Having cut his teeth MCing in the drum & bass world over two decades ago, Flowdan went on to play a key part in the conception of grime. Having helped to launch Roll Deep, the esteemed grime crew, the East London artist has been a part of the genre’s journey from the very beginning right up to the present day.
As well as a slew of releases with Roll Deep, and a solo career that boasts impressive longevity, Flowdan has long been a hugely influential MC and producer who has more than earned his stripes as one of the most celebrated grime artists around today. From grime and dubstep classics such as Jah War to the genre-defying Rumble, Flowdan’s distinct timbre is recognisable wherever you hear it.
We spoke to Flowdan about the story behind some of his most notable tracks, maintaining productivity, working with other creatives, and of course his new sample pack, 'Writer Blocks'.
Flowdan speaks fondly of an early collaboration with Kevin Martin, also known as The Bug. Around 15 years ago they wrote and produced Skeng, a revered dubstep classic that featured Flowdan’s instantly recognisable patois lyrics. He explains he didn’t expect much to come off the track, and they were just noodling around in the studio for their own enjoyment and certainly hadn’t set out to create anything of the magnitude that Skeng would become. Flowdan and Kevin continue to work together to this day, having released a number of successful tracks together including Jah War, and their track Pressure as recently as 2020.
If you’ve been conscious over the past few months, you’ll no doubt have heard Rumble by Fred Again…, Four Tet, and Skrillex, featuring Flowdan. The high-energy grime/dubstep/bass crossover has been everywhere of late, and it’s no surprise. The cutting-edge production combined with Flowdan’s hard-hitting vocals gives the track a completely unique feel.
The track was originally conceived around five years ago during a studio session between Fred Again… and Flowdan, which was set up by a mutual friend because of Fred’s enjoyment of Skeng. After working on a couple of other tracks together, Fred showed Flowdan something he’d been working on, who instantly knew he had something suitable for it.
"Start with step one, and take it from there. Look for something you don’t know exists, as it’s about being unique and don’t be scared to have a rest"
It wasn’t until much later on that the track took on its next incarnation, as Fred showed Skrillex the track around a year later. Skrillex added his own creative vision to the project, and the resulting track found fame via Fred Again’s viral Boiler Room set.
On his approach to writing music, Flowdan stresses that no two days in the studio are the same, so it’s important to be open-minded in your approach. While some ideas come naturally, he says that for him, arriving at the studio with a specific idea can actually stunt his creativity. Flowdan cites Loopcloud as a major source of inspiration, and a resource he uses frequently to build a foundation on which to build the rest of his track.
While he’s renowned for his MCing, Flowdan has invested a great deal of time developing his production abilities too. He strongly believes that being on the production side of creating music, as well as in the recording booth, allows him to instill more of his sound into the final product. It’s clear that Flowdan gets a lot out of collaboration, but always relying on other people’s beats can start to turn things stale. Instead, getting a healthy balance between producing his own instrumentals and using other people helps him to keep things interesting, and prevents him from just sticking to tried and tested formulas.
All too often we hear that relentless hard work is the ultimate key to success, and while that might be true for some people, Flowdan’s take on the sentiment differs slightly. He underlines the importance of taking a break from the bright lights of a computer screen, putting your feet up, and taking care of yourself. While it can be easy to get caught up in the “no days off” mentality, sometimes some well-deserved rest actually helps to foster a more productive environment in the long run.
Flowdan’s wealth of experience as an artist and producer has enabled him to hone in on his own specific sound, which he’s now passing on to you in his new Writer Blocks sample pack, exclusively for Loopcloud. From impactful drum one-shots to growling bass lines and ominous leads and textures, this sample pack contains everything necessary to write your own Grime and Dubstep from the ground up.