Image via Shaun Deguzman

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Sir Froderick doesn’t view music as a business. He’s not on a major label and doesn’t do tours. But he’s been steadily releasing beat tapes since the early 2010s, polishing his sound and releasing collaborations with high-profile producers like Knxwledge and Mndsgn. Originally from Philadelphia, he currently resides on the West Coast, where he shares his music via Bandcamp and Soundcloud, employing a nostalgic, subdued palette with an emphasis on warmth. It’s easy to fall down a rabbit hole listening to his releases. His songs are short, usually clocking in under two minutes. They’re little musical vignettes that bleed into each other. You can sometimes listen for an hour without realizing any time has passed.

Sir Froderick’s story began in South Philadelphia, where he grew up surrounded by music. Both his father and his brother were DJs. His mother was a patron of the arts (theater, painting). Although his family preferred funk/soul and disco, he developed a taste for hip-hop by listening to classic albums by A Tribe Called Quest, Big Daddy Kane and the Beastie Boys. In high school, inspired by a pair of friends, he began messing around with sampling equipment and making his own beat tapes. Later, he saved up enough money to buy an ST-224 Zoom box, a mini-sampling machine with 20 seconds of sampling time, allowing him to incorporate more advanced splicing and looping into his beats.

His family moved around between New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Louisiana and Pennsylvania. Later, as a young adult living in Philly, Sir Froderick became the manager of an art gallery called Rare to Breed, where he hosted hip-hop shows and rubbed shoulders with local artists, including some with whom he would later collaborate. His work eventually brought him out to San Diego, where he now owns and operates an independent record store called FIVESPACE Records, his full-time venture.

Sir Froderick (whose moniker is a reference to Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein) owes a debt to Stones Throw veterans like J Dilla, Madlib and MF DOOM, but he also draws on plunderphonics artists like DJ Shadow and The Avalanches, and he leans towards drone and ambient in his work. Some of his songs are more like abstract audio collages, almost resembling the musique concrete experiments of John Cage and Steve Reich, or John Lennon when he made Revolution 9. He even incorporates his own field recordings sometimes.

Although his style is firmly grounded in hip-hop, Sir Froderick draws on an eclectic mix of different sounds and aesthetics, working his samples up amid layers of noise and vintage drums to create knotty textures. He also employs an off-kilter style of drum programming, subverting regular intervals. Asked about his approach to drums, he says, “I get that a lot from other beatmakers and friends that are always trying to decipher [the loops], and I’m like, ‘man, it’s more feeling, nothing is ever premeditated.’” – Jackson Diianni

​​(This interview has been condensed and lightly edited for clarity.)

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