He’s wildly gregarious, laughs a lot and is optimistic to the last. This all transfers. Over the past five years, he’s brought this inescapable charisma to his work with everyone from FKA twigs to Stefflon Don, BTS, Jayda G, Romy and Burna Boy. It helped draw UK drill rapper Headie One out of his comfort zone, on the pair’s collaborative mixtape GANG, to dazzling effect. He’s also, to state it more plainly, wildly successful: in 2019 he spent 15 weeks (just shy of 30%) of the year at number one in the charts.
Soon, however, his own spontaneous, spooling solo project, Actual Life, would take on a heavier, deeply personal significance. Fred had been collating sounds and making songs for a while, with no real aim or end goal other than making music and experimenting with this new way of working. Mostly, he was pouring everyday joy and love into these songs. But the spiralling illness of a close friend gave his project a new focus. And, with huge and unexpected tragedy, gave the project an end date too. Loss and pain are a part of life, so they became a part of Actual Life too.