Fred V & Grafix Tell Us About Oxygen, Glastonbury And More
Posted by Ben on 29th June 2016
Needless to say, Fred V & Grafix have had an incredible 2016 so far. They’ve toured the world, been invited to do an Essential Mix and last week their second album, Oxygen, was released on Hospital Records. We wanted to see how the two Exeter lads were taking all of this, learn a little more about the excellent Oxygen and just see what was what, so we popped them some questions to try and find out more…
How’s it going guys? I imagine you’ve been busy recently?
Hello, Fred here! We’ve been very busy recently, lots of trains between Bristol, Exeter and London. So glad the album is finally being released, there’s lots of music on there we’ve been holding back for a very long time.
So, before we get into your new album I want to talk about your recent Essential Mix, which I loved. What was that experience like, and how did you go about doing it? I imagine it must’ve felt slightly surreal?
We always spend a lot of time on studio mixes but with this one we went to another level of detail. It wasn’t actually surreal until we heard Pete Tong introducing it. I think doing an essential mix must be every DJ’s dream and it definitely wasn’t any different with us. The hardest part was actually fitting in everything we wanted to play, there’s still quite a lot of tunes that we were annoyed we couldn’t include. Never thought we’d be so short on time doing a two hour mix! We’re really happy with how it turned out, think it’s a proper journey! Personally my favorite bit is the mash up between ‘Memo’ by Years & Years, and ‘Japanese Electronics’ (Instra:mental Remix) by Commix. Two tunes that we never thought would’ve worked together from two completely different worlds
Your new album Oxygen comes out on the 24th this month, and it’s been 2 years in the making, which is a long time to be working on a single project. Did you have any particular vision of the final product going in, and what’s the reaction been like so far?
The main vision we had was just to improve a lot on the last album and learn from any mistakes we made on that one. I think the main difference with this album is that there aren’t any filler tracks, every track has it’s own purpose, if that makes sense. I guess a lot of the tunes were written in a different way, really focusing on the vocals and chords before even thinking about production. I guess that’s the main difference in our method now, not that there’s ever a set structure.
It has quite a few vocal tunes on it, was this a deliberate change in the direction of your sound or a natural product of the creative direction you’ve been heading in as a whole?
Yes the majority of the tracks on the album have vocals on, to varying degrees. As I said before, with a lot of the tunes we focused on getting the vocals right first. This usually involves our friend Tudor from a band called ‘XY&O’. He’s a naturally gifted singer and songwriter and we regularly have writing sessions with him. He’s co-written 5 tunes on the album and he’s singing on ‘One Of A Kind’ as well. We actually find it a lot easier focusing on vocals first for vocal tracks, rather than trying to write a vocal over a tune that needs a vocal. It makes the recording process easier as you can match the pitch of the tune to the singers range. It also means that you can make sure everything else added to the track leaves enough room for the vocal
Three of the tracks feature Amy J Pryce on vocal duty, how did you guys link up?
Amy is a girl we met through Tudor. She’s done most of the female vocals on the album and we think she’s done a great job. She’s been working with us pretty much since the last album came out. I think she’s got the potential to have a really strong solo career, she’s an amazing writer/lyricist.
Are you worried at all that some fans might be disappointed over the lack of any more dancefloor orientated tunes?
To be honest I haven’t really thought about it that much. We read a lot of YouTube comments that say our older stuff is better and that we should get rid of the vocals but really all we do is try and make music that we like and that we’d want to hear. Plus a lot of our old stuff was just ripping of early Netsky tunes, I think we’re a bit more original nowadays! I’ve been pretty shocked at how well ‘Nearly There’ went down on the socials. Have seen almost no negative comments about it, even though it’s about as far removed from our old stuff as you can get.
In your Essential Mix you mentioned that you’ve been influenced by guys such as Flume and Porter Robinson. One of the tracks I think you can really hear this in is Stay Here, which is absolutely love. How’d this tune come about?
Yeah we love both Flume and Porter, both heroes of ours! Stay Here actually began as a completely different tune that we tried a few vocals on which we didn’t end up using. I then made a few vocal chops for it to use it as more of a clubby instrumental track as well as making the half time build. Josh then finished the whole thing, completely changing the drop into more of a minimal stripped back thing. It’s been a big reaction tune for us, lots of reloads!
You’ve been gigging a fair amount this year, what’s that been like? Any favourite shows, venues or countries to play out at?
Yes all the shows have been great this year! Our personal highlight was Avalon in LA which we played at as part of the Hospitality US/Canada Tour with Etherwood and SPY. The whole scene in LA is amazing, it seems like it’s almost as strong as it is in London! The club is an old cinema so it has two levels, just like Brixton Academy. And it’s right next to the Redbury Hotel, another one of our favorite things in LA
On the topic of gigging, you guys are back at Glastonbury for the second year in a row. What’s that like, and how does it compare to more run of the mill Drum & Bass nights?
Glastonbury is always fun, although the weather isn’t looking too good! Just a bit worried as we’re playing on the Glade stage, which is sort of half outdoors, so we have no idea if it will be too muddy for people to dance! We’re also playing after Example, which should be interesting. Pretty hard act to follow!
Finally, what are some of your favourite releases from this year so far, and who should we be keeping an eye on?
We love the new Flume album. There’s also a singer called ‘Kevin Garrett’ who we’ve been listening to a lot as well, think he’s amazing!
Thanks for the time guys, it’s really appreciated!
No worries, thanks!