A few quotes from other artists
MJ Cole said 'Todd Edwards started the whole UK Garage thing off without setting foot in the country. He was my biggest influence when I started making garage music.'
Andy Lewis, Locked On said 'This is the guy we were all listening to and getting ideas from way back in the early 90s. As far as I'm concerned he is still the daddy.'
Matt 'Jam' Lamont said 'Todd's definitely been our influence, and everybody else's since 92/93. It was his drums that created a lot of what's going on today and what has been for the last seven or eight years.'
Todd Edwards is felling suitably refreshed from a recent ten day stay in Paris when he calls from his studio in New Jersey. 'I was invited out to work with Daft Punk on a track for their second album and it was gorgeous being out there,' he enthuses. 'Thomas and Guy-Man are wonderful, I feel like I've made new friends.'
The Daft Punk duo are not the only ones to have taken a keen interest in this 26 year old's distinctive and beguiling brand of house music which has inspired a dedicated, and in some quarters, fanatical following over the years.
For the best part of a decade, Todd Edward's has been exploring and exploiting the fundamental dance music tool: the sample. Treating vocals as instruments themselves, his intricate cut and paste technique has resulted in hypnotic collages of sound; abstract songs that send a shiver down your spine as much as put a swing in your hips.
From the ruff beats and dark, twisted sonics of early cuts such as The Messenger EP (Nervous) or Stand Right Now (Grassroots), to the joyous disco arrangements of his mid-90s remixes for Robin S, Wildchild, Indo and others. Todd has carved his own quirky groove through the house and garage world.
He's now about to release an album of past and present glories, 'Prima Edizone', on his mainstay label i! Records, and has an EP with Tuff Jam out in November.
He's influential-with a capital 'I'. This is the man, whose rich, slippery drums, bounding b-lines and cut up vox provided the initial for the UK garage sound, and in my time of interviewing producers from that scene, Edwards is the name they all check; the one they'd still love to work with. Even in the wake of 2step (Todd: 'It reminds me a little of Latin freestyle that was over here. I respect it, but it;s kind of simple for me.' his musical legacy lives on. Todd, his unwitting assimilation into UK Garage scene has its good and bad points.
'It was a little frustrating, because that coined phrase 'speed garage' kind of put the music into a certain category; and honestly, the funniest thing is that this style that came from being influenced by me and several others-this was stuff I was doing remixes for some major labels, which was totally different. I was trying to do a bigger sound, like a disco band type thing. So it was kind of shock to me. I mean I'm glad.... you feel blesses to say you had an impact on a scene, but I never intended to start a trend. I just wanted to be myself and for people to accept me for being an individual.'
Recent Todd tracks such as 'Never Far From U:, remixes Songstress, Somore (with Sunshine Bros.), and an unreleased version TLC's 'No Scrubs' have kept the underground's dancefloors jumping to his inimitable groove. Most of his tunes are sold (in London at least) on the UK garage shelves of records shops and reviewed in those sections of magazines. Does it bother him that he might be more pigoen0holed now?
'Yeah, but y'know, I don't take it personally. I think there's a lot of people out there who get way too personal with reputations and all that. The thing is, from a business standpoint you want to ride a wave of that music, but at the same time I was trying to branch out to other tings. But you're caught between conforming to your audience-giving them what they want, and being...'
True to yourself?
'Exactly. I've tired to balance it out.'
The new CD, as the title 'Prima Edizone' suggest, marks the musical point Todd has reached so far. As well as a number o his much loved oldies (and a beautiful beat-less version of Todd's self-sung 'Fly Away', there are four new tracks including 'Open Your eyes' (currently championed by Tuff Jam on Kiss) and a filtered disco affair. 'Look Out', married moody, off-centre vibes with a sweetly aching spiritually that draws you, mesmerised, into his sound.
'I'll sample anywhere between 50 to 75 samples at one time before I even start a track, although I might not use them all,' he reveals. 'I think because I'm evolving musically, even what I choose to sample now has changed from two, three years ago. I'm moving away from sampling disco and r&b even though I thing the finished result will sound like Todd Edwards or it'll sound like a garage track. I have to find sounds that intrigue me. I'll go to 60's and 70's rock-anything. I'll just here a voice and it'll be like 'oohh that's it'.'
What's the weirdest sample you've ever used then?
'[Laughing]... my father's voice! When I did 'Saved My Life' [his 95 classic licensed to ffrr], I sang half of the samples myself, but I needed a baritone voice to go in the little choir sound, so I had him come in and sing an 'ooh' for me!'
As for the future, Todd reckons he still he has more to get out of his sampling style, although he's currently working with real vocalists, as opposed to a pile of old records.
'I have a couple of songs I've been writing lyrics for and I feel really good about the new stuff. Whether it's going to be seen as new or innovative I have no clue. I'm just doing what I hear in my head.'
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