Jungle MC and grime pioneer Flowdan talks to Attack Magazine about collaborating with Fred Again and Skrillex, grime and his record label.
Fred Again and Skrillex dropped their hotly-anticipated collaboration ‘Rumble.’ earlier this year, featuring Flowdan. When it achieved mainstream success, many were left searching for this ‘new’ artist that provided those unmistakable booming vocals.
This ‘new’ artist, Flowdan, is none other than one of the pioneers of grime and has worked with some of the biggest names in the industry like Skepta, Wiley, Lethal Bizzle and many more.
Flowdan (real name Marc Viera) started in the late 90s as a jungle MC on pirate radio station Rinse FM. Talking about his influences as an MC, he said:
“My whole thing is rooted and grounded in reggae and dancehall, the whole delivery, the whole energy and the whole charismatic performance. That was something that was probably just subconsciously in me and then when I was choosing my influences I found that I was choosing people that had those influences also.”
[quote align=right text=”My whole thing is rooted and grounded in reggae and dancehall, the whole delivery, the whole energy and the whole charismatic performance”]
Flowdan then joined the UK garage collective ‘Pay as U Go’ and subsequently formed ‘Roll Deep’, who are often credited for paving the way for grime to become the huge success it is today.
Grime has changed considerably from when Flowdan started out. The genre has become less of an anarchic and raw subculture and is now a mainstream genre with the likes of Stormzy and Skepta taking it to heights which may have seemed unreachable in the early 2000s.
Despite the commercial powerhouse that grime has now become, Flowdan still believes it remains true to the origins of the genre.
He said: “For me, it’s obvious progression, people growing into their art form and wanting to progress it and also emulate where other music scenes are. So I don’t think it’s moved away, It just has to grow and if it’s if growth means change, then so be it.”
Flowdan burst back onto the scene this year after the huge success of his collaboration with Skrillex and Fred Again, ‘Rumble.’
The track first went viral during Fred Again’s iconic Boiler Room set in July 2022 when he played the then-unreleased track for the first time and it consequently blew up on social media and recently was released as a single.
Talking about collaborating with the two DJs, Flowdan said: “I’m open to working with people who I’ve never heard of and I’m open to working with people who I have heard of and at this time four or five years ago I had never heard of Fred. He was a friend of a friend and he was a supporter of what I do and he wanted to get me in the studio and see what we could come up with.
“He met up with Skrillex because they had a remote relationship from working on Ed Sheeran’s album. They finally met in England and were talking about future projects and Fred showed him this particular track and he wanted to get involved.”
Flowdan added: “We made three tracks and only one made it to the light of day so that shows we aren’t as good as we think we are.”
The mainstream success of ‘Rumble’ means that a whole new audience has been introduced to Flowdan.
He said: “It totally opened up a whole new audience because of the mainstream power that someone like Skrillex brings wherever he goes. The Fred today wasn’t where Fred was when we actually made this song. His list of credits was definitely strong as he had certain points on Headie One’s album and tracks with Ed Sheeran, Stefflon Don and Burna Boy but outside on the streets, no one knew who Fred was.”
“Fast forward to now. It’s just like it is a whole new audience. There are lots of people who actually think I’m a new artist, which is amazing.”
[quote align=right text=”(‘Rumble’) totally opened up a whole new audience… There are lots of people who actually think I’m a new artist, which is amazing”]
Looking ahead to 2023, Flowdan wants to take this exposure and run with the opportunity but remain true to his craft.
He said: “2023 is going to be a very new year considering lots of people have got me as a new artist. My task is to get them onside and keep them onside and what got me here in the first place is what I will continue to do.”
“It’s very specific for me because I’m not a new artist and I have experience. I’m not necessarily going to change my formula, that might be expected, but I am experienced enough to know that I just have to stay steady with what you’re sure with.”
Alongside his music career, Flowdan has started his own record label ‘Spentshell’ which aims to help young artists without resources and provide them with the tools they need to grow- be it studio time, beats or songwriters.
Flowdan said: “If no one’s heard of you, no one necessarily wants to do you a favour or put their time and effort or investment into you. I think it’s important that that voice has a place where it can express itself because I was one of those people one day and the people that gave me chances, I just feel that I’ll forever owe in respect and gratitude. So rather than look for them and try and give them something that they don’t need I’m just trying to pass that same energy on to people that would need something like that.”
Want to learn how to make grime synths? Make sure to check out Attack’s article on Grime Synth Basics.
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