Next Wave #987: Jacques Fugee

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Clash recently wrapped up warm and battled the blustering autumnal winds for a socially distanced catch up with Jacques Fugee on the top of a barge in Hackney Wick. Sipping warm gin (it’s nicer than it sounds, honest!) from the Milk Float, we began trading stories in this unlikely but scenic location.

Essex/London based, Fugee is an alternative artist with his fingers in all the proverbial musical pies: he raps, sings, writes and produces his own music, and he wouldn’t have it any other way. “At the end of the day, I’m the face of my own brand, so I have to be hands on throughout the whole process, whether it’s musically, lyrically, aesthetically with the album artwork and music videos… if I’m not happy with how something sounds or looks then I wouldn’t want to put that out. If I’m not happy, I wouldn’t expect others to be either.”

Fugee’s sound is both something and nothing like you’ve heard before, it’s fresh, dreamy and meticulously assembled while fuelled by his various inspirations. “I would say I’m a melting pot of all my influences, whether that’s music, art or films – I’m really into my films. But yeah one day I’ll be listening to Pink Floyd, or Shake, or Young Thug and those different sounds mixing together will be my sounding board. Sometimes I’ll be singing sometimes I’ll be rapping, if I’m in the studio it’s just whatever I’m feeling at the time that gets expanded that’s how my process starts. In the moment type shit.”

When asked about the first time he remembers the urge to create, he laughs when he recounts what happened. “The first time I decided I wanted to make music was when I was around 12”, he recalls. “My cousin was a dancer – he was part of a crew – and one time I remember watching him dancing to Heartless by Kanye West in our living room, and I was just watching him and the way he moved to the music, and just thought the track was pretty cool, and how much I wanted to make music for people like my cousin. From then I just listened to Kanye on repeat, and it spiralled from there.”

‘Walking Dead’ is Jacques’ new single – and just in time for the spooky season. “I recorded this song about a year ago in Germany. I got picked up from the airport in the evening, we were driving around Dussledorf and it was by looking out the window at everything going by that I got the inspiration for it. That, and having a bit to drink and a smoke!” he laughs.

“When we got to the studio, Frizzo, the producer and all-round amazing guy, just played a beat and I just started – I had to kick everyone out – because I might do one line 30 times to get it perfect and it’s easier to be in my own headspace, because I can still get self conscious. All in all it took about five straight hours to put the track together. It’s funny actually, there’s a whisper tone throughout and that’s because there were people in the room with me so I was kinda whispering the lyrics, then I actually liked how it sounded so went with it, so it was a happy accident!”

It turns out Jacques also a big fan of the show that shares his track’s title. “I love Walking Dead! Negan is a boss character, he’s evil as fuck but the actor plays him so well. I love films and TV and I’ve always got some kind of movie reference in my videos so yeah I definitely took some inspiration from the show. My favourite movie of all time is Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, I must’ve seen it like a thousand times… it’s aesthetic and everything is just a major inspiration to me: the red Ferrari, the outfits, the whole vibe… it’s the perfect film and there’s so many elements to pick and choose from and rework into my own style.”

Watching Jacques talk about his influences and his own music is a wholesome experience, and you can’t help but get swept up in his enthusiasm. Fugee is very much on the right path, and Clash think it’s correct to expect some big things from him in the future. When asked about what he sees for himself in the next year, he gets fired up about his EP release which is on track for early 2021. “It was supposed to be out this year, but the pandemic kind of put a stop to that.” Jacques puts a positive spin on its delay by mentioning it’s given him more time to perfect his sound and vision. “I’d also like to collab with Hattie Stewart whose an amazing digital artist, her stuff is sick. Just wanted to put that out into the world!”

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‘Walking Dead’ is out now.

Words: Laura Copley