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:: Spotlight :: Interview with Anu Pillai (Freeform Five)

By: Joseph Crofts

Freeform Five has slowly emerged onto the dance charts over the past few years with single releases and remixes, and late last year released its first solo album, ‘Strangest Things’, to critical acclaim.

Anu Pillai, the mastermind behind the eclectic outfit, who mesh electroclash, disco and indie beats into positively danceable tunes, is in a particularly jovial mood especially considering he’s doing early morning interviews with the Australian press from his home in London.

Anu is heading out here in April to DJ a solo set at the Digital Electronic Day Music Festival at Atlantic South Wharf in Melbourne on Anzac Day and I asked him about his first trip to Australia.

“Well I’m coming on my own… because it’s just not cost-effective to bring the other three out at this stage. Hopefully if we get a few more CD sales we can tour again with a full band.”

Indeed the Australian scene has been slow to pick up the group who have had much more success on European dance floors. Their remix of Mylo’s ‘Muscle Car’ has had a considerable amount of airplay on Australian radio and the title track from the album has also been well received. A nightmarish film clip that seems at odds with the song’s sleazy feel and sexy lyrics accompanies it. A young lad is jumping suburban fences and seems to be running from something when he comes across a boxing ring in someone’s backyard. He is immediately and involuntarily brought into the ring and forced to go a few rounds with his mysterious opponents.

“With videos, the record company gives us a series of proposals and we pick the one we like best. Some of them are ridiculous…but we like the way this one created a new dimension to the song… Even with the songs I re-mix I like to bring a new perspective to them, you know, add guitars to a track that is purely electro, or a lyric to a track that has no vocal.”

Anu has remixed tracks by artists as varied as Elton John, Natalie Imbruglia and N*E*R*D and recently had the opportunity to remix a track from the new Brian Wilson album which he describes as a “terrifyingly exciting” experience.

“I couldn’t believe it when I heard word that he actually liked the version I’d done…and gave his permission for it to be released.”

Other collaborations have taken place with Vince Clarke of Erasure and Depeche Mode fame, Talking Head’s David Byrne, Jamaican heroes Bounty Killers, and burgeoning UK acts such as indie/dance crossover Grand National, and also Snow Patrol.

Clearly Pillai is addicted to music and his next project is to release an album of his own unique remixed interpretations of songs. “I really like it when music crosses genres…with Freeform Five I want the songs to provoke thought but still have that danceable quality, you know, still have something uplifting to them. Obviously when I’m DJing I know most audiences aren’t there to think, but with an album you have to provide that deeper level if you want it to be a record people will return to year after year.”

Anu Pillai will be playing in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane in late April. “Just look for a six foot four Indian and you’ll know you’ve found me,” he laughs.


Hardware is hosting the Digital Electronic Day Music Festival on Monday, April 25 at South Wharf. The promoters have brought in high profile internationals artists to headline the event. Music will be supplied by Slam (UK), Scratch Perverts (UK), Greenskeepers LIVE (USA), Kai Tracid (Ger), The Hacker LIVE (Fra), Nu NRG LIVE (Ita), James Curd (USA), David Caretta LIVE (Fra), Freeform Five (UK), Proteus (Finland) and Anne Savage (UK).

Ticket price is $59 + booking fee. Tickets are available at all the usual outlets and through Hardware and Ticketek

Doors open at 10am and won’t be closing until late.