CHET FAKER – Interview

Foto-© Nick Murphy / Jelani Roberts

Nick Murphy aka Chet Faker aka Nick Murphy begeistert uns seit letzter Woche mit seinem neuen Werk, Hotel Surrender. Oh Me Oh My hypnotisiert zu Anfang gekonnt und trägt uns durch ein wirkliches Chet Faker Meisterwerk! Unglaublich spannend dem in NYC lebenden Australier zu lauschen, der uns via Zoom Einblicke in seine Reise als Musiker gewährte und so einige Weisheiten mit uns teilte:

Hi Nick, it’s so super nice to meet you. Happy birthday to you! Did you have a joyful day?
Nice to meet you too! Thanks, I had a pretty good day and this morning I went for a run too and it’s only mid day.

Also bloody great hat you’re wearing there!
Oh thanks, isn’t it cool? It’s handmade by this chic in Brooklyn. I bought it from the same store, Handmade By Liv, who made the custom dress that I wore in the Feel Good music video when I was rollerblading.

Pretty fantastic colour scheme! I’ve got so many questions, we could go for hours – so let’s dive right in? Who is Chet Faker and who is Nick Murphy?
Sounds great. Well they’re both me, surprise. They’re essentially different projects, but… I don’t think I have the quickest answer for both of them. The music usually directs where it goes. I always felt it a little bit, but there was a dissonance between these places or processes of making music when you’re sharing it with people. You do reach a kind of line at a certain point of making music, where you ought to begin to consider other people. And the real difference between those projects is that I think – and I’m not always conscious of it at the time – with the Chet Faker project I consider other people more. It’s more giving and it’s more aware of the experience of itself as sound coming to your ears. Versus the stuff under my birth name is a bit more about about me, it’s a bit more about the process as a tool for myself. And a kind of counterbalance to what happens with the Chet Faker project. Where I feel like I might compromise, that’s the wrong word though… where I might create space in the Chet Faker project, I’ll then expand in the Nick Murphy stuff. They’re kind of opposites in a way and I suppose it’s classic me. I don’t want to miss out on anything, I want to do it all. So I created this space, where, you know, we’ve got Hotel Surrender which is ten tracks, there’s no long intros, it’s very clear, most of them are pop structure, very short, sharp, here you go. Coming after an album all improvised, a piano record with no singing. It’s like a counterbalance because you can’t be.. you have to do it all. I think a lot of artists also do that, but just don’t release it. At least for me, there’s always a yin to the yang in what I do. So if I’m making super happy party stuff, at some point there will be some miserable distorted thing. That’s the thing I suppose, they’re a yin to the yang, they’re opposites. What comes up must come down and vice versa.

YouTube video


That sounds like a really beautiful experience to go through for yourself too. If you create that space, where you know you can allow yourself to totally surrender to whatever life is throwing at you.
Yeah! And that was it, once I got to this position around when I put Chet Faker to rest for a hot minute, I’ve really been hit. Up until then I felt like it was coming up, it was all very exciting and I was like wow, I’m this artist that everyone’s excited about and then I hit this point where I wasn’t new any more, I’m sort of established. Where the house had been built, and it served this very specific purpose. And I felt like I was supposed to just live in this house now, but I still needed this creative process to help me and to achieve personal goals. This is what music really is at the end of the day, it’s always been a way for me to help process things and figure things out about myself and make some sense of it all. But I built this specific house that had all those rules with it. You can break some of them, but there are certain things that need to be put it in. It became apparent to me, that I needed to do things that didn’t fit in that house and that was my big conundrum. It’s also so easy to say oh underground for live, I’m a true artist, I do what’s true to me, right? Until you get the kind of success that I had. And then it’s like well fuck, now I really got to… I can say it, but how do I know it? That bothered me as well a bit, because I had this huge success and thought it was about the music, but how do I know it’s about the music? And once these whispers came up, I had to follow. Otherwise I’m not being true to how I got here in the first place. I’m sort of rambling, but that was the real point… I could stay here and write Built on Glass a million times in a row and be this R’n’B inflected, slightly jazz influenced beaty guy or whatever. And that’s cool and I love that, but I’m much more than that and unfortunately I need to create a process personally. I rather would leave the same way I came in, you know. I rather have had this success based off the same philosophy that takes me out. And that made me follow my instinct and natural expression.

I could listen for a long time, thanks for sharing all these thoughts! And it’s a powerful thing to do, to really tap into where you’re finding yourself and then manage to look beyond whatever Chet Faker had created.
It was definitely very powerful for me. And even more so for me because of a lot of people who never understood it or never will understand it and a lot of people who are very mad about it. Which also made it a bit more poignant for me, less confusing. But to bring it back to the whole point of it all, it’s like I had to go that way and dig into the soil and see what’s down there and get down in the muck, in order for things like Hotel Surrender to blossom later out of the soil. You have to turn the soil, it’s part of gardening. There’s a lot of dirty part in growing a beautiful flower and a lot of people don’t understand that and most artists do that, but it’s all hidden in their little world.

It does something when you listen, doesn’t it? It provokes something or does something emotionally and taps into something that really deeply connects?
It’s definitely a different space, but it’s not a space for everyone. And that’s not a criticism! A lot of people don’t have time to listen to music that requires something from them. Lots of people are busy or have their own problems that don’t need new chores. And others don’t want to or don’t know how. But I love that kind of music and I knew I wanted to make music like that. But I also knew that there’s the Chet Faker project that wasn’t really like that, the Chet Faker stuff to me is very giving, it’s like here you go guys. Please enjoy. It has a sort of point and a message and an answer that is singular and is for all, it’s for Joe the plumber or for someone’s grandmom.

That’s got so many layers too, I guess? If you produce that music and end up with the kind of person who’s ready to listen to it and therefore create resonance you end up with a I don’t know, call it universal energy in a way. You mentioned purpose and mass therapy as well in one of the statements – that’s kind of music’s greatest power isn’t it? To help people to really do their digging in their garden.
Exactly. That’s exactly it. Maybe the most profound statement I ever heard about music, which was actually in the UK, was this old geezer in a black cab. I don’t even know who I was hanging out with, some friend of mine I guess. We were staying late and were in some weird pub. Some dude in his 60s is dressed like he’s 20, but he’s a really simple guy and I think he had a northern accent or something. He was like, yeah I always just thought that a musicians’s job is to feel stuff that people don’t have a lot of time or energy to feel for themselves. And I just thought holy shit, that’s totally what it is in terms of a job. It took me a few years to get to that and to understand what he meant by that, because I suppose at that time I though nah, it’s about being an artist and you’re speaking with the gods and it’s this narcissistic self righteous journey that just about every young artist goes through and some never leave.

That goes back to the resonance point too. Even though it might have not consciously clicked for you then, you’ve kept it somewhere?
Yes maybe, or maybe on some level I understood. I guess we have all these counterversions of ourselves all the time. We want this but we also know that we don’t want that. We always want different things, so I suppose my ego was at play. Not in the worst possible way. But I was using music for me. And that in a way is what the split, again, is. I wanted to create a space where I could create music for me and sort of remove it from other places, where I could be a servant to the music and just sort or surrender to it. It is really simple, it’s a lot simpler and not nearly as complex as I thought it was when I was in my 20s. It’s actually really crazy simple what I’m supposed to do. And once that began to dawn on me and just how lucky I am and grateful. I also wasn’t grateful for these things I had, they sort of annoyed me. All this success came and I wanted it to go away, it was complicating me and my music’s relationship. After all I realised it’s not about me and my music, it’s actually about the music and everyone else and I’m just like a bridge. I get plenty out of it in the beginning, but it doesn’t stop there. There’s also this concept of responsibility when being creative, which started to develop in me. Now I forgot about the question…

Oh I don’t know what the question was any more either, but very grateful for your insights! So let’s have a cut and go somewhere else: Oh Me Oh My. What’s the backstory? It’s so darn powerful – I always feel like first it knocks me over and then it feels like a huge energy that wraps itself around me and gives me lots of comfort.
I like that! I literally imagined a cowboy kicking a door open. Get out the way! But then the rest of the song he’s just on a horse going through the desert, really just chillin’. I’m not joking, I always saw this cowboy for some reason in my head for this song.

YouTube video


I did not expect that as an answer but fabulous, go on!
A lot of these songs have little stories that don’t always make a lot of sense. Like little movies or motives. But Oh Me Oh My, it’s kind of a decoration of intent, which is usually how I try to start most of my bodies of work. For some reason the first track or the first line is always important to me. And I think the opening line is ‘Go out the way, I got the truth. Part of me I feel for you.’ It’s sort of a confidence in a realisation and I’m not gonna be talked out of it. Because that’s also an aspect of having something you believe in, is you have to stand up for it because people will chat it down. And then the chorus goes ‘Oh Me Oh My, I sleep when I die’, so as long as I’m here, I’m gonna give it a go. When I die I can sleep forever. Of course those lyrics don’t hit as well post pandemic, I have written it before. But it’s a decoration of a sort of intention.

Picking up on the visuals you mentioned, is that something that guides you through the process of creating music? That you come across early on?
Oh yeah, always. My first EP was Thinking of Textures. Which is how I’ve always thought about. It’s definitely visual, but it’s colours and more a sculpture of something in terms of music. And then often it becomes cinematic. Oh Me Oh My I always thought about this cowboy, he’s coming out of the desert which is often symbolic and a very psychedelic place you go for a change or you come out of the desert with a new way of thinking. It’s literally biblical. And then Low I always thought of as water, where it didn’t end up though. But I always had this kind of floating idea and this liquidy form and springs… With Get High I always thought of clouds, which I managed to get in the video.

And the desert you’ve kind of picked up again in the rollerblade video for Feel Good? Which looks like you had a really good time?
Oh I had so much fun, I really did. I mean the song is called Feel Good, right. Me and my team, Alex and Chris, we were trying to find a director and put out pitches and they just came back not very good. It’s a bit of a weird time for this stuff. Then Alex, my manager, said let’s just do what you want to do. And I had this visual in my head of me rollerblading in a dress. I don’t know why, I always had it. Since the beginning of that song, I always had that dress in my head, but I suppose rollerblading in a dress always felt so flowy and free. The label paid for that one, so I though let’s go, let’s have some fun doing this – literal feel good.

YouTube video

Sophia Kahlenberg

Sophia, 29. Fotografin. Dann kam das Schreiben. Verspürt starkes Herzklopfen beim Wort ‚Australien‘. Aber Berlin ist auch ok.

Mehr erfahren →