Flow State, A Review of Freddy Todd's "Southfield"
I had moved to Sacramento, California because I had derailed my social life in a nebulous cloud of questionable decisions. Back then, I was working on a psychedelic rock record via FTP with my drummer in Brooklyn. The record label I was on hooked me up with a gig at a party during SXSW in Austin, Texas. The set was for 20 minutes in a night club. I made laptop-able set and booked two plane tickets, one for my horn player Patch and myself. We were directed to a condo that was shared with another label. There, we met a bunch of other musicians. Our set failed miserably due to mic issues and lack of experience. So we later bought a PA and searched the streets of Austin for a power outlet by a side walk and busked for three hours. I don't remember a lot about that trip but I do remember meeting Freddy Todd.
The condo we stayed in was basically a hub where random kids came and went from gig to gig. Patch and I were broke so we hung out there. We hung out with Freddy and his friend for a bit. Freddy had the crazy eyes and a baseball cap. Him and his buddy were in from Detroit. His buddy played a horn, so him and Patch seemed to hit it off. We drank and played music until really late. Then we all went separate ways.
I vaguely remember the guy who booked the condo. On the last night, he was passed out on the couch. He woke up and puked everywhere. Then got up while still vomiting, grabbed a bucket to vomit into and then proceeded to vomit while cleaning it up and then the rest of the condo.
I left Austin with new faith in people and began making new friends. Freddy Todd was cool as fuck and I was stoked have hung out with him.
I'm in line at the "Guadalajara Taco Truck" on Fruitvale Ave in Oakland around midnight when I overhear a young tipsy female say "The new Freddy Todd record so cool." It had a been a long time since I'd seen Freddy or thought about him. It took me a day or two for the connection to set. When I realized she had been talking about my condo buddy from seven years ago I decided to Google him. Sure enough he had new record, "Southfield." I downloaded it immediately on iTunes. No, I don't do the Spotify or Pandora.
- I listen to so little music since the birth of the podcast that I don't want to deal with another monthly charge.
- It's nice when folks get paid.
- The streaming algorithm always tells me that I like Belle and Sebastian. I don't hate them but I'd prefer to listen that on my own terms. I don't want one of their songs coming on, making me introspective and totally fucking up my head for few hours. I'd prefer to be in control of what I pour into my brain.
I turned on "Southfield" during my commute home. This record was figuratively a "breath of fresh air." On rare occasion over the past few years I'd listen to Phil Collins or Beck. "Southfield" is super interesting and upbeat so it became my "go to" on morning commutes and when people were riding in my car.
The record is layered and intelligent. Somehow, it seems to be aware of itself. It will comes across as tough for a few bars with confident bass melodies and subtly turn into a funk song, almost as if to say "Whoah, thought I was gettin' serious there for a second? Fooled ya!" To me, "Southfield" is the musical equivalent of joy experienced while teasing a younger sibling or an annoying cousin. While doing this fast attitude change in his song, the mechanics of the song never leave Freddy's predetermined parameters, meaning the flow of the song is never interrupted. His music is detailed and playfully irreverent.
One interesting thing about "Southfield," for me, is that when I'm doing mindless bullshit at work or home, listening to the record seems to make time evaporate. It's different from mulling around with earbuds in.
After a few weeks of listening, I decided that Freddy Todd's record "Southfield" would be fun to write a piece on for the Tesseract. The music sounds like the future or aliens or robots and the cover of the record is a beautiful and possibly an inter-dimensional landscape, to me it is anyways.
I shot Freddy a quick email asking if he remembered me from Austin, asking if he'd be down to meet before a show sometime soon. We eventually made plans for me to pick him up at the airport in Sacramento and take him to his gig in Chico a few hours away.
I pulled into the Sacramento Airport in the pouring rain and hopped out of the Jeep to help welcom Freddy when my Jeep started rolling backwards in the pick up area at the airport. I ran and jumped into the Jeep, pulled the parking brake just before it wandered into oncoming traffic causing a disaster, a dangerous disaster that could've easily escalated into court dates or even a conflagration on evening news.
The drive was mellow, we ate snacks and caught up. Within seconds we'd connected like seven years prior. We caught up. Freddy told me his whole story of growing up in Detroit and all the bands he'd been in.
[insert facts from recording]
Later, I mentioned the thing about being able to tune out and motivate whenever I listen. "Oh that's Flow State." he tells me. Freddy noticed it when he started producing his music a long time ago and said that it started out as a byproduct and has turned into something that can be strived for. I was relieved that he had recognized that and I didn't seem like I had been connecting dots.
Unique occurrences of "Flow State" are sometimes rare and often hard to put into words. It's refreshing when those indescribable moments are recognized by others. For me, that happens almost as often as connecting with a friend I'd made at a party, briefly, seven years ago in Austin.
Freddy Todd is smart with a future in his music.
Listen to "Southfield." No matter your preferred genre, "Southfield" has something for you.
During sound check we shot a goofy video. Then we went out for Pizza before I drove back to Oakland. I had an early morning.
March 17, 2018
I was digging around old hard drives looking for a photo to post when I found a Protools Session called "Austin 3am." Anybody could be on it, All I know is I'm the one playing the Ukulele.