriors and Flux Pavilion (Cracks) keeps Freestylers on European festival bills alongside the biggest dance acts in world.

Harvey doesn’t seem too worried about airplay or album sales. “I heard a great track by Basement Jaxx recently that didn’t get airplay and I thought, well, if they can’t get airplay, none of us from that era can. I think in a way, it’s better, because it takes the pressure off and you’re left to do your own thing. Hopefully people will hear it and your fan base will lock on to it. There’s always going to be new people coming along.”