While he humbly states that he has “zero natural gifts for making music,” DJ and artist TOTAL FREEDOM’s tracks are much greater than the sum of their parts. His edits ranging from Ying Yang Twins to Ciara to Justin Bieber breathe a demented and vulnerable life into the slick surfaces of Top 40 Hip Hop and RnB—proving that a remix can best be achieved as a form of exorcism.
Total Freedom shares his thoughts, his camera roll, and an exclusive edit of Rihanna’s “Bitch Better Have My Money” in a WhatsApp session with 032c’s Thom Bettridge:
Have you been on the road a lot?
not really. i just came home from a little over a month in europe but before this run i was secretly pretty much in NYC for the whole summer.
What’s your solution for jet lag?
my life is always on some kind of lag anyway. im not looking for a solution. catch me casually sleeping under the table at a civilized dinner in tokyo… it’s fine.
Do you get homesick? Do you miss in LA?
i left LA for good in february of this year. and technically i only live in NY right now. the only kind of homesickness i feel lately is for Miami where i technically have only lived in six months total since 2009. but it fucks me up and i get anxious about all the days i’m missing erasing my brain on the neon beaches and destroying my body dancing to music i hate at the tribal-hell-house after hours.
How do you approach remixing a song? Is it like creating a zombie out of something dead? Or is it more like turning somebody into a vampire, making them cold and immortal?
i’ve been exposing myself to a lot more top 40 pop and dance music over the last couple years and it’s recently begun to seem somehow even more sinister than it used to. pop songs are like, idk, a poisonous acid that gets poured in your ears and quickly hacks a passage way through your neural membranes and burns its melody inside your skull. the most disgusting thing in the world can become familiar and lovable. mindlessly whistling “blurred lines” as if you somehow developed an oral fixation for sucking on dry dog turds. when garbage pop productions take shelter under the name one of my kings nicki, rihanna, ciara… that’s when i feel like something must be done. something to free their power from the algorithmically protracted commercially precise dead weight its trapped under. everyone knew Shine Bright Like a Diamond was disgusting first listen but we also all knew we would have no choice but to love it because duh… rihanna. and it was going to be force fed to us for a year regardless. Body Party is one of the worst songs Ciara ever recorded but it was Ciara and it was on the radio so we bought it. taking these anthems and rebirthing them with an edit that’s more open and fragile and honest is like an absolute duty to save humanity lolololol.
What is essential to you? What can’t you be without?
protein supplements. whatsapp. matcha.
Are these your friends?
yes. leilah alejandro ian venus and a bunch more friends this summer in paris at the HBA crew’s favorite restaurant SEEDS. the other pic is the Thing with me at breakfast at the line hotel in LA this summer. and then elysia at Asma’s house preparing for her set at the Getty Museum in LA this summer.
Do you get a lot of DMs from fans? What are the best ones?
i dont have fans. just like people who got lost on the internet, wandered across some page of mine, and accidentally clicked like too many times or something. i met a kid at a party i was playing in London two nights ago who asked me if i played harpsichord because he had just a dream that i was his harpsicord teacher. that’s kinda like a DM right? idk… best actual DM recently was from a super talented angel telling me she started making music because of me :_). also nudes are cool. twitter finally gave u the option to open your DMs to anyone, not just people you follow so… hmu :-)
How do you get in the mood to make something new?
im not really much of a creator. like, technically i have very few skills and i’d say probably zero natural gifts for making music. i know that ANYONE that actually tried could make anything on the same level or better than my work. but not everyone really wants to. tearing apart audio files to rebuild them into something more or less personal is not the way everyone wants to communicate. sometimes i have an idea about something i want to exist and it just stays there as an idea forever or until i forget about it because i just can’t make it happen. other times i’m seeing and feeling nothing, like zero dreams and out of nowhere something really heavy will fall out of me. just saying, for me “the mood” to make something doesn’t really mean anything will come of it.
How do you respond to atmosphere while you’re playing? Do you pay attention to the audience?
i like being the audience as much as i like being the performer. sometimes i like to jump the fence and go dance on the floor while i’m dj-ing. i can enjoy going out to clubs where technically i like nothing of what’s going on but it all falls together in some kind of novel or entertaining way… i guess that’s atmosphere. but fuck the audience honestly. when have they ever cared about anything besides being in agreement? lemming dance / mob mentality. you can play the Drake and Friends Vevo album on loop for weeks or you can play a recording of dogs vomiting in hell and it would make no difference. if the audience thinks they are in the right place and everyone is in agreement, nothing matters. i mean that’s kind of a beautiful thing but also kinda dark.
What’s the best room you’ve ever slept in?
i subletted my friend Jen Smith’s apartment for the summer in 2010, everyday was like waking up in heaven. she lived on the top two floors of this giant victorian/craftsman mansion that had been converted into an arts academy in like 1910 and then converted into apartments in the 60s. the owner made his girlfriend, a porn actor named Kitten Natividad, the building manager and told her to only rent to hot young women. after he died and she became the owner the renters slowly shifted from exclusively hot young women to exclusively lesbians. the place was laid out psychotically because of having been divided so many times. Jens apartment was triangular and felt like it was crammed into the mast of a giant ship. it had a sewing room accessible only by ladder and slate stone shower with a body length window that swung open to the tops of the ficus and magnolia trees surrounding. more recently in london i spent a week staying in alejandro’s studio which is the greenhouse in the courtyard of his building. she’d sneak in while i was asleep and turn the humidifier on full blast and i’d wake up blind in a tropical haze laughing. i’ve never tried a sensory deprivation tank because im scared of demons but if i could chill the fuck out i’d bet that would be cool.
Listen to Total Freedom’s edit of “Bitch Better Have My Money” here.