It’s International Women’s Day! Big up all ladies in the area!
We decided to mark the occasion with an in depth interview by Damian B with Fresh Live vocalist Fleur. Vocalists in D&B is such a big story it commands a post of its own…. Jenna G, Riya, Robert Manos, Robert Owens, Diane Charlemagne, the list goes on! Whether the brief is to work alongside a DJ or embellish a tune, it’s rare to find someone who can do both…. and do it in a gruelling night-after-night D&B touring capacity: fast, and unpredictable.
Step up Fleur who can and does. She’s come in strong with the aptly titled ‘Turn The Lights On’ and has found time in her schedule as singer for DJ Fresh to talk to us. Not to mention drop an exclusive as well!
Read on to find out how she got into the industry, what she has coming up and a very special one-day promotion on all lady’s t-shirts… Happy International Women’s Day!
When you play live as part of Fresh’s band, do you all have it all so nailed, so ingrained that you don’t need to rehearse now?
We’ve done over a 100 gigs. We’ve got about 3 different versions of the live show but this version is the one we will tour with. We will rehearse just before we hit Australia this week.
Apart from asking purely from the perspective of you guys as an organic ‘live’ beast, there is also the fact that D&B is an ever-changing medium. In a set, a DJ may switch vibes suddenly, to stoke the crowd up for example. So does your material get changed and rearranged? Do you evaluate it as you go?
Yeah we do, we see how the crowd reacts, we get the feel of the crowd. We may evaluate at the end of the show for example, we may say ‘That track worked, let’s do more like that’. Or sometimes Fresh will just get inspired by a new track that he’s produced, or something that he’s working on, and will want to add that in.
Even from days pre-BC, Fresh was always known for his electric mind: people would be in awe when they saw first-hand how fast he would work on a tune. So what’s he like to work with?
He’s sort of like a professor. You can see that his brain’s constantly working. You’ll be having a conversation with him and he’ll drift off… he’ll be thinking of a riff in his head or a new beat to make (laughs). He’ll have his phone in his hand, recording new ideas into it. He’s constantly working.
You recently said that you were a recent convert to D&B. When you listen to the spread of ‘urban’ music for example on 1xtra right now you’ll hear stuff which is from the areas of grime, rap, trap, dubstep and of course D&B. So what was it about D&B itself that caught you?
For me it was the pace, the fact it was so upbeat and quick. It was exciting to listen to. In the past, a lot of D&B I heard was quite hard but working with Fresh I found melody and chords. That opened my eyes. So I started searching for more and found people like Netsky who used a musical approach. I like melodic drum and bass the best, which is the sound myself and Culture Shock have produced with ‘Turn The Lights On’. I was sent the instrumental track by management and instantly connected with it. I wrote to the track as soon as I heard it and was inspired to write it about the love of partying and not knowing when to stop. I recorded the vocals pretty soon after I wrote it and Turn The Lights On was born!
How did you then see yourself fitting in as a vocalist? In some cases, being singer in D&B could’ve been ornamental, just the odd lyrical touch or sample, whereas for you it’s a fully-fledged live commitment. Did you feel comfortable working within this fast paced form of music?
Yeah, definitely, I loved it! I fitted in straight away. At first I wondered how I’d be able to sing or get my vocal chords to stretch along with this hard pace! In the past with D&B I only heard a few vocals here and there, but when Hot Right Now came out, and what you now hear in tracks like ‘Magnetic Eyes’ by Matrix and Futurebound, well there’s a soul in the vocal which I like. I thought ‘I could do this: I could bring my songwriting skills to the sound of drum & bass and put them together’
You mention your songwriting: as someone patently in love with singing, how far does it go back with you?
Ever since I could make a sound I’ve been a singer. I was also influenced by my parents, playing different types of music in the house… Bob Marley to Simply Red. From the age of 14, as I’d always been part of talent shows and been involved in singing I knew that this was what I wanted to do really. With my own stuff, sometimes I’ll have a melody that comes to me and I’ll record it before I write any lyrics, other times I’ll write lyrics down and then find the melody afterwards.
It’s a big break to work with Fresh, how did that come about?
I think it was 2011. I’d been in girl groups but had decided to go solo. My manager said that DJ Fresh was looking for a vocalist for his Live Lounge session, and said ‘let’s send a demo!’ So I did. I came back from holiday and was told I had to go for rehearsals that week
for Live Lounge. Amazing!
We’d just started rehearsal and he got sent a massive bottle of champagne as just heard he’d gotten a number one. It was right then that really I realised who I was working with! I really didn’t know too much about him up till then, the magnitude of this artist I was working with. Plus I thought it was just for the Live Lounge. After the Live Lounge performance I was asked to be the singer. They’d checked out one of my live shows, just to see how I was on stage and commanded the audience.
That’s interesting, because many don’t realise that it’s not just a job that just entails singing: you’re part MC, you have to communicate with the crowd and bring the music to them. You also have to talk to them between songs…
Yeah that’s the thing. We also have Messy MC; we have a great chemistry and bounce off each other really well and that was from the first show we did. But it is a lot of work: in a live environment, you need to really hold an audience.
I hear now that your work has lead to certain new alliances in D&B?
Yes hot off the press I have a single with Drumsound and Bssline Smith out soon. Plus I’ve been approached by the Prototypes who remixed my single to work in the future, so there are lots of exciting things in the pipeline
Can I run this past you: in D&B we have certain female DJs and certainly a lot of women working in promotion and behind the scenes but it is startling to see how few women are involved in general right now. Hopefully you can inspire more…
Yeah, it was only when someone mentioned this to me that I realised that when I go to shows all I see are male DJs and MCs. You don’t see a lot of females doing it. So I hope I can be an inspiration in that way.
So who inspired you?
Back in the day when I was younger I used to listen to a lot of Sade, her voice is amazing. There’s Jessie Ware who’s come out recently who has a similar sound as her which is quite refreshing with so much pop around… you can hear the similar quality in her voice. Emeli Sandé is also someone I love, I love her vocal. There’s people like Florence Welsh as well, there’s so many.
Interview: Damian B
SPECIAL ONE DAY PROMOTION!
To celebrate International Women’s Day we’ve reduced these gorgeous lady’s tees down from £15 to £10!
Whether it’s for your fine self or for an important lady in your life, this offer will only last throughout March 8th so get your orders in now!