Australian star on missing deadlines, debut album, side projects and beards
michael baggs
10:55 21st May 2013

Chet Faker released his debut EP, Thinking In Textures, in 2012 to critical praise and award winning success, quickly growing a huge fanbase with his downtempo, electronic soul sounds. Fans are eagerly awaiting his debut album but they might be in for a wait - everytime the Australian star gets close to finishing the record, he scraps most of what he has been working on.

Having already missed two self-set deadlines for completing his eagerly awaited debut, Faker (real name Nicholas Murphy) is currently in the UK for a number of live shows - and finding things to do other than finish the record. Ahead of his London and Brighton gigs, we caught up with the singer/songwriter to discuss album progress, Daft Punk, his work and friendship with fellow Aussie star Flume and, inevitably, the best beard in modern music...

The Thinking In Textures EP was released quite a while ago. Where are you with the debut album?
Well, it's not finished yet. It's definitely more developed. It's richer I guess. If I listen back to the EP it's a lot simpler, there's usually only four parts going on at once, whereas the stuff i'm writing now, there is a lot more. I have also moved away more from electronic synth sounds, and more toward traditional instrumentation, but producing it in a way so it does sound electronic. I've been more interested in sourcing the sounds from outside the computer, but then editing them within it, interestingly, rather than creating the initial sound in the computer.

Listen to Chet Faker's Thinking In Textures EP below

Sounds like you're thinking along the same lines as Daft Punk did on Random Access Memories. You've got more in common with them than we thought...
I'd like to think so! I listened through to that record yesterday. I have to listen to it properly, I was expecting more of a house record - but if they had done what everyone expected, no one would have been impressed.

How close it your album to being finished?
I keep going through stages where I think its done - and then I scrap 60% of it. Right now, I'm in the top 50, so it's more than half done. I always think, in the creative process, that the only time you know what you're doing is at the start and at the finish. I keep thinking it's almost done, scrapping things and adding more. It's annoying. I keep hearing something new that inspires me and I think 'sh*t, I got to work harder'.

Have you set yourself a deadline to finish the album?
I have set myself two deadlines - both of which I haven't met. One was at the start of this year and the other was to have it ready to be mixed two weeks ago. I don't think that is happening. I ended up going on a big tour with Flume, so i've been playing a lot shows so haven't had much time to record.

Have you worked with Flume on your album?
Not so far. He's heard a lot of the demos and drafts and given me some feedback, but we haven't worked directly on a track yet. We've spoken about it, but so far I haven't sent him anything yet. I'm still figuring out where I want it to land first, and which track will be most appropriate for him to work on, I think i'm a bit of a control freak I guess, i'm not really ready to give the music to other people yet - but I trust him. I just have to figure it out first.

Chet Faker and Flume hard at work on their potential side project

You have been working together recently though. Was that on new Flume tracks?
I don't know actually! We haven't really decided what we're doing with that yet. We went away for a week at the start of the year, down to the beach in Australia and just recorded a bunch of stuff. I don't think we really had a plan, we just locked ourselves away and wrote a bunch of tracks. We haven't even figured out yet whether it will be Flume and Chet Faker or a side project. I'm not really sure.

How exciting is to see the international attention Flume has received in 2013 so far?
It's awesome. We started making music around the same time, I first met him a year ago. He was actually supporting me in Sydney at this tiny club, a year later I was supporting him at sold out stadiums, playing to 9,000 people. It was pretty cool seeing this dude blow up.

Watch Chet Faker's previous Flume collaboration, 'Left Alone' below

Do you ever have any regrets about choosing the name Chet Faker to release music under?
I couldn't choose my birth name, there was another musician in Australia with the same name, but I also had no idea what would happen. When I started performing this music, I never thought I would have to perform it live. It was just a studio project. Although I did think about the name, I wasn't thinking that it would be the name I would be known by and i'd be doing this interview in London a few years later. Had I known it would have been this big I would probably have just gone with my birth name, because it's got to the point now where it wouldn't have mattered. The other guy writes folk music anyway.

The whole Chet Faker came because i'd gotten into jazz the year before, and it was a really defining vocal approach for me, listenin to Chet Baker. He sang so fragile and soft, more spoken word. Up until that time in my life i'd always just belted it. It really struck a chord with with me. Just because you can hit a big high note, doesn't mean you have to do it all the time. There's something really mature about an understated vocal style. In that sense, that's where the Chet Baker reference came from, and obviously the 'Faker' was a tongue in cheek reference.

Is changing your name for your career something every artist should do - like taking on a superhero identity?
It makes things easier for musicians in the early stages, at least where I came from. You have to be really confident about the music you are making, so a pseudynom can really help with that. I guess it's like a shield.

Watch Chet Faker's 'Terms And Conditions' video below

Do you think people are surprised when they hear your voice, and then find out this amazing soul voice is a white, bearded Australian guy?
When I hear my voice recorded I just hear me. No one likes the sound of their own voice, I just think: 'urgh, what a whinger'.

In that case, do you worry that you might be in the wrong profession?
Maybe i'm in the RIGHT profession. You don't need more people like on Australian Idol talking about how good they are.

When was the last time you shaved your beard off - and what did you think of the results?
I've had it for a few years now, so maybe two years ago. It was just me without a beard. Recently i've been a bit sick of it, i've been wanting to shave it off, mainly because (and don't take this the wrong way), everyone talks to me about beards now. I'm seen as representative of people with beards, and to put it simply - I just haven't shaved in a while.

So are you worried the beard will become more popular than you are?
It already has! There's no point worrying about it, it has already happened.

Eat your heart out, Ryan Gosling

You're currently in the UK for a string of live shows. Will you get any time to see much of the UK - and what do you plan to do while you're here?
I will. Most of the shows on this European tour, we're just there for one night and then we travel, but we've got a few days in the UK, and it's as much time as we've had anywhere. But it's the week, what do I do? I'd like to find some sweaty dungeon of a rave.

Will you be back later this year for festivals?
No. I don't think so. I have to go home and finish this record, I keep going off and doing shows. I'm still touring off that one EP, and that came out a while ago. It's really cool to still be working off seven tracks, but even i'm getting a bit bored of them, I want to be playing some new stuff.

Thank you very much, Chet Faker. Faker will visit the UK in May 2013, and will perform two gigs during his visit. He performs at London's Cargo tonight (21 May) and at The Hope in Brighton tomorrow (22 May). Tickets are on sale now. For more information visit Gigwise Gig Tickets.