David Bikowski produces and DJs under the name Hands Free and has caused quite a stir with his releases on labels like Audiophile Deep, Faceless and Motek. Part of a long tradition of punk rock ex-pats who find their way to dance music, Hands Free is a standout artist amongst the tech house talent pool. He is a seasoned vet with two decades behind the decks and a prolific producer in the studio with more than a little gear lust. For this week's Mixtape, Hands Free goes on a two-hour journey mixed live at a Proton party.
Dallas Observer: How did you get started DJing? How long have you been DJing?
Hands Free: I’ve always been into music and started DJing when I was pretty young. I was first exposed to the music when we snuck out to go to an underground rave at the beach. I met some local DJs there and [we] immediately became great friends. We would hang out and play records for days on end. This was back in 1995, so it’s been 20 years now ... Wow!
How was this mix made? Is there a particular theme for the track selection?
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This is a live recording on two pioneer CD-Js and an Allen & Heath Xone mixer. I recorded this live at the Proton warehouse in August sometime between the hours of 3 and 6 a.m. For these nice, long, late sets, I’ll to stick to deeper and darker stuff which is my favorite music to play.
Where does your DJ/producer name come from?
Funny. I used to always call my cell phone my “hands free” and it just stuck.
Which DJs have had a profound impact on you?
I’ve had so many influences over the years. Sasha and Digweed were my first true favorites back in the late '90s when I played much more progressive. I love the old San Francisco house sound. Garth, Jeno and the Wicked crew were essential in my box back then. Chemical Brothers, Crystal Method and Josh Wink also were influential for me back then. Over the past decade my taste has evolved and my music is inspired by artists such as Ame’, Tale of Us, Thugfucker, Rodriguez Jr., Nile Frahm, Hunter/Game and the Drifter.
What is your most memorable music moment of the past year as a DJ?
I flew into San Francisco for a couple shows one weekend in February. I was extremely exhausted from the travel since we recently welcomed our daughter into the world. I had a second show later that night where I was to DJ from 8 to 11 a.m. at this little after-hours spot called The Monroe. I showed up there after taking a power nap about an hour before my set and there were close to 300 people in there dancing their asses off. The crowd never thinned out and was so responsive. Big shows are lots of fun, but nothing beats an intimate crowd. Ever.
How did you get into production?
I’ve been playing musical instruments all my life. The drums in band, guitar in multiple punk rock bands, piano when I was a kid. It was a natural evolution after I started DJing to want to learn how to create the music I was so passionate about.
What is one of your favorite pieces of studio kit, hardware or software?
I recently picked up a Prophet 6 and Moog Sub 37; both of these are staples in every one of my latest productions. The Prophet 6 has this raw analog sound that really comes out in its keys and pads and nothing can top the thick bass and lead sounds of a Moog. Software wise, Soundtoys Native Effects is the best set of FX I've ever used. I had thought about spending tons of money on outboard effects units but the Soundtoys suite is so good I didn't have to.
What labels have you released on?
Connaisseur Recordings, My Favorite Robot, Faceless, Dilate, Audiophile Deep, Motek, Witty Tunes, Sullivan Room Records and Sonora.
Where do you like to dig for tracks? Any specific websites or stores?
I have a circle of friends that digs for music together, trying to find top tunes from mixes we like, or just finding the random gems on the different music sites. I also get some great music direct from the source a lot of the time.
What other types of music do you enjoy outside of dance music?
I love some good hip-hop, classic rock, experimental et cetera. Recently I've been really digging all of the stuff that's been coming out on Erased Tapes and Permanent Vacation.
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What is in your near future as a DJ?
I'm heading to Puerto Rico, LA, San Francisco, Portland and Mexico in the next few months. Also I have a couple remixes working and then a three-track EP before the end of the year.
1. Abby – Halo (Hosh Remix) - 2DIY4
2. Marc Romboy – Hypernova (Stephan Bodzin remix) – Systematic
3. Sebastian Mullaert – Direct Experience (Dub) - Traumschallplatten?
4. Clint Stewart – Shelter – Second State Audio
5. HVOB – Tender Skin (DJ Tennis remix) – Stir Von Talent
6. Kris Davis – Empathy – Young Alaska
7. Tim Xavier – Distant Keys
8. Kris Davis – Bleak – Young Alaska
9. Kuniyuki – Shout – Mule Music
10. &Me – Potty – Saved Records
11. Lehar & Musumeci – Horizon - Connaisseur
12. Powel – Crash Landing on Laputa – All Day I Dream
13. Yokoo – Lueur de I Aube
14. Yokoo – Sataya - Kindisch
15. Unknown - Promo
16. Axel Bowman – 1979 – Pampa
17. Love Over Entropy – Tucaroya pt2
18. Kölsch feat. Gregor Schwellenbach – Talbot - Kompakt
19. Lum – Urpillay (Bedouin Remix) - Rebellion
20. Dave DK – Smukke Lyde - Kompakt
21. Daniel Zuur – Modest Day (Canson Remix) - Katermukke