Fresh off the stage from one of their new live shows. We caught up with Fred V and Grafix at Hospitality In The Park 2017. The drum and bass duo are a Hospital Records staple now, and are on the cusp of releasing their brand new album ‘Oxygen’.
How did you meet?
Fred: We met when I was 18, Josh was 16 and a mutual friend introduced us, I was already making tunes. Josh had just started making tunes. So I showed a few things and now he’s way better than me!
What was the Exeter music scene like?
Fred: Back in the day the drum and bass scene was amazing. This guy called Mr Nice he put on some nights, we played at a few of them. Before putting on our own shows
Josh: It was called Rinse Out it was amazing. It was always rammed and at this club called the Phoenix in Exeter. Real drum and bass boys.
Was it these nights that inspired you to get into drum and bass?
Fred: Yeah, totally. I discovered Hospitality when I was 16 and was a huge fan.
Josh: Rinse Out was the first night we were resident Dj’s for. So it really go us into it. We were very young at that stage.
How young were you?
Josh: I think we were 16 and 15. Ten years ago now. So technically not legal to enter the club. Maybe had to sneak past the bouncer.
How did you guys come to join the Hospitality family?
Fred: We kept sending them tunes, bombarding them with music. Probably for about three years.
Josh: We sent them terrible tunes. Eventually they signed one of Fred’s tunes and we got our foot in the door. So that’s all you need to do. Keep bombarding them with music.
Were you Fred V and Grafix then?
Fred: No then we became the proper Fred V and Grafix brand when we signed to Hospital. It was a mix our and their idea, for us to be together. It’d be a bit weird to be promoting the Fred V brand and the Grafix brand. It ‘d be a bit confusing, so it’s best to stick the energy all into one thing.
Do you guys still produce separately?
Fred: No not at the moment. Maybe one day but we’re very happy at the moment. We’ve been producing together so long. We’re both good at different things.There’s a great chemistry.
What parts of your production do you each focus on?
Fred: Josh is really good at coming up with guitar parts. Recording them and mixing them. Really good at mixing them together. What am I good at Josh?
Josh: Good at all the musical shit. He’s very far out. He’s musical theory trained. Very far ahead of anything I’ve done. He creates the really original melodies and records them. He also obviously writes the vocals and sings them.
Your music has always had a slightly ambient sound to it, light. ‘Constellations’ and ‘Major Happy’ are two good examples. What was your main source of inspiration for this?
Fred: I love Brian Eno. We love that sort of music. We listen to a lot bands that have big ambient noises in them.
Josh: Like Helios and the Japanese House
Fred: Dynamo MC has just walked into the room. Do you think we look sharper today? We tried to look sharper just for you.
Dynamo MC: These guys yeah, you look beautiful. Great set you look sharp, sorry for interrupting.
When you are producing are you more producing like a band so Josh you’ll be on the guitar and Fred you’ll be on the mic?
Fred: No not really because we’re often not in the same room when we produce. So in that way it’s not like a band at all. It is like a band in that we start with the same musical idea. You usually build the guitars up once you’ve got an idea going.
So do you guys mainly bounce ideas off each other?
Fred: Yeah we share ideas and get feedback. There are times when I’ll come up with an idea and I’ll know exactly what Josh is going to do with it. Which vocal parts he’s going to make sound way better. Or sometimes he’ll take it in a completely new direction, I’ll never have thought of and it’ll sound amazing.
Josh: That’s the good thing about being in a duo, the other can take it in a direction you can’t. It’s pretty handy.
Fred: After all these year’s we’ve definetly developed a way of producing together. I think this album, the new album. Is the most Fred V and Grafix album we’ve ever done. It sounds original it sounds like us. It’s a good as it’s going to be, really one for the fans.
Would you say you’ve nailed your sound at this point?
Fred: Yeah, it came together really quickly. Our second album took ages to write because we kept writing ideas and Hosptial would say “we like all Josh’s bits, but the vocals aren’t good enough.” And I’d be like “fuck you guys, you’re so mean”. But now, most stuff we send them they really like. It feels like we’ve finally found out how to make music, in a way.
You guys must have played a lot of festivals. I was wondering if you had any choice festival experiences?
Fred: Let It Roll in the Czech Republic is always amazing, love playing there. Glastonbury of course is amazing. Of course though, Hospitality in the Park. Last year was amazing, we had the best time.
When did you find that you had a large following outside the UK?
Josh: That’s sort of come since we signed to Hospital, really, because that’s such an internationally known brand. You got to anywhere and everyone knows about Hospital records.
Fred: Yeah it’s crazy. We played a show at the Louisiana in Bristol. It’s a tiny venue, 150 capacitiy, it’s tiny. four guys drove from Belgium. Got the ferry over and drove over and we were like; what the fuck? That’s a lot of effort for a Tuesday night, or Thursday night.
What’s next for you guys?
Fred – Album’s about to come out.
Josh – yeah, album’s about to come out. We are trying to get our live show to where it should be. Been working on it, working through all the mistakes and all the problems that you encounter doing it. Because not just a fucking DJ set, unfortunately, it’s way harder and you have to rely on so many little, different things just to even do it, you know what I mean? It’s really stressful and quite emotional when not everything goes your way or not everything is working. We just want to get it to the point where we just do it and do it happy and be excited to do it, really refine it.
Fred – We’ve been so nervous all day. In comparison to a DJ set, it’s like a joke. DJing we’re just like ‘ha ha ha ha, have a couple of beers.
Josh – How many beers are we gonna have before the set this time?
Fred – And this time it’s like; how many things can go wrong? About 7 million. How many beers can I have? None?
One last question, What do you prefer? Drum or bass?
Fred – Bass is easier to make.
Josh – I’m gonna say drum.
Fred – Mate, I fucking stress out comparing my drums to his. When models are like ‘oh my breasts are smaller than that model’s’. I’m always like “fucking hell, Josh’s drums are so much better than mine.” It’s really horrible and I hate it.
Josh – My drums are bigger than yours.
So the perfect drum and bass duo?
Fred – His bass is also better than mine.
Josh – Fuck off. Have you heard Strong and Stable? That’s bass made out of a fucking cat miaow. I can’t do that.
With these final words. Fred V and Grafix were soon off for a signing of their new Album Oxygen. Which is out now.