FAUXE is a rare breed of musician who boasts an essence that resists expository flourishes. If you’ve seen him at his stagings throughout local indiedom or spent a decent enough amount of time listening to his music, you’d know he makes shrouded and mesmerising art that doesn’t distract you from taking in its bare-naked emotional core. That’s why the recent retirement of his mask isn’t our main concern. What we caught up with him for was a guided tour of his exquisitely open-yet-oblique new album Half of My Love. And he graciously obliged.
How does the binary between love and life figure in the album?
I only realised the influence of those two sides at the end of the recording process. After going on tour, after two years of just living life and, most importantly, after revisiting Radiohead’s “Daydreaming”, I came up with the theme. That song is special to me because, for the length of the tour, which stretched from Shanghai, Taiwan, Tokyo, Melbourne and Perth, I listened to it constantly. Once I got back, I was lost; I didn't understand anything what was happening. At some point, I watched a video about the song that the band had released. Thom Yorke said something about how his art was split across half of his life and half of his love. That’s when it hit me – all my time is split between those two sides.
Would you say that there’s an overall state of mind you're in whenever you're making music?
I think, I write more for catharsis. On every song on this album, I try to depict what I was feeling at the moment. I write for now but also for the future. I could come back to these songs years later and they wouldn't feel nostalgic to me. That’s why I moved on immediately after the album came out. I see the whole process of making music as progressive – I don't believe in dwelling on things. Actually, “catharsis” was the initial title of the album.
"I believe there's a difference between a beatmaker and a producer. A producer knows how to manage egos and balance strengths and weaknesses. You have to manage your own ego first and foremost, though."
You seem to favour a collaborative approach. How do you decide whom to work with and how do you manage all that input in service of the music?
Collaboration is important because it gives me the best of both worlds. It allows me and whomever I’m working with to learn from each other and grow. As for picking whom to work with, my approach is simple. I don't trust many people here. In general, I only work with people I hang with – my homies. I take ownership of my own work. What’s the point in succumbing to someone else’s level? It’s deeper than that. I feel that the art of making music is becoming diluted by technology. That’s why I believe there’s a difference between a beatmaker and a producer. A producer knows how to manage egos and balance strengths and weaknesses. You have to manage your own ego first and foremost, though. This is what unlocks potential in yourself and the people you work with.
We feel like “Be Brave”, featuring OmarKENOBI articulates your sentiments perfectly. Tell us more about the song.
Omar and I were watching 500 Days of Summer and we were both very sad. We were both at a place in our lives where that movie resonated with us. After watching it, we decided to write a song about it. It was written on the spot. There’s a sample from The Perks of Being A Wallflower, too. The song was for us to really let go. Things were getting too real and we just had to. That’s one of the reasons why I tattooed “Be Brave” on myself. It's a reminder to myself that I’m the boat that carries my family, friends and music.
I was in school learning about music from different cultures and time periods and as I went deeper, I realized that no one had sampled these older Singaporean artists before. I wanted to release an EP that’d help people realise that music has existed in Singapore for a long time. That’s why, as a mark of respect to the artists, I named the songs after them. The 24-hour process was fun. If I remember correctly, we made this the moment I got back from reservist.
You have a prodigious body of work. Do you ever step back and consider the size of your discography?
To me, saying you have a body of work is limiting. My body of work exists with every day that moves. I keep all my work, even the unfinished songs. As human beings, the best thing we can create is our deaths. The music will live on in whatever form it exists in. Since I’m very aware of that, I’m always pushing myself to do better and when I die, the music is what it is. I love the music I make but I treat each song as a stepping-stone to something better. I’m too focused on becoming better as an artist to dwell on the past.
Lastly, since you’ve now disregarded the mask, has how you want people to react or engage with your music changed?
I want people to remember me for my honesty in music. That’s the most important thing. I’ve never tried to be someone else. I tap into my emotions a lot and that’s how I judge all music. In that sense, what’s lacking here is soul. Soul comes with purpose. If you write for yourself, the soul will show. If you write for others, you might just be able to fake it. I hope that before anyone interprets my music, they feel that honesty. Everything else should come after that.