Written by: Jack Wynne
Four years ago, there was a shock announcement for drum and bass lovers as Fred V & Grafix decided to go their separate ways.
The duo had garnered quite the following, releasing three albums, and so when they both expressed a desire to pursue solo careers it sparked real anticipation for what was to come next. As predicted, each of them have since gone on to make huge waves in their own right - Fred V unveiled his first solo record entitled Radiate last year.
Grafix might have made everyone wait a little longer for his debut album Half Life which dropped last week, but the LP has most certainly justified the extra patience. The record contains 14 tracks which demonstrate a sumptuous synergy of beats along with blissful vocals. It is easy to identify the darker and more thunderous style he has chosen to pursue since deciding to carve out a solo career with this collection of songs.
Sitting down with the London-born, Exeter-based DJ/producer, he discussed this latest chapter of his musical career, why it has been something which he needed to do and the summer ahead. When asked to describe how he felt that the album was finally released, Grafix confessed he was so glad to see the end product out there after a long period of hard work.
“I’m very much excited and relieved,” he said. “These things take a lot out of you and also take a lot of time from the time you complete it to the time it comes out. It’s nice for it to finally be here for sure.”
For this new chapter Grafix deliberately wanted to put out a body of work which was centred heavily on his own productions - there is just one major collaboration, 'Skyline', together with Metrik. The album was designed as a “jumping-off point” for new fans and also to encourage new producers.
He did admit how much of a pleasure it was to work with an old friend once again after their previous collaborations - the pair collaborated on 'Parallel' for Metrik’s album, Ex Machina, and also back in 2017 for the Fred V & Grafix record 'Tension'.
“Metrik is a great friend of mine and we’ve collaborated a lot together,” he commented. “I had a track on his album so it was always the plan for him to repay the favour. That’s the end of our trilogy of songs for now.”
Saturday 11th June will see Grafix and a stellar support cast take over Colours bar in Hoxton, London to celebrate the launch of his new album. The intimate venue will provide a serene setting for fans to come and experience his new record in a club setting for the first time.
The night will also be one to remember and a trip down memory lane for long-term admirers as Fred V is the lead support act. Grafix admitted he was so happy when his old collaborator agreed to play at the event and couldn’t wait to catch up with him.
“For me, if Fred was up for it of course I was always going to be happy that he’s playing,” he added. “We still talk a lot and we’re moving into a period where we’re getting back to helping each other out a lot. There will be a lot more of me and Fred helping each other out in certain ways.”
Grafix is well accustomed to the process of making an album after putting out three of them together with Fred V down the years. This LP was the first time he was going to be relying solely on his own abilities as a producer and whilst he admitted it was “uncharted territory” he did explain how past experiences had benefited him when stepping into the studio to make a solo album.
“This is the first real challenge of being a solo producer and wrapping up an album,” he commented. “It’s nothing we haven’t done before. As a duo luckily I was able to do a few albums with him so I understand the process more than someone who hasn’t done an album.”
Like the entire DJ community, Grafix is eagerly anticipating heading out to festivals this summer for the first time in three years. Alongside the likes of Hospitality On The Beach, which is taking over Albania for the first time, and Bristol’s Tokyo World he will also be joining in the celebrations for the 50th anniversary of Glastonbury. The iconic festival stands out the most for the Bristol-based musician as it just holds so many dear memories for him.
“I’m a Glasto veteran and I’ve been there more times than I can remember,” he added. “It’s one of my favourite places on the earth,” he commented. “There’s something for everyone there."
“Families go there. You can go there and do yoga for the whole weekend if you want. It really ticks a lot of boxes and I’ve just had such a great time there every time I’ve been. Let’s just hope it is sunny.”
The journey which Grafix has been on since going it alone has been mainly around rekindling that burning passion for music production. Starting out as a teenager and finding joy in messing around on his computer without the pressure of a release schedule or tour dates in order to pay the bills was the point which he had longed to revisit.
The most attractive thing about creating his first solo LP was the complete creative control he had, from the jaw-dropping vinyl design to the way his records are arranged on the album.
“I really wanted to go out on my own and just prove I still had that fire, drive and inspiration,” he explained. “I think it’s been a really amazing three years for me."
“It’s made me realise I can do these things solo and I really appreciate the control I have of every aspect of my career, brand and music. It’s been really nice to get out there and make some bold decisions on my own.”
Half Life is out now via Hospitality Records. Click here to see all of Grafix's upcoming festivals performances.