Super producer behind seven number one singles shares stories with DMU students

When a music producer, who has co-written and recorded seven No1 UK singles with megastars like Adele, speaks at your university you really have to sit up and take notice.

And around 60 De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) undergraduates, college students and local musicians were lucky to be given the opportunity to do just that when the multi award-winning Fraser T Smith visited the campus.

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Yasin (left) chairs a Q&A with Fraser T Smith

Fraser has spent his career working with some of the world’s biggest artists including Adele, Stormzy, Sam Smith, Florence and the Machine, Drake, Gorillaz, Kano and Dave while picking up awards such as a Grammy and an Ivor Novello.

So, it was quite a coup to have the super producer come and speak about a life in music at DMU’s PACE Building.

It all came about thanks to Dr Yasin El Ashrafi BEM, of Leicester’s HQ Recording studio and HQ Familia record label, who was made an Honorary Doctor of Music at DMU for his work to champion and support young creatives in the city.

An incredibly humble Fraser – who revealed to the audience he is a life-long Leicester City supporter – took the students on a journey from how he became interested in music, to his stint as a band member, and then how he became a guitarist for stars such as Craig David. He also revealed more about his writing and production techniques and played tracks from his latest music project, a psychedelic band he leads and sings for called Future Utopia.

Fraser was, as expected, full of expert advice that the students and musicians were eager to hear about, saying after the event: “I think it is really important that people who have been in the industry for a certain amount of time share their knowledge, help answer questions and open up about their experiences - including making people aware of the pitfalls.

“We should share all of this with the next generation so they too can go on to enjoy the beautiful experiences that life in music gives us.”

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The audience was eager to hear the thoughts of one of the UK's leading producers

Fraser shared stories about how he first met Kano and came up with the guitar line and iconic beat for the single Typical Me (which included Fraser demoing the track on his midi keyboard), helped pen Adele’s Set Fire to the Rain and came to produce Stormzy’s debut album Gang Signs and Prayer.

His advice covered everything from the importance of building a team around you that you can trust to there being no such thing as a quick fix or a fast route to a million-dollar recording contract.

Fraser also stressed the importance of authenticity and giving to your community.

He also admitted there was only one occasion when he was actually starstruck which was when he met Leicester City’s legendary striker Jamie Vardy, who, it turns out, ‘is a really good rapper. He can spit some bars’.

Yasin said: “I think it is really important to give the next generation of artists and students that knowledge and expertise and an experience they might not usually get.”

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Yasin and Fraser with the students at the end of the talk

Amna Eldi, a first year Music Production student, said: “I think Fraser’s talk was insightful based on his own experiences in the industry. His authenticity came across in the presentation.

“It is refreshing to meet someone who is so giving and open about their experiences and has such amazing humility. It gives all of us the motivation to keep on going.”

Joe Hitchin, a third year Music Technology student, added: “It was great to have someone of such a high calibre giving all of us an insight into the music industry. It was inspiring.”

Posted on Monday 10 June 2024

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