Oh, what a difficult way Zen Freeman has found to make a lucrative living.
He’s a popular DJ to the stars who specializes in playing big private events around the world. Freeman is currently riding a wave of success with his EDM hit “Dance Bitch,” featuring “Breaking Bad” star Aaron Paul and a new song, “Switch.”
“All the big guys — monster producers David Guetta, Calvin Harris and Fedde LeGrand — are playing ‘Switch’ at the moment, my last track,” said Freeman, “at massive festivals, which is good for my credibility.”
The man at www.reverbnation.com/zenfreeman has to catch himself when he’s on the verge of complaining to his wife-and-mother-of-their-children about being tired or jet-lagged.
“She thinks my life is so easy,” Freeman told me, with a pleasant chuckle, during his recent appearance at Minneapolis’ W. “I like to do a week or two tour and then go back, spend some time with the family [in L.A.],” said the Brit. “I get so tired sometimes. She’s like [not hearing it]. I don’t get my shoulders rubbed or to put up my feet on the couch.” His wife expects him to pop into parenting mode, not talk about how rough he has it hanging with Sean Penn. I told Freeman I agreed with his wife, whose thoughts on this matter were not even known to me when I came up with my first question.
Since Freeman is an Englishman, I asked him to apply that lovely accent to the poetic (sarcasm) lyrics from the most absurd song I could think of off the top of my head — EU’s “Da Butt,” from the Spike Lee movie “School Daze.” Freeman’s reading plus a few frames of his backfield in motion are viewable on my startribune.com/video.
Q: Being a celebrity DJ looks like one of the biggest scams of a career.
A: [Laughter] It is a dream job but there [are] lots of musical, mathematical, scientific things that go into mixing music; the key and the tempo. Even the energy level of the song and knowing how to cut everything pitch perfect. There’s definitely a method to my madness.
Q: If you had to have a real job, what would it be?
A: [Extended laughter] I do a lot of music supervision for brands, where it’s completely different. As a producer you can score music, which is the same elements of when I make my own tracks. I do a lot of sourcing music where I am like digging through for TV, film and a lot of fashion brands I find for other people’s music. If I had to pick a real job [laughter], I’d be a music supervisor. [Laughter] Long-winded answer.
Q: How often do you have to switch out the needle?
A: Not that often anymore. I buy a lot of vinyl. I still have record players in the studio, but on tour it’s all digital now. The hardware in the clubs is quite universal.
Q: Your big hit is “Dance Bitch.” Say it with me! Is that an entreaty that has ever worked for you in your personal life, with your wife?
A: Yeeeenoo. [Laughter.] And the fact that I’m so English, we just don’t say the word “bitch” unless possibly referring to a female dog. It is very definitely, uniquely not an English thing to say, you know. Hey, bitch! [Laughter and a hand gesture.]