Interview with Freight Train UK, the London-based DJ duo on the cusp of their best year yet.
Despite the typical February weather, the views from the Sky Lounge, overlooking London’s Tower Bridge and beyond, are as good as everyone says.
It’s around 2.30pm on a Sunday and Freight Train are separately, but collectively, stuck in traffic. For this in-demand DJ duo, the weekend is the workend and the chance of 15 minutes longer in bed after a 4am finish in Oxford often means breakfast in the afternoon… if you can fight through the buzzing crowds of tourists in central London.
I can’t fault them, and in truth, I’m quite glad. It gives me chance to read up on some of my favourite music interviews (including Nicki Minaj’s famous spat with the NY Times) and I eventually find myself circling back to I.D Magazine’s recent cover feature with Justin Bieber.
Seeing him on the cover reminds me just how long it’s been since I’ve seen Freight Train; the last time we met, the boys had explicitly called out Bieber’s great ear, using his 2013 album Journals as a reference point. I had laughed in their face, and you would have too. This was long before Bieber’s PR team had put him on Comedy Central’s ‘Roast’, before the Calvin Klein ads, and before everyone became a Bielieber after the release of Purpose in 2015.
After listening to the album, I realised that, not only would I have to eat my words, but that these two had a talent for producing and music like no DJs I had heard in a while.
When Freight Train arrive, the energy can instantly be felt. Accompanied by their talented photographer George and Wes’ girlfriend Amber, everyone instantly starts snapchatting, taking photos and sharing videos of recent gigs. The vibe is totally different to when I saw the boys back in 2014, and I couldn’t wait to find out why.
“I’ve quit my job and Wes is quitting his next week,” Kraft’s shock admission told me immediately that there would be no ‘warm up’ period for this interview. We were getting straight into the nitty gritty.
“It’s our time now. If you’d asked me if I was ready to do this a year ago, I wouldn’t be sure, two years ago, no way, but now, it’s time. We’re ready for the next step… Freight Train has had an upgrade!”
This was a huge leap from the Freight Train of 2014. The two had met at uni 6 years ago, and, after sizing each other up as competition in lectures, they decided that each could bring something to the table as a partnership.
Freight Train was born, and continued to be developed behind the closed doors of their shared flat over the course of their degrees. It eventually led to gigs across the UK, BAFTA after parties and most recently, a set at The Nest alongside Just Kiddin‘ and Shift K3y, who’s 2014 single Touch reached 3 in the UK Charts.
Wes: “When we started, we would have never thought that in four years’ time, we would be playing alongside someone who’s had a single in the charts, in one of London’s best venues, playing music that we’ve made, produced and engineered.”
Kraft: “It was a great start to the year…. to us, that was the beginning of something, a sign that we are moving in the right direction”
The Nest, famous for its forward-thinking approach to dance music, is set in the heart of Dalston and has firmly established itself as a London clubbing heavyweight. After a year of working behind the scenes perfecting their sound, it was the perfect platform for trying out some of Freight Train’s new music.
Kraft: “We couldn’t have asked for a better crowd. We were playing our own music and we had a good response from that. When people move in a club to something that you’ve created, you’ve done something to make them dance, it’s just a buzz”
“When you’re making music, it means something to you, it makes you feel a certain way, so when you see people feeling that as well, it’s a connection: you don’t even know them, but you’re connected by something that started in your mind”
Incredible as the night was, if you’d asked Freight Train if this was how they would start 2016 a year ago, you might have got a different answer. Back in June 2015, the boys had visited a notable character in a well-known label, which has more than a few famous stars attached to it’s name.
“It was disheartening at the time… we wanted results…and it didn’t work out that way”
Kraft: “We went there wanting answers. We wanted him to say, ‘this is who you’ve got to talk to, he’s interested in that’, and it didn’t’ work that way, and it was disheartening at the time, but in the end, it was better.”
Wes: “… he said, ‘forget all that, go away, make music, get it sounding as good as you can’ and we did. Now I’m waiting for the guy to shoot the gun because I know we can do it and we’re ready”
And it seems London is just as ready for these two as they are for it. Since releasing their track ‘Got To Have It’ two years ago, the song is still making waves through London’s underground club scene more than the guys ever expected, with one friend sending the pair a particularly memorable video of the track being played and the crowd singing along as the volume is cut.
“You can’t really describe the feeling you get when you get sent a video like that… we’re not trying to be the sound of this year, or the sound of next year, we just want to make good house music and see what happens”
Fast-forward to 2016 and Freight Train have put it all on the line. After months and months of working on their sound, their production and their long-term game plan, both members of the team have quit their jobs to dive feet first into their venture, and an empire is unfolding.
One thing is for certain, if you’re not on board yet, now is the time to do so, because this Freight Train is going places.
A huge thank you to Freight Train and Twisted Symmetry for their time.
All images by the talented Twisted Symmetry. Not to be reused without express permission from the photographer.