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Fink ~ "Horizontalism": Interview + Exclusive Track Premiere

Fink ~ "Horizontalism": Interview + Exclusive Track Premiere

Photo by Tommy Lance
Photo by Tommy N Lance

Fink – previously known to us as a “whiskey ballad band” of three fine gentlemen (Tim Thornton, Guy Whittaker, Fin Greenall) and Fin’s ruggedly lush voice that strongly stands on its own – has recreated itself showing us all the elements we loved about them in an entirely different light.

In just ten days Fink releases an ambient, “aggressively laid back”, dubbed out electronic rework album inspired by Fin’s new home in Berlin, which comes with an array of different inspirations as it is. Horizontalism is due for release via his own label R’COUP’D (subsidiary of Ninja Tune), and we had a rare chance to chat with the man himself about the clever name of the album, his experiences in Berlin, and the story behind our favorite track on the LP, which he shares with Big Up readers exclusively.

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interview by Katya Guseva

It is remarkable that with Horizontalism Fink enters considerably contrasting territory (compared to the previous output), which will surely bring new audience, and/or might possibly leave the old fans puzzled. Is this looked at by Fink as a risk, an exciting new endeavor, or an off-course one-off project?

I think it’s looked at by me as a one-off kinda thing. It’s something I always wanted to do, and having your own record label is very tempting as you can kinda do whatever you want. I think existing Fink fans will totally get that it’s like a remix album, just one that is a lot deeper and more involved than just commissioning a tonne of “kinda” remixes. I really wanted to remix my own record, and all of the re-interpretations basically have hardly any vocals on. I also wanted a Fink album out there that represented the more electronic leanings y’know… I love this kind of ambient music, always have, and in our previous side project, sideshow, we explored the more instrumental direction.

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Sometimes I miss being a producer a little, and this was a way to kinda have a hobby outside of Fink for a second.

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This record was really spawned by the amazing sessions we had done for the Hard Believer album from all kinds of electronic musicians, chiefly Andrew Phillips and Zach Rae – and the fact that, over Christmas, I had a hard drive of awesome parts produced by Billy Bush. You’re right, it is a totally different kind of journey, but I don’t think the people who like our song-based stuff are gonna get it twisted. It’s a record of remixes and re-interpretations – a couple of exclusive songs that I wrote at the time, stuff I worked on while on tour: in the van on the American tour, in hotel rooms in Canada, in my apartment in Berlin, all over the place really. Sometimes I miss being a producer a little, and this was a way to kinda have a hobby outside of Fink for a second – doesn’t make a lot of sense I know – but it felt like a real labour of love, and the reactions to it so far have really surprised me in a cool way.

How big of a role did moving to Berlin play in the kind of a musical output that Fink has now produced in Horizontalism?

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Berlin gives you a sense that anything is possible creatively – and it's never about the money in Berlin. It's about doing it, and being with lots of people who are also just doing it, just because they love it.

[/quote_left]Yep – a huge part of it – I couldn’t, or rather wouldn’t, have been inspired to make this record, if I was living anywhere else. The view from my apartment was just desolation and abandoned buildings covered in graffiti – seeing the trains go by in the night, the quietness, and the loudness, of Berlin, a truly great and creative city. These re-interpretations and originals really came from this place. Berlin gives you a sense that anything is possible creatively – and it’s never about the money in Berlin. It’s about doing it, and being with lots of people who are also just doing it, just because they love it. The kind of urban soundscapes, or at least they are to me, perfectly suited my mood when I was in Berlin last year – and I think that’s why the set of work is so coherent – it’s all born from the same place. Berlin allows you, or enables you, to be creative but to also explore the extreme side of it – and I think in art that is a good thing – to get as close to the edge as you feel comfortable…

“Fall Into The Light” is such a beautiful piece of music. How was it produced? Any special story about it? Does it relate in any way to “Keep Falling” on Hard Believer?

“Fall Into The Light” came to be after my first night at Berghain when I first got here. It was also the first track I wrote when I arrived, and so just had to be track #1 on this record. Y’know with dance music it’s how it goes: you go out, you hear stuff, you come home, you make it, or you make your own version of it, and that’s the kind of inherent biology of dance music, it’s such an organic process. I guess “Fall Into The Light” is my version of that. I was trying to capture the energy of my great great experience at the Mecca of Darkness that is Berghain, and I wanted really to be positive. You enter the place at whatever time you do, and within an hour or so you have no idea what time it is, how long you’ve been there, it doesn’t matter – you are embraced by loud beats, rhythm, controlled hedonism and in a large space with relatively no judgement I’d say… Honestly – it has no relation at all to Hard Believer or “Keep Falling” – I guess its optimism is the same as Hard Believer – but yeah – no relation at all to the whiskey ballads. I think it’s more smiley than that. “If we leave, we leave, with positivity.” I love that lyric.

What’s in a name – Horizontalism?

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I just came up with "Horizontalism", because when I listened back to check the mixtape I was lying on my couch, and it was the prefect position for it.

[/quote_left]I did a mixtape last year for my dear friends at Lowdown Magazine – it was all kinds of music, but overall it was chilled – this was before I had decided to do the album. I was thinking of names for the mixtape that could somehow join Malcolm Mclaren to Skream and everything in between, and I just came up with “Horizontalism”, because when I listened back to check the mixtape I was lying on my couch, and it was the prefect position for it. I mean, it also taps into Marxist theory and productive anarchy, but let’s not get too deep, yeah! It sounded cool and when I had to name this record, again, it fitted perfectly. I just didn’t want to involve the usual party poopers like “intelligent” or “ambient” or “chilled” – horizontalism isn’t chilled necessarily – it’s more like aggressively laid back.

How involved have all three members of the band been in Horizontalism? Could this be considered more of a “Fin” album?

All the re-interpretations are directly from all the studio parts – nothing added at all at my end – all the remixes are strictly from the parts – that was part of my ideology for the record, one of the rules I laid down for it to maintain its hull integrity, if you know what I mean. So apart from the two songs and the Suuns remix, considering I generally muted the guitars and the vocals (essentially “my” bit), it was a producer with their parts and Billy Bush’s amazing ears. So weirdly – great question by the way – musically I had the least input on the remixes. I guess I just brought a different vision to the table.

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Could you talk about the artwork for the album please?

Our dear friends and in-house photographers and film-makers Tommy N Lance, based in Amsterdam, are always doing cool projects. One of them was following the Dutch special forces on training to take cool pictures like “Call Of Duty” style. Along the way they took lots of abstract shots too. The cover of Horizontalism is actually the very first split second of a grenade going off inside a building – the very next split second shot is the whole building exploding. I loved this shot, it contains so much time in it, it really makes me feel like something is about to happen. And the first track is called “Fall Into The Light” – so, y’know, it fits. The rest of the shots are all kinda sparks and abstract moments from these explosive events on their shoot. And, being a very Berlin inspired record, they’re all black. We did the rest of the artwork while we were heavily deep on tour, so had no time to brief things and so on, so we just DIY’d that shit.

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The cover of "Horizontalism" is actually the very first split second of a grenade going off inside a building

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The tracklisting was scraped into the side of the bus by me and Tim the drummer, as we had just spent 2 weeks in the East and the bus was completely covered in salt. There was no point washing it, as the next 500 miles every night would simply re-apply a layer of grit and salt to the bus. When we got to Prague we got some ladders out, wrote the tracklisting on the side of the bus, and our lighting guy Argy, who always has a large camera ready, snapped the shot. Similarly the CD itself is just a wall on the side of a venue somewhere, can’t remember where now, and we just got out the gaffa tape. The credits were written on a bar stool backstage in Frankfurt on a map of Berlin we bought in a garage on the way. It was all supposed to be very DIY – and the artwork was the same – our friends and us just throwing it together.

What other album(s) – by other artist(s) – would you yourself compare Horizontalism with? Say if you had to describe it to people who have never heard it.

Well, ok, I wouldn’t dare say Horizontlism even came close to even a few minutes of the following records in their individual and collective majesty, but I guess Horizontalism was inspired by:

Mad Professor – No Protection”
KLF – Chill Out
Thom Yorke – Tomorrows Modern Boxes and Radiohead’s Amnesiac record
The Orb – Evil 93
Miles Davis – In A Silent Way
Malcolm McLaren – Duck Rock
And pretty much anything instrumental by M83.

For people who haven’t heard it: it’s electronic, aggressive and ambient visions created from the view of Berlin and the record Hard Believer, from hot summers and cold winters, from endless roads, to wanting to put something on, that genuinely immersed you in another world without any pressure, emotional or stylistically.

Horizonatlism is out on May 18th via R’COUP’D.

Preorder now
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