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Published on October 17th, 1999 | by Gerry Galipault

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Pop goes the Freshmäka

Dance maven The can pinpoint the exact moment of his pop awakening: when he first heard Pilot’s sugary “Magic” in 1975.

“My parents had me going with the Beatles when I was about 2 or 3,” The Freshmäka (a k a Samuel Von Freshmaka) said recently, “but when ‘Magic’ came out, that and ‘Moonlight Feels Right’ by Starbuck were the anthems of my childhood. I missed the whole Kiss thing; I was this little AM radio wuss and that grew into 50 different other paths that I took.

“What can I say, I’m a pop guy. Every step I had, from that into the edgy rebellion Who thing to really early R.E.M. through to hip-hop, it was always melodic stuff.”

It shows on The Freshmäka’s debut Moonshine Music album, “I Am The Freshmäka” (released Oct. 5). From “La La La” to “Let’s Get Together/Stephen’s Bar Mitzvah,” it’s an amalgamation of dance-pop’s greatest pleasures – sweeping rhythms, lively beats and wry wit.

The Freshmäka, with partner-in-crime Duke Mushroom, has produced and remixed hits for Busta Rhymes featuring Janet Jackson, Method Man, Sandra Bernhard and KC & the Sunshine Band. Their aim is true: They want dance music to rise-n-shine.

“Dance music is stagnant,” the New York-based Freshmäka said. “You see the same names over and over again. You get to the point where how many times can you read the same remixers. We constantly reinvent ourselves, we change our names every year, anything to keep things fresh and exciting.

“I don’t know if we nailed it on the head, but the more we dabbled the more we experimented at different tempos. Eventually, it became more about melody. When I look back on it and listen to it, one thing I can proudly say is that there’s obviously some experimental sides to it and that it’s not just a deconstructive record, this minimal big thing. It’s the opposite, it’s the mass of melody.”

Mushroom, who had two releases last year on Intersound, and The Freshmäka split production duties 50-50. With his album, The Freshmäka has his moment in the sun.

“Honestly, I’m not very comfortable in the spotlight, it doesn’t really interest me,” The Freshmäka said, “but I love being able to flex artistically beyond just production. Obviously, I’m not a singer and I’m not rapping, I’m just doing weird, melodic tracks, but there’s something cool about saying they’re mine and can’t be taken away from me.”

He met Mushroom during a previous incarnation while doing a gig on the south New Jersey shore.

“I was performing at a big-hair club,” The Freshmäka said. “It was a ratty little crowd; I needed a percussionist for the gig and I had been given his name. We met that day, he came down, we did the gig. I guess someone tried to slam dance up front, something crazy, (Duke) grabbed somebody by the hair because he was getting too close to the equipment. As he took a step back, Duke’s hand ended up full of Dippity-Do and he punched the guy in the face. The Dippity-Do sprayed all over me. I thought, ‘Wow, if this guy can get a handful of Dippity-Do, throw a punch, save my equipment and my beautiful head, he’s on my side.”

They have been slaves to the rhythm ever since.

“I Am The Freshmäka” may not go beyond dance clubs, but that doesn’t diminish its feel-good quality.

“I would like it to be a critical sensation,” The Freshmäka said, “and beyond that I would have no complaints because we’re going to have a long, varied career. If The Freshmäka self-destructs like the drummer in ‘Spinal Tap’ one day, I could come out as Luke Mushroom, brother of Duke. You never know what might happen.”

BWF (before we forget): The Freshmäka’s on the Web @ www.freshmaka.com.

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Gerry Galipault debuted Pause & Play online in October 1997. Since then, it has become the definitive place for CD-release dates — with a worldwide audience.



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