Exploring a new, more melodic side to his music, Fakethias has just released his new album, Core Echo. The nine-track record was developed during the pandemic, and through it, the Oslo-based producer mixes textured and harsh sounds that give the songs a cinematic feel to them. “Every track is like a moment or a scene,” he tells us in this interview. Today, we speak with him about putting this album together, how he’s working on the live shows to create a well-rounded experience, and the electronic music Norway scene.
Hello Fakethias, great to be speaking with you. We last spoke with you back in 2019, and a lot has happened since then. What have you been up to?
Likewise. A lot has happened, yeah. I was stuck in Oslo during the pandemic years. During that time, I started working on what later became my album Core Echo and the EP Excess, which I consider to be a prelude to the album in a way. I was also involved in hosting and playing at open air raves in the forests outside of Oslo, and released a lot of tracks on my label Massive Gain. Since then I’ve been touring, travelling, and generally moving around a lot.
Taking a look back, where do you feel you stand now compared to 2019, when you had recently released your debut EP and were starting to book big festivals like Sónar?
I feel a lot more experienced and more focused. Back then, there was so much I wanted to say that I didn’t yet know how to say, and I tried to go in a lot of different directions at the same time. Everything makes more sense to me now, even though I currently probably do that more than ever.
Congratulations on your new album, Core Echo. Am I right to say you are taking a more directly melodic route on some of the new music? What do you think has driven this change?
Thank you, and yes, definitely. I’ve been playing around with the ideas that are central to the project for a lot longer than I’ve been making club music. At a certain point, there were emotions and ideas that I couldn’t process and communicate in the ways I had done before. I needed to push myself, needed change, so I decided to do something I had put off for years, which was to make these songs that I sing myself. More generally speaking, I’m restless, so as soon as I feel like I’ve accomplished something, I move on to the next thing I have on my mind.
It also seems you are focused on contrast for the new record. You often mix softer melodic vocals with harsher industrial sounds, or on tracks such as Core Echo, which begin as powerful walls of noise, and close with a more tender end. Where did this contrast come from and was it something which developed naturally?
It comes naturally to me, yeah. I’m drawn to harsh and deeply textured sounds because of how they resonate with me emotionally. And also how they activate my imagination. They’re very visual, almost cinematic in a way. Every track is like a moment or a scene. And they change. Sometimes dramatically. And a lot of times things aren’t either or, but both at the same time. The title track is like a long and painful scream. Until you accept it. Then it’s actually quite soothing.
In terms of the writing process for your music, do the melodies tend to come first, or is there another creative spark of some sort? I ask this as much of the new record is complex, involving many sounds, and it would be interesting to see how they came to be.
It’s very layered. I usually have a vague idea of a ‘something’ I want to capture through sound and images – perhaps a mood, an imagined environment or a sensory impression. Most of the connections that inspire me have little to do with music itself, they’re more abstract. Like, buying a new pair of shoes might inspire a new sound, or something like that (laughs). It just clicks somehow.
So what comes first is usually world-building through sound design and collages of images. It’s like I’m trying to make an environment to write the songs within. And then the actual writing process is very intuitive. A sound inspires a melody that inspires a lyric. All the lyrics on this album started as gibberish vocalisations, and I didn’t know what the songs meant to me until they were done.
A lot has changed since your EP, Attune, in 2018. What is it you aim to capture or develop on for the new record?
I’ve been particularly interested in how I could blend the guitar sounds with the digitally sculpted samples I usually write music with. Sometimes I’ve aimed to have them mimic each other. I spent a lot of time searching for the perfect balance between ‘real’ and ‘imagined’ sounds. I wanted the productions to feel like rock music, but not confine myself to the instruments traditionally associated with the genre – that would be boring, when there are so many other possibilities. Aside from that, the album feels like a time capsule that captures a personally significant period full of emotional extremes.
In terms of the Norway music scene, how would you describe the general music of you and your contemporaries? Are there many people you know who are also approaching such industrial or ambient sounds, or is it quite a tight-knit group?
Oslo has had a small but interesting community for the past couple of years. The now defunct free party series Enter, which I was involved in, and the community around it, has been particularly interesting. If you had asked me just a few years ago, I would never have imagined that Oslo could be a place people from around the world would travel to, to play and experience extreme forms of dance music out in the forest. Those parties have been some of the most fun I’ve ever attended. It’s not all hardcore and noise, though. Elusin is from Oslo too.
I have read that you co-run a record label and project called Massive Gain. Could you tell us a bit about this and how it came to be?
I started Massive Gain with Erik Spanne, formerly known as Drippin, now Onleash. The project was born out of a string of club nights back in 2018. I think we both felt like something was missing. We wanted club tracks that were hard and experimental but restrained enough to be functional in the club, and we wanted a form of techno that wasn’t rigid or stuck in the past. We approached techno more like a format to play around with, and since none of us were really techno heads in the first place, it naturally ended up sounding different.
Massive Gain started as a label, but I see it more as an audiovisual project. The visual artist, Sam Clarke, who also made the artwork for Core Echo, has made the majority of the artworks, which I personally see as important as the tracks themselves. A couple of tracks have been made because we wanted a reason to post his images.
How will you approach performing the new tracks? There must be lots to think about when performing your new music.
I’m working on it, so I don’t want to spoil much, but I’m planning to perform with a band.
What can we expect next from you, have you got any upcoming live dates or projects in the works?
More shows and more music through all channels.