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Freestyling for the masses

UK breakbeat duo The Freestylers strive to keep sound fresh



Who: The Freestylers

When: Thursday, March 19, 9 p.m.

Where: Maxx Fish

Cost: $25 in advance, $30 at the door

Aston Harvey and Matt Cantor have been rocking dance floors for well over 13 years.

Better known as The Freestylers, this UK breakbeat duo is dedicated to pleasing the music-loving public, whether they're into house, electro, drum 'n' bass, or anything in between.

Aston Harvey was taking a bit of downtime in a hotel room on Monday before heading out to another gig in Cranbrook the following morning.

"We've only had three shows so far, but they've actually been really good," Harvey said. "We're actually doing a new kind of style DJ set where me and Matt are using three CDJs, and we've got samples and effects and a capellas, chopping them over the top of tracks, basically."

The approach is quite a change for the pair, who normally take hour-long turns in the booth. Now, both Harvey and Cantor are making music simultaneously, which adds a whole new visual element to the performance.

"It seems to be working out; people seem to be really enjoying it."

Change is the name of the game for these iconic DJs. You see, The Freestylers have been making their mark on the industry for 13 years with their genre-defying sound. But over that time, their sound has definitely evolved and changed.

"When we first started out, there were no expectations, so it's a lot easier," Harvey said with a laugh. "Technology has changed, music has changed... a lot has changed in the last 10 to 12 years."

They've been around for the changeover from vinyl to CD, and then from CD to digital technology, like Serato.

Today, their sound is very much rooted in old school hip hop, but it's gradually grown to incorporate everything from dancehall, reggae, and electro to soul, breakbeat and drum 'n' bass.

"Over the years, I've made drum 'n' bass music, I've made house music, I was involved in making music in the early rave scene in the UK. I think the whole break scene sort of brought all of those elements together, and I liked that, even with a DJ set, because I could play different styles and I wasn't stuck with one thing."

Incorporating a wide range of genres into their music also means that the duo appeals to an eclectic audience.

"That's the maddest thing - we play to so many different types of people and we've done shows in Europe where we're playing to 15-, 16-year-old kids at a festival... and we might be sandwiched between a couple of drum 'n' bass DJs."

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