N-Dubz got to places no-one ever thought they would, with two platinum albums and four MOBO wins during their short time at the top. After the break-up though, we’ve heard plenty from Dappy and Tulisa, but little from the band’s third member Fazer. Until now.
The producer/singer-songwriter has decided to step back into the limelight and start up a solo career of his own, after producing hits for his two former band mates.
With the release of his first solo single Killer out August 26th, we talked to him about his aims for a music empire, working with an orchestra and bumping into Kate Moss.
So what does Killer tell us about you as an artist?
Killer is just showing my versatility as an all-round top singer/producer/writer and that what I’m about musically really.
Was it different going from being in a group with N-Dubz to doing this on your own?
It wasn’t actually difficult at all. It’s funny; I was writing Killer with another artist in mind that I was going to change the record to. But when I started laying down the vocal ideas, I was thinking “My vocal sounds amazing”, so I just ran with it. It wasn’t a complicated thing, it was just like usual.
Actually, it’s a little different from working in a group; it’s a little quicker because you’ve not got three members on a record, you’ve not got edit three vocals. A hundred takes from each artist, and that three hundred lots of vocals you’ve got to get through.
It’s a lot less time consuming with just one, I’m having fun with it.
So why did you decide to work with Pete Ibson on this project?
Me and Pete, we’ve opened up our own production company now called STL Music (it stands for ‘Sky’s the Limit’). I’ve known Pete for a long time, we used to work with each other throughout the N-Dubz career, but we never really kicked it off and we lost contact after Dappy’s dad sadly passed away.
It was only when we were doing a session for one of our Polydor acts at the time and one of the engineers knew Pete and put us back in contact together. I think it was about September last year. So I went down to Pete’s because he lives locally and ever since then we just clicked on music and started writing songs together, and we though “We’re doing great stuff together, we might as well start a production company and really dominate this whole music industry.”
Pete’s got this background with James Blunt and Eminem and a great eye for indie and live stuff, so if we ever wanted to cross over to there or get someone like Coldplay or The Script we can do production for them. And I’ve got the urban side and dance and what relevant for today. It’s a great combination, like yin and yang.
You also wrote the video treatment for Killer, what was it like doing that?
It was mental. Whenever you write a song, not just with Killer, any time full stop, you have a visual of what the video might look like. You’re there thinking “It would be amazing if the video looked like this” just because of the vocals. You’re being very creative at the time in the studio and you’re thinking about visuals as well as how it would sound.
So, I put the treatment together myself for the video and we executed it with a company called Gas&Electric. The director, Jak Frsh, and me brought it to life together. I didn’t want to do the usual suspect urban video, with the girls dancing around me in a club. It’s a cliché y’know, people don’t want to see that sort of stuff, it’s not real. No one lives that sort of life every single day and that’s not what I want to do.
I want to do stuff that’s a bit more credible and a bit more left field. So I’m using fashion directors who’ve done adverts for Burberry to really give it a more artistic look rather than just “Look at my wheels on my car.” That’s not what I’m about.
So you’re a writer, producer and performer, but what’s your favourite part?
I love it all because when you’re writing, you can’t beat the vibe when you’re writing a great record and you’re getting goose bumps, nothing else can bring that feeling on.
But when you go out to thousands of people and you see them singing those lyrics back that you just wrote, no amount of money can buy that feeling. It’s so overwhelming. It’s a split decision, I love it all.
Before this you worked with an 80 piece orchestra for the BBC, what was that like?
That was a dream come true! That was like music in high definition, it was unbelievable! It was a really, really cool experience. Because outside of N-Dubz and my solo stuff and STL, in the future I would love to go and do scores for movies.
It really was an eye-opener of the production you’d have to put on to make a record like that work. It was a great life experience and I learnt a lot from that. I want to be moving forward with a lot more of that in my career as well.
You also play piano, when did you learn that?
I kind of taught myself to play the piano from when I was young. Really, I just played on every piano I saw. If I was at my grandma’s house, she had little piano in the communal room. I used to play it out of key for years!
You’re getting involved in the fashion world too, what can you tell us about that?
I do love fashion and I do love clothes. I came from a place where we didn’t really have much money, so we didn’t have money to go out and buy nice clothes and dress a certain way. But now, it’s not about brands for me, my Louis Vuitton this, my Gucci that. It’s more about the way that things are put together and the fabrics, and stuff’s that’s comfortable and makes a statement.
I met Kate Moss; I think it was three years ago at V Festival and it was mad. She was literally driving past me on a golf cart, and she was like “Oi, Dappy, Fazer, my kids love you. Listen we’re going to the Ray-Ban tent, jump on the cart with us!” So, we did. Then I started working with someone that’s quite close with her, and we started seeing each other a lot more. I got involved with a guy called James Small for collaboration on an advert with Vauxhall for his spring/summer launch. And after I’d stared in the advert and he asked if I would like to walk in his show.
I want to put this into perspective. I’ve done intimate shows when there’s maybe a hundred people and it’s very nerve-wracking and I’ve done shows in front of 25,000 people at the O2, but I’ll tell you what, walking on a cat-walk is actually terrifying. I’ve never felt like that, the nerves were out of their roots.
Is that a world you want to get even more involved with?
I will be doing a men’s fashion line that will be more of a high end, tailored fit. It’s really for people who appreciate fashion.
So what are your aims for STL?
Our main ambition is to do a sort of Young Money/Cash Money thing out here and internationally where we can take acts, we can develop them, write songs and albums for them and licence them off to record labels. And really get ourselves in the position where we’re seen a credible, major record label.
So, just to finish up, what can we expect from the album?
I’m very versatile in what I do, so there’s going to be track for everyone. If you like the whole dance thing, then there’s Killer. Or if you like that whole indie type of music, there’s a record on there for you. If you like Drake and the whole low-fi rap stuff, then there’s something for you. It’s a feel-good album, no downers on it and it’s something everyone will be able to relate to. It’s been a fun album to make and hopefully it’ll be a fun album to listen to.
Killer is out August 26th
FemaleFirst Cameron Smith