- Words Niall Rowley
London-based producer Fred again… speaks with Notion about the reflecting on his personal relationships through his music and optimism for the future.
A rising talent from London, Fred again… draws upon his reality and expresses it through music. His cross-genre collaborative works have a deeply personal touch, and his solo work reads like a journal.
His latest track “Marea”, featuring unscripted dialogue from his good friend, dance-music peer and “rave shaman”, The Blessed Madonna, is a euphoric electro number drenched in an aura of hope and optimism for the music scene at large and boasts an inspiring outlook of the future. “If I can live through this next six months/ Day by day/ If I can live through this/ What comes next/ Will be/ Marvellous” The Blessed Madonna promises in the joyous crescendo towards the song’s end.
Fred’s approach to sampling is like no other, drawing pieces from snapshot moments and recordings on his phone to capture raw moments of thought and emotion from the people in his life. The unique sincerity this adds to the music acts as a reflection on Fred’s outlook on life and approach to friendships.
Last year, the multi-genre spanning producer was able to draw ever-popular rapper Headie One out of his comfort zone with their collaborative project, ‘GANG’. Alongside Headie and Fred, the album hosts features from the likes of Jamie XX, Sampha and FKA Twigs, all affecting the record their own way.
Despite having already released music with an array of household names, it’s clear that Fred’s journey as an artist has a long and captivating road ahead of it. Now, he’s dropped a sensational album, created with long-term mentor, Brian Eno.
How are you? How’s your week been?
I’m bless! It’s been good. We’ve just been writing really, like, peacefully.
I actually feel hella grateful, because we’ve just been cycling to the studio through the fields that are a beautiful thing to see.
I was watching your Instagram live earlier this week and I love how you’re very down to earth on social media. There was also lots of viewer interaction.
Do you feel like social media has somewhat filled a void of the audience that you’d usually get at a show?
Yeah, to a degree. It can sort of be a little temporary surrogate role for it for sure.
Every time I do one of those Instagram lives it so inspires the songwriting, because you hear in the same way as when you play a tune live, you learn a lot about that song, what works, and what doesn’t.
Just feeling the energies of all these people in the chat or whatever, you learned so much about the music that you’re playing, and what works and what you actually truly like in your heart and what you’re actually you’re doing for the wrong reasons. So yeah, I’m actually going to get into the rhythm of doing that every week.
It’s definitely been a tough year for the dance music scene and the venues that uphold it.
Your Blessed Madonna collab track “Marea” echoes the pain of the scene, but mostly carries a true sense of hope for the future.
Would you say you’re optimistic for the future of dance music?
Yeah, yes, I think I’m generally optimistic because I see very little reason not to be. I also think it’s the most positive thing to do. So, therefore, to me, it is, by default, the better tactic than the other one.
But I do genuinely feel very hopeful. Yeah, I think that things like this only lead to like more appreciation and more passion, and more excellence. Not to diminish the obvious, like, infinite amount of struggles that this time has led to people but I also feel like we, in a way are lucky to be living through a time that is so very clearly a chapter in the history books of how it will shape the larger state of psychology.
I think that’s a great way of looking at it! Throughout your discography, there’s an undeniable human element and a real-life story that runs through each track.
How important is it for you to have that personal touch on a song?
I think that probably the genesis of the idea came because I really wanted to get my life into the songs and try and create a sense of a diary, through all the samples of just like things on my phone. And I think it was probably partially inspired by the fact that I was too scared to sing on them as well, and so my way of singing on them would be to like, take the sample from my phone or my life.
In fact, just doing this record here in Norfolk with Brian Eno, he’s very much motivating me more to sing, so that they’re becoming more and more like duets between me and past tense me or me and someone else on my phone.
But yeah, I think it’s if it’s not, in answer most directly to your question, I think if it’s not personal, then I think it’s pointless In terms of all art.
You’ve crossed all sorts of genre barriers and worked with artists from Headie One to KFA Twigs, Jamie XX, Slowthai, the list goes on.
Do you have a process or any kind of formula when it comes to collaborating with artists?
No, not at all. And I think I think thank God that’s the case. Because if there was a better one, that would be a much more boring world, you know, if there was a formula that works across the board, that’d be a much more boring world to live in.
But in reality, the bulk of it is just based on human interaction. And every human interaction is different, every human is different. So I think 99% of making a song with someone is just being with someone, and finding the ways in which you two most happily coexist, and then hitting record.
I think it’s ultimately about the relationship and how you talk to each other and bond, and it’s super different from person to person.
So I don’t think there’s anything that would be constant. And I love that.
The Blessed Madonna’s vocals on “Marea” felt very raw and real. What’s your relationship like?
We are actually very good friends. And funnily enough, we would have talked like that.
We met, bizarrely in Palestine, it sounds like I’m making it up, but at a Banksy show, but I’ve never met Banksy. Such is his nature – he retreats even from his own retreats.
But she was there and we got along very well. And that was four or five years ago.
She’s very much an orator and an open book in a beautiful and soft and inspiring way. And so, there’s probably a whole album to be made out of Maria. I just was recording once.
You’re not shy when it comes to teasing new music and sharing your work-in-progress tracks with your fans. Can you give us any hints as to what we can expect next?
Loads, like putting out a lot of music now.
I think I’ve spent two or three years, and in other senses more like 10, 15 years, clearly focusing on this project. Now, I think I’m ready to really put a lot out.
I’ve got a lot more to do in terms of honing the emotional clarity on it, but I think I’m now ready to just really put stuff out.
I’m doing an album and that’s coming out in April [out now] that I finished earlier on. And then I’m hoping to do another one before the end of the year. I’m going to do this record with Brian. And lots of collaborative stuff on the side with Twigs and Headie. So yeah, a lot. A lot.