DJ-producer duo the Freemasons, aka Russell Small and James Wiltshire, are DJing at the Pride in London VIP Afterparty this Saturday night, which takes place at a secret central London location (although the venue will be announced the day before the party, so keep an eye out). They’ve remixed for the likes of Rihanna, Shakira, Whitney and Sophie Ellis-Bextor (who, incidentally, is appearing on the Trafalgar Square Main Stage earlier in the day), and here, one half of the double act, Russell, talks with Boyz writer Dave Cross ahead of their special Pride in London set.
Hi Russell, are you excited to be playing at the official Pride in London VIP Afterparty this Saturday?
Always excited to play anywhere in London, but Prides are normally exceptional days, so it makes it extra special. It’s a great day out, everyone always seems to be in such good spirits when they are surrounded by like minded people. I will most probably be playing a very summery disco house set – that’s the vibe I’m enjoying playing at the moment, plus I have been working on new material and will drop a few of them in as well. Pride’s a great place to road test a few things…
Why do you think it’s important to support Pride events?
For me it’s an event that brings people together, open likeminded people celebrating their gayness – whether you’re queer or an ally, it’s an amazing day wherever it’s being held. I’m lucky enough to have played at around 15 different ones, maybe a few more, but I don’t have a favourite; like I say, they’re all pretty amazing.
We know you’ve played many gay venues, such as XXL and the Two Brewers, but how to gay club crowds compare to playing straight venues?
Both are great crowds under the right circumstances. Personally I love a mixed crowd. In Brighton you tend to see it a lot, other cities, countries not so much, which is a shame. To separate them is hard, it depends on the event, the music; lots of different factors come into play, so I cant really compare them.
Over the years you guys have remixed and produced tracks for some of the biggest stars on the planet – is it possible for you to pick a favourite?
No not really. I have a couple of favourite tracks. I even change my favourites every now and then; when I haven’t heard something for a while I’ll play it and think, ‘Ooh, I like that, why am I not playing it?’ And it will creep back into my set. And then the cycle happens all over again. My current faves are Heather Headley ‘In My Mind’ and Luther Vandross ‘Shine’.
Beyonce and her sister Solange both got you to remix multiple tracks – did you ever get feedback direct from either of them, or any of the other big acts?
Actually, no! You always live in hope, but you know the process, you generally only deal with record labels or management, and even then it’s your manager that does all the dealing. We were set to meet Beyonce after her gig in Brighton, but decided not to – good job really; I think she announced “Good evening London”, so she definitely wouldn’t of had a fucking clue who we were…
You’ve also worked on Rihanna, Shakira, Whitney, Adele, Katy Perry and many more, are there any acts you would really love to produce or remix?
Ella Henderson would be nice, love her voice, and I wouldn’t mind a collaboration with Nile Rogers; I think I could show him a few things about disco.
You’ve worked with Sophie Ellis-Bextor many times, including producing and co-writing, what is it about Sophie that you like?
We both love Sophie; she’s a very underrated artist I think, reminds me of Kylie in a way, they both have a very strong loyal following, and Sophie will go on for years as well. Great at reinvention, always pushing herself…
We love the recent Paloma Faith remix you did, what else have you been working on?
That mix was actually done by James – he does a few remixes under his F9 moniker, which is his sample selling site, but a good mix all the same… I have a new track coming out on spinnin/ Source on the 17th August: Russell Small, DNOP ‘When Somebody’. I hope you like it.