Red Bull Studios Spotlight: Chet Faker

We chat to the bushy smoothie about modern soul, new music and hometown inspirations.
Chet Faker © Athena Anastasiou
By Clare Considine

Modern soul men don’t normally come in the form of hirsute Antipodeans, but Chet Faker’s not going for normal. Back in 2011 he uploaded a characteristically smooth 'No Diggity' cover to YouTube and found himself on a post-modern fast track to overnight global attention. Since then he’s signed to Downtown, toured the world and, recently, collaborated with George Maple and Flume in the Red Bull Studios.

We’re excited to hear the new LP. What sort of sound can we expect?

I still don’t have a good answer to that. I feel like I’m making pop music. The only difference is that I’m actually writing and producing it myself. I don’t think that pop’s a dirty word, I’m just making music that I dig. I listen to a lot of electronic artists and that influences what I do. But then you also get a lot of great vocalists – people who work with vocal melodies and ideas like that. I try to look to both worlds. With all of my tracks I’d like it that if you took the vocals off they’d still be interesting.

Are vocals an important part of what you do?

I always liked beats and electronic music more than singing. But obviously singing is one of the most effective ways to express yourself and it’s important to me that music has an emotional element. So when I started this project, the plan was to never have any vocals. But I just keep breaking my own rules because I write something and I’ll have something going on in my life that I want to write about and I just can’t help myself. But I would love to do an instrumental album in the future.

Do you feel like you’re part of a bigger movement of Australian musicians?

No doubt. Over the past six years this weird community’s solidified itself. Everyone’s started to know everyone. Rather than everyone fighting each other everyone’s supporting each other and working together. We’ve got a really strong deep house scene – particularly in Melbourne. And then in the mainstream there’s Gotye, Cut Copy, The Presets, Tame Impala and Flume. There’s just a lot of music coming out of this country.

The rest of the world, in the past, might’ve had a hard time seeing Australian music as anything more than indie-rock or hard-rock bands. It’s helped them go, "Okay, Australians don’t just ride around on Kangaroos, some of them can actually really express themselves in different genres."

So who should we be listening to from Australia?

Dudes from my hometown, Tornado Wallace and Francis Inferno Orchestra. Plus people like Andreas Fox and Oscar Key Sung. There’s definitely an Australian sound there. The word that springs to mind for it is ‘irony’, which sounds ridiculous but we’ve kind of nailed it. It’s an ambitious sound.

You’ve collaborated with fellow Aussies Flume, George Maple and Ta Ku. Do you enjoy that process?

I used to hate it. But recently I re-discovered it and I love it now. I always come away from a collaboration with so many ideas. I get inspired by watching the way other people work.

Who would you love to work with in the future?

Action Bronson. That would be sick.

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