Why Fazerdaze is DIY and going her own way

© Mark Perkins | Supplied

Kiwi dream-pop musician Amelia Murray is not afraid to get her hands dirty and here's why.

“It feels really surreal but also, I’m like, ‘I just can’t wait to make the next thing.’ I feel like if I’ve made THIS off not that much material and not very good gear, I’m really excited to dive into my next thing and see what else I can do,” she laughs.

The 24-year-old Kiwi woman behind Fazerdaze – who is known by Amelia Murray to her friends and family – is so humble, eloquent and hardworking that she’s barely had her debut record, Morningside, out for two months and is already keen to get started on her next release.

Having received stellar reviews from internationally acclaimed publications, signed to respected New Zealand indie label Flying Nun and taken part in last year’s Red Bull Music Academy in Montréal, Murray has an extremely strong DIY ethic and is passionate about constantly upskilling herself. She wrote, recorded and produced both her first EP and the sun-saturated, hazey Morningside in her bedroom herself – in her home in Morningside, Auckland, unsurprisingly – and Murray says it stems from the strong vision she has of her work.

“I sort of know when something just doesn’t sit right with me but then I really do struggle trying to articulate why it’s not right with me,” Murray explains. “It’s like this awful thing of knowing something’s not right but not knowing HOW to communicate what’s not right. I think this is where a lot of my DIY comes from.

“It’s the same thing when I go into a studio. I went into a studio three or four years ago and [the finished product] I got out of it — I mean, now I can articulate it because I’ve been producing — but I went back to it and it was just a bit too slick and way too hi-fi and there wasn’t enough texture in the guitars. But at the time, I was just like, ‘this just isn’t right!’”

After Murray was satisfied with the recording of Morningside in her bedroom, she took it to her mate Murray Fisher to have it mixed and mastered – all the while looking “over his shoulder”, she says.

“I basically met him through friends and listened to some of his work and was really into it. We started off with one song together and then I really liked him because he’d always show me what he was doing and give me tips. It’s really important to me to make sure I’m learning and upskilling with everything and not just handing off jobs and having it come back and me not really understanding how it got to that point,” she explains.

Murray did study a Bachelor of Music at Auckland University, but admits the compulsory studio recording subject felt “so difficult and technical”. 

I was surrounded by 35 other people that were exactly like me. All making music in their bedrooms and all taking it SO seriously.Amelia Murray

“It just felt so out of reach,” Murray confesses. “I didn’t think I’d ever be able to do it. I did that course and I found it incredibly difficult and I feel like I barely scraped through, but some of the concepts I was learning later kind of sunk into my head and when I DID decide I was going to record, a lot of the concepts that I’d learnt a few months back in that recording paper started to make sense as I was doing it.”

But nothing was really out of reach for Murray, who’ll give something a shot by any means necessary. If she finds herself struggling with recording or producing, she says she’ll “pretty much lean on YouTube tutorials” or Google to figure out how to do something she’s not quite sure about.

Murray’s strong artistic vision also saw her taking on editing duties for her latest video clip, Lucky Girl. The grainy, nostalgic clip features quick cuts and oddball footage, including some of Murray herself shot by director Samuel Kristofski, but without knowing how to explain what she wanted of the clip, Murray decided to just edit it all herself, learning through YouTube.

“That was another, like, ‘look it up on YouTube and do a tutorial and borrow some software off my friend’ [type of project],” Murray remembers. “It was a very DIY thing – I think I had to take it into my own hands because I had a really strong vision with the edits and even though I’m not a video editor, I still had really strong ideas on where the cuts should be. It was quite hard to communicate that when I don’t really speak the video editing language, so I found it a lot easier to like, get a hold of the footage and do it myself,” she shrugs.

Murray, who also works a day job at Auckland record store Flying Out, name-checks artists like Canadian art pop singer/songwriter Grimes and Australia’s own Kevin Parker as influential DIY artists.

“Those two, especially the way they work, like Grimes edits her photos herself and she totally creates and produces all of her music which I really love. Kevin Parker as well, he’s the total mastermind behind Tame Impala and I’m really inspired by that – even though sonically I’m quite different to both of them, their approach has been really influential in the way I make my music.”

Fazerdaze at Red Bull Studios in New Zealand
Fazerdaze at Red Bull Studios in New Zealand

She also cites the 30+ other musicians who took part in Red Bull Music Academy in Montréal last year with her as influences, who Murray says “were exactly like me” and validated her art.

“Red Bull Music Academy was so amazing that it took me a really long time to process what I got from it and to kind of digest the whole thing,” she smiles. “It was just so much fun. I think since then I’ve been way more interested in how I’m using technology in 2017 to make music. I think that was a really big thing for me.

“I think the main thing I took away from it was that what I do here in my bedroom all the way in New Zealand is real. Before that, I was sort of really doubting my work and just questioning why I was doing it, but when I went to Red Bull Music Academy I was surrounded by 35 other people that were exactly like me. All making music in their bedrooms and all taking it SO seriously. They were so dedicated to their music and didn’t question it, and everyone would be in the studio ‘til like 4am and I used to feel so bad about doing that, you know? I used to feel so bad for working on music into the night but now I’m a lot less apologetic about that and just work from my own timetable and work really hard. I think that was the main thing I took from it – that what I’m doing here in New Zealand is real.”

Fazerdaze is as real as they come.