“I’m playing the long game,” says Fredwave. “I can see myself selling out arenas.”
Big claims, but we’re backing them, from the 27-year-old who’s been carving out a musical path since 2016 – the same year he released 99, his soulful, critically acclaimed single about scorned lovers.
Since then, though, and following a slow-but-steady string of single releases, the North Londoner has been taking his time, working behind-the-scenes on production for Central Cee, P‑rallel and Jeshi.
Now, finally, in 2023, it’s his time to step out solo again.
“I’ve now dropped two singles in the space of a year!” he says with a laugh, Zooming in from his home in East London. “I used to find it hard to be consistent, but I finally feel like a proper musician.”
Fred’s referring to his tunes La La, a low-key, melancholy portrait of a relationship gone awry (a recurring theme), and Sleep, a chopped-up, Jai Paul-esque song that blends silky vocals with electric guitar and electronic beats, stretched out like bubblegum. It’s the track Fred is most proud of to date.
“The mates I was working on this with in the studio, we gave each other that look and we just knew. Honestly, everyone loves that song. My family has been hitting me up like: ‘Mate, you’re good, you don’t make bad songs, but this one is really good.’ I think this is the one that made people realise I’ve been learning and becoming better.”
Although Fred started making music in his early twenties, his first proper introduction to it happened in year 7. A bunch of his mates put their own song together before sending it round the whole school, in a bit of a vintage viral moment. “That’s when I plucked up the courage to do my own shit. Me and some don in maths class, we were in the playground one day and we were like: ‘Fuck it. We’re gonna start rapping.’”
Fred has come a long way since spitting playground bars, and although he’s keeping fairly tight-lipped about it for now, we can expect plenty more of where Sleep came from later this year. “I’m happy right now,” he says. “Everything that I’m doing, it feels like the real version of me – finally.”
10% Where were you born, where were you raised and where are you now based?
I was born in Wood Green, Haringey. I was raised there all my life and now I’m living in Bow, East London.
20% How would you like for your music to make people feel?
I’m not a man to tell anyone how they should react to anything, but if it makes you feel any type of way at all, that’s good. I’d say stick around because there’ll be more where that came from. Come to the show. I just want people to feel good. I’ve never been trained in anything musical, so for someone to hear it and know that I can do this… It’s nice. I’m making music for people to think it’s sick.
30% If an alien dropped down to earth, how would you describe your music to them?
Soulful and electronic. It depends if they know what soulful and electronic means. They definitely know what electronic is because they’re fucking spaceshipping it down! I’d show them a picture of James Brown and Dizzee Rascal and let them make up their minds.
40% What emotions and experiences influence your work?
Life, really. I’m getting to the moodboard reference era of my life. My friend put me onto that. If he has writer’s block, he goes onto his notes and clicks onto one that’s filled with loads of pictures. Then he’ll just write a lyric about what he sees. I went through a period of trying to freestyle because I like doing stuff innately. But now I find myself writing a lot of things down. Your brain is like a sieve, it’s not supposed to hold everything in.
50% If you were cooking to impress someone, what would you make?
I do a banging prawn curry, but curries are kind of easy, I’ve realised. Anything you use a blender for when it isn’t a smoothie seems impressive. Maybe I would open up this Dishoom cookbook on my countertop and get something going from there. I cook really good rice. You might not think that’s impressive, but there’s a technique so you don’t burn up the bottom of the pan. My rice game is 10 out of 10. That’s the only thing I picked up from my parents. And maybe making mac and cheese. My mum has never cooked a prawn curry in her life! I learned that from the streets.
60% What’s a bad habit that you wish you could kick?
Smoking. I started young at, like, 14, which is stupid. My relationship with it now is kind of good, but when I drink or if I’m at a festival, it gets a bit mad.
70% What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Growing up where I grew up, everyone loves fast money. It’s all about keeping up with the Joneses. I was working at a hospital in St Mary’s with my sister’s husband when I was younger and didn’t really want to be on the roads. But also, I wasn’t afraid of that. He had a talk with me and told me I needed to learn patience. I didn’t understand what it meant then, but I do now. It probably did save me from doing a lot of things.
80% You rule the world for a day. What goes down?
World peace. Or getting all the world leaders to have a punch-up. I’d love to see that. The losing country gets kicked out of Earth. Careful though, Putin’s been doing his press-ups and wrestling bears, so…
90% Love, like, hate?
I love my family. I like Arsenal. Hate is a strong word… What gives me the ick? Cold weather. British summer, I hate that.
100% If you could go back in time to watch an iconic music act perform, who would it be?
There’s a few: Amy Winehouse, MJ, Prince… This is all at one festival by the way. I could go on all day about who I’d want to see. If I was to put it in an order, I would say Prince is the main one. As an artist as a whole, he just ticks every box. If I could have a tenth of any of their careers, I would be happy.