up a lot to get here and this record is for the fans,” explains the tireless boy wonder. “A lot of them are under 18 and when it comes to the end of my gigs they just don’t wanna go home or be stuck in doors, they wanna be out. “No Goin’ Home is for them.”
Aged just sixteen, Fugative’s twisted hooks and colourful rhymes belie his tender years. This ain’t no Disney reared cash cow cynically aimed at raiding the piggy banks of impressionable young girls. Fugative AKA Harry Byart is the real deal, a living and breathing testament to his music, striving to reach the top on his very own merits.
While his teenage pals spent their weekends loitering around shopping centres, Fugative was dodging glow sticks and forging a bold and adventurous new sound encompassing grime, R&B, hip hop and pop. Storming debut album ‘No Goin’ Home’ is the result of the sacrifices he has made. “I’ve given
Loughton in Essex is where Harry served his musical apprenticeship – a unique childhood immersed in great music. “My mum was in the business and managed Marvin Gaye,” he says proudly. “So I was surrounded by music. I knew all the words to Motown and Rod Stewart records at a very young age.” Such early exposure led to an interest in musical instruments and, more significantly, the recording studio “I remember writing my first song at a Brick Lane studio when I was about 8.”
Armed with a beaten up keyboard and rudimentary software Harry’s raw talent flourished, taking on kids twice his age in rap battles which would eventually spawn his moniker. “I started making underground hip hop and grime as Fugative Kid, but soon got bored when the scene started banging on about knives, guns and stabbing people.”
Building up his home studio Fugative obsessed over devising a new sound. “I’ve always wanted mainstream success but without having to sacrifice the creative element,” he freely admits. “I have mad respect for Dizzee Rascal who went from doing grime to doing the whole dance/pop thing and he’s had three No 1s out of it.” In 2008 the Loughton lad’s melting pot of urban influences delivered big time in the shape of first single ‘It’s Summertime’. Capturing the feel-good spirit of DJ Jazzy Jeff this windows down, head-nodding anthem shot to No 2 in the music urban charts and remained top five for the next 16 weeks.
With little or no radio play Fugative was an Internet phenomenon, blowing up all over YouTube and Myspace. Better was to come with tongue-in-cheek follow-up ‘Jimmy Shoe’ which kicked off a massive touring stint that would take in over 160 shows across the country “It feels like I know every motorway in the UK now. People were beginning to know my name and I’m really proud of that.” Hysterical fans up and down the country were following his every move online or at the one of the many under 18 shows he performed. “I try and answer every email or message on Myspace personally. But it’s getting harder to keep up.”
The endless gigging was starting to pay off and Ministry of Sound came knocking. He recalls: “Jimmy Shoe’ was the record that got me a record deal. I did it all at home in two days, totally independent.”
America pricked up its big ears too, in a very major way.
Kirk Burrowes – the mogul who founded legendary Bad Boy Records with P Diddy – demanded a meeting. The man whose credits include Eminem and described the Brit teen as possessing “the intuitiveness of an artist twice his age. This kid has it all.” Sessions were set up with the cream of the US industry. Fugative had to pinch himself: “I flew out there and worked with producers like 88 Keys and Young Lord. I walked into their studios and was gob smacked to see the amount of gold discs.” Yet all the while this wide-eyed kid from Loughton was holding his own musically. “I still have to be part of everything I do, even if there are other producers and writers working on it. I’ve got OCD like that; I have to be in control otherwise there is no point.”
Other artists began hitting him for beats and Fugative was asked to write for new a girl band along the way. Surviving on less than four hours sleep a night and with over 40 tracks recorded the Fugative’s album ‘No Goin’ Home’ was finally baked to perfection. While most rappers and hip hop producers make their music to order with a specific audience in mind, Fugative is more of a bedroom tinkerer, making wilfully eccentric music that is impossible to pin down. “Every track is different,” he reveals. “At school I was the guy who liked indie music and dance and hip hop. You really can’t pigeon hole me.”
The music bolsters his case, offering a dizzying variety of styles and arrangements. From the big, brash radio pop choruses of ‘Crush’ and ‘Bad Girl’ via the forceful R&B flavoured Sticks & Stones’, this is hip pop soul shot through with a dose of post-pubescent swagger. “A lot of artists have one hit and that’s what they stick with forever. I’ve got to keep moving. Like Madonna who changes her image with every album. That’s what I really want to concentrate on. Who knows, maybe my next album I might go all out with skinny jeans.”
Certainly less abrasive than his better-known North London contemporaries N-Dubz, this lad’s Internationally flavoured output reaches out beyond the UK urban scene’s confines. Never mind that his future is destined to be bright. Fugative is already the finished article and this album’s sure to be one of the year’s highlights.