Profile for Joshua Fried

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Joshua Fried is the musician who threw tape-loops on the floor at CBGBs, put headphones on some of Downtown NYC's most mercurial stars of the 1990s and 2000s, collaborated with pop stars They Might Be Giants, and now sometimes performs on steering wheel and shoes. In the 1980s he signed to Atlantic Records as a dance music artist. In the 1990s he became the youngest composer discussed in Schirmer's American Music in the 20th Century.

The 80s East Village club and performance scene embraced Fried's early solo work. He opened for The Beastie Boys and RuPaul among others at the storied Pyramid club, where he was also employed as a sound engineer*. Fried's improvisational shows, rooted in the principles of dub reggae, also came to Danceteria, Mudd Club, Palladium, Dixon Place, King Tut's Wah-Wah Hut, La MaMa, 8BC, Club 57, Limelight, The Kitchen and elsewhere.

Joe Mardin, son of the late legendary producer Arif Mardin (Aretha Franklin, Norah Jones, The Bee Gees, Bette Midler, Scritti Politti, more) discovered Fried when Fried opened for Madonna at a benefit concert. Fried became the elder Mardin's "pet project" (Billboard, February 7, 1987). With the Mardin team, Fried released the 12" EP, "Jimmy Because (My Name Is)" on Atlantic Records and contributed to records by Chaka Khan and Ofra Haza. Remix and production work for They Might Be Giants, B-Beat Girls, David First and others followed.

In the 90s Fried turned from clubs to concert halls, and developed headphone-driven performance, whereby performers try to imitate vocal sounds that are played over headphones. After an eight-minute excerpt of the headphone-driven piece "Travelogue" (dubbed "a downtown classic...a mind-blowing, Hitchcockian theater piece" by the Village Voice and "a tour de force" by The New York Times) was performed at the Bang on a Can Festival, the Bang on a Can All-Stars approached Fried about performing similar material. Soon more groups came knocking. This lead to performances at Lincoln Center, The Kitchen, the Venice Biennale and in Jerusalem, Minneapolis, Amsterdam and elsewhere. His collaborations with Iris Rose, James Siena and the performance collective Watchface were presented at The Bottom Line, Dance Theater Workshop and other venues across the country and inspired Fried's later headphone-driven work.

Around the end of the 90s Fried returned to solo performing with his current and longest-running project to date, RADIO WONDERLAND.

In RADIO WONDERLAND, Fried drums on old shoes and plays an actual steering wheel to control live processing of live radio. Each gig begins with the ritual of Fried entering through the crowd, carrying a boombox playing FM broadcasts. He plugs it into his rig and starts slicing, looping and transposing bits of radio he selects on the spot. Fried builds grooves, piece by piece, out of recognizable bits of radio. Nobody knows what's coming, so the whole room is electric. RADIO WONDERLAND's controllers are manifestly clear: the wheel is simply a giant knob, the shoes surreal drum pads which trigger bits of live or processed radio.

More than once, the TSA (U.S. Transportation Safety Administration) has stopped Fried at airport security for carrying electric shoes. From 2007 to 2013 RADIO WONDERLAND performed at Joe's Pub, BAM Cafe, The Stone, (le) Poisson Rouge, Galapagos and other NYC venues, as well as in Cleveland, Atlanta, Miami, Boston, San Diego, Minneapolis, Montreal, St. Johns (in Newfoundland), Venice, Milan, and other cities.

RADIO WONDERLAND has its own radio show. Hosted by radio art non-profit Wave Farm, it might be the longest-running weekly radio show ever devoted to a single artist performing new original work. Broadcasts continue, Saturdays 10:30-11:00am New York time (afternoons in Europe, late night in Asia, etc.) at, and over the airwaves on WGXC 90.7FM in NY State's Upper Hudson Valley.

In 2014 after an intense, highly successful crowdfunding campaign, Fried worked out methods to distill concert recordings into five-to-ten minute tracks, and set out to create RADIO WONDERLAND's debut album, SEIZE THE MEANS.

On SEIZE THE MEANS, each track is made of 100% live radio grabbed during a live RADIO WONDERLAND show. To represent RADIO WONDERLAND Fried reviewed its entire concert archive, choosing the grooviest shows from over 250 hours of music. Tracks may recall microhouse, techno, tech house, dub, and IDM (otherwise known as miscellaneous), but the chance-based source material and the transparency of the processes set them apart. At any moment, percussion might morph into a voice, or vice-versa; a groove might stop short for a snippet of a commercial; a loop might contract into a waveform then expand back.

"SEIZE THE MEANS" by RADIO WONDERLAND will be released worldwide on September 30, 2016, by Chile/Denmark-based label clang. Formats are vinyl, USB stick, and all major digital platforms.

Compositions by RADIO WONDERLAND
with engineer Marcelo Anez (Los Amigos Invisibles, Shakira, Ricky Martin)

Mastered by Scott Hull at Masterdisk

Instrumentation: boombox, shoes, steering wheel, laptop, electronics.
Cover artwork by Paul Dignan and Joshua Fried
Design by Kurt Hoffman

*Fried's personal recollections from the backstage and tech room at Pyramid are in a secure archive to be unsealed upon his death or the Singularity, whichever comes first.


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