This evening, Fazer’s brand new show ‘Fazer’s Urban Takeover’ is set to premiere on BBC Three. The show sees N-Dubz’s Fazer put his neck on the line as he takes seven unknown urban musicians through a classical crash course.
As a producer, Fazer has always been a fan of the classical genre, he listens to it a lot and he uses orchestral pieces in his own music. He thought it would be a great idea to allow a group of teenagers from various different backgrounds who would never give the genre the time of day, to experience what he experiences when he listens to classical music.
I recently had the amazing opportunity to catch up with Fazer ahead of the show’s premiere this evening on BBC Three, in which he told me that he wanted to put a group together who all thought that classical music was for old and posh people. His aim was to try and close the gap between Urban music and Classical music and mash the two genre’s together.
Fazer and the group along with some help from the best names in the genre set about to fuse together an urban number with an 85-piece orchestra. The biggest challenge was performing to a six and a half thousand strong crowd at the Royal Albert Hall. Not only that, the piece was being live streamed across radio and TV at the same time.
Check out what Fazer had to say about the show, classical music and a potential N-Dubz reunion, below:
Can you tell us a little bit about the show?
“I came up with this crazy idea that I wanted to put together what I call an Urban Orchestra. I went around the country and auditioned a load of guys, all very talented people from rappers to singers to guitar soloists, drummers, you name it. I narrowed it down to seven people and we made a record which fuses classical music and contemporary music that you listen to at the moment. I took them from nothing to the Royal Albert Hall to perform with an 85 piece orchestrta”.
What inspired you to bring classical music to the masses and to a group of people that would never have given the genre the time of day?
“I listen to a vast majority of music and if you listen to my iPod there’s a vast majority of music from Sting to Freddy Mercury to Fleetwood Mac and then there’s people like Pavarotti and the classical stuff and then you listen to hip-hop and rock and Mumford & Sons. I listen to every single thing that is out now. I’ve always been a big fan of classical music as I’m a producer and I write all my own music and classical always has a big influence in my music. Not now, but in the future I’d like to go into producing movie scores as I’ve always had an interest in classical music. For me, it was to give others the opportunity to experience what I experience and at the same time, I feel if young people aren’t listening to classical music, where’s the audience for classical going to come from?”
Was you ever worried that the show may crash and burn? You took on such a big challenge as none of the group knew anything about classical music.
“That’s the whole thing I wanted, I didn’t want people that knew a lot about classical music, I didn’t want to find people that was an A grade in this – I wanted to find genuinely talented people that play the drums and don’t necessarily know about classical music and have no interest in it what so ever. That was the whole point, to find people who didn’t have an interest in it and convert them onto classical music”.
Did you ever think you may have to pull the plug? When you announced to the group what the show was really about, they all looked like they wanted the ground to swallow them up.
“I told them they were coming for a second audition but I lied to them as I knew they were going to be in a group. When I told them that they were going to be performing with an 85 piece orchestra at the Royal Albert Hall in front of six and a half thousand people and then however many people are listening live on radio and watching on TV, it was a reality check. I sent them up and down the country to meet people and to give them a classical crash course. I’ll give them their props, they went in at the deep end and dove straight in and went for it”.
The group all had their stories, especially Kurtis and his experiences in London, did it dawn on you whilst doing the show that this was more than an experiment? It may be a way out for some of them as well.
“With experiments, there’s always a time when it can go wrong and if I put my name to something I want to do it properly, I don’t want it to be half hearted or I’d pull down the show. If I thought it wasn’t going to work or the guys weren’t going to deliver on the night or they just weren’t interested and it was all banter for them, I’d have pulled down the show as it’s not worth having that on my head. There was times where I was like ‘Oh My God!’ They’re young and everyone comes from different backgrounds, everyone comes from different stories – there’s people from Manchester, people from London”.
Fazer’s Urban Takeover has been described as an ‘upmarket X Factor’. Of course, any singing talent show is going to be compared to the giant. What do you make of the comparison?
“It’s nothing like X Factor, I’ll tell you that now. I’m not sitting on a panel judging people, I get really involved with the people in the programme. It’s one straight audition, but it wasn’t like The X Factor as I wasn’t telling people ‘No, come back next year’. They came in, auditioned and once the auditions were done I made a decision. I don’t think there’s anything like this on TV right now!”
You said in a recent interview that you do everything for the music. You’re never in the tabloids for anything like Tulisa and Dappy. Is it important for you to keep a clean slate and make a real difference to the industry?
“I’m grown up and I’m an adult, I’m a father to a child and there comes a time for things in your life where you learn from your mistakes. I’m not saying I’m an angel, I’m not saying I haven’t done anything wrong in my life, but you learn from stuff. I’m at a point in my life where I can look at all the negatives and turn them into positives. You won’t ever see me in the tabloids for any sh*t like that or anything stupid. All you’re going to see me in is magazines for making great music. I do make records and I do make music and that’s all I want to be known for like a young Pharell or a young Will.i.am”.
As you have always been a big fan of classical music, will you be implementing more of the orchestra side of things in your future music?
“If you listen to any of the N-Dubz records that I have produced before, you’ll hear they’re very string led and very orchestral led. If you listen to them, the songs have a stadium sort of epic sound to it. Any of the big N-Dubz numbers like No Regrets starts with strings at the beginning. So it has always had an influence in my music from day dot and it always will do. If you listen to my new single, it’s full of it. We recorded with 15 piece string and it sounds absolutely amazing”.
The success of your debut solo album is also important to you. Do you think the success of that may rule out an N-Dubz reunion in the future?
“If it goes well and the fans go out and buy it and support it, I think next year if we’re ever to do an N-Dubz reunion then it will give it a bit more leverage because people will think Fazer has done nothing but make great music and that’s what N-Dubz was about in the first place. Once you get in the media and the limelight, press and people always try and find something. The only bad thing about it was growing up in the limelight as teenagers, we made our mistakes growing up. I think if I can keep a clean slate and keep out of trouble and make sure I just make music and make hit records, that’s all I want. As far as an N-Dubz reunion, I think it sends it all up again”.
Fazer’s Urban Takeover is a two-part documentary which premieres on BBC Three this evening (September 16) at 9pm.