Fr Joey Takes Us Down The Way: Exclusive Interview
The single is being released by FR Joey, a French raised artist and songwriter from South-East London. First stepping onto the scene in 2018 with his release 'Switch' and consistently followed with impressive visuals for songs such as 'Summer's Over' and 'Captain'. FR uses his music to create distinct but relatable narratives. He has collaborated widely recognised producers such as NYGE and our Issue VII cover star Sam Wise.
His new release Down the Way is a music video, produced and directed by award-winning production company LAMBB , celebrating the duality of modern day women whom are able to juggle a career, education and a relationship. The video tackles the notion of women “having it all”, and showcases a day-in-the-life of a multifaceted young woman defying societal constraints. Women are typically made to choose and the concept of independence and commitment seemingly become polar opposites that are unable to co-exist.
FR Joey found it necessary to create a tribute to the women who raised him. He states “women play a big part in the growth of not only me but the community. It was important to me and my team to place women of various shapes and sizes on a platform – and not in the usual video-vixen way.”
We sat down with Fr Joey on set of this video and had an insightful converation about his mentality and his musical direction.
Where does your name derive from?
French is the name that everyone calls me because where I grew up, I was the only one speaking French in the area, so they called me French. My older brother, they call him ‘French’ as well, so I had to kind of differentiate myself from him, so I called myself FR for short. The Fr then found its own meaning, ‘Forever Rich’.
Is ‘FR’ something that you want to be synonymous with your brand, take ASAP Mob for example.
Nah, that’s going to be ‘ST’, meaning The Saints or Stay True.
How would you describe your sound?
I don’t even know. It’s just me. It’s what I’m inspired by, what I like so I just merge that into me.
What are your musical influences?
Theirs’s so many artists, different types of artists as well that I listen to. It’s a variation of music, it's not only Hip/Hop and Rap.
Who are your biggest influences?
Jay Z is the main man. It’s more about his approach to music that I appreciate and what he wants to deliver in the music. Travis Scott in terms of how the music sounds and makes the journey…Who else…I don’t know. Kanye, Kendrick, Drake. They all have something that I love about them. If you ask my friends, they’ll tell you I only listen to good music. I do my best to filter through, so it helps me.
What would you describe as good music?
It’s concept, musical style and what is your message. What are you trying to teach the people? What are you trying to tell them about yourself? And the way that you deliver it.
Songs like ‘Switch’ and ‘Summer’s Over’ are drastically different sounds. What did you try to tell the people about yourself in those songs?
Summer’s over was just letting them know that I’m coming. This is my time, it's my first song, this may not be what I sound like but just get ready for me. Switch was letting the people know that I’ll keep switching lanes, I’m not just going to sound one way. I can’t be tamed; I can’t be put in a box.
Why is it important for you to be so versatile?
Because that’s what I am. When I have meetings with my manager I’m always like “I want to do this and that” but he urges me to stick to something. I don’t want to just stick to something because it’s not who I am. I’m a different guy in terms of my character. I love anime, I love trappin’, I love music, I love fashion. I’m versatile as a person so portraying that in my music is the best way.
What are your average recording sessions like? What makes you feel a certain way to make a certain song?
For me, it starts with the producer. I have two inhouse producers, that’s NYGE and Levi Lennox. What we do before a session is just walk in, have a conversation then they start something off. For example, I needed something for an R&B project I’m working on. I don’t really want to [be Reminiscent of] be Ray J singing in the rain, I want it to be something that you can vibe to. Because they know me it’s easier to get the message across. With a producer artist relationship, they need to know you.
Most of the time it’s when the beat is done, that’s when I make my music. I need the production first before I write, even if its just a drum pattern.
Do you have a formula or Structure for creating different types of music?
Sometimes it’s freestyles. I can just go in the booth and freestyle a whole song. I prefer the writing process because I can change words and make words have more meaning.
What is your opinion on the current state of UK music?
I think it’s alright. I always believed in being the change that you want to see in the world. I feel like I can add something that sends a message to my peers, I think it’s alright though. It’s just very flat for me, but there has been a lot of big moves happening and I respect that but I feel like the music is too bland, not expressive enough.
What two words would you use to describe what your bringing to the UK scene?
It can’t be two words, it has to be three. Freedom, Special and Different
What is your overall creative vision as an artist?
I take it a step at a time man.
We had a chance to see you live at the HOP headline show, how important is your stage presence to you as an artist?
That was my first show, that was nerve-racking as fuck, I loved it though. Towards the end, I started liking it but at the start in front of nearly 2,000 people, it’s mad.
A lot of people don’t get the opportunity to have such a big show as their first
I know, I know. HOP are my friends; I chill with them a lot. It’s a blessing man.
We feel like it was a good introduction
It’s only going to get better, now I’ve got my confidence, It’s peak [laughs]
Why was it so important to come out the gate with so many videos?
It’s just understanding how it works because I don’t want any label behind me anytime soon, so I need to understand how it works as soon as possible. Everything just needs to be quick, just work rate. I’m not trying to wait on a day for someone to think I’m popping. I’m just going to keep coming till I get there.
In the world that we live in now, visuals are so important so I just want to flood it.
How important do you believe an independent artist’s team is in reaching the artist’s goals?
Personally, I don’t want to be caged in just yet. I want to put my sound out as much as possible. I dictate where my sound is going to go, and I don’t want people telling me to do this or that. I want to see it for myself
Who are some of the key members of your team?
Definity Benjamin my manager, Azeez Bello, Tobi Logan, Ace, Naomi Grant. She gives me advice and stuff like that…and my Mum as well [laughs]. And God
Do you have any upcoming collaborations? Is there anyone you'd love to work with?
A couple of people, you should look out for it. Sam Wise, Blaze YL, Iman Lake. Look out for Iman Lake, he’s talented. Zai Zai, NYGE, Levi Lennox, Elevate. Yeah.
What are your Plans musically and visually for 2019?
We have the Run Down Season Tape coming out, Volume One and obviously Down The Way which you can all listen to right now.
Thank you for sitting down with us
My pleasure, Down The Way directed by Lambb official out now, more music coming soon.