Fresh Kicks 138: FFF
With frenzied breaks, high-speed hardcore and sizzling 160 sonics, FFF takes the Fresh Kicks mix series by storm
In FastTracker 2 — a popular, though now discontinued ‘90s DAW — there was code which automatically took the user to the highest possible bpm. That code was FFF, and what could be a more appropriate moniker for a producer who’s spent his life at the rapid-fire tempos of breakcore and jungle?
Tommy De Roos, the man behind the FFF alias, began his journey in the early ‘90s, first learning to DJ at the age of 12. It was the rough and tumble sounds of breakbeat hardcore from the UK — early Reinforced Records and the like — which he first fell in love with, picking up imports at the record shops around his home in south-west Holland. He later discovered German producer Alec Empire via the Force Inc. label, and was drawn into digital hardcore and breakcore as they developed, putting out his first releases in ‘97 via his own Orange Socks label, which he also ran as a zine. “I was really into buying zines, trading zines, same as with the cassettes — tape trading,” says FFF. “That whole DIY thing.”
The next logical step was promotion; from putting on little events in his local youth centre — “which no one showed up to,” he says with a laugh — to squat parties, and eventually the Breakcore A Go-Go raves he organised in Rotterdam with Bong-Ra in the early noughties. “Around Europe were all these events happening and people were just all visiting each other’s parties, like I went to France and to Berlin just to visit a breakcore party ‘cause there weren’t that many parties around. It was a good time,” he recalls. With gabber the dominant sound in the Netherlands, this DIY approach was a necessity. “Even when I played squat parties people would come up to me like ‘Come on, play some 4/4’.”
FFF continued to be a key name in breakcore, releasing on the likes of Murder Channel Records, PRSPCT RVLT and Planet Mu; but around 2015 things changed. “I was getting a bit bored with the really fast breakcore stuff, and the breakcore scene as a whole,” says FFF. For him, breakcore encompassed everything from the jungle/ raggacore sound right through to the industrial tones of Welsh duo Somatic Responses, but over time the term breakcore had become used to describe a much narrower sound. “It became a lot of tutorials and sample packs. The first artists, they were listening to reggae and hip-hop and you could hear all these influences in it, but now it feels like everyone is just listening to Venetian Snares and trying to copy that. There is still some good stuff happening, but I don’t feel the same enthusiasm as I did in the ‘90s or early 2000s.”
FFF slowed the pace and upped the musicality, pivoting back to jungle and breakbeat hardcore — focusing “more on melody, instead of just distortion”. He began to release music through fellow Dutchman Coco Bryce’s Myor Massiv imprint and the associated Diamond Life, UK-based hardcore and jungle label 7th Storey Projects, and Red Eye Records-related outlet Fresh 86. He also contributed a track to the first V/A release on Cat In The Bag, the new label of another Dutch guy, Tommy The Cat, who FFF knew, along with Coco Bryce, from playing squat parties back in the ‘90s.
He’s now become re-enthused, and super-prolific once again. Already in 2020 he’s dropped an EP for 7th Storey and a split with Coco Bryce, and over the next few months has prepped a dub-infused two-tracker for Foxy Jangle (out 10th April) and another tune for Cat In The Bag. FFF will also realise his long-term dream of running a vinyl label, launching his new 3AM Eternal outlet via a three-tracker of thumping hardcore and psychedelic jungle from himself on 8th May.
“I think everyone is upping their game constantly cos there’s so many good records coming out,” he says of the modern jungle scene that now surrounds him. “It’s so inspiring.”
Check out FFF's Fresh Kicks mix below.
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