Destination: June 24
Not just the day we head to Glastonbury Festival. But also a landmark date for Hospital’s dynamic duo Fred V & Grafix as they release their second album Oxygen.
Taking off where Recognise left us just over 18 months ago, the 15-track album captures the pair’s development as they dig deeper into the dark art of songwriting, instrumentation and lean dynamics.
Now rolling deep with their own songwriting team comprising Fred and writers Amy Pryce and Tudor, it showcases the duo at their deepest, most open and emotional… While retaining one eye and both feet on the dance.
Ahead of their Essential Mix tomorrow, we caught up with Grafix to find out more…
This is quite a departure, there’s more space, it’s more stripped back, the drums are clicky and not super heavy, it’s not hugely dancefloor focused and very song-based…
Album’s done and dusted! How you feeling right now?
Very happy! I’m happy we’ve finished it and happy with the content. I feel we’ve pushed ourselves and while we’ve stayed true to our sound we’ve really also developed a lot of ideas. I’m sure there’ll be lovers and haters but either way we’re proud of it. I’m just eager to get it out now…
So run me through those ideas and changes in your technique and approach…
There are a lot more songs, as opposed to club tracks and DJ tools. The dynamic to our working team changed a lot. Fred really wanted the challenge of writing the vocals himself. Songwriting is a hard thing to do. I don’t know how anyone who’s a solo producer could do it all themselves! So I spent all the time on the production and engineering while Fred spent hours, days, weeks on the songs working alongside a little team we’ve developed with Amy Pryce and Tudor. There were a lot of songs that didn’t make it. A lot that went through many versions but eight of the tracks on the album were written by Fred which is a big achievement for a D&B producer. We feel they’re mature enough songs to hopefully connect with people lyrically and how they sound.
Sounds like you’ve settled into your roles as a partnership then?
Yes. And with Fred writing the lyrics I took on a lot more of the guitar playing. We both contributed a lot to the music on every track but most of the guitar is me. It’s also about using the guitars in different ways. They’re very upfront in the mix this time which is hard to do; making it sound as upfront as a synth and really fat enough is a challenge! We’ve taken the guitar and used it how you’d use it as an analogue synth.
All these changes feel very natural and logical from where you left us….
We hope so! I think some of this is down to indie pop influences who’ve inspired us such as Mura Masa for the space and minimalism and found sounds, Porter Robinson for the wet, spacy reverb, also acts like Nao and Jack Garrett. They all play a big part of what we listen to. It’s fun to draw influences and put them into a D&B framework.
I think that leads us nicely to the Kele collaboration. How did that come about?
That was a classic management connection which was very much win win! We did a remix for a vocal swap. Fred and I grew up to Bloc Party and still listen to Silent Alarm to this day. It’s a timeless album! We wanted to create a track that referenced that moment in Bloc Party’s discography. He came down to the studio and it was great to work with him in person and write it together. It was all very quick, nothing was planned, it all came together very quickly. He’d listened to our old album and complimented Fred on his singing which was pretty unreal. Then we sat and watched him sing. We gave a few points but we let him lead it in his own way. After a few vocal warm ups he was ready to go. I had to really force myself to stay professional and not just tell him how great Bloc Party are and how much they meant to me growing up.
So let’s talk about the concept… Why pick the track Oxygen for the title track over the other tracks?
Well there’s the obvious pun factor… Oxygen is what everyone needs! It’s also a cool word plus our name is such a mouthful that we always try and pick short titles. And also it’s a track that we’re most proud of. We’re happy for it to lead the album.
I like the halftime vibe of it…
It’s really a hat tip to Flume to be honest! A 90bpm pop song disguised as a halftime track! It goes down really well in our sets, especially at the end.
Now you just said the word pop, earlier on you said about haters. Is this a concern?
Maybe not a concern but an awareness – there are always haters and will always be people who want us to go back to the music we made when we were 18. This is quite a departure, there’s more space, it’s more stripped back, the drums are clicky and not super heavy, it’s not hugely dancefloor focused and very song-based… So we’re aware that people might not be ready for that or want that from a Fred V and Grafix album. But we’ve followed our inspirations and done what we’ve wanted to do we’re really proud of it and can’t wait for people to hear it.
First, though… Your debut Essential Mix this weekend!
Yes! It’s got six of the album tracks that haven’t been previewed anywhere. It’s got stuff form new producers we’re loving like Dan Dakota and a lot of classics. We’ve wanted to do an Essential Mix for so long so we’ve included loads of tracks that got us into D&B and a few non D&B sections. We’ve thought about it for a long, long time. We hope you like it!