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Interview: Fink

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Former Ninja Tune beatsmith Fink took a brave step - he changed.

FinkTaking classic acoustic sounds and releasing them on the world via the modern digital DIY route, he became the ecclectic dance label’s first and only singer-songwriter.

“I fit into this area of songwriters, this whole DIY thing, this whole ‘folk Britannia’ thing, I don’t know, when I hear my own stuff it sounds so different from everyone else’s that I don’t know where it fits in. I guess that’s either good or bad - Q liked it, but at the same time The Sun liked it - random…,” muses Fink on his new direction.

A true post-modern, digital traditionalist, the former Ninja Tune turntabalist took the bold move of changing his musical style, switching his decks for a guitar and a selection of highly personal, blues-tinged slabs of acoustic narrative.

“Hey! These things happen, people change, people’s taste changes. I moved from being really into clubs and clubbing and DJing to being really into live music, and playing instruments. I guess I’m extreme sometimes and when I tired of clubbing and the constant technological boundary pushing of electronica I went the other way to the extreme and now my live set up is an acoustic trio.”

2006 is a time of the music industry moving further into the digital age, but Fink’s sound is stepping back to a move traditional sound - It could be suggested that he is moving against the cultural tide?

“Not really,” he blasts. "[The album] was only made possible by all the new technology, it’s only in the past few years that the tech has been readily available for people like me to be able to record this kinda stuff in their attics or basements, if it wasn’t for my Macs and samplers I would have to depend on a record company to pay for the session. I engineered it myself, produced it myself, I even bought the studio kit myself from the DJ money, that’s a pretty new thing. Maybe, if anything, the digital revolution means that music like this is getting more heat - after the initial honeymoon period of ‘wow, none of these sounds are being played’ - now we all tend to need a little more personality and talent in our music, downloading is also an ecological solution to all those landfills full of all those boy and girl bands unrecyclable and non bio-degradable CD singles.”

The album is a stark contrast to his earlier Ninja Tune work, so how does Fink feel his new work stands up as part of his musical history?

“It’s a debut album, it’s the next level. I was part of the whole DJ revolution thing and I’m really proud of that, from being a resident DJ at the old Blue Note club before Hoxton Square had a mullet, to being the first Ninja Tune DJ to play Tel Aviv, loved it all, but it all feels like it was leading up to this one. All my skills and experiences kicked in, everything was relevant and now I'm at the bottom of a new ladder working my way up again - I prefer that! This record has an air of more permanency than my other stuff, like it’s more real or something, it’s hard to explain. I’m really loving the challenge of a new learning curve…”

In the true contradictory fashion of which many great albums have been borne, the album embraces the ghosts of classic singer-songwriters whilst fully taking advantage of the benefits of modern techniques - in this case the burgeoning digital DIY culture.

Fink understands the benefits of the openness technological developments have offered musicians, but has a love/hate relationship with the latest phenomenon ….

“Myspace, myspace, myspace, it’s a love hate thing. The net means your music isn’t totally safe. I can download my album for free from a number of different places already even though it's only been out for a week, but it’s been proven that people who illegally download are actually one of the healthiest music buying groups of people. I often limewire or poison tracks I’ve heard on the radio or whatever, just to check ‘em out, if I need them in my life I go get ‘em legit. Myspace is great for musicians, it saves you posting stuff to people, you can meet people and if they like your music they can just go check it out or if I'm gonna play with some-one. I can go check their stuff on myspace, so much better than sending CD’s in the post, again saving energy and resources."

Still on the subject of music in the digital era, - how would he react to hearing a Fink ringtone in public?

“You know what, just being honest, I don’t really get ringtones. I think they’re a bit annoying, it’s a way of butting into peoples lives to say ‘hey I’m into hip hop, or hey I’m into metal, or hey I’m into farmyard animals’ or whatever. Like wearing a T-shirt that says ‘check out this tee, it means I’m like this and I want you to know that.’ My phone sounds like a phone when it rings - the natural order!. On myspace a few people have used my tracks as their music on their page, which is really flattering, and more flattering than hearing my music as a ringtone - ringtones are for pop fans…” 

Fink has embraced the modern musical landscape in order to lay down a personal musical diary based on the work of classic song-writers, whilst moving himself and Ninja Tune records into uncharted territory.

Only time will tell if the risk has paid-off, but musically his new album Biscuits for Breakfast deserves to stand the test of time.

Fink - Official artist site

myspace page

Ninja Tune - Official label site

 

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