Frisco is an MC, producer, creator of The Den and an integral member of North London collective Boy Better Know (BBK). It’s safe to say his name precedes him. Having recently dropped the video for his track Cricket from his latest mixtape Back To Da Lab Vol. 5, an 18 track serving that features the likes of JME, Skepta, Shorty, Chip, Wiley, Tiggs Da Author, Prez T, P Money, Capo Lee, Skrapz and Moelogo.
My cameraman and I arrive at an undisclosed location and with next to no conviction say “we’re here to interview Frisco” when the buzzer sounds. Before being buzzed up, I felt incredibly calm but on arrival, this calm dissolves. Meeting a legend can do that to you.
But this isn’t new to Frisco. He was laid back, at home in this situation. When my man behind the camera and I refer to him as a legend and a heavyweight he remarks:
“I appreciate that but you ain’t gotta think about it like that. Just ask what you gotta ask.”
Before properly going into the interview we talk about his hate of Orange starbursts (he has a pack with only orange starbursts remaining); whether yellow starbursts exist (they used to but they don’t anymore); whether his Gucci socks and sliders are actually combined (they’re not), and about how hot it is at the moment. Despite the heat, Frisco remains cool and humourous. This is the same laid-back yet mature vibe that we hear on his most recent release: the 5th – and final – Back To Da Lab mixtape. Before asking him about this mixtape, I ask him three quick-fire questions so as to loosen myself up more than anything else.
Shells: Messi or Ronaldo?
S: Berlin or Prague
S: Sidewinder or Eskimo Dance
F: Oooooh that’s a hard one. That is a hard one still. Maybe Sidewinder… Cos Sidewinder I used to actually rave. I used to go to Sidewinder to rave before it got … proper artist based. Even when it was artist based, I was still raving them times so it holds a lot of memories. But so does Eskimo. I used to kind of go to Eskimo to rave but I was also emceeing.”
This leads us to talking about how Eskimo has grown since its inception. He remarks
F: It’s always a positive if something is growing and getting bigger, you get what I’m saying? I think how it’s been run – the ins and outs of it – can be a bit shaky sometimes but maybe that’s me being a bit too critical. In the grand scheme of things, it’s a good thing.
His own growth has taken him to the fifth iteration of Back To Da Lab and this mixtape marks the end of this specific project series. As such, we discuss why he’s not going Back To Da Lab again:
F: If I don’t I’m gonna be doing it ‘til the end of my career. From Back To Da Lab 1, which came out in to 2006, to Back To Da Lab 5… that’s 12 years. You can’t stop at 6 or 7 you have to go to ten. That’s another 12 years and there’s so much I wanna do.
In a room that paid homage to many of Frisco’s achievements and inadvertently became a testament to his workrate it begged the question, how do you choose between a releasing a mixtape or an album? What goes through your mind?
F: It depends what kind of mode I’m in. You know when you’re in album mode. Even if you make a song for the album before the album, you know when you’re in album mode. But more than anything it’s time. When I approach an album moretime it’s when I have something to say. It’s something I want to put more time into. More thought. If I have something to get off my chest, sometimes the album is the best way to do it.
In a normal conversation you might take the time to think about an answer like that but the pressure gets to me and I blurt out “Are you watching the world cup?” and Frisco remembers there’s a match on and proceeds to turn it on to allow it to provide the soundtrack for the rest of the interview.
We fall out of interview mode and we all revert to casual chit chat, somehow arriving at the point where my cameraman asks the question: “WTF happened in Napa?!”
For those of you that don’t know some of the members of BBK (including Frisco) found themselves in an Ayia Napan jail for 7 weeks and the story featured on the song Ayia Napa Story. We meander from the poor condition of Cypriot prisons to quoting BBK cyphers and laughing about JME being the answer voice on the BBK sim card. Eventually returning back to the music, we talk about how he chooses to feature certain artists on his projects and how he stays on top of the copious amounts of music that is being released in this ever changing musical landscape:
F: We miss a lot. Well not miss a lot but at the same time we don’t know about everyone. But generally, it’s because we love music. We love the music so much and we are there for the music. If we didn’t love music so much, the way we functioned would be a whole lot different. First and foremost it’s the music and everything else comes after. So we will cosign someone if we think they’re hot… and share our platform with them.
Sharing their platform brings us to the topic of sharing actual stages, when BBK took over the O2 to host their own festival on last year’s August bank holiday Sunday and Frisco’s personal venture The Den. Having recently taken it abroad to Bulgaria and Prague in May and June respectively, Frisco tells me a bit about the Den’s Future:
F: We’ve got a show in Stuttgart coming up. September 29th. Yeah, we’re just branching out with that in Europe for now and then next year you’ll see us popping up with stages and other stuff.”
S: “You gonna go Napa with it?”
F: “Napa?” He asks before clocking the joke and we all break out into a laugh,
“Nah I’ve been back to Napa bare times since [I was in pen there]. Some of my best years have been after that happened… 2003 was when I clashed Wiley so. It was in 2006! And 2007, 8, 9, All those years man was in Napa tearing it up. 10, you get what I’m saying? Tearing it up. It did come back in other ways to kind of haunt me but..
He tails off so we return back to the topic of the Den and go through how it started:
F: At first it was just me… I had a link with the guys at Vice who run old blue last and I loved the vibe in there you get me. I wanted to do something that runs consistent and runs regular because we don’t have any small intimate shows where you can see some of your main artists… you don’t get to see them in a close setting so I wanted to do that.
F: I did the first two on my own… The first one we launched it with Boy Better Knows so obviously that’s the family. And that was live. That set the standard and then I put other lineups together.
His phone rings and he says “And that was easy ‘cause I know everyone, I can get at everyone.
Then maybe three editions in I hollered at SK [Vibemaker] and said we need a resident and SK from being a resident DJ there [he] started to host.
Rebecca [Judd] she used to just come every month and just show love. These times she wasn’t on Radio or anything, she used just loved the vibe. I loved her aura, you get me. So I just asked her to join the squad. At the time we were doing interviews of the performers and I said ‘yeah you’re the perfect person to do that. Almass [Badat] as well, she’s involved she’s been an important part of the puzzle. Presto. There are a good few people involved in the den that you might not know.
I’ve run out of questions and I peculiarly ask Frisco if he has any questions for me to which he replies:
Nah but I’ve got my headline show on the 31st of July, at Omeara. Tickets are on sale for that now and we’ve got crazy special guests as well. Gonna get that [Back To Da Lab vol.5] live. It’s gonna be crazy. Make sure you get your tickets.
Get tickets to Frisco’s Headline Show 31st July Omeara here
Download Frisco – Back 2 Da Lab Vol. 5 here