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Fred again.. is inescapable these days. But unlike other names hyped ad nauseam into oblivion this year, his is one you'd be smart to emotionally invest in.

For some reason, musicians are still expected to masquerade as doppelgängers of themselves—cringey caricatures sharing manufactured moments through the vacuous engines of TikTok. Content culture is the music industry's newest and most vicious plague, and it corrodes the mental health of its most authentic artists.

But as social media continues to dig its crooked claws into the sincerity of musicians, Fred again.. is fracturing its nefarious nature by being his most genuine self.

fred again

Fred again.. performs live at Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival 2022.

There's a sad sense of attrition in the wearisome world of electronic dance music, where sacrifice and compromise are regarded as routine truisms. Artists often relinquish a piece of themselves in order to perpetuate their commercial image, only to be callously rejected when they pursue personal growth.

But Fred, whose music functions as a diary by sampling real-life encounters he captures on video, is living proof that fans only want the real you. In the wake of the pandemic, we crave real connections with sincere artists—not some cheap facsimile grown in a Petri dish using helixes of TikTok DNA.

And if we're lucky, his new album, Actual Life 3, will throw a wrench into content culture, an endless wood chipper that chomps away at our best artists by forcing them to prioritize vapid social interaction over music creation. If musicians can succeed simply by sharing raw, uncut material from their actual lives instead of spending hours editing it to preserve a fake one, maybe they'll finally be able to breathe.

fred again

Last week we were on the gothic grounds of the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, where Fred performed a triptych of sold-out shows. He's currently touring ahead of the release of the album, a Grammy dark horse.

It's no secret that the hype surrounding Fred has exploded in 2022. But any scintilla of skepticism we had quickly disintegrated within 30 seconds of his first keystroke.

Performing in Hollywood—a city that churns out viral cookie-cutter androids like Nvidia—Fred put his humanity front and center. The prolific DJ and producer projected his experiences on a giant LED screen, which was fittingly shaped like a mobile phone.

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Banter with a friendly construction worker and a spiritual soliloquy from a woman were just two of these visuals. With the profound ability to turn their foibles into visceral dance music, Fred has become a master of unfiltered storytelling.

There's an alluring humility in someone who's able to so effortlessly find beauty in the little things.

Fred sunk his teeth in from the get-go, kicking off by enveloping us in the warm-and-fuzzy electronica of "Kyle (I Found You)," which samples renowned slam poet Guante.

It wasn't long before the spellbinding flutes of "Turn On The Lights again.." slithered into focus. Fred's collaboration with Swedish House Mafia hit different in the boneyard, its deep sub-bass eerily slicing through the night's summer air like a hot knife through butter.

In a night flush with electric moments, one of its undeniable highlights was Fred's incandescent live rendition of his heartbreaking track, "Me (Heavy)." After calling for a lull in the energy, he softly sung about the struggles associated with staying strong while the health of your better half deteriorates in the hospital.

"I want to run in there and steal you out, unplug the wires and kiss your mouth," he quavered before a soundless, awestruck crowd.

The performance opened a window into his soul that no amount of lasers, pyrotechnics or other ostentatious rave production could offer. It's an axiom that EDM festivals and concerts largely depend on sensory overload, but Fred dismantles it by removing those hollow distractions.

When there's no smokescreens, the only thing you're able to focus on is the silhouette onstage—and the music emanating from it.

Actual Life 3 (January 1 - September 9 2022) is out now. You can listen to the album below.

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