The Free Design were a Delevan, New York-based vocal group playing jazzy pop music. The members were all siblings of the Dedrick family: Chris Dedrick (who wrote most of the songs), sister Sandy Dedrick and brother Bruce Dedrick were the original lineup. Younger sister Ellen Dedrick joined the group later, as did cousin Jeff Dedrick for a brief time, and youngest sister Stefanie joined near the end of their initial career. Their father, Art Dedrick, was a trombonist and music arranger. Their un...
The Free Design were a Delevan, New York-based vocal group playing jazzy pop music.
The members were all siblings of the Dedrick family: Chris Dedrick (who wrote most of the songs), sister Sandy Dedrick and brother Bruce Dedrick were the original lineup. Younger sister Ellen Dedrick joined the group later, as did cousin Jeff Dedrick for a brief time, and youngest sister Stefanie joined near the end of their initial career. Their father, Art Dedrick, was a trombonist and music arranger. Their uncle, Rusty Dedrick, was a jazz trumpeter with Claude Thornhill and Red Norvo. They formed the band while living in New York City. Chris has said the group was influenced by vocal groups like The Hi-Los (who performed in Greenwich Village frequently at the time) along with Peter, Paul and Mary and the counterpoint experiments of Benjamin Britten. Their trademark sound involved complex harmonies, jazz-like chord progressions, and off-beat time signatures; all products of Chris's classical training.
The band released six albums from 1967 to 1972, all on Enoch Light's Project 3 label. For the most part, they were accompanied on the albums by studio musicians.
Revival of interest
During their career, The Free Design never gained the commercial success they, and a small fan-base, felt they deserved; a plight they noted in their 1969 song "2002 - A Hit Song", in which they describe how to create a hit, then continue, "there's just one fact that we can't quite shirk/ we did all this last time, but it did not work." They remained in obscurity after disbanding in 1972. Starting in the mid-90's, however, interest in them began to grow as part of a general resurge of interest in easy listening music from the 60's and 70's. In 1994, Japanese musician Cornelius began the revival by re-issuing the Free Design catalog on his "Trattoria" label. In 1997, the band Tomorrow's World covered their song "Kites Are Fun", and in 1998, the Spanish "Siesta" label put out four compilation albums of their music. Stereolab, whose lounge-inspired music clearly showed a Free Design influence, named a 1999 single "The Free Design" (though the song itself had no direct connection to the band). The Free Design song "Bubbles" was covered by Dressy Bessy on the 2000 Powerpuff Girls soundtrack.
Perhaps inspired by this newfound interest, in 2000 the band re-grouped, after a nearly 30-year retirement, to record the song "Endless Harmony" on the Beach Boys tribute album Caroline Now. This experience convinced them to record a new full-length album, 2001's Cosmic Peekaboo, which featured the original lineup minus Ellen Dedrick.
In 2001 the label Cherry Red released a Best of Free Design compilation. Their song "I Found Love" was included on the 2002 Gilmore Girls soundtrack. Another song, 'Love You' featured over the end credits to the Emma Thompson and Will Ferrell film, 'Stranger Than Fiction' in 2006. From 2002 to 2005, the original albums were reissued in the United States by the Light in the Attic label. In 2005, the label put out The Now Sound Redesigned, an album of Free Design remixes from established acts like Stereolab, Super Furry Animals and Peanut Butter Wolf.
The recognizable sound of this influential band can be felt in modern-day acts such as Stereolab, Cornelius, The Pizzicato Five, Beck, The High Llamas, and many others.
Chris Dedrick is now an established film composer, most notably for his Genie-awarded soundtrack for Guy Maddin's "The Saddest Music In The World." Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply.