Wakarusa Interview: Ben Samples of Fresh2Death

Colorado-based DJ duo Fresh2Death played two sets at Wakarusa this year and stayed to camp and catch shows all weekend long. I caught up with one half of the pair, Ben Samples, to talk about the difference between F2D and his solo project, his history with Waka, and more.

MOJO: First off, how long have you been DJing?
I started DJing four or five years ago at a radio station in Boulder. I wasn’t really playing electronic music for them, but it was fun to do and it kind of introduced me to the idea of DJing for parties. But I’ve been a musician my whole life. I grew up playing the guitar. So, I knew what was up, I just wasn’t actively pursuing it.

MOJO: You mean, you didn’t try to do the band thing or anything like that?
No, no I would always mess around with bands and play guitar. When I came out to college (about six years ago) I thought, “Even if I’m an amazing guitarist, I’m still kind of like just another guitarist. But then when I wanted to get into electronic music, I got rid of my guitar and started messing around with keyboards and stuff like that.

MOJO: School is why you moved to Colorado?
Well, no. I moved to Boulder for school. But I’m from western Colorado.

Fresh2Death perform at Wakarusa 2011

MOJO: You and Fisk [who was not available for interview] together, make Fresh2Death. How was that project born?
Fisk and I were both doing glitch hop in Boulder. That was before people know much about Bassnectar and other glitch hop stuff. And I didn’t really know those artists either. I just wanted to make hip hop and I wanted people to dance to it. So I was all about build-up’s and break-down’s and I made my own music because I didn’t know anybody’s music out there; like, I didn’t have anything to play so I’d have to make music to play what I wanted to.

And then I came across Fisk. Well, we were both doing the same thing. Everybody was like, “You gotta meet this guy!” We finally met up and since we were both playing the same style, he had a bunch of stuff that I didn’t have and vice versa. The first time we did Fresh2Death, I think it was a Lazer Sword show, and Fisk was opening. They told him he could bring someone along to open with him, so he hit me up and we played together. We didn’t even have a name at that point; we were just Fisk and Samples. But we ended up playing a really awesome set and the other groups on the bill were like, “Wow. You can’t kill it that hard and not have a name.”

MOJO: And that was your first time ever on stage together?
Well, we’d played shows before. But it was always like I’d play, then he’d play a little bit, then I’d play. We were doing a lot of house parties at that point.

MOJO: So, how’d you finally end up getting a name?
We thought about it, worked on it for a while. I threw out the name Fresh2Death and it kind of just stuck. And I think, what it was, was we made our MySpace and then it was like, official. (laughs)

MOJO: And what about Girlfriend Bullshit?
So, Girlfriend Bullshit is actually the name we thought of afterwards. It’s actually our initials. Greg’s name is Greg Fisk (GF) and my name is Ben Samples (BS). GF BS. So it’s just funny that our initials were those acronyms. But sometimes, people didn’t want to put that on their fliers. And at the time we also both had serious girlfriends and they both didn’t like the name. (laughs)

Ben Samples chats with Mojo Music Correspondent Danielle Look at Wakarusa 2011.

MOJO: Stylistically, what would you say is the difference between the Fresh 2 Death and your solo work?
Together, it’s a lot more live remixing. A lot of improve and on-the-fly stuff, which is kind of what makes it so fun. It’s like, I never know what to expect and have to constantly be on point, knowing what to do next even when you don’t know what to do next. We never really even know what song we’re gonna open with. We don’t plan it.

And then when I do solo stuff, since I’m in control then, I have to have a general idea of where things are going to go. I still don’t plan anything, but I do live remixing. Solo, as Samples, I play all original and in Fresh2Death we don’t play all original just because we’re doing it a new way, anyways. We can play someone else’s song and it’ll be like a new remix.

I also play a slightly different style as Samples than we do in Fresh2Death. In Fresh2Death we try to keep it mid-tempo and hip hop style. And alone I’ll play more dubstep and house.

Perfect Drug (from Sex, Drugs & Bass) by bensamples

MOJO: What kind of history do you have with Wakarusa?
This is my second Wakarusa. Fisk has been here more than that. I think he went when it was still in Kansas. But I went last year. We came down from Denver with Grassroots California, a hat company. They came down with a sound system and played between mainstage acts. So we played a couple renegade sets at their tent. They’re here again this year. Yesterday I played a set there just before Soundtribe. They’ve been doing that all weekend. It’s fun, because you never know who you’re going to find in there.

The Grassroots California Dome

MOJO: So what Interstellar Meltdown shows caught your eye?
Last night I caught Bassnectar and then we went and saw Skrillex. I’d never seen Skrillex so I wanted to see what it was about. I made it until about 4:30. I wanted to go catch Elliot Lipp but I saw him on Thursday; he played right after Fresh2Death.

MOJO: To close out, what kind of project do you have on your plate right now?
I actually do have a new album. It’s called Malbec. Like the wine. One of the songs seemed very “red” to me. I don’t know. Sometimes I’m weird about music. When you name songs that are instrumental, it’s kind of like “What does it make you feel or do?” That album is not slated to be released anytime soon; it’s finished, we’re just doing artwork, tying up loose ends and stuff. It might be ready by the end of summer or early fall.

Samples – Malbec (clip) by bensamples

Photos by C-Style Photography.