Inflo, the elusive producer behind records by Adele

InfloIMAGE SOURCE, BRIT AWARDS
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Two of the records Inflo worked on last year are up for album of the year at the Brits

Inflo, the elusive producer behind records by Adele, Little Simz and Michael Kiwaunka, has won the 2022 Brit award for producer of the year.He becomes the first black producer ever to receive the honour, and will receive his trophy during the Brits’ red carpet show on 8 February.Born Dean Josiah Cover, he’s known for tight, funky productions, infused with the analogue warmth of ’70s soul music.”There is no one more deserving of this award,” said Little Simz.”Flo is a true creative in every sense of the word. Music is in his DNA. He really loves, lives and breathes this.”The producer dedicated his award to the black creatives who came before him. “As the first black music producer to ever win a Brit for best producer, I feel honoured to be a part of change,” he said in a statement. “All the black producers before me, I’m in awe and have studied you. I am you. Thank you for both paving the way and for your integral contribution to British music.”

Who is Inflo?

Inflo
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One of the only photos of Inflo that is publicly available online

Outside of his music credits, very little is known about the producer.In his first ever Instagram post, he revealed that he was a childhood friend of Little Simz, whom he met at St Mary’s youth club in Islington, North London.”The youth club was an open space helping youth find something unique about themselves in our early teens,” he wrote.His early career involved production work for pop acts like The Saturday and Tulisa, under the name “Dean Inflo 1st Josiah”, but his first major project was producing The Kooks’ fourth album Listen, which became a top 20 hit in 2014.”He’s kind of like a young Quincy Jones,” said Kooks’ frontman Luke Pritchard at the time. “He’s very conceptual with production, very brave.”He went on to produce and co-write Michael Kiwanuka’s second album Love and Hate, winning an Ivor Novello award for Black Man in a White World, a song that tackles the issues of identity and belonging.

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The duo teamed up again for Kiwanuka’s self-titled third album in 2019, which went on to win the Mercury Prize for album of the year. “As a producer, Inflo is a breath of fresh air to an artist trying to find their own voice,” Kiwanuka reflected. “He helps you find what it is you want to say, and always puts his stamp on the work, which always elevates the music.”Two of the albums he produced in 2021 are up for album of the year at next month’s Brit Awards – Adele’s 30 and Little Simz’s Sometimes I Might Be Introvert (which previously topped a BBC poll of polls for the year’s best records).

Adele’s praise

Inflo helmed three tracks on the Adele record, including the stop-you-in-your-tracks emotional centrepiece, Hold On. Although it was their first collaboration, Adele said she couldn’t explain “how I got through life all these years without knowing Flo”.”The reason that we gelled together so well with this record is, first of all, he asked me questions that no one would ever bloody dare,” she told BBC Radio 2’s Zoe Ball.”It would start with five, six-hour therapy sessions and he would get a feeling out of me that I had no idea was even in me; and then I’d leave at the end of the day with a song about that feeling. He would push me and say, ‘I don’t believe you’ or ‘You can do better than that’.”But, she added, he was the “sweetest, loveliest” person. “I could fall back and he’d catch me.”

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As well as producing records for other artists, Inflo is also the brains behind Sault, a semi-anonymous UK collective who blend psychedelic soul with righteous funk to explore the real-world issues of black trauma, culture and history.The group has released five genre-spanning albums in the last two years, with many of the tracks featuring vocals from Inflo’s partner, Cleo Sol.Little Simz, who has also appeared on Sault’s songs, said Inflo’s skill came from his deep knowledge of musical history.”He understands music and he knows how to make classics, I think,” she told the BBC. “He can make something feel like you’ve heard it before when it’s actually new, which is a skill in itself.”With his Brit award for producer of the year, Inflo joins previous winners such as George Martin, Trevor Horn, Nellee Hooper, Brian Eno and Calvin Harris. No female producer has ever received the prize.Unlike other Brits categories, the producer’s award is voted for by record label executives, rather than the industry-wide panel of critics, DJs and musicians who select the main awards.Dave, Little Simz, Adele and Ed Sheeran lead the nominations this year, with four each. They are all in the running for the night’s most prestigious prize, album of the year, alongside indie-rock hero Sam Fender.

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