Jazz begat funk, which begat disco, which begat house music. In clubs and warehouse parties of 1980s New York City and Chicago, house music began taking shape, and by the turn of the decade, a subgenre called “deep house” came to be. From that point on, a young man in Québec City saw the course of his life become increasingly clear.
The reason why you may not have heard about SOCAN member Fred Everything – unless you follow or are part of the deep house scene – is arguably because no one is a prophet in their own land… and because that genre has always preferred remaining somewhat under the radar.
Since breaking onto the international scene in 1995, Fred Everything—né Frédéric Blais in Hull, Québec—has held club residencies in Montréal, Toronto, and Honolulu as well as regular gigs in London, Chicago, and San Francisco, and has headlined some of the biggest festivals and clubs in major cities across the U.S., Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and even South Africa and Russia, as well as popular party destinations like Ibiza and Croatia.
As a world-renowned producer and remixer, he has more than 250 releases to his name – including five full-length albums – while his respected label, Lazy Days Recordings, has launched nearly 80 recordings, not counting compilation albums, by a “who’s who” of the deep house world.
In 2019 alone, he garnered 1.1 million streams on Spotify, and he recently produced a remix for Dominique Fils-Aimé, who won the 2019 Félix award for Jazz Album of the Year at the ADISQ Gala.
You might wonder how or where, exactly, deep house falls within the spectrum of what’s widely called EDM (Electronic Dance Music), and Fred offers us a simple explanation: “EDM has become an umbrella term for electronic music in general, but it’s also a music genre associated with festival dance music and big ‘drops.’ It’s designed and engineered to appeal to huge crowds; it’s more formulaic and functional. I don’t like EDM, but I don’t have a problem with it. I think it can be a gateway for a younger generation into the wider world of electronic music.”
Although inextricably associated with the deep house genre, Fred sees himself as a far wider-ranging artist, who strives to blur the boundaries between genres, hence his “Everything” moniker. “I’ve worked my way through so many styles over the years,” he says, “but it’s true that there’s a common thread in my productions when it comes to harmonies, sounds, and textures. Sonic qualities are as important as musical elements to me.”
Fred was classically trained, for a little while, as a child. “I was never a great student,” he admits. “I think that’s mostly because I was more interested in being hands-on, even at an early age, and I didn’t understand how proper training would help me down the line.” It wouldn’t be long before he bought his first synth, an Akai AX-60, after working for a full summer washing dishes in a restaurant. He founded a few bands with friends, at the time more interested in the ’80s alternative/new wave sound, before discovering the whole house and techno scene booming in England in the early ’90s.
Seminal British labels like Warp and Network would become pivotal. “Looking back, I was always interested in electronic sounds,” Everything says. “Synths and vocoders fascinated me from a very young age. I was also a bit of a loner and an only child, so electronic music offered a safe alternative to create music on my own.”
Cue the rave scene. “After that initial period of playing live with a few of my bands, I went solo and played in raves in Québec City and Montréal,” says Blais. “After a while, I decided to leave my instruments in the studio and I started DJing, while continuing to make music at home. It’s only when I moved to Montréal in 1995 that I started signing music internationally and touring outside North America.” The rest, as they say, is history.
“My artist name reflects the liberty to defy boundaries that I want to have with my music”
With his international profile growing steadily from that point on, Fred would re-locate to London for a few years before briefly coming back to Montréal, and then re-locating to San Francisco for eight years.
Whether or not you’re familiar with the genre, actual – and good – house music albums are rare, because the genre is mainly single-oriented, as are most dance music genres. Many have tried simply collecting their singles and calling that an album, but that never works, because the golden thread that weaves through a great album, regardless of genre, is lacking. Fred, however, stands out as one of those rare artists to have released more than one bona fide – and good – deep house albums.
His 2004 album, Light of Day was voted Best House Album of the Year by DJ Magazine and he was invited to perform it with a full band at the prestigious Montréal International Jazz Festival. That same year, he won the Best Electronic Artist award at the now-defunct Montréal Independent Music Initiative (MIMI) Awards. In 2016, he was ranked the No. 1 Deep House Producer by Traxsource, one of the biggest online music stores for everything electronic and dance.
Asked if we can ever hope to see him onstage as a live act again, he’s pretty adamant. “Not at the moment, but never say never!” says Fred. “It would most likely be by myself rather than with a band. My ultimate dream would be to have an orchestra perform my music for my 25th anniversary as a recording artist this year. Montréal Symphony Orchestra, in case you read this…”
Indeed, 2020 was planned as a year of celebration for the musician, who was due to embark on a spring-summer world tour as a DJ, for now – marking his 25th anniversary on the world circuit and the 15th anniversary of his label. But then COVID-19 derailed those plans.
Still, not bad for this one-man army, who also manages his own career and business! “I’ve had booking agents on and off,” he says, “but I’ve also done a lot myself, and never had a manager. It becomes very taxing, sometimes, and it makes it hard to concentrate on the creative side of my job, which should be the main focus. But over the years, I’ve learned how to juggle all of that.”
Keep on juggling, Mr. Everything!