Freedom Time is the frisbee ring of festivals: it’s light and colourful, doesn’t injure you when you mess up, and keeps on spinning so long as you’re willing to throw down. Starting in a car park in Perth, the festival also spends New Year’s Day at Melbourne’s Coburg Velodrome and will stop by Sydney for the first time in January. It has become well-loved for its clever programming, which typically features a significant disco and house component.
This year’s line up features Chicago-house legend Larry Heard (aka Mr. Fingers), Johnny Osbourne, Bradley Zero, Sassy J, Silent Jay & Jace XL and more.
Former Melbourne resident Bradley Zero – the head of London label Rhythm Section International – has put together a playlist featuring some of his favourite tracks from fellow label mates and Freedom Time artists. He’s also given us an explanation of why he thinks these tracks are so good. For Freedom Time 2017/18, Bradley Zero will be curating a special RSI stage, get ready to make party.
Silent Jay & Jace XL Just Waking Up
What better way to begin NYD 2018 than to this certified modern classic. Silent Jay meets Jace XL on Rhythm Section International and the result is pure R&B gold. Sweet enough to cure any excesses from the previous night and get you in the mood for the first party of the year.
Another slice of Melbourne soul on the Rhythm Section roster, from a band whose star is firmly on the ascent. It’s fair to say 2017 has been a breakthrough year for the Melbourne collective and I’m sure 2018 holds even more promise.
Larry Heard Summertime Breeze
A lesser-known gem from Larry Heard, this time in new-age mode. This production captures summer in the way few songs can manage – the long ambient intro takes forever to give way to the beat, but when it does finally drop you can practically feel the sunshine. Writing this from London in the middle of winter that sunshine is most welcome.
A big one from local boy DJ Prequel, which also features the inimitable Cazeaux OSLO on vocals delivering a sermon on blackness past, present and future.
Nai Palm Crossfire / So Into You
The undisputed Queen of Melbourne Soul! Nai has struck gold again with her new solo album Needle Paw – it’s a delicately crafted masterpiece of acapella compositions that quietly demands your full attention. To have her perform live on my stage is a dream come true.
Sampa The Great Rhymes To The East
Sampa the Great upped the game and proved she’s worthy of greatness this year with a huge release on Big Dada, featuring productions from two of my favourite Js: Sensible J and Silent Jay. With a stage presence few can match – this is a must-see for Freedom Time.
Jordan Rakei Alright
To describe Jordan’s rise as meteoric would be something of an understatement. Jordan left Brisbane at the end of 2014 with two self-released EPs under his belt and a small but dedicated online following. He steps into 2018 after completing a sold out world tour, dropping 2 critically acclaimed albums and having headlined Shepherd’s Bush Empire – one of London's most prestigious venues. Not bad for the boy who landed in London on NYE 2014 and came straight to Rhythm Section that night, marking the beginning of his foray into the London music scene. To welcome him on my stage at the next Freedom Time completes the circle. You can’t miss this.
Krakatau Riddell’s Creek
My Favourite Melbourne band that I haven’t actually had the chance to see live. I’ve been pushing the Krakatau sound as often as possible up here in the UK and each and every time this results is at least one person running to the DJ booth demanding to know the name of the track. Truly incredible prog-rock meets disco. A perfect soundtrack for the apocalypse or just a nice sunny day, for that matter.
Billy Davis Postcards
Billy Davis’s self-released mixtape Bad Ending was a real stand out from last year and introduced me to so many more talented artists from the Melbourne soul scene. Seemingly coming out of nowhere, this supremely talented composer, arranger and keys player took the scene by storm and his latest effort, A Family Portrait, keeps that fire burning. It’s top-drawer, feel-good music that’s set to make a wider global impression in 2018.
Final release tickets are available at freedomtime.com.au.