Monday, June 23, 2008

Faux Pas, Melbourne

Music making for you began when... My friends and I started a grunge band in high school. None of us knew how to play our instruments so we just figured it out as we went along. I guess I learnt to trust my gut instincts first and think about musicality and structure later. I used to record all these cassette tapes at home, just with a microphone plugged into a cassette deck, recording loops of guitar chords over the top of each other, just keeping records of chord progressions and fragments of ideas and melodies, so I think there was a lot of trial and error. There are hours and hours of tapes. Then I started recording things on to the computer, and then samples, and then synthesisers, and eventually I got to what I do now.

Most unusual sound/instrument you've used in your music? One of the tracks from my first album, Entropy Begins At Home is built around the muted guitar strums from the starts of about 4 or 5 songs from the album, Chutes Too Narrow by The Shins. I remember being in my sister's bedroom, flicking through that CD trying to find the one song I liked - Turn a Square, for the record - and realising that almost every song starts with a muted acoustic guitar strum! So I turned it into a song. Thanks Shins.

You're a musician and a visual artist. What came first? Does one hijack your interest more than the other or do they kind of work together like a two-part harmony?
I'm really not a visual artist so I'd say that being a musician comes first. I design my own artwork, website, T-shirts, not because of any aspirations as a visual artist but simply because it's frustrating trying to find someone else with the time and interest to come up with visual accompaniments to my music. It's something I can do, so I do it, it's pretty much been my attitude with everything I've done so far. I do enjoy it though.

Strangest gig you've ever played?
Haven't played a gig. People tend to find that pretty strange, for some reason.

Do you pin up images when recording to help inspire your songs? (Or put up other things in the studio for the same effect?)
Ahh no, but I do think about doing it... ? I'm in a rental so I get paranoid about sticking things to the walls. I have an action figure of Beverly Crusher sitting here in front of my monitor right now. Also sitting here is the album cover my friend made me for a forthcoming Faux Pas album called 7 wolves 1 shirt. It's a concept album about my favourite t-shirt.

I love the story of how you came to remix Pikelet's Bug In Mouth*. Are you ever overwhelmed by the possibilities when remixing a song? It's definitely easy to get overwhelmed, I try just to follow the first good idea I have to its conclusion, and not think too much about what might have been if I'd gone in another direction. It's meant that a couple of them haven't seen the light of day or haven't been finished, perhaps because I chose the wrong direction right at the start? I don't necessarily follow this approach when it comes to my own music, I've definitely taken some sharp left turns with some of my own tracks while they've been in development. I think it's 10x harder to come up with a good end result when you do that though, when you've gone a certain way down the path and then decided to turn back and go another route. It's way harder to get something that feels natural when you're bucking some of your initial gut feelings, but sometimes you end up with something great.

You would love to record with...
I don't fantasise about making music with anyone - I'm generally way too insecure about my own abilities to ever imagine myself working with the people whose music I idolise. I'd rather keep playing in my own corner of the sandpit.

If record stores had to come up with a new genre name to file your music under, it would be called... I like the concept of "aleatoric music" or chance music. I don't know how much of my own material fits in to that category but it's a nice idea for a genre. It is music whose composition is, at least in some crucial part, random or left to chance. Aleatory comes from the Latin word for dice, which is appropriate for me because I love to play Dungeons and Dragons.

Next for you is....
I'm finishing the second Faux Pas album, which I started working on about 12 months ago. It's basically the best album of all time.

Things you currently love

I've just started listening to the Moody Blues again. They are one of my dad's favourite bands, and I listened to them heaps as a kid, and then even more in high school, but I haven't in a little while. A Question of Balance is a great record. They're all good though.

In Print?
I'm reading the Terry Pratchett books for the first time. They are as good as everyone says! And also I am appraising the just-released 4th edition rulebooks for Dungeons and Dragons, and trying to figure out whether it's worth it for my current gaming group to upgrade our characters or not...

The Title store on Gertrude St is a super exciting addition to Melbourne's record store roster. They only stock good music (and books) which is more than can be said of most stores.

I don't know why, but the comments section on the MySpace page for Melbourne record label, Brothersister Records always has great weird photos.

*The story, in Faux Pas' words: I caught Pikelet's Bug In Mouth film clip on Rage late one night and was completely entranced, not so much by the clip but just by those hypnotic looped harmonies and intuitive almost primitive rhythms. Evelyn Morris's voice is pristine, and the melodies in this song are completely captivating.

I actually remixed the song without Evelyn's permission, working from an mp3 copy I had of the track (ie not working with separated parts). Weirdly, it all came together one Sunday afternoon while I was sitting in an edit suite 'working' for an ex-game show host...

I'm glad in the end that I was able to contact Evelyn and that it didn't have to take much convincing for her to let me put the remix out. I'm pretty proud of it, though really all it does is just play to the strengths of the original track, that being the amazing hypnotic melodies and voice of one (actually more than one) Evelyn Morris. The Faux Pas remix of Bug In Mouth is on my EP Changes.

Faux Pas has a couple of records out, the latest being the Changes EP, which mixes his musical DNA with songs by Pikelet, Zeal and Aleks and The Ramps to create some crazy scientic-lab remixes. It also features some wholly original cuts too. He's currently working on his next album and on his entirely understandable desire to become Christopher Willits. Keep an ear out for Faux Pas updates here.

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