'Leaps and Beats of The Frog!'
The Scumfrog’s impact on the global dance music scene is undeniable. Since 2002, he has scored eight number one club hits in the US and UK. Whether he is on tour in the US, Asia, South America, or Europe, his extraordinary performances continue to draw bigger crowds each month.
After his award winning streak of productions and remixes for artists like David Bowie, Britney Spears, Missy Elliott, and Annie Lennox on virtually every major record label, The Scumfrog (aka Jesse Houk) recorded his first artist album in 2004, entitled “Simmer”, on which he proved to be not merely a talented producer, but also a skilled songwriter, musician, and vocalist.
The next year, Chevrolet picked the single “Music Revolution” from the album to be the music for their ongoing HHR campaign ads in the US, Canada and Latin America.
In 2006 The Scumfrog teams up with Beatport.com to unleash his first single in over a year, Beat As One, in a special songwriting competition where anyone can take a swing at writing lyrics for the track.
In 2003 he founded his record label Effin Records –- a collaboration with industry heavyweight Steve Rosen -- as a platform for his own productions, and the label quickly grew into a prestigious name for House Music lovers throughout the world and showcases dance floor anthems by Cevin Fisher, Carl Kennedy, and Static Revenger.
As a performer, The Scumfrog knows how to put on a show. His widely publicized and much talked about live performances are not limited to mixing records. They include his live vocals, percussion, samples, and occasional guest performances. His colorful live sets and consistently innovative productions continue to land him on magazine covers around the world, and he is becoming a regular guest on many high profile Dance-Radio and TV shows. During the Miami WMC in 2006, he launched the first ever all-star-DJ live band “DJs Are Alive”, performing two stellar shows and creating a widespread buzz in clubland (www.djsarealive.com)
Jesse moved from his native Amsterdam to New York in 1997, where he recorded the first Scumfrog single, "The Watersong." In 2001, "We Love You" (a cover of the Rolling Stones 60's classic) became the first Scumfrog number one Club hit in the UK, and ever since, he’s been a familiar face behind turntables around the globe. In May 2003 he did his first Essential Mix on BBC’s Radio 1.
The Scumfrog’s website (www.TheScumfrog.com) continues to grow and give away free music. Beside a complete discography with audio samples, a diary, tour dates and an insightful autobiography, it raises the bar for artist websites by giving away club tracks for free download. Also check out The Scumfrog on MySpace (www.myspace.com/thescumfrogscoop).
2006 will see this 6-foot-4 entertainer roam the world in all directions to spread beats, basslines and booty-shakin’ rhythms. Experience The Scumfrog energy in your city!
Tell us about your early years growing up in Amsterdam and how you found your passion for music? "Growing up, my mother encouraged me to play as many musical instruments as possible. I loved playing guitar and started taking lessons pretty young. In the mid 80s, in high school, I started DJing as a way to get invited to the cool parties. DJing was definitely not a cool thing to do back then but I loved it. In '88 I went to my first warehouse party and saw the power of Acid House and the concept of the DJ as the epicenter of the party instead as the hunchback geek in the corner. I was instantly hooked, quit my bands and started to focus on DJing exclusively; both on radio and at parties."
What was the deciding factor that led you to want to become a DJ/Song-Mixer and leaving an indelible mark?"
"I don't know if there was any one deciding factor. I knew I needed to be in music because i was decent at making it, so I took every opportunity that crossed mypath in that department, just to avoid the doomsday question of what I needed to do were I to fail in the music business. I've been very lucky that I found a way to stay afloat in this business and remain my independence in the process. My greatest accomplishment is that I created some kind of career for myself that pays the rent, without owing anyone 8 more albums, or having to answer to ever changing A&R opinions."
If you can elaborate, please tell us more about your first album, "Simmer" as it wonderfully displayed your talents as a songwriter, producer and vocalist "Well thank you! I loved the process of making it, and doing it on my own label. It was both exciting and scary to make an entire album with original material without any direction from anyone because it made me responsible both for its success and its failure. In hindsight it may have been a little premature to go from remixer to recording artist in such a short time because, at Simmer's release, my audience was largely comprised of other DJs who were waiting for an album that would make them look good at their gigs. Instead I made an album that was all about me, which severely limited my audience. Then again, every time someone tells me they love that album, I get this feeling that they really know me and what I'm about, which is an amazing feeling."
Why and what did it take for you to form Effin Records? "I started Effin with my manager Steve Rosen (former Strictly Rhythm GM, co founder of MAW Records), hardly because we thought it time to start a label, but mainly because we needed a platform to release the records we had licensed to overseas labels, domestically. "Music Revolution" came out on Positiva/EMI in Europe, and "My Time" with Crystal Waters on Sony. We figured that, with the help of their hype machines, we only needed someone to actually make those records available in the U.S. so why not do that ourselves? There is still no NEED to release records on Effin. We use the label to release records that we really love and that have no home."
What feelings coursed through you when Chevrolet picked up your song "Music Revolution" for their marketing in North America and in Latin America? "I never won the lottery, but I imagine that's what it feels like. That deal was completely unsollicited and totally fell into our lap."
What can we expect from the upcoming album, Mega Scum!? "In stark contrast to Simmer, it is a real DJ album. It is a complete reflection of what you can expect from a peaktime Scumfrog set in a club. Made to give you that "let's go out tonight" feeling. Even though the album has plenty of original material, it is a true DJ set, with plenty of producers and artists represented that I admire."
How did you coin your moniker, The Scumfrog? "I was sexually abused by Bo Derek when I was 3 years old. My dad didn't take action simply because he was jealous of me and started calling me Scumfrog. My child psychiatrist told me that, in order to get rid of my trauma, I needed to embrace the nickname and take it out of its context by making it my own. A year later, my psychiatrist killed himself."
Er, OK ... having watched your new video clip, I'm wondering if you have a certain creative reign over the visual imagery in your shows? "So far no; simply because I never found the time to develop a real "look" for my shows other than my outfits. So all the imagery you may be referring to at my shows is from the visual geniuses that run those shows. Sometimes they give me a copy of what they did that night to take home. It's really fascinating stuff. On a related note though, I have to give props to my web designer Sumo at Loudbaby.com who is my partner at my new SecondLife venture (www.secondlife.com). I recently became a property owner in SecondLife and we're opening a great club soon, called Glam Scum! All the information will be on my MySpace page soon (www.myspace.com/thescumfrog)."
You recently re-vamped a Paris Hilton single over the summer, but what was the overall response to it? "Pretty good overall, even though some DJs later confessed to me that they probably would not have played it all over the world, had they known it was Paris Hilton doing the vocals. When I first sent it out to my DJ friends, I did not exactly disclose that tiny detail. At the end of the day though, it seems to have benefit all of us, including Paris, who is now dying to meet me!"
Your website allows people to download clips, a lot of clips, so what
reaction has this had from the public - and is there any downside to them doing such a thing on aregular basis, perhaps? "I strongly believe that giving away music has helped my particular career, rather than hurting it. Especially now that there is so little money to be made from actual record sales anymore, it can be a great PR move to give a track away for free."
When will you tour in support of this new album? "I never stop touring. After the release date it will be called the "Mega Scum tour" with posters and CD giveaways etc, until someone in the audience screams "This shit is OLD!", and then I'll have to come up with a new excuse for why I'm always on the road."
If you could re-cover, in your own style, any (cheesy) '70's or '80s pop song (that you haven't yet and may have been told you can't due to the rights, etc.) which would it be ... and why?! "I don't think there are any legal restrictions on covering a song. Sampling may be a bitch, but a cover is fairly easy as long as the original writers get credited. I would love to cover "Come Together" by The Beatles. I started it a few years ago together with Lucy Woodward, but never finished it. I need to do that. Thanks for reminding me!"
Exclusive Magazine like Penguins, do you?! "Very much so, jolly little creatures!"
Thanx again for doing this for us today,and we wish you all the best for the future. "My pleasure."
Interviewed by Russell A. Trunk
If you would like to win an AUTOGRAPHED copy of The Scum Frog's new CD, just answer this simple question: The Scumfrog has just finished his new single, "Secret" which also features which female singer?!
Send me your answers and if you're correct you'll be in the running to win one of these great AUTOGRAPHED CDs! Just send us an e:mail here before December 15th with your answer and the subject title 'CONTEST: SCUM FRONG SIGNED CDs' to: email@example.com
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