god bless fred

i am watching fred’s tiny desk, again, for the againth time. if u thought fred again was just a popular EDM music producer, if u don’t think very highly of dance music as a genre, u need to be watching his tiny desk concert. if u love fred, well, u love it already.

the range and depth of his musicality is on full display. he plays the marimba with two hands, four mallets, mouth-open-breathing hands-tapping, iPhone earbuds stretched over his sweatshirt. he walks back and forth between the marimba, his looping equipment, the piano. his voice is thin, tender, scratchy at the edges—whispered into the microphone, whispered in ur ears, tickling ur heart, touching ur bones. if i recall correctly i think i heard him saying he dislikes his own singing voice. i would listen to him sing anything.

he has a precision, an intensity, a vigor on his face, a joy. everything is just right. he’s been preparing for this. he spent weeks practicing, re-learning instruments he hadn’t played in years, to play everything live. he is in flow. nothing can stop him.

he knows something i don’t. he experiences something i haven’t. i see it in his eyes, his hands, the way they dance on the piano, the way he rocks back and forth in rhythm. his body is more than flesh and bones: he is the marimba, he is the piano, he is the looping equipment, he is the microphone, he is the table he bangs with his hands to make drum beats. he is even somehow not separate from the color-dyed tiktok singers and slam poets he samples, excerpts playing in rhythm with the music of fred’s soul.

when i watch fred play, i see glimpses of something. i can’t put a finger on it. this happens to me more and more. there are things i see, i feel, i sense, i Know, that i cannot prove or even point to, that words can barely describe—and yet i Know them all the same, there is a there there. 

this thing i sense in fred—it has me so curious what his phenomenology is like. i can guess but, in truth, i have no real idea.

i wonder what it’s like for him to play an instrument, the piano or his looper or the MIDI controller he fingerdrums on to make music i’ve never heard the likes of before. 

i wonder what it’s like for him to use his samples, what they mean to him, what stories he is telling, what he is trying to express. i imagine each sample sharing a tale, each note signaling a theme, track after track layering into an orchestral performance of significance, heard by all and understood in full only by fred’s heart, perhaps his friends, certainly by God.

i wonder what it’s like for him to sit in the studio, piecing his songs together. picking snippets of voice memos and clips of instagram reels. fucking around on the keyboard until he finds something. looping audio drones to layer sounds and tracks atop. what makes him feel satisfied with a piece he’s created. how he knows when it’s ready to go.

i wonder what it’s like for him to collaborate with other people—to work with Four Tet or Skrillex or Obongjayar or Overmono or Lil Yachty. who he vibes with, and why (or why not). how he likes to collaborate. how he incorporates his own gifts into the music, and lets the tracks be shaped by those of others. what he learns from others, and what he shares.

i don’t have to wonder quite so much what it’s like for him to be at Glastonbury, finally. he says as much. “glasto, what the fuck is going on?” he asks with a smile. as the music plays, he puts words on the screen, over videos in red, which are, i believe, taken recently, of the people at the concert and the nearby areas. the words are written in his typical informal style, as if he’s a friend texting u:

Glastonbury whattt arrrreeee u sayinnnnn?!?!?!?!

Oh my god this is my favourite place on EARTH

When I started making music

This was the place I always dreamt to play it


So thank you so so so SO much for being here

in the middle of the set he shouts out to his friend, “hen i can’t believe i can still see you in the middle of this crowd.” i don’t have to wonder at the happiness and joy and pride he feels, sharing that moment with Hen. i wonder instead, what a moment like that would feel like for me, with my friends.

i admire fred. his music, of course, and his virtuosity. his intensity and focus. his dedication.  how honest and raw and real to his own life and his process he is. his playfulness, his boyish enthusiasm. 

the kindness he shows his collaborators—the way he hypes up Tony at Glasto, or how excited he is to meet Obongjayar (and his family) in person. the way he works the crowds at his shows, involving them in the performance, making them active participants and friends rather than mere observers and consumers.

i sense fred as gifted. skilled from years and years and to my heart, lifetimes of musicality. wise in knowing what matters—creation, friendship, living life fully. young, too—30 years. i sense his youth in between the lines. i sense the hardships he’s had and those to come. “we gonna make it through.”

he ends his tiny desk concert by thanking the crowd. i parse this as genuine humility. he knows that it’s an incredible performance he’s just given, he knows that true gifts are coming through his life, but it’s not something he takes for granted or makes about him—it’s a privilege he’s grateful for, a blessing he’s awed by.

i hope to meet fred one day. i would love to collaborate with him—to make music together, perhaps mettāwave, for the joy of many and the benefit of all—a track or an album or a mettā dance party. i would love to have him on my podcast, to ask him about his life story, his experience of making music, his phenomenology, his heart. 

i would love those things so much—they would both be so rewarding. but watching him play, feeling his heart, above all—i would genuinely love to be his friend. i sense we would be good to each other—have fun, share love, go deep. 

in any case, however our paths cross, or don’t—here’s to fred. thank u for ur music, brother. it’s brought me happiness on dark days and hope on bright days. may ur art always bring u joy, may it always lead u forwards. god bless u, fred, again and again. 

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