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‘He’s a one off’: Fraser T Smith talks Dave’s Mercury Prize 2019 winning album Psychodrama

The acclaimed producer has spoken to PSNEurope about producing the grime star’s debut album that won the prestigious Mercury Prize

Award-winning producer Fraser T Smith has described 2019 Mercury Prize-winning star Dave as a “one off” in a conversation with PSNEurope.

Dave’s debut album Psychodrama landed the coveted Mercury prize last night to no surprise, having received much critical acclaim, topping the UK albums chart on its release in March this year and mesmerising the awards audience with his moving performance. The record was produced by Smith, who has become a pioneering producer and collaborator among UK grime artists, having also produced Stormzy’s Gang Signs and Prayer and Kano’s Made In The Manor.

“I never want to repeat myself creatively, and was wary about replicating the unique processes and dynamics which had made my working relationships with Kano and Stormzy so special, but Dave is a one off,” Smith told PSNEurope. “We knew from the beginning that we’d be drawing from a very wide musical palette of strings, brass, harps, and hard hitting drums and synths. I love to blend acoustic instrumentation with electronic elements. Manon Grandjean, my long standing engineer, beautifully captured Dave’s piano, guitars, drums and vocals at my studio in Fulham.”   

Smith also highlighted the power of Psychodrama’s central themes and how they would impact upon the overall sound of the record.

“He spent a long time coming up with the title and concept for the album,” he continued. “I could tell that once he had the concept we could really start work. Divided into three sections, Psychodrama was always going to be a very ambitious project. The first ‘act’ is ‘Environment’, the second ‘Relationships’ and the third ‘Social and Moral Compass’. The overarching theme was to document Dave’s life up to this point in terms of his upbringing, his life in South London as a young black male, the struggles, the joys, the uncertainty, the ambitions, hopes and fears.”

Be sure to check out the October issue of PSNEurope (out next week and available on psneurope.com as a digital download) for an exclusive piece by Smith on the making of Psychodrama.

You can watch Dave’s performance of ‘Psycho’ at the Mercury Prize awards ceremony below.

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