- Thu, 2008-09-25 12:04
N-Dubz have roots. Formed through a passion for music and an un-yielding drive to work hard and do their own thing, the trio, formed of cousins Dappy and Tulisa along with close friend Fazer, have gone from strength to strength on the UK urban scene. Hailing from St John's Wood, London, N-Dubz won a MOBO for Best Newcomer 2007 and have continued to drive their music forward. N-Dubz current track, titled Ouch, is a response to their 2006 hit I Swear. I Like Music caught up with Richard Rawson - Fazer - to chat about the new album, how N-Dubz stick together and the music he listens to in his spare time.
"I Like Music because… it’s very good for the soul.” Fazer, N-Dubz
ILM: Can you describe the vibe of Ouch?
Fazer: Basically it is a female response to I Swear. It is the ladies time to get back at us guys for being the bad boys so they say....
ILM: The single is taken from your new album. What were the highlights whilst working on the album?
Fazer: The highlights have been the shows and the reception and feedback we get when we've done the shows. It helps us to carry on in the music industry and not give up and keep working even harder.
ILM: What did you learn throughout the process?
Fazer: Dappys Dad, who was managing us for the last nine years, Uncle D, passed away on the 14th September 2007, which was a big loss for us. But, everything seemed to make sense in this industry as soon as he passed. When there is someone around you don't really realise it, but when they're gone you realise everything that they were trying to put in front of you. All these vampires and people coming in, trying to jump on the band wagon.
ILM: How do you deal with fame and keep your focus?
Fazer: We ain't from the best place of London, so we actually have got hard heads on our shoulders which helps to keep us grounded. Not many people can walk over us. We do try hard to keep our heads focused and keep the focus regardless of whatever problems arise within this music industry.
ILM: What is it that has enabled you to stay together?
Fazer: Our motivation as a group, as a band and as an act to actually work as hard as we do in the studio. Our Uncle D as well, he played a big part in keeping us together. Also the family side of it. Dappy and Tulisa are family, Dappy is like my brother, Tulisa is like my sister as well. It's all very close and it keeps us together. If we weren't family, certain things we say to each other would get overseen. It helps that we're family. It keeps us together.
ILM: What is the N-Dubz process of making music?
Fazer: I might be sitting in my house on my portable studio, I've got my little Mac Book Pro. I might come up with an idea for a beat, probably write a little melody, not words or anything like that, but come up with a melody for a hook. I'll show the track to Dappy and the beat and the melodies that I've come up with and we'll start adapting with that. Then we'll start coming up with new ideas between us. Dappy will come up with ideas for the chorus maybe, cos obviously he has got that very stand out voice, a unique voice, so we like to put him on the chorus. So Dappy comes up with that and Tulisa brings her own part to the track as well. We do everything ourselves. We record the tracks, we produce the music, we write everything, we mix it, we master it, we do pretty much everything.
ILM: It's refreshing to hear that you have such a strong hold on your music, that you are producing exactly what you want people to hear..
Fazer: One main thing you have to have in this industry, whether you are with a label or not, is your full creative control. If you've been making music to the extent that you think it is your sound, you've been working on your sound and progressing on your sound for so long, then it's not right for a label to come in and try and manufacture it in a way which is not you. It is very, very, very important, if you do sign to a label to keep your creative control. We've got 100% business and creative control which is really good for us.
ILM: What are your inspirations?
Fazer: Right now, I'm in the central offices in London. I'm on my computer in front of me and I've got a CD which I brought from my house which I like listening to because it gives me great inspiration and motivation to carry on. It's two brothers, two singers, classical singers and they go by the name of RyanDan. You can check them out on youtube, they're really amazing singers. I listen to them. They make real good music. It's not contemporary rock or anything like that, it's classical music. In my spare time I listen to RyanDan, George Michael, Boy George, Elton John and everyone. Since the eighties hit and hiphop hit I knew music would never be the same again. As soon as I heard electro dance I knew music would never be the same again, so I stick to my roots and I listen to old skool music in my spare time.
ILM: What do you take from those artists and bring to your own music?
Fazer: Everything from vocal arrangements to track arrangements, middle eights to bridges, harmonies, two piece harmonies, three piece harmonies, key changes, we listen to everything in all tracks and take it back to our little studio and apply that essence on our track in our own way. It gives us our own sound which is N-Dubz music.
ILM: What is your earliest musical memory?
Fazer: Growing up my mum was always listening to music around me. I started playing drums from an early age, throughout primary school. I stopped when I went to secondary school and started writing lyrics to up-tempo music, garage back in the day. I linked up with Dappy in high-school and me and Dappy started writing lyrics together. We needed a singer, to form a group and get someone for a couple of our tracks and he was just like 'Yeah, I've got a singer, my cousin.' So we got Talisa down the studio and since then we've just been working together.
ILM: What are your future plans?
Fazer: After the album we have the release of Pappa Can You Hear Me. It's a song we wrote for Dappy's dad. Hopefully we'll hit the BRITs by February and after that world domination....hahahahaha!
ILM: Do you have live dates planned?
Fazer: Yeah we've got a few. Hammersmith Apollo is coming up, we've got Dublin.
ILM: What can we expect if we come and see you guys live?
Fazer: A road block. A show that you will never forget. We don't just stand on the stage. You'll never know what to expect when you come and see N-Dubz performing. Dappy might just jump up on the stage with the drum sticks and play the drums with his hands or his feet....there will always be something crazy, something out of this world.
ILM: What is your advice for people wanting to get into the music industry?
Fazer: Don't do something similar. That's number one. Be yourself. Be unique. Do something that no-one else has done. There has been a Beyonce so don't go and start shaking, there's been a 50 cent so don't put a do-rag under your hat and switch it to the side and say G-Unit, cos it's not going to happen. There's been an Amy Winehouse already so there's no point going with the old school English, be yourself. Be unique. Come up with a new sound. Work, work, put the work in. Make sure you work on every single track like it was your last track. Make sure that you keep moving forward with it. If you don't work work then you will not succeed. We say 'Work work and you will succeed in life' there is no such thing as giving up.
ILM: If you could change one thing about society what it would be?
Fazer: I think everyone should be real. A lot of people put on a fake front when they come round N-Dubz because they see us on the TV. We are just people, we're normal 21 year old kids, we're from the dirt. There is no point putting on a front with us. There are a lot of broken promises in this industry. It is one of the most un-predictable industries in the world. If you want to do anything in this world you have to be serious about it. If you want to be a business man you have to be serious about your business, if you want to work in child care you have to be serious about it, it doesn't matter what industry you are trying to get into, you have to be serious about it. You will not suceed if you are not serious about it.