The fREEX band has been in the forefront of a new, “Free Expression” style of music that is becoming a new genre. Just as Grunge sprung from a collective of spectacular Seattle bands in the early 90’s, great bands coming out of the San Francisco Bay Area right now are creating a sensation with new sounds with fREEX being the reigning champ of this new scene.
Originating from the East Bay section of the San Francisco Bay Area, fREEX blend post punk guitars over funk rhythms and melodic vocal harmonies able to “connect your soul with humanity.” fREEX music has the stated goal, and ability, to “release the X Factor inside us all.”
“Jeff” probably has a last name but no one in fREEX seems willing or able to give a straight answer.
While Jeff doesn’t speak much, he adds a powerful low end and soulful bass that has become a big part of the fREEX magical experience. His colorful contribution to the fREEX sound can encompass everything from speed metal, to R&B, to punk, to slap bass — sometimes all in the same song.
Jeff may be the quiet one by comparison but his humor, once you understand his subtlety, is quite funny. He has the classic dichotomy possessed by the world’s best artists; he is shy and quiet in person but onstage, Jeff is the one smashing instruments and yelling obscenities with a somewhat profane and profoundly hilarious delivery.
Jeff is an artist in addition to being a musician. His twisted paintings and drawings sell alongside CD’s and t-shirts at fREEX concerts. His distinctive, stripped down “always-in-black, always-in-a-beanie” style is as cool as it is distinctive. He is enigmatic in a way that almost bleeds cool.
Jeff possesses the ability to express himself with freedom in classic fREEX style. When asked how he got involved with music in the first place, he says that he found his love for music after “catching my parents doing it to KC and The Sunshine Band at the age of 5.” Jeff began playing bass at age 15, quit at 18, then started making films. He quit films at 20 then started playing bass again. Jeff found God, lost God, found God again and then lost him at the last Antioch county fair. Jeff deadpans that he lives in a big wooden shoe along with Santa, the Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny.
Jeff’s top musical influences include Pet Shop Boys, Jane’s Addiction, and GG Allin. He says that “fluffy kittens” have a big influence on him as well.
Jeff offers up a very colorful way to express how he interacts with the fREEX fans. “A fan once offered to shine my boots. He rubbed mayo all over himself then did the mashed potato.”
When it comes to listing reasons for his passion in music he says it is “simply because.” He does have other passions in life, including: filling out online profiles, Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter.
Jeff says that he really enjoys pre-ripped clothing because “I feel like I’m poor, even if I am not.” He lists his favorite TV show as “S.O.A. CLAY IN PAJAMA PANTS,” and he likes to watch people eat Tai food when he goes out with his girlfriend and … oh yeah, Jeff loves his bass guitar!
They call him “California.” California is a guitarist, songwriter, and vocalist for the group “fREEX.” He believes in focusing on mind, body, and spirit. His musical influence spans generations. He notes influences from Rock N’ Roll’s beginnings in the fifties, when he says “simplicity and wild, rebellious energy ruled the day,” referring specifically to Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly, and Elvis Presley. He is also influenced by Punk Rock, Grunge and Rap. Specifically, California’s passion was ignited with the political English bands such as The Clash and Sex Pistols and the Irish Stiff Little Fingers as well as U2. He adds, “Nirvana holds a huge influence over us because not only did they posses a great combination of crazy energy and great music but Kurt Cobain freed us all from men wearing makeup and spandex pants.”
Add to that, bands like the Beastie Boys, LL Cool J, Dead Kennedys, Circle Jerks, MDC, DOA, Earth, Wind, & Fire, Prince, Foo Fighters, Muse, Linkin Park, plus Foster The People and you get the impression that he has a wide and diverse love for music which he seamlessly incorporates into fREEX. California, who was raised in the East Bay (near San Francisco) says, “If you listen to fREEX music, there is always a funky beat underlying no matter what other chaos is going on.”
California believes that fREEX music, without exception, allows fans in the audience to open up and let emotions loose. “We see really insane behavior by people that were before the set uptight or self-conscious. fREEX usually play last because the club owners know people will stick around for our show. But when other bands do play after us, they’ll ride the same wave of kinetic love and freedom that our fREEX show has started. It’s really wonderful to see how fREEX music so visibly and tangibly impacts, not only the fans, but other bands as well.”
California is a pescetarian (eats only fish and fruits/veggies). He has a passion for surfing and has an intense love for enjoying life through exercise. California is seeking his 2nd degree Black Belt in Shotokan karate and when he is not on stage, in the studio or being active in some way, he is “Joseph,” an upstanding citizen with a thriving legal practice. One gets the impression that there are many layers to California who appears very open and friendly yet guarded and more than a little mysterious.
IVAN (“Vänü”) GANCHEV (Drums/Vocals):
Ivan (“Vänü”) Ganchev has a love for humanity and freedom. When he performs with “fREEX,” he says that his experience goes beyond just making music, “its more like we are giving our fans a way to explore their own “freedom of expression, a way to connect with each other and humanity.”
Ivan is forever connected to the hit TV show “American Idol” (Season 4) as one of their top auditions. Producers of the show tagged Ivan as the “next Freddy Mercury” and most of the judges showered him with praise for his strong performance of “We Are The Champions.” Simon, of course, was his typical, cranky self.
Ivan "Vänü" Ganchev
Ivan’s biggest influences in music derive from heavy rock bands with stand out vocal leaders such as Queen, Nirvana, Motley Crue, Guns N Roses, and Pantera. He also “fell in love” with the hard rock sound and the singing style of James Hetfield (Metallica) and Axl Rose (Guns N Roses). He also enjoys Prince and the Foo Fighters.
Ivan loves all of humanity. The music he creates with fREEX connects him to fans that are legend in demonstrating their enthusiasm for his drumming style. An experience at one performance in Concord, California at the Red Hat club was an eye opening experience for Ivan. He says, “we had young kids in their 20’s going absolutely crazy for us. They were digging the sound so much they just started to sing the words to our songs, instantly, on the spot, picking up the lyrics from choruses we only sang once or twice.” He found the experience of connecting so closely with fans to be “mesmerizing.” Ivan sums up the fan reaction as giving him personal joy. “I have never felt so special and appreciated musically as when I joined fREEX.”
Not afraid of hard work, Ivan pushes himself to achieve a lot in life including “achieving great musical success”. He says, “As a musician, having the courage to write a musical piece that inspires or changes someone’s life or my life, is what makes me tick. I get a feeling of ecstasy, a breakthrough kind of feeling, especially when I am composing a song with my band.”
Ivan’s greatest mentor in his life is his mother Neli. She escaped from communist Bulgaria at the risk of great peril to bring him to America when he was a child. He believes America to be “the greatest country in the world.” Ivan states that he feels very grateful because America has given him the opportunity to achieve so much.”
Ivan has favorite foods including Greek, Chinese, Italian, and Japanese. Ivan loves blue colors because, “I love water and swimming.” He is in a relationship with a beautiful blue-eyed girl named Annabelle. Ivan says, “she is perfect for me because I am very spiritual; we compliment each other in giving, loving ways which makes me very happy.” Ivan came up with the definition of fREEX, “fREEX means “release the X Factor inside us all.”