︎ INTERVIEW: FD
Since building up a solid platform from his modelling career, now currently signed to Storm Models, 20-year-old rapper fD has released a slew of singles, including his newest track 'Painting' - a triumphant reflection of the angel and demon contrast we all share within us. He's also been making waves through Instagram with his weekly freestyles over fire instrumentals.
Growing up in Crawley and now living in Horsham, UK, the model-turned-rapper exudes brims of confidence which he feels will be a catalyst to his ultimate blow up.
Cortex sat down with the promising rapper to talk his new single 'Paintings', breaking the UK rapper mould and more in this exclusive interview below.
So, you've got a new single out now entitled 'Painting'. What are you trying to convey in that?
For a couple months before the single, before I heard the beat, before I even wrote anything about it, I had a conversation with somebody and I was talking about like angels and demons. You could be the last person in the world but you'll still have a demon. You'll still have something that you think about or something that plays on your mind. With this single, it's basically saying that every single angel has a demon. This single is about embracing that. You might've been bad, but you can change that, right? Or you might be good, but you can still be a little bit bad. Everybody's born sining. It's okay to sin but don't go kill anybody. So it's just about that but also that we can be good and bad but you also don't know what people are going through.
Somebody could be all happy and smiling and I think the conversation arose from Mac Miller because obviously he was like one of the happiest rappers. Right? But really, in reality, he was depressed and killed himself. You don't know what's going on in somebody's life. They could be the biggest angel, but everybody's still walks with demons. Everybody still has something they might feel guilty about or regret. So that's really what drove this single for me. And normally, one thing I've learned, which I'm still learning, is to always have some push with what you're writing about. And that's one thing I've learned and why I want to carry on doing this, that like every single I'm putting out should have a meaning even if it's so small to me. Obviously somebody could hear this and think this is like a live song. But in reality there is like a moral to it. So everybody interprets music in a different way, which is good because that's what I want. I want people to turn up. I want people who actually listen to my lyrics and that, understand it.
Sums it up pretty nicely. Let's go back to the basics... could you talk to me about your background and how you got into music?
I'm half South African, half Italian. My family moved here (England) when I was two. When they moved here, we were like dead broke. For some time, my family was just moving around in Crawley. So, like, I grew up in Crawley and I lived in Crawley until I was like 15. I'm 20 now. Growing up, a lot of stuff happened when I was growing up. So me personally, I didn't really know how to deal with it. So I was quite a bad kid and I was acting out really bad for no reason, all the time. And then that carried on ‘til I was like 17. So I grew up in a group of friends where everyone was like footballers. Everybody was on some street shit. We were always on some like young boys, dumb, street shit.
At that time, I must've found Tumblr. Like Tumblr is so crazy to me. At first, I loved the aesthetic of it because it was around the time of like pyrex, high top air forces and gold chains. And I fucked with all that right. Then I must've found A$AP Rocky and then from Rocky, I found Mac Miller. From Mac Miller, I found like Schoolboy Q and all these people. Before that, hip hop wasn't really played in my house. If it was played in my house it was the bigger names like Dre or Snoop Dogg. In my family, my dad listened to a lot of rock and stuff and I was never really into music like that. But then around that time when I started checking Tumblr, I really started to get into it. So I started watching interviews, you know of that underground scene at the time. I was watching all their interviews, all their freestyles. I fell in love with Mac Miller, like a lot. That was my guy, I could relate to him a lot. And the thing is, he was chatting, he was talking about normal things. There weren't no guns, none of that. It was just normal shit. He's got a song called 'Kool Aid and Frozen Pizza'. He was just an ordinary guy. So that was cool, I'm ordinary as well.
Then around school and stuff, we were just young boys, beat played on the table and we'd be rapping, freestyles and that. Then we started doing competitive freestyles. As years went on, I just became cleaner with it. And so did some of the boys I grew up with, they became cleaner. We were all progressing but it wasn't like making music. We were just fucking around. But then I did music tech at college. I made beats. When we were making beats, we were making songs. It was a song with like 64 bars, you know, we were just rapping the whole way through. And then like I didn't think anything of it, but like music was still strong, toe to toe. I can tell you any interview and I'm really clued up about all this shit. Then, I started listening to a lot more sound. So like I fell in love with r&b, fell in love with like Drake and a lot of Toronto music. And then, as time went on, I didn't really do anything about it. And then my boy dropped a song. Now I was on legends. It was covered on the new GRM playlist, time ago. And it did well, so I was like 'cool, i'm going to start rapping. People are following me.' And then literally from there, I was just dropping on soundcloud, song after song. It was just building and building little articles and people talking about it. And then I got model scouted around that same time. So it was always just like playing into one, you know? And then just carried on, carried on and then obviously started releasing in 2018 at the start. And then I just took a break because I really, really want to work on the music. Like I really want people to hear my music. I don't want to be that soundcloud guy. I refuse to drop anything on soundcloud anymore purely because you just end up in the same bucket as everybody else and I'm not that guy.
You've mentioned to me that your full time job is being a model at the moment. Do you feel like you have more to prove to people? Have you had trouble being taken seriously as rapper before?
I definitely feel like I have to prove more because a lot of people look at me and I always, always, always, if I meet somebody new, I'll always front that I'm a musician first. I'm not a model right. If they asked me how I make my money, I'll tell them. I always push that first because that's what I want to be known as. I don't want to be known as that guy. And I got scouted, if I didn't get scouted too, I would've never done it. And obviously it changed my life but I've been given a platform, so I might as well use the platform for the right reasons and the right reasons for me or for music. So if I do have to prove myself more, that's fine. I'm used to prove more because people look at me and they think I'm a stereotypical model. When really I'm very quiet and I stay to myself. I don't really have model friends. I just do my thing, make my money and then dip in and out. But it also gives me a great platform to network and actually push further in the music.
But to the other question, 100%. I don't feel I get the recognition I deserve, but also the world owes me nothing. So I'm down to work and I still do work. It's just if people aren't ready for that project, that's the problem. Like I said if people don't know, they're going to know. I feel like I'm different because people might think I fell off because I took a break when really the break was calculated. It's a calculated route. People have to take them routes because you can't just keep releasing trash music for the same views. It's just not worth it. The only way I'm going to progress is if I progress mentally and as a musician recharge.
Describe to me your creative process when you're writing these songs.
So I write all the time, all the time. I could be like on the train, I'm going to think of something and write it down. I might listen to a beat and write a whole song or listen to a beat pack and write like four songs. But, I'm real picky so I might love one verse and then cut it down to like four bars. Or use those four bars there, put them into a song and then use the other lot of bars like two years later. I've used bars from 2015 from my phone just because it made sense to me then and it made sense to me now. So my creative process is quite up and down.
I find inspiration in so many different things and I feel like the more creative people find inspiration and things that normal people wouldn't. I used to only find it (inspiration) from music and then I started to find it from fashion and then I started to find it from life in general, like going to different places and going to different cities. And when I went to Toronto, that gave me the most inspiration ever in my whole life. No city has ever given me that inspiration. I don't know what it was. It was something about the vibe there that made me feel like I could actually do it. It's weird.
A bit of a broader question, what are your ultimate goals for the future?
My main goal is to take this music out of this country. It's not that I don't love the UK, it's just that my sound isn't really catered for the UK. My sound is catered for the American or Canadian market. So that's my main goal. My other goal is to really just be a great musician and to learn. I want to meet real musicians, real artists, real people to actually work with. That's another thing I feel like I'm missing in my sound is good engineers, good producers. If somebody gave me a great producer and a great engineer, I probably would have blown up. But obviously that takes time and I'm cool with that. But yeah, just to grow as a musician. And I'm very creative so I probably do sound crazy. I just like being creative all the time. Like in 10 years, I could want to be a film director. It's just how your life really takes you. But at the minute, that's really it to be honest.
Apart from this single, what else can we expect from you in the near future ?
So Imma keep me, Imma keep releasing singles. But I've already got two ideas for EPs. I was going to release an EP before winter but I stopped myself. But like I'm more ready. I could drop four EPs right now. I've got so much music in my locker, but definitely singles. I'm definitely going to work on maybe one or two big videos this year. But that takes time and I don't want to rush anything and I'm not going to rush. So definitely singles though. People are going to hear me, 100%.
Final question, what is your definition of creativity?
Creativity. My definition of creativity is honesty. So, me personally for so long, I was so worried about whether a song wasn’t getting this much views or, like, people aren't hearing it in this way or people aren't understanding in this way. But really what I’ve learned is to just be honest. You make it how you were to make it. But people interpreted in a different way, then they interpret it in another way. If people want to hear it and that way, they hear in that month they like it don't like it. That's their opinion, right?
But the thing is you make it for yourself. You made that music how you want to make it, right? No one can teach you how to make music. That's one thing I've learned, you've got to be honest. And that's really what creativity is because if we were to talk about art, music is art, right? So this is my way of making art. This is how I express myself. Recently, I've been going to art exhibitions and I'm looking at art and I'm interpreting it in a different way. So, it's really just being honest with yourself because you wouldn't say to an artist, you have to paint like this or you have to sculpt like that. It's just the honesty within that person. I think that's the problem with the UK. The honesty isn't there. People aren't honest. In one half, you have a ton of people doing the same sound, the same music and you've heard it a million times. But people are still going to play it because it's trendy and blah, blah, blah. Then on the other half, you have people who might be different, but make the trends. They were differents because they were just honest. But then there's that group in the middle of who lie, who aren't honest and who were talking about things. It's like a country kid making drill music. You wouldn't do that. So like that's where the problem in the UK is there. I think that's where the problem in music is really. So me personally, creativity is honesty, that's it.
Check out 'Painting' above.
Interviewed & written by BENJI REEVES
Photographed by GIOVANNY ESTRELLA TALENTTI