She’s rarer than you would believeFred Again.. – Lydia (Please Make It Better)
Use every drug you need
Just please bring her back to me
In 1957, American writer Allen Saunders coined the phrase: “Life is what happens to us when we are busy making other plans.” On ‘Actual Life (April 14 – December 17 2020)’, the extraordinary debut album from Fred Again.., Fred learns the devastating truth behind Allen’s philosophy.
Over the past five years, Fred Again.., aka Fred Gibson, has worked with everyone from FKA twigs to Stefflon Don, BTS, Jayda G, Romy and Burna Boy. In 2019, Fred spent 15 weeks of the year at number one in the charts after helping to draw UK drill rapper Headie One out of his comfort zone.
Encouraged by mentor and collaborator Brian Eno, Fred began to work on his solo project, making music on his laptop, with no real aim or end goal other than taking experiences and turning them into songs. Soon, however, the deteriorating illness of a close friend gave his project a new focus. And, devastatingly, gave the project an end date too.
Behind the arranged glitches, electronic beats and obscure voice notes that make up Fred’s trademark sound; are deeply heartfelt songs about life, loss and the impermanence of human existence. The second date of the album’s title refers to his close friend’s untimely passing, and the tragedy caused Fred to write one of the year’s most crippling songs.
I wanna run in there and steal you outFred Again.. – Me (Heavy)
Unplug the wires and kiss your mouth
Moments and feelings can be fleeting – we have as little control over our fleeting emotions as we do over life and death. And although painfully intimate in parts, Fred’s wholly fractured album is filled to the brim with optimism. Throughout ‘Actual Life’, Fred embraces vulnerability. The only way out is through.
You can be having the best day of your life, and the best day of your life is the worst day of someone else’s. The quiet desperation on ‘Me (heavy)’ is gut-wrenching. Yet this is still an album you can play in full while getting ready for a night out, or as a soundtrack to nights in with your mates.
A true example of art imitating life; narratives of heartbreak, grief, love and loss intertwine throughout the record. ‘Actual Life..’ is many things at once, including a love letter to London, as felt on ‘Hackney (Interlude)’.
Although deeply personal, Fred’s debut is the work of an artist who looks outwardly for joy and finds his optimism is lifted by those around him. He lets the people he loves pull him out of what he’s going through. On the story behind ‘Carlos (Make It Thru)’, Fred explained to Apple Music, “I met a guy called Carlos in a bar in Atlanta, and he just had the most joyous spirit. I had some videos on my phone from the night, and when I got back to the hotel, I dragged them into Logic and began to make a song out of them.”
Many albums that were written and released during the pandemic – ‘how i’m feeling now’ by Charli XCX – serve as a snapshot in time. Talking about his creative approach, Fred told Apple Music, “I want every album I make to be a kind of diary entry of the time it was made.”
I found you beautifulFred Again – Kyle (I Found You)
I found you exploding
I found you
Impressionistic, fractured narrative – Justin Vernon’s influence is prominent throughout the record. On ‘December 17, 2020’, surrounded by whoops of joy, Fred quotes Bon Iver‘s 2016 song ’22 (OVER S∞∞N)’ while singing “it feels like it might be over soon”. ‘Actual Life’ echoes Justin’s own reckoning: “The bad stuff might be over soon, but maybe the good stuff might be over soon,” Vernon explained to The New York Times. “So you’d better figure out how to enjoy this life and participate in it.”
Another artist Fred evidently resonates with in a big way is Dermot Kennedy. ‘Dermot (See Yourself In My Eyes)’, samples Kennedy’s song ‘Lost’, and his lyrical influence can also be heard on ‘Lydia (Please Make It Better)’.
Fall in love with someone that enjoys your, um, weirdnessFred Again.. – Dermot (See Yourself In My Eyes)
Not someone that, um, tries to talk you into being normal
‘Actual Life (April 14 – December 17 2020)’ positions Fred Again.. as a sensitive artist-producer able to tackle the euphoric highs and devastating lows of life side by side, recognising that the two can co-exist.
Stream Fred Again.. below and follow our playlist to hear more new music from 2021’s essential new artists.
Fred Again.. is set to play All Points East festival in London on Saturday 28th August 2021. Tickets are available now.