Fred again speaks to Zane Lowe about Actual Life 3, his relationship with Brian Eno, Ed Sheeran, Burna Boy and that Boiler Room set…

Ahead of the release of his new album ‘Actual Life 3’, Fred again joins Zane Lowe on Apple Music 1 for an extensive conversation about his musical craft and live performance. He tells Apple Music about being “enormously changed” by the outpouring of support from his fans, reflects on his blockbuster viral Boiler Room set, being mentored, and pushed creatively by Brian Eno, working with Ed Sheeran and Burna Boy, and channelling the human experience with his music. He also discusses the challenges of capturing electronic music live and blows Zane’s mind with a must-see spontaneous demo of how he creates in a live setting.

Fred again Tells Apple Music He’s Been “Enormously Changed” by the Outpouring of Support From Fans…

I’ve been enormously changed by all the messages I’ve read and seeing people at shows and the way people have kind of let the music in. It’s totally changed me and I’m immeasurably grateful for it. all I can say is, it’s just totally changed the way in which I make music, which is all I do. So, it changed my life. I’m just very, very grateful. And you can see it when you play shows.

On The Challenges of Capturing Electronic Music Live and Blows Zane’s Mind with a Live Demo…

Zane: So let’s talk about life, for a second because people really want to see you live. I think tickets are selling out in minutes now. So what is it for you?

Fred: Well, we spent a long time trying to hone the way we wanted to do it. The fundamental thing to me is having the big portrait screen that represents an iPhone that just shows all the bits from my phone and other people’s. So that’s to me… I play with Tony, but I also play with that. That is very much a part of the DNA of the music. And then on a musical thing, it was found… Because I’ll use this thing a lot for the studio as well, just because of the way it chops up samples. This is a machine, so it’s like an MPC but a modern one. So it’s a native instruments one, but it’s based on the old things Dylan used and stuff. Essentially it’s 16 drum pads. You can put anything on it. It’s so infinitely powerful. The thing that is so exciting about this to me is with electronic music, it’s often almost impossible to get it live. I by no means mastered this. There are guys who I follow, shout out to Justin Aswell, who I’ve learnt loads from. I’m really keen to try and make it so that this can be a way of making it… Because there’s some moments when we do this shit, it’s like, “Totally we can go totally live.”

On His Viral Boiler Room Set…

Boiler Room was for sure…was definitely…I was very helplessly present almost. That wasn’t an option. I was pretty nervous before that, yeah. I’ve been going to Boiler Room since I was a kid. It’s just quite chaotic because you’re there thinking …you know when you watch a Boiler Room, there’ll just be like some person. The way the camera is set up is so random. I always thought, well, when I do mine, I don’t know, something will happen and it will be my best friend here or my other mate here. But inevitably you’re just in a crowded club and everything’s chaos. Then they go, “All right. Your time for the set,” and you’re like, “But.” Then it was so rammed that all of my best friends couldn’t even get close anyway. So, I was like, “Bye, guys.” Then you’re looking at these people around you like, “All right. Well, so you’re all my crew for the next thing.” Then it naturally cross-pollinates and permeates into different humans. It was very, very present tense. I was forced right into the present tense.

On Being Mentored by Brian Eno and Pushed by Him To Take His Own Music More Seriously…

I was doing my own music, and then with no intention, I just ended up working with others… It just kind of is what naturally took place. And so then, but there was a slight feeling of, after a few years there was a feeling that there was something I needed to make that I wasn’t making. By beautiful serendipity or maybe something bigger than that, Brian messaged me at the same time saying like…he was like, “I’m cleaning my kitchen and I’ve left all of my iTunes on loop, and it keeps going to… Every time it goes to a song that I run into the room and I see it’s an old sketch of yours,” and it was very sweet of him to say that. So he was like, “You’ve got to go back to doing this now.” Yeah, it was like I was already at the cliff and then it was just like… The older I get, the luckier I realize I am to even be in the same time as him, let alone be great friends. Yeah. So we worked together since we were 16. I kind of started just trying to… Going to his singing group and trying to do everything I could to get in. But yeah, he’d been mentoring me since then. When I met him, the way in which his mind works, I don’t think a 16-year-old is primed to fully appreciate. I mean, that’s why I say I’m just increasingly, increasingly, increasingly grateful for his genius. But essentially I think, and I’ve said this to Brian, it’s meant entirely as a compliment. But I think, in one word, it’s because he’s a kid and in a way that is just so rare and so admirable, he’s retained just this childish, wide-eyed fascination with things.

On Working with Ed Sheeran…

We were very sort of twins from the beginning. We have a very similar tastes and upbringing in music. So it was very natural and effortless. And we both like to write quickly. And the thing I would say mostly from… it’s similar to Burna Boy actually. And it’s the instincts thing. He’s just instinct, instinct, instinct, instinct. Every time he is writing it’s just like,” Go, go, go, go, work it out later.” And sometimes there’ll be a little tweak you make later, but fundamentally the thing is born from instinct and then you can fine-tune the thing beyond that.

On Working with Burna Boy and Why He Loves Him…

I think probably the things that have affected me the most are the people I’ve been lucky enough to work with. Because that’s a human thing, it becomes so much more profoundly affecting, I think. I would say Burna Boy is, I just adore him. He’s just a fucking G, and sorry, can I swear? I love him. So, I first met him, God, I don’t know, seven years ago now, something. And he came into my studio randomly and his presence, he didn’t sort of, I mean he was very much already Burna Boy, but he wasn’t publicly known as what is Burna Boy. But my God. He already was. Yeah, the man is a dragon in a human form. Yeah, he’s just. He rolls in, he was wearing this bright silver polystyrene to-the-floor puffer jacket and these shades. And he was like, “What’s good?” And I was like, “Everything is good.”… but the way he writes is very inspiring to …he just becomes it, and the ideas just flow out for him. The only thing you have to do. Is hit record, and you really do have to make sure you hit record because he will just go and go and go. It’s so inspiring to me that level of, and he also knows himself so deeply that you can throw anything at him. That’s the people who I love working with the most, because when there’s that level of I know me, then actually they’re up for doing anything. It doesn’t mean they are entrenched in me; it means the opposite. It means they’re like, I know what I’m going to do me, so you bring whatever you bring and we’ll see what happens.

On Doing a House Swap with Skrillex and Spending Time in LA…

Actually, we’ve done a home swap at the moment so he’s staying at mine in London and I’m his in LA, and it’s kind of lovely, but it’s just nice having a place here that is homely-ish feeling. So, when I’m here I kind of have a base. It doesn’t feel like it’s a natural place for spontaneity. And being able to walk around and stuff like that. Which is what I love about London and… You get a sense of cars. You can’t dispute the creative impact of the city and the frequency of that energy is a powerful one. I think I’m getting to grips with it. There has been a real game… Having, as I say, somewhere that feels like… This is the home of one of my best friends, so it’s so much nicer than just being in some anonymous hotel in West Hollywood…

On Why He Films Everything on Night’s Out…

The reason why I’m the person who films everything on a night out is that when you are hungover the next morning it’s just nice to glaze through the memories and you kind of soften the blow. You’re like wiretapping yourself. When you get that lovely sort of elevated energy of a group of people when you all spend 10 hours together on a proper long night out, and by the end, you’re all kind of floating in the same ether. It’s a lovely thing. I’ve got some videos on my phone that I cherish, cherish for that reason.

On Channelling the Human Experience With His Music…

The feeling that I became really obsessed with was trying to take the very fleeting moments and trying to expose as much beauty as is in them. So you know how sometimes you see something in a normal thing and you see it in slow-mo? It’s like, “Oh wow,” there’s a whole new emotional framing for it. So I think I’m trying to… I became just very obsessed with the feeling that happens when you take something. I think that’s why the first guy I sampled was just so enamoured with it because it was that feeling, but I’d never been able to see a hummingbird in slo-mo before if you see what I mean. It’s like a diary to me. And so although I’m trying to slo-mo certain moments, it’s like that was always a very important part of it. Even though parts of the diary are from, some of its just nights out from my phone and conversations, as you say, and some of its other people dotted around the whole world. It does. It’s so linked to a time and a place to me in a way that I’ve, from the first one, yeah, I felt really… It was just what I instinctively… The whole kind of framing of every song, like how it’s named and the structure of it all, is just what happened as I was making the music because it’s what you would instinctively do because it was like, “Okay, I’m sampling this person called Clara, I’ll name the song Clara, and the date is this, and I finished the record on this date.” So I just was keen to show the diary aspect of it, I guess, as much as I could because it is, yeah, really personal.

Listen back to this show and others HERE.


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About the Author

Director and DJ, Ian French (Naif) is passionate about many genres of music from Breakbeat and Drum & Bass to Techno and Electronica. A man that lives in a world of bass and beats, Ian is an obsessive collector of music and a true geek at heart, with many years spent in application design.