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Everything has a Half Life: Grafix reveals more about debut solo album

It’s not often that a producer’s fourth studio album coexists as their debut LP.

Cue Grafix who, after a decade-long spell as 50 percent of a very successful D&B duo, is now presenting his debut, full-length solo offering to the world. 

Titled Half Life, the project encapsulates what the Bristol-based artist loves most about drum and bass – making people dance. 

At its core, it’s a dance floor drum and bass defined by its euphoric atmosphere and abundance of high-energy sonic power. From start to finish, Grafix cements his sound in a liberating and exuberant fashion, finally stamping down his eternal mark on a scene to which he’s already given so much. 

Not only does this album represent the sound that Grafix adores, but it also marks a significant milestone in his career as a solo artist. 

Most will be more than familiar with the Fred V & Grafix project. The duo, who were signed to Hospital Records in their early 20s, spent the best part of a decade touring the world, writing timeless albums and capturing listeners and audiences alike with their signature ethereal sound. 

Three years on from their decision to pursue solo artistic ventures, the significance of this album resides in its ability to give Grafix full reigns of his musical vision, aesthetic, and sound. 

Delving into the album, life as a solo artist, and the decision to leave the Fred V & Grafix project, we caught up with Grafix fresh from his UKF On Air performance to hear all about his time in the studio over the past few years. 

It’s been three years since you and Fred V announced you were going solo. How would you sum up that time?

It’s been a really exciting three years. When Fred and I first started talking about going our separate ways, it excited us a lot. We weren’t particularly sad and it wasn’t a messy divorce, but we’d just come to the end of our journey of releasing albums and touring. I really liked the idea of revisiting my older years of being a solo producer and seeing where I could take my sound in the current musical climate. 

What are some of the major differences between Grafix post-Fred V & Grafix compared to Grafix ten years ago?

Musically, I still have the same roots that are embedded in my older music. The particularly scary thing about going back out as a solo artist, when you’ve been in a duo for so long, is the fact that you can get a bit lazy in a duo sometimes. I think anyone who’s been in a duo will resonate with this. 

You tend to get stuck in your processes by letting each other stick to certain parts of production. Once you go solo, you have to whip yourself back into shape and get used to doing it all on your own again. And more importantly, you have to be constantly learning. I have a profound amount of respect for solo producers because it’s a totally different beast. There’s constantly someone better than you, so it’s so important to keep improving as you’re only as good as your last track.

It reminds me of having a gym buddy. It’s harder when you have to motivate yourself to go. 

It’s exactly that. You always have someone saying “we’re going today”. I’ve learnt to be more disciplined and it’s really made me push myself as a solo artist. 

There must be some real alleviating aspects of going solo as well?

Having full control of your own vision is something that has been very beneficial for me. You can pick the sounds and the aesthetics, which gives you a lot more control. I’ve loved championing my full creative control. 

Was that one of the major factors for you and Fred parting ways as a duo?

Yeah, it was a big part for me. It was a team decision, but for me, it was a combination of wanting to have full control and seeing what I could achieve. You can get complacent when you do this job for a while, so I wanted to go back to being a solo artist to give me that inspiration I had when I was a kid producing in my bedroom. It has done that and it made me fall in love with it again.

During that time in between your solo careers, the definition of what an artist is has changed so much with social media and self-promotion. How has it changed from your point of view?

Everything has changed really. You never used to revolve your whole marketing scheme around social media, you might have just thrown a few photos up on Facebook. There was also a lot less information for people to find. Sample, tips, and tricks were really hard to find, so you’d end up bashing your head against a wall quite a lot. 

Now, there’s such an abundance of information. It’s a much easier gateway to becoming a producer now, which is great because so much more talent is coming through. 

The level of music in drum and bass is ridiculous now. I don’t want to say it’s ahead of its time, but the levels of sound design and mixdowns sound like they belong ten years in the future.

It’s like alien music, you don’t know what planet some people are even on. The levels are incredible and for me, it’s inspiring. Drum and bass pushes the boundaries more than any genre in dance music. 

On the subject of sound, let’s talk about your debut album! After working as a duo for so long, was it difficult to rediscover your own sound after producing as a duo for such an extensive period of time? 

Absolutely. I really wanted to steer away from stuff I’d achieved with Fred musically, not because I didn’t like it, but because there were avenues I wanted to explore that I couldn’t as part of Fred V & Grafix. We had our formula down and you don’t want to recreate the wheel when something is working. 

With my solo stuff, I touched upon the melodic, ethereal, melancholic stuff that I made with Fred, but with this energetic dancefloor aesthetic. 

It’s a bit strange because it’s your fourth studio album, but the first time you’ve had full creative control of one. How has it differed for you?

I wanted this album to tick a few personal boxes and mainly sound consistent throughout the fourteen tracks. From the beginning, I started mapping out which songs would solidify the Grafix sound. I wanted a big piece of work that could introduce new fans to what my music sounds like. 

I wouldn’t say it’s a genre-bending collection of music because I wanted it to be a dancefloor drum and bass album at its core. That’s what I love – making people dance. I want things to sound dynamic, high-energy, and euphoric. I also want them to work at home and on the dancefloor, that was the synergy that I wanted to achieve with the album. I wanted to represent where my sound as Grafix is. 

100%. This was your opportunity to show who Grafix as an artist is and what his music represents. 

Exactly. Going forward, I might look at innovating a bit more, but for now, I just want to make music that I would want to listen to as a drum and bass fan. There are songs I like for different reasons, but as a whole, I’m really proud of the album. 

Why did you go for Half Life as the LP title?

So firstly, it’s a gaming reference. I grew up playing Halo and other games like that, but Half Life was around a little bit before that was a legendary first-person shooter. You have to have an album with a cool name, but the idea of it was also that everything has a half-life. Everything runs out. People consume things really quickly, and this is my collection of music that will run out. 

You don’t have to view it in a negative way, it’s just the way things go, especially albums. People consume things so quickly now, so essentially everything has a half-life. 

I love the artistic meaning in the name. With the 15 second Tik Tok attention span nowadays, it’s more true than ever. 

The half-life is shorter than ever before… With the album though, I hope the home listeners can engulf it and I hope DJs can enjoy it too. I care about the clubs and DJ culture around drum and bass a lot. I want DJs to be able to find cool mixes with the tracks too. I hope it gets them excited for future Grafix music too. 

What can we expect from future Grafix music?

After a project like this, I’ll want to try and innovate about by testing myself and trying new things. I don’t think it will go away from my sound has developed into that much, but I want to inspire younger producers to create dancefloor music. There’s a lot of drum and bass around at the moment, and I want to wave the flag for this sound. 

I have got a remix coming out that people have been asking about for ages! That’s all I can say for now. 

Grafix – Half Life is out now on Hospital Records

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