Fred again.. fever has well and truly hit Australia, but who is the English producer and why is he so popular?
By now you’ve almost certainly heard of Fred again.., the electronic music producer has taken Australia by storm this month while touring the country with Laneway Festival. His surprise Sydney show sold out in 5 minutes, his surprise Melbourne show took just 30 seconds, and social media is littered with posts of fans traversing cities in the hopes of finding the artist or sobbing in the audience to one of his in-demand shows.
If, like me, you’ve checked out the artist’s music on Spotify to try and see what all the fuss is about you may have been left a little confused. Sure, Fred again..’s style of house and garage-infused dance music is good, but as Pitchfork puts it “In sound and style, there’s nothing on [Fred again..’s latest] record that Disclosure didn’t do a decade ago—or MJ Cole 10 years before that”; the music on its own doesn’t seem to explain Fred again..’s obsessive following, so what does?
I’ll attempt to give my explanation for “Fred again.. fever”, but first I should probably give a brief introduction on who the guy actually is.
Who is Fred again..?
London native Fred Gibson is a man who fell in love with music from a young age, beginning to play the piano during his toddler years, writing an album of power ballads by age 10, and finding himself taken under the wing of legendary composer and musician Brian Eno by his teenage years, Fred began producing music professionally for major labels in the 2010s, earning himself producer credits on tracks for world-renowned artists like Ellie Goulding, Charli XCX, Shawn Mendes, George Ezra, BTS, Stormzy, Ed Sheeran and more.
In late 2019, Gibson made the leap into releasing his own music, adopting the moniker Fred again.. and dropping the track Kyle (I Found You), beginning the solo career that’s now become a phenomenon.
Why is Fred again.. so popular?
Ask Fred again..’s dedicated fans why they love him so much and you’ll likely get a number of different answers, but in my opinion there are three major things that set Fred again.. apart from the myriad of producers making similar club bangers: the sentimental “scrapbook” nature of Fred again..’s samples, his audience involvement, and the more “live” nature of his sets.
The Fred again.. project is intended to be a musical diary of Gibson’s, sonically cataloguing his life by incorporating the meaningful interactions he has with friends and strangers into his songs as vocal samples. Gibson shares the stories of these samples and their significance to him through his social media channels, giving context and heart to his music that would otherwise be absent, and setting his songs apart – at least in a metatextual sense – from similar vocal sample-based dance music.
Gibson is also a master of social media and audience involvement, incorporating the social media posts of fans into his music videos and live sets, and sending his fans on exciting easter egg hunts through cities for tickets to secret shows, like the recent Melbourne sweat towel hunt embedded below. It’s an organic and innovative approach to audience interaction that not only helps Fred again.. build stronger relationships with his fans than your average EDM producer, but also encourages his fans to follow and interact with him and his music on social media.
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Finally, there are Fred again..’s live sets, which are indeed more “live” than many of his peers. While it’s common for most in the electronic music scene to perform simple DJ sets, essentially hitting play on their studio tracks and doing some light remixing on the fly, Fred again.. builds his live songs from the ground up in real-time using launchpads, synthesizers and his own voice. The result is a much more dynamic and engaging performance than many are used to seeing in the dance music sphere, while still maintaining the danceability and fun that club music provides.
While Fred Again..’s music may not be groundbreaking on its own, Fred’s ability to connect with his audience both on stage and through social media, and his ability to bring an emotive human element to the normally more sterile dance music scene is groundbreaking; and that’s why there’s so much hype around Fred Again.. right now.