In Conversation With:
British singer-songwriter and producer, Fredwave has been a force in London’s music scene, weaving together an eclectic array of influences and constantly captivating his listeners. He was drawn to UK rap and Grime growing up, but it wasn’t until his debut single “Faith” that he unveiled a soundscape on his own, embarking on a new journey of self-discovery as a vocalist. As he prepares to release his forthcoming album, he talks about his deeply personal connection to music which allows him to express emotions without words, taking listeners on a profound journey through his life experiences. With a devoted following built through evocative singles and notable collaborations, Fredwave's impact on England's contemporary music landscape is undeniable, leaving us with the sense that he is only just scratching the surface of his true potential.
How did the transition from producer to singer/rapper happen?
They both started at the same time. When I was younger, I had the demo of FL Studio, so even before I wrote my first lyric, I had a beat I was sending around school. It was a tune called Mario Riddim. It had a sample that was hitting one of the blocks, so I made that into a grime tune. I was sending that around to people in my class. But I didn’t take music seriously until I got kicked out of school. Then I moved to Barbados for a year, I had no internet, and everything was just trial and error. A lot of my first beats were coming together and I was like “Ah this is really an instrumental now.” I stopped for a few years and then came back to it around 2013. That whole summer I really wanted to make music properly. I wanted to break into music somehow, but I didn’t know if it would happen by rapping because I wasn’t rapping on my own beats at the time. One day I started talk-singing on a track which was when I first started singing as well. Then literally both happened. I was never vocal on my beats up until I made my first tune as Fredwave. It might seem like I was just a producer before I was an artist because I’ve never really had a long run. I’ve always been sporadic and spontaneous when I’ve been dropping tunes. No one can really say I’m a this or that.
Where do you draw inspiration from outside of musical references?
Mainly just real life. Growing up, there were times where I felt like I genuinely had nothing and I couldn’t really talk to people. Even now, I still find it difficult to communicate with people and really express how I feel, and music became an outlet for me. As a kid, I always thought, “Oh this can’t be it.” Before I ever made a tune, I had visions of being up on stages and shit. But yeah, I think that was the main inspiration, I wanted to do more with my life. I dropped out of college and got fired from every job I ever had, so just thinking about reality and the bills I’ve got to pay, that was enough inspiration for me to get up and just try making music. I didn’t want to be on the wrong road and where I’m from, there’s a lot of talented people and everywhere I look there’s talent, but I don’t know man… It’s so easy to get led down the wrong path and get led astray. I always knew that wasn’t for me, so I was like “Fuck it,” I might as well do this. But visually, I’m inspired by movies and all the other cliche shit too (laughs).
How would you describe your creative process?
As of late, with everything I create I aim to capture the innate feeling. So, if I hear something and it doesn’t come to me right away, I don’t force things, especially ideas. The brain is like a sieve, It’s not made to hold onto things. When a lyric or a line or a title for a name comes to mind, I write it down straight away. I just let things unfold as they come.
You’ve discussed wanting to tap into other creative outlets. If Fredwave were to direct a music video, what would that look like?
Well, the one thing to remember as a creative is there is no such thing as a brand-new idea. The whole idea is to reference what you already know. I had that approach even when I made my first couple of songs. I wanted to make something that sounded like Dizzee’s Boy in da Corner and James Blake’s project. It helped me to have those reference points and learn how to push two things I like together. When it comes to exploring other creative avenues, I think I have an eye for aesthetics, but I also know that I would need a lot of help and I want to make sure I can put my all into it. I don't want to do anything half-heartedly and a lot of these industries are so saturated already and I know I need to put in that groundwork, and I haven't put in that 10,000 hours in those fields yet.
“The brain is like a sieve, It’s not made to hold onto things. When a lyric or a line or a title for a name comes to mind, I write it down straight away. I just let things unfold as they come.”
What's it like dealing with the unexpected emotions and setbacks that come with releasing a project?
I think especially in situations where you might be dealing with rejection, it matters what kind of self-talk you have and what you say to yourself. I put my whole life into my first project, and what made it even worse was that people were listening and cared. If no one was listening, it would’ve been easier for me to be like “Alright fuck this off, I’m done mate.” You’re building a fan base and it’s so close you can literally see it, but sometimes shit doesn’t pan out the way you would’ve hoped. I’m a strong person so I knew when the feedback from my first project wasn’t at the level that I anticipated, the situation and the feelings would pass. But that’s the thing with feelings like depression, I knew I shouldn’t be feeling those emotions because I’m blessed, but you can’t help it when it comes about. There’s definitely a lot of ups and downs.
After COLORS and my EP, there were also a lot of other things related to me being mismanaged. But I’m never going to blame other people for shit that goes on in my life. I take accountability with that. I saw that shit wasn’t lining up and I was still leaving responsibility in people’s hands. I should’ve spoken up more and taken the lead and made stronger moves because I could see certain things happening myself. I remember the day the project dropped I wasn’t even happy. Everyone was asking me “How do you feel?” and I was like “Nothing,” because I could tell it wasn’t received well. There were no write ups, no PR. It was just quiet.
“But that’s the thing with feelings like depression, I knew I shouldn’t be feeling those emotions because I’m blessed, but you can’t help it when it comes about.”
Where did the name for your new EP Goodnight June come from?
Firstly, I’m born in June, I’m the local Gemini. I also resonate with things having meaning and being symbolic. I have a nightingale tatted on me because it’s a bird that sings and I grew up on Nightingale Road. For Goodnight June, lots of shit that meant something to me was circulating. Around that time, it sounded nice, it rolled off the tongue. I was rolling with a bunch of other names, and I did a club night and I called the EP Goodnight June, and it stuck. It was either going to be that, Nowhere Fast, or Flinch. But I want make that last one more of a concept album. Bro, I’ve got ideas I’ve just been holding on to for years.
What is the importance of collaboration?
I never used to collaborate with people that much. When I first started making music and going to studios, I was nervous. I hated the sound of my voice. But I just kept trying. In 2021, I was like “Fuck it,” I’m just going to work with every single person that I’m cool with that I said I was going to work with. I was in the studio with a lot of people that year and now I can sit down in the studio anywhere in the world with people that I don’t really know and get down to business and tap into that side of me that I thought I could only get to when I was by myself. But the process all differs. There are some people I work with, and the tunes come naturally. Sometimes you really have to work at it. Being collaborative, I just let people have their own creative freedom and I trust that. I let them trust their ideas too. Just having a friend you trust tell you how it is is so important. Sometimes the sessions come up and we don’t actually end up doing anything and we just fuck around but then it’s like… (shrugs) you can’t be hard on yourself. Sometimes it clicks and sometimes it doesn't. One thing I’ve learnt is being intuitive. The best tunes I’ve wrote and songs I’ve produced or ideas I’ve done have just been quick, not thinking about shit and not putting pressure on anything.
Your music is very personal and part of your communication with yourself and others. How does it feel to hear criticism on music that is so personal? Can you separate your feelings with the criticism?
Yes and no. I do understand that as much as I make music for myself, it’s a business as well. I’m not going to fool myself and be like, “Oh shit ain’t working" or “People need to like this.” If I want to make a song for radio, I need to research what it means to put together a well-performing song for the radio. If I didn’t care about the craft, I would just be uploading songs to SoundCloud and posting the link once. Other people do that. They drop a tune and let it do its thing, but I’m still building my career right now. I want to be an artist that can sell out the O2, so if I’m going into these label meetings, I’ve got to know what they’re thinking. And they’re thinking about the money. They’re not dissecting my artistry, right? There is a dark side to the industry. People put their all into this industry and they love it, but the industry ruins it, and then what’s left? I see it happen so much. So, I’m protective over my shit, and I would never let someone from a label affect my work. But I also do understand how it is. Once you put yourself out there, it’s not yours anymore, it’s for everyone to interpret at that point.
“People put their all into this industry and they love it, but the industry ruins it, and then what’s left?”
You described your first project as being somewhere in between Boy in Da Corner and James Blake’s self-titled album. How did you make those two sounds work so cohesively?
It was easier than it sounds. Sonically they were very similar to me. Dizzee was very innovative at the time, and when James’s came out, I think grime was already in a dubstep place. I managed to get all his instrumentals and I was just sampling from Dizzee’s album. Then James, I was researching the sounds he uses. I was trying to capture the rawness of both of those projects, so I played with the attack of it and then I got myself something. But I didn’t really know what I was doing, and I didn’t think too deep when I was doing it. Even vocal production wise, I know there’s so much more I could’ve done, but at that time it was the best I could’ve done. I came out of the dark hole I was in after I released my first project. When I had to scrap my first initial project, then come up with something brand new, which is what it is now, Goodnight June, it was a lot of me letting shit go. I had to identify my flaws and realize that I can’t keep continuing. It was a lot of me being like I’ve got to work for it to work. So, pulling your socks up, sleeping it off, and moving on.
That’s why the last song is called Sleep? You just have to sleep it off.
Yeah, it’ll be better in the morning. That’s a good way to summarize it. It’ll all make sense in the morning. The next project is going to be even better. For my next project, I’m just thinking I need to fuck off to the South of France. I’ll get a whip, a house with a studio that’s 20 minutes from the shops, and just see what I come up with. If you like my music, you’re in for a treat.