Music interview '“ Dirty Freud: '˜The music that I make can't really be boxed in'

Had things gone as Danni Skerritt originally planned, he would have been a professional scriptwriter and poet.

Dirty Freud. Picture: Danny Allison
Dirty Freud. Picture: Danny Allison

The Londoner had studied creative writing at the University of Lancashire and had been on young writers’ programmes at theatres in Liverpool and Manchester. “That’s when I got a foot in with music and I ended up doing a few nights at Sankeys,” he says.

The alter-ego Dirty Freud was born and music became his passion. “I do love writing but when you write plays it takes up pretty much a whole year,” he explains. “I wasn’t sure if my heart was really into it. My music became quite successful – but I don’t see it as work.”

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He began releasing songs seven years ago and found encouragement from the likes of Mr Scruff, electronic duo Bondax and DJ Yoda, with whom he toured. “That’s when I started creating my own sound,” he says.

For a time Freud was signed to Deadly Records, a sister label of Ninja Tune, but latterly has been going it alone with his own imprint, Keep It Dirty, and is based in Leeds.

Dubbed ‘the unruly prince of electronica’, his music has caught the ear of BBC Introducing, with DJs Alan Raw, Jericho Keys, Tom Robinson and Huw Stephens all playing his songs. Another breakthrough came recently when the track Kadema, featuring the vocals of Salio and rapper Fullmarx from his new EP Boxing With God, was played on BBC Radio 1Xtra. “I’ve had a few plays on 1Xtra before but this was the first time they made a fuss over it,” he notes.

The EP’s distinctive artwork was created by his friend Ben Tallon, an illustrator from Keighley. “We met at university and have been inseparable ever since,” Freud says.

Boxing With God is out now iTunes, Spotify and Amazon. “This is the first time I’ve had a really strong EP,” he says. “There are five songs on it and I would be happy with any of them leading the way.”

At the age of 30, things very much seem to be turning Freud’s way. He’s just landed his first publishing deal with BMG, recently finished a track with a 40-strong choir from Cambridge (“It’s one of those things that will probably come out on an album, it’s got an ambient feel to it”) and has just been invited to ‘reimagine’ four tracks from the Factory Records catalogue to mark the label’s 40th anniversary in 2019.

His eclectic tastes should stand him in good stead. He says: “I grew up listening to a lot of classical music, I was massively into Chopin, but my Mum was so into rock so I heard a lot of Iron Maiden. My Dad was into folk, reggae and the songwriting skill in country. It’s pretty varied, that’s why the music I make can’t really be boxed in.

“Growing up I was also into Tracy Chapman – her songwriting, her voice, her playing. My Mum took me to see Gary Numan and that blew my mind. When I did a reimagining of Cars he tweeted about it and I was glad I stuck to my guns.”

Freud is also planning “quite a few gigs”, including Soundwave Festival in Croatia and his first headline show in London in August.

He says he’s taken the advice of Coldcut and Ninja Tune founder Jon More to heart. “He said, ‘Do you want to be an artist or a firework – after five years that’s it?’

“My Dad said, ‘You’re not going to be everyone’s cup of tea but you can be someone’s shot of whisky.’”

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