INTERVIEW: Chet Faker
Nick Murphy, better known as CHET FAKER, paved himself a way to musical success with his distinct fusion of house and future R’n’B. Winning fans all over the globe and being a dream musical export for the Australian music scene, the man with the equally impressive beard is set to release his eagerly awaited debut album, Built On Glass, on April 11th.
It’s a Monday night in Brooklyn and Murphy can hear the school’s percussion band practice across from where he’s staying; a glimpse into the rare downtime amidst touring life, which is now a norm for the Melburnian. Currently performing shows across the States and Europe, this follows the success of Murphy’s first ever release, the 2012 EP Thinking In Textures amidst numerous collaborations with the likes of FLUME and SAY LOU LOU. Asking him what he’d like listeners to take from his upcoming release, Built On Glass, he says,
“Hopefully my music’s versatile enough to do lots of different things. But the way I like to listen to music is to put it on and I don’t know, cook dinner or read a book or do some other activity. That would be nice, but it’s not going to bother me if people don’t listen to it that way.”
He further elaborates,
“It’s funny, some people are lyrics people and some people aren’t. Personally I get more emotion out of the music, the musical part than the lyrical part, but they’re two sides to the same coin, you know? But music’s a subconscious thing, even if they don’t think they’re listening to the lyrics, they probably are. We don’t know what music does to the brain.”
It’s emotion that Built On Glass certainly lacks none of, with strikingly vulnerable moments much more prominent that in its predecessor, Thinking In Textures. Though both records inhabit the signature seductive rasp of Murphy’s vocals and sleek sound production, he clarifies that this apparent vulnerability – in its sense – is merely another word for honesty; the driving force for this record.
“I write music about my life and things that go on in my life, because it helps me process things that go on in my life. So it was very important for me in this album to be honest…because Thinking In Textures was the first thing I ever put out, it only gave me a small snapshot of myself. So with the album, I guess I wanted to explore more things, and I had a large amount of time to work on it and lots of things going on in my life.”
And there’s no doubting the honesty with Built On Glass, a home-studio produced, 12-tracked album that ‘…charts the course of an all-encompassing relationship doomed to fail.’ The record takes the listener on an intricate, sonic journey of reflections, evoking emotions from within which allows resonance with Murphy’s own heartache and ultimately, moving-on.
While recent singles ‘Talk Is Cheap’ and ‘Melt’ provide the familiar catchy hooks on the album, it’s track number six, ‘To Me’, that brings it all back down to a raw and minimal soundscape, as the cyclical lyrics of ‘You keep on lying/you keep on lying to me/When you’re curled up in bed/Wishing you were dead’ jaunt over the sparse, underlying groove. If the album’s trajectory is mirroring Murphy’s own life experiences, this is the track that perfectly encompasses the breaking point; the god-awful, utterly painful aftermath of a relationship’s demise. With openness about such personal events, one would think there’d be some apprehension sharing with others, but Murphy disagrees:
“No – that’s what art is. That’s what music is, that’s what it’s for.”
Though song writing may be partly therapeutic for Murphy, it is his knack for skilfully fusing a plethora of musical influences that has piqued the interest of many globally and inevitably such support has seen him touring the world.
While Murphy is ready to continue the touring life in support of Built On Glass, he muses that some days has him feeling on the contrary.
“It’s just like, you know, the same reasons some people don’t want to get out of bed some mornings – sometimes you’re not up for stuff. But that’s why it’s considered such an amazing job, because you’re basically, through your passion, forced to do things you don’t want to do.”
Whilst career longevity runs the risk of leaving the artist struggling to differentiate between their public persona and their personal identity, Murphy says,
“It’s important for me, for them to be both the same thing, musically. Because I don’t want to have to do interviews for the rest of my life, pretending to be someone else. So the music has to be, me. That’s what’s up – that’s where the name Chet Faker came from, it was taking the piss out of the idea that I would be making music that didn’t mean anything to me because it was just for me.”
Words by Alean Penaflor