Preditah The Architect

“All music is and all art is, is your interpretation of what was already there”.

In August 2017, by-then veteran producer Preditah and supernova to be, Jorja Smith laid what could be considered one of the only internationally digested UK Garage-centric love letters, ‘On My Mind’. Jorja’s vocals comfortably inhabited the nostalgic soundscape crafted by Preditah, effortlessly creating a timeless classic. The trajectory of the track mirrored that of both their careers. Thus, I find myself sat opposite Preditah in the Atlantic Records lounge, days after his new single, ‘Animals’ featuring Rachel Chinouriri, has dropped. The label has been his home for now almost a year, as they gear up to release, what he calls, his first ‘real project’.

“When I first signed I thought I might have to move to London…” he sits relaxed, sun glasses firmly in place fresh off the two hour drive down from Birmingham. “…‘Cus now I’ve got a whole floor of people that are working on my behalf, which is still mind blowing to this day. I’ve done everything pretty much by myself or with not a lot of people. Everything is all about vibe and content. I met quite a few labels but then I met Twin and Jordan, who are my A&Rs here. I’m already aware of Twin’s progress, even in his career, always seen that from just a distance, so I’ve always been aware of what he does, and when I met Jordan…when I meet people that were aware of what I was doing before all of the hype, it makes me know that they’re actual real fans of my music. We had a real good conversation so it just felt natural to join them.”

Whilst now, Preditah is known for his Grime and Garage-centric works, his early musical exposure, was not too different from many other inner-city Birmingham kids at the time, being Church. However, once the chopped-up, pitch-shifted sonic of Garage reached his ears, he resonated with it. “Garage made me realise that music was more than what I heard it was. It sounded futuristic at the time, hearing all of those garage sounds… like Craig David, ‘Rewind’, when I heard that I was baffled. When I figured out you could actually do that yourself that intrigued me. It was all out of me wandering how he did that and figuring it out myself over the years. It’s all been a case of just natural building blocks. Garage was the genre at the time… that was my influence. If I grew up now as a kid, maybe it would be Afrobashment or Drill, you get me? Depends on what era you grew up.”

“All music and art is your interpretation of what was already there. Everyone’s just giving everybody their interpretation of what they’ve heard before. That’s what my sound is.”

Countless projects, instrumental EPs and collaborations later, from re-mixes for Skepta, Disclosure and Chase & Status to Grime-centric production for artists from Solo45 to Wiley, it’s almost farcical that only now he feels as though he’s about to enter his prime. Yet, the room, the words, the spirit, become re-energised as he articulates his position right now… “I think spiritually and musically, it’s all timed perfectly. Now, I feel like I haven’t done anything yet. I feel ready to do whatever I’ve got to do. Everything else I’ve done before was just stepping-stones. Gathering the materials to build the building, but now I’m ready to build the building with Atlantic and the management team I’ve got. That’s how I feel right now.”

On second review then, perhaps his emotions are not so dismissive of his past works which have deeply embedded him into the trenches of UK music, but more so the result of recent success, arguably, most notably, the Top 10 UK Rap record, ‘So High’, by Mist ft Fredo. Having flipped Toni Braxton vocals to create what could only be crowned the rap record of Summer 2019, the track, co-produced with producer Fred Again, exemplified Preditah’s versatility. He speaks on the record, beginning with a sense of incredulity, humility and hunger, before developing into undeterred confidence… “I still can’t believe it. Anyone that knows me probably knew me for Dance records, Bass-line, House, Garage, Grime. No one really associated me with Hip Hop. I used to make rap beats for local rappers in Birmingham back in the day. I didn’t make anything major, but it’s not something that I’m new to. So me and Fred had a session, we made about 5 beats and that was one of them. MIST loved it, got Fredo on it, and the rest is history. I’m not gonna’ lie though, see with that song, I knew it was gonna do what it did. The beats good, we both knew it was a good beat, MIST liked it, so that’s a good sign, ‘cus he’s picky with his beats. He’s not someone that just likes any beat. That’s a thumbs up. Fredo liked it, thumbs up. Fredo’s got his fan base, MIST has got his fan base, I’ve got my fan base. And it’s like, what, Preditah made a rap beat? It’s just all of these different energies. Fredo is hot right now. MIST is the man, all them energies, there’s no way it can’t. Once everyone likes it in your circle, naturally, you get that feeling.”

Whilst he may have been aware of the trajectory ‘So High’ was about to take, similar could not necessarily be said of his, thus far, sole collaboration with fellow Midlands-er, Jorja Smith. “That record came about because one of her managers was my music lawyer at the time…” beginning on recounting the making of ‘On My Mind’. “I remember though, getting to that studio session with her, took me ages. I was late, I had to bring my whole iMac in my car, drive down, etc. When I got there, I met her for the first time, she was like anyone else, just chill. Calm. We had a good conversation and we just went straight into it. That’s the first and only song we’ve ever written together. It was easy, the vibe was just natural. We have similar inspirations, as musicians… I knew where she was coming from in terms of a little bit about Walsall. She knew about me from bassline days. Walsall and Birmingham are pretty much the same place, its not that far apart. Once the foundation was there we just made the vibe and the rest is history. The process is the process, but the result is that we just made a good song. And we didn’t drop it straight away, we sat on it. When we dropped it, it was the right time and people love it to this day. Still feels like a new song, even though it came out two years ago.”

“We didn’t expect it to do what it did. But that’s what’s sick about music. If you make a good song, people might like it, but if you love it, and everyone else begins to, that’s the sickest feeling.”

Despite his recent acceleration over the past two years, Preditah’s overriding sense of humility and warmth is rooted in the years of grafting it took to get here, as it should do with any other artist. However, it was the sense of selflessness that heeded the most attention when I probed for insight into any personal struggles he may have succumb to. His sincerity is validating. “It’s not even about me, it’s about the people around me. When I realised like rah, the people around me, and even to this day you still have to question people around you, they could either be helping you or hindering you. So life’s always about picking the right environment, and then dwelling in it. I feel like right now, my management team, everybody around me, right now, are the right people. So now I feel likes its time to get this ball rolling. It’s taken a while to get to this, to feel this free, and feel like a producer again, its sick.”

Thus the ball rolled onto his most recent work, ‘Animals’. Intrinsically UKG focused, ‘Animals’ channels Preditah’s newfound energies, providing a club-destined platform for Rachel Chinouriri’s radiant silky vocals to bounce off. “When I got the vocals back, I thought yeah this is different, this is not something that I would usually do…” talking on the record. “…but I liked it ‘cus she smashed it and I thought, I have to finish this. So we got into the studio and finished it. She re-sung the vocals, I got a violin player to come in, I went fully HAM. There was nothing planned. It’s just an idea of what I can do. To me that is my sound, but it’s a new sound to everybody else. It’s the first time anyone has heard anything of that nature.”

“I’m either gonna create the culture, or be a part of it. Whatever makes me, me…is my culture. If people like it, then we’ve got our own culture.”

The single, is the first from his forthcoming and first vocal project, My Perspective. Despite his encounters with famed and talented vocalists throughout the years leading up to this point, his primary focus has always been the environment at the time. Are the people ready for this? In fact, even On My Mind was recorded almost two years before it was released. It’s all about timing. He elaborated. “It feels like the right time to drop this EP because this EP is about love. This is my perspective on love. Not necessarily in a relationship way, it’s about… we all have love in us. This is my perspective on it. All of these songs are sick, Garage, but all about love. Just keep that in mind. You’ll listen to this and forget they’re about love. This is years of work in the making, its not just some overnight thing.

As we wrap, the potential for frontline stardom becomes clearer. The truth is, Preditah’s music has already taken him around the globe. His sonics are internationally digested and gleam in all environments synonymous with music. The ambition to shine and craving to develop appear fundamental, as he leaves us with this…

“I wanted to be a architect, and to be an architect, you have to know what people like, you have to study. It’s one of the hardest courses to do at uni, it’s 7 years. Not a lot of courses are 7 years, ‘cus you’ve gotta study everything from technology to how the earths made… all of these mad things just to make a building. Even though I’m not an architect, my mind is. I listen to music more than I make it. I’m watching how other people market their music and I think. I’m a student. I haven’t stopped looking up to people, I’m still looking up to people, today.”