Dancing Astronaut’s 2022 Artist of the Year: Fred again..
Written by ADMIN on December 20, 2022
by: Rachel Narozniak
Dec 20, 2022
Dance music can be polarizing; the voices that deride the genre have often been as loud as those that champion it, and the former’s refrain (some variation of “I don’t like ‘EDM’”) is all too familiar to the latter. But the lines of this dichotomy blurred this year—and the smudging stick rested firmly in the hands of U.K. import Fred again..
Indeed, over the past 12 months, listeners who have not traditionally identified with the dance/electronic genre and those who have punched their tickets to Fred again.. sets and padded their playlists—and often, their Instagram stories—with selections from his diaristic Actual Life triptych. And herein lies the inherent beauty of music: its capacity to connect and cross-pollinate. On a large scale and to a degree that has not been seen in dance music’s post-EDM era, Fred again.. uniquely bridged dance-eschewing and dance-embracing audiences while increasing the genre’s reach beyond its immediate and established circles. For this and for his corresponding laundry list of accomplishments this year, Fred again.. is Dancing Astronaut’s 2022 Artist of the Year.
It takes a long time to achieve so-called “overnight” success, and the advent of the noise-making first installment in Fred again..’s Actual Life LP series, Actual Life (April 14 – December 17 2020), released in 2021, created the illusion that the British producer little known by American listeners at the time was exactly that. But as most by now know, Fred again.. was and is anything but, as evidenced in part by his work with Brian Eno long before he’d feel the warmth of the still-recent limelight. Since the producer, born Fred Gibson, stepped out as a solo act in 2020, his deep, polished expertise in music production and magpie approach to collecting and immortalizing clips of life’s ephemera have won him a staying power and reach rare for those in dance circles. The clearest embodiment came in April, when Fred again..’s Coachella debut drew attendees by the thousands to the festival’s Mojave Tent. While amassing a crowd of such size is expected of headliners such as Harry Styles or Swedish House Mafia, it’s less so for a dance/electronic act still relatively early in his career as an individual artist. In this way, Coachella had dual impact for Fred again…; his set, available worldwide via Goldenvoice’s livestream, put him on screens in the US and around the world, expanding his footprint while serving as a barometer of listeners’ response to his music. The answer was resounding.
Fred again..’s Coachella set was as an affirmation of his artistry for the initiated, whose entry points were varied. Whereas some gained exposure to Fred again.. through the first or second installments in the Actual Life series (both released in 2021), others learned of him through his nearly inescapable Boiler Room London set, which permeated social platforms, surpassed 5 million streams in just four weeks, and fittingly won him BBC Radio 1’s 2022 Dance Award for Viral Moment of the Year. For others, it was Paradise Again, where he picked up writing and production credits on “Calling On” and later rubbed shoulders with Axwell, Sebastian Ingrosso, and Steve Angello not only on “Turn On The Lights again..,” but also at a pop-up boiler room-style set in Queens, New York that became the de facto after party for Swedish House Mafia’s August 4 date at Madison Square Garden in support of their comeback album. And if listeners hadn’t previously become acquainted with Fred again.. through these endeavors, it’s likely that his work with Four Tet (“Jungle,” released on June 29) and Skrillex (the other mind behind their well-circulated yet still unreleased collaboration, “RUMBLE“), respectively, were the jumping off points. For the uninitiated, though, the British tastemaker’s appearance at the Indio Valley affair was as much an invitation to delve into his catalog as it was a catalyst for some of the fanfare for Actual Life 3 (January 1 – September 9 2022), one of the genre’s most-anticipated long-players that was eventually released on November 2. Astoundingly, Actual Life 3 marked Fred again..’s third studio album in 18 months.
Along the way and evidence of his versatility, Fred again.., who was included in Dancing Astronaut‘s class of Artists to Watch in 2022, also received a 2022 Grammy Award nomination in the “Song of the Year” category for his writing on Ed Sheeran’s “Bad Habits.” The nomination follows the Recording Academy’s nod to Jayda G’s “Both Of Us,” co-written and co-produced by Fred again.., for Best Dance Recording in 2021. The 2022 Grammy nomination is flanked by Fred’s nomination for the 2022 BRIT Award for British Dance Act, not to mention a flurry of sold-out dates on his North American fall tour.
Dancing Astronaut‘s annual Artist of the Year nomination and selection process is often marked by dueling cases for the classification, ultimately decided by internal vote. The outcome of this conversation is the identification of an artist whose activity during the given year was not only uniquely noteworthy, but also multifaceted. Fred again..’s candidacy for Artist of the Year is overwhelmingly owed to the dizzying number of benchmarks that he realized in 2022; however, we would be remiss not to acknowledge that this year’s anomalous success is built on his artistic percolation over the past two years. During a year in which Fred again.. likely heard “congratulations” many times, allow our social and editorial team to say it again.. to a producer whose recognition as our 2022 Artist of the Year was not only unrivaled, but also unanimously supported by Dancing Astronaut staff in a testament to his unequivocal impact and output this year.
Featured image: Julian Bajsel