- Words Liam Cattermole
As Fredwave steps further into the spotlight, we spoke to the producer-vocalist about making music through feeling, breaking self-set boundaries and wanting to start directing.
Fredwave’s impact on England’s contemporary music landscape is undeniable. After building a cult following through a slew of SoundCloud single releases, the all-rounder broke into mainstream conscience with a COLORS BERLIN performance of “99”. Sultry and soulful, the track introduced his butter-smooth vocals to the world and had blogs scrambling to find out more about the man behind the microphone. ‘Failure’, a five-song EP exploring the struggles of an artist at the beginning of their career, followed. Countless singles and features on esteemed projects surfaced at the turn of the decade, and yet you still feel like Fredwave is just getting started.
Released last month, “LA LA”, the North Londoner’s latest single, is his favourite to date. A melodic love song filled with pace and verve, the track shows a willingness to test his songwriting abilities over a multiplicity of sounds. Alongside languid keys and a skippy instrumental, the wordsmith crafts a feeling of self-destructiveness, as he lyrically clings on to a relationship that’s turned sour. This descent carries on for three minutes, leaving listeners with a feeling of precarious, unbeknownst of where he’ll take himself next.
Armed with an imaginative musical palette, Fredwave’s worked alongside some of the world’s most influential fashion brands. Last year, he scored a La Haine-inspired video for British streetwear stalwarts Corteiz. Working with Louis Vuitton, A-Cold-Wall* and The V&A Museum is a handful of accolades he can equally account for. Fredwave’s also earnt his flowers as an expert feature artist, providing beats and bars for Jeshi’s exhilarating album ‘Universal Credit’, KAM-BU’s electronic-tinged EP ‘Built 2 Last’ and Harve’s delicate debut project ‘Held by the Moon’. Such unrivalled versatility comes naturally to him, as he continues his endless pursuit of musical perfection.
With Fredwave stepping further into the spotlight, we spoke to the producer-vocalist about making music through feeling, breaking through your own boundaries and what’s to come next.
I love how you’ve made a drum and bass instrumental feel so cinematic on “LA LA”. Can you tell us a bit about how this one came about?
Thank you. This song funnily started when I sampled Mac Demarco’s “One More Love Song”. I then made a quick top-line at 4 AM one night, which you can listen to here: https://on.soundcloud.com/9V2ED
It stayed on my laptop for ages because I didn’t know if it was worth finishing. Eventually one of my new beat ideas, “LA LA” as we know it, fit the lyrics and melody, so it helped everything come together and make sense of it.
As for the genre, I didn’t intend for it to be DnB, nor do I believe it is a DnB song. I make what I feel like. I get that people want to identify things and draw comparisons, but I think it’s just a fast love song which has a few elements of many different genres, not just one.
It’s been 6 years since you performed “99” on COLORS BERLIN. When you reflect on your music back then, compared to now, has your process changed at all?
My process has most definitely changed. I used to work with a guy called Ben and he’d help to bring what was in my head to life. One day we stopped working, after I released my first EP, and reality hit hard. I had no choice but to become self-sufficient.
I loved my music back then because it was raw and straight to the point, it can’t be replicated because all that music was birthed through trial and error. Right now, I’m technically better at my craft but I’m still not perfect; I never will be. That’s never going to change, I will always push myself to be a better man than I was yesterday and that’s what makes what I do exciting.
There’s a distinctive sound to the music that you’re currently producing. What do you envision or visualise when making music? And is there anything beyond music inspiring you?
After all these years, I’ve crafted my own sound but that’s mainly because of my ear and the plugins I’ve used since I was a kid. Right now I’m trying to make my songs undeniable, so anything that’s an innate feeling I try to capture. If it sounds good to me instinctively, then it must sound good to other people.
I usually get inspiration both visually and mentally, through films, books, art, life and just this crazy world we live in.
Your productions have always felt inherently influenced by UK club culture. What about dance music makes it so referenceable for artists like yourself, who don’t necessarily confine to one sound?
Grime was the first scene I got in to, which comes from many other subgenres. Growing up, my older siblings loved to dance, so all the CD’s given out after raves got played all the time. Subconsciously, there are many places I can draw from and naturally, it’s an influence because that’s all I knew. I was raised with this sound.
You were at Glastonbury last year performing with KAM-BU, who you’ve collaborated with countless times. What are your Glasto Do’s and Don’ts?
Glasto is very fun. I’d recommend buying Berocca, wet wipes and gum, not forgetting to sleep but also letting your hair down. I’m not anyone to tell someone not to do something, but what I would say is know yourself!
Do you have any plans for solo dates soon? From seeing you perform it seems like something you get a lot of enjoyment from…
Performing is a tricky one for me because I used to hate it and I’m still working out if I like it or not. I go into autopilot while on stage and I’ve learned to love it nowadays. Whatever happens on the night, at least I got up there and put on a show. My next gig is a headline for my new project, which releases in August. Come down! It’ll be with a full band and a great line up. Let’s have some fun together.
Another artist you’ve worked closely with is Jeshi, who released an amazing debut album last year. When did your friendship start, and do you have any anecdotes from the studio when that record was being produced?
We met through a mutual friend, Casso, in 2015.
Not really, but while making “Another Cigarette” one of the producers bought his boy lucky charms for no reason on a 2AM shop run, that was kind of amusing.
As well as producing for other artists, you regularly score adverts for luxury and streetwear brands, including Louis Vuitton and Corteiz. How does having your work valued by such high-profile labels feel?
I mean, actually getting paid for my music is always going to feel great and I’ve always been interested in fashion, so being able to score for some of my favourite brands is a dream come true.
It’s been five years since we last had a Fredwave project. Now that “La La” is out, can we expect another solo release anytime soon?
Maybe in August…
And beyond the music, what’s next for Fredwave? Is there anything else you’d like to achieve in 2023?
I want to start directing. I’ve always had a good eye for things, so yeah, this is my next challenge in life.