"It depends on what school you're from." are words not spoken lightly by a man who has, over the years, helped to educate the public to many different forms of music. Influenced by jazz as a youth, & growing to favor a fusion of Latin-electronica, cosmic funk, and intergalactic grooves of ass-rattling proportions, Fort Greene B-Boy DJ Chillfreez has been serving up hot soul on ice for over a decade in New York and beyond. From fashion shows to outlaw parties to radio guest spots & countless gigs around town, Chill is equally at home spinning hip-hop, house, classic disco, ambient & techno while concentrating most recently on the cutting edge jazz-funk scene. Chillfreez' goal? To keep integrity alive in music. His continuing love affair with music began with AM radio, escalated through the ethnically diverse block parties of Brooklyn, landing him into a perpetual state of sound searching. "I'm the type of cat that walks in the street with a beat and a groove in my head at all times" Brother Chill informs us.

The first single he remembers buying was to begin an extensive collection of LP's spanning the entire soundscape. It was Anita Ward's "Ring my Bell" in the mid 70's which then led to his awareness of the phenomenon of competitive record spinning.

Bearing witness to the rise and fall of trends originated in New York, and acting as musical evangelist at home and abroad, he has spent countless sleepless nights, making the party groove his only mission. This ambassador of urban culture has created an audience, earning the respect of peers and patrons alike while still remaining open and approachable.

That is why, with a Cherry Woods cigar and a hot cup of Earl Grey tea at the IMNYC studio, Chillfreez warmed over some of his memories and gave us this interview

IM: "From where did you derive your love of music and how did your current philosophy develop?"

CFZ: "I would have to say I'm definitely a product of my environment when it comes to my appreciation of music. Blues & Soul, and all the offshoots, you know gospel and things. My roots come from that raw understanding of music as more of an accompaniment, you know, a soundtrack to the streets and life in the city."

His eyes survey the Manhattan skyline through a nearby window and his voice takes on the wistful yet polished tone of someone who has seen many things but wants to express them in a coherently so as not to lose sight of their importance.

CFZ: "I came from the B-boy school which was all about showing off your skills. That always pushed me to strive to try new ideas and do different things with mixing. But I pride myself more on being able to play to a broad spectrum of people, which is more what it was about back in the day."

IM: "Is the impact of technology taking creativity away from the musician?"

CFZ: "Technology will affect the sonic palette to work from, but it will always be up to the human beings to create the music."

Flaming his cigar and exhaling, he continued.

CFZ: "Also the means of communication & proximity & things like this are starting to not mean anything anymore. If a record comes out in Sweden on Monday, by Tuesday or Wednesday it's also coming out in NYC. People can have the same access to information."

IM: Kind of a universal switchboard..

CFZ: "More & more I think the world is getting multi-culturally mixed, and the global community is becoming more of a reality every day so it only makes sense to elevate the musical art form with new mixes and new styles. I've always tried to turn people on to new stuff, and for the longest time I had a lot of resistance when it was just too far ahead of the current sensibilities. Most people out there listen to the cream of the crop of pop, not the cutting edge fusion of this & that."

Around 1990, he turned away from a 4-year fascination with electronic music back to funk & old soul grooves, & breakbeat classics. He joined in on the Groove Academy project with his band Repercussions which eventually grew into NY's long running Giant Step: a consortium of live artistic talent featuring graffiti artists, poets, dancers, rappers and live improvisational grooves laid out by DJ's & musicians jamming together. Opening, closing, and performing for such artists as George Clinton, Bootsy Collins, Jamiroquai, the Ohio Players, Gil-Scott Heron, the Jungle Brothers, De La Soul, Nuyorican Soul / MAW, KRS-One, David Bowie, the Rolling Stones, The Orb, the Jungle Brothers, Groove Collective, Massive Attack and the Wailers to name a few, the Doctor of Freeze has iced many a crowd. IM: "It seems the trend nowadays is for the DJ to spin what the crowd and the promoters hear on the radio. In what way has the role of the DJ changed from when you were coming up?

CFZ: "I think what's happened primarily is that the DJ is now playing more to marketing needs, as opposed to being a leader,[but on the other hand] if the audience isn't demanding and doesn't care anymore, then the DJ becomes complacent as well."

IM: "How do you maintain such a steady outlook in such a distracting environment as New York?"

CFZ: "I think this environment is what feeds my outlook towards things. It fuels my interest in pursuing different sounds and textures and just sampling from all that's out there. When I'm rocking along on the streets of the city I get stimuli from all different points, you know? Like I was in this Irish candle store and I heard some Celtic fiddle playing so I was inspired to pull a fiddle sample off of an old Irish folk record and put it over a Hip-Hop beat or something. This kind of thing is what inspires me for the most part...And the energy...the constant flux is what fuels my need to create.

But it's easy to become complacent. It's easy to lock yourself in a cave when you've been over stimulated. I've been there as well. Sometimes as an artist you do go through periods of blockage and you just want to zone out and kind of close off the outside world and accumulate your thoughts. That's the danger of going too deep into the chasm. You know?"

Chillfreez leans forward, punctuating his statement with laughter that quickly spreads to everyone.

CFZ: "And then when you come out you don't quite know where you are but you always seem to get your bearings if you take a nice long walk down an avenue somewhere on a Sunday afternoon. That always seems to help me collect my thoughts and inspires me to work again. You see a pretty face or whatever_ that's what keeps me going."

IM: "Here's a special IMNYC question: if you had to give up one of your senses, which one would it be and why?"

CFZ: "Wow! That's a really good question. Ah...okay can I be specific? Well specifically I would say my ability to detect hot and cold."

An answer befitting a man named Chillfreez. He explains further:

CFZ: " Sensing only a neutral kind of temperature for everything and never being affected by the cold or by the heat would be really cool. But would I have to give up the sensation in my fingers? Like when I touch a rough surface would I feel it or not?"

IM: "They're your senses so you tell me."

CFZ: "Then I would have to say my sensitivity to temperature. I 'd still be able to eat and taste food. Let's say I could still taste it but it wouldn't be cold or hot. That's it. It wouldn't be like I had to chop my hands off or poke my eyes out or anything. I mean being blind I could still hear the music, but I would have a bitch of a time finding records in my crate. I'd have to put little Braille tags on all of them. Braille tags to catalog my collection."

Returning to his original thought:

CFZ: "No I guess hot and cold would be the sense I could lose. Then I would always be in that neutral place... like living in San Francisco.

Thank you DJ Chillfreez for not being neutral, remaining the master of extremes with the ability to torch a room with the icy touch of your COLD CUTS

FAVORITE RECORD STORES

Vinylmania, in lower West Village since the '70's

Throb, 14th St. between 3rd & 2nd Ave.
Progressive, & will play selections for you, 3 listening stations , helpful sales people

OM (Other Music)
more obscure selections than the norm

Beat Street
Brooklyn. Hip-hop specialists on Fulton St.
Ragamuffin, Reggae fusion, R&B, tons of old school, also mixed tapes

CREDITS

Interview : SO

Audio : Chilllfreez

Photo : IMNYC

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