HIGH FASHION - Harry Fraud x LiL PEEP
When Gus was home for Christmas and New Year’s in December 2016-January 2017, he ended up staying longer than he had initially planned. It was great for us because we got to enjoy his company for about a week or so longer than we had thought we would. We were grateful to have him home.
After we returned to Long Beach from Cambridge, Mass.--where we had spent Christmas--the cold temperatures set in and of course we got a big dump of snow. The weather was typical winter weather, but Gus had gotten used to Los Angeles temperatures. As usual, he spent his time in our apartment, and in his bedroom. Nevertheless, Gus enjoyed constant visits from his Long Beach friends. Also, Oskar was home, which was really nice.
Gus was really busy. He was making plans, I learned, to make music with Harry Fraud. Not being in the music business, I did not know who this young man was. Gus told me who he was. He told me that Harry Fraud was an incredibly important producer who worked with many of Gus’s favorite music artists—he rattled off names for me, some of which I recognized; French Montana, Action Bronson were two of them. I only knew those because Gus would talk about them. He would regularly show me Action Bronson’s Instagram posts because they were almost all posts of incredible food. Anyway, Gus told me that the reason he was staying longer at home was in order to be able to work in a studio—Harry’s studio.
In fact, Gus had been communicating for a couple of weeks with friends about this anticipated meeting.
He was thrilled to be invited to Harry’s studio.
Not many of Gus’s friends had cars (Gus didn’t even have a driver’s license) so I offered the use of my car. If he could find a friend to drive it and have it back in time for me to drive to work, he could use it.
Skylar drove Gus to work with Harry the first night. They took my car, returning it on time—just 30 minutes before I had to leave for work at 7:30 am.
In this video, Skylar tells about that night:
The next night, Gus’s friend Quinn drove him. Quinn had his own car. They stayed nearly the whole night too. Quinn recently recalled bringing Gus into Brooklyn on that cold, winter night in January, 2017.
I first met Gus in 2016. We were introduced through a mutual friend and unsung hero in the music business, Adolfo Salazar. He put us on group text and said we would make great music together. I was already a fan of Gus’s work and loved the idea of working with him. We texted back and forth and planned to meet up the next time he was in New York.
Towards the end of the year, Gus hit me and let me know he would be in town. I was really excited for the chance of working together. I was away visiting family for the holidays, but let him know that as soon as I was back we would link up. A few days went by and I could tell he was getting antsy. I told him I would be headed back to Brooklyn soon and we would 100% link up.
When I returned from the holidays I hit him and we made plans to get in the studio that night. He mentioned that he needed to find a ride to my spot because he didn’t have a drivers license. He found a ride from a friend and we were in business. As soon as Gus arrived the good vibes were instant. The first night we worked together he brought me a statue of a wave that I believe was from D&D and said he wanted me to have it. I thought that was so thoughtful and it gave me a glimpse into the type of good hearted person he was.
It’s always a little nerve-racking working with an artist for the first time, but I could tell we had great creative chemistry and were like-minded. Gus let me know he was a fan of the music I had made, especially with French Montana. He expressed to me that he wanted us to make something that meshed both our styles, but sounded like nothing either of us had made before. I jumped at the idea and suggested we create everything, including the beats, totally from scratch on the spot. Gus loved that. We sat down together at the mixing board and started going through sounds and pieces of music I had put in a folder while waiting for him to arrive. From there the music flowed effortlessly. We were putting our heads together and the track was building itself. Total freedom — no boundaries. I would lay down an idea, and he would go back and forth between the vocal booth and the mixing board trying stuff out. We manipulated some of his vocals to sound like instruments, and used all types of new FX and sonic textures that were new to both of our styles. It was really a breath of fresh air to create with someone who was so inherently talented and open minded.
We spent the rest of that night refining the first record, which became “Choose”. When the night came to a close (probably around 6am), we were amazed at what we had made. We planned to meet up again and go right back in the studio. Like the previous time, the vibe was effortless and we really had a great time hanging out.
Gus was funny and charismatic. He wore his heart on his sleeve and didn’t hold back his thoughts. He mentioned that he needed to get back to LA, but we planned to continue working whenever he was in NYC and eventually turn the songs we create into an album. He would text me ideas for the project and said we should call it “High Fashion,” which I loved. He even started sending cover ideas over and we would check on each-other from time to time, just touching base. His career was really taking off at that point, and I was so happy for his success.
When I heard the news I was absolutely crushed. Adolfo texted me what happened and I remember just feeling heartbroken. Even now as I’m writing this I can feel that immense loss in the pit of my stomach. I told myself I would do whatever it took to make sure the world heard what we created together. The next couple of years were filled with failed attempts to get through the red tape of releasing the music. But I refused to give up.
Finally, I decided that the best thing for me to do was reach out directly to Liza. Once we got in contact I was overwhelmed with her good energy and how much she loved her son. She reminded me of my own mom. After going back and forth for a little while, I invited her to come to my studio so we could meet in person. When we met up it was very surreal because her and Gus shared so many nuances of their personalities. We sat next to each other sharing music and stories much like Gus and I did the first time we met. It took a tireless amount of work, but together we were finally able to break down all the barriers and bring the music to light. We paid careful attention to keep it as close to what Gus had heard while he was with us. The result is HIGH FASHION.
I miss him so much, and although we spent a relatively short time knowing each other, I really looked at him as kind of a little brother. His influence and impact on the current sound of music is immeasurable. And I still keep the wave statue he gave me on top of my mixing board to this day.
Gus had asked me if I could drive him to Brooklyn to get in the studio with Harry Fraud. However, after asking my mom if I could take her car to Brooklyn she said no. So I made a promise to her and said we would take the train, little did she know I would still be driving there anyway. Before leaving, Gus had given me a Surf School hat--then we were off to Brooklyn. I sat down on the couch that I had seen before watching the Action Bronson show with a wave mural painted on the wall. Gus and Harry started to record and this was the first time I had seen Gus recording somewhere else besides his room. Still, he was confident in his ability and they created something really special. The verse Gus made was different and until this day I still have this song trapped in my head. They ended up recording till about 3 or 4 in the morning, then we headed back to Long Beach. We decided to stop at Dunkin Donuts for some coffee. Big mistake! I left the receipt in the car, so the next day when my mom got in she found out I drove to Brooklyn. Nevertheless, it was a fun experience, and to get to see Gus in his element made me very happy and proud.
Quinn had to snap a selfie of the Surf School hat and the mural he recognized. Here it is below.
Two nights. Two songs. It was a wonderful experience for Gus, one that he expressed such pride about. He really was so proud to be able to make music with Harry Fraud.
Here is a section of a text exchange with Harry about getting into the studio, and about the music they made together:
Months after Gus died, I received word that Harry was trying to reach me. I was very grateful to hear from him, remembering exactly who he was. This time, it was I who was thrilled.
Harry and I made plans to meet. I was reeling from Gus’s death, but so grateful to meet this young man who my son had admired. I took the train to Brooklyn, then a subway, I think. I found Harry’s studio and spent a lovely few hours with him. He showed me the little figurine of a wave that Gus had brought him. I remembered it from Gus’s bedroom. I knew without a doubt that Gus would want me to do whatever I could to release the tracks with Harry Fraud.
The result is this three-track EP. The two songs Choose and Living Rooms were made in Brooklyn on those cold January nights in 2017. I am very grateful to Harry for his patience with me. It took a while to release these songs, but he hung in like the true professional that he is.
Thank you, Harry.