PHOTO CREDIT: Emily Elizabeth
THERE is a rare charisma and sense of attraction one feels when listening to…
PHOTO CREDIT: Asia Pracz Photography
the music of FØNX. I have been spinning his new track, Can’t Get Enough, for a while and find something new each time I play it. For that reason, it was interesting chatting with the East Sussex-based songwriter about the track’s origins. He discusses working alongside Grammy-winning producer Tommaso Colliva and how he managed to transition between a period of sofa-surfing and where he is now.
I get a peek into the creative mindset of someone who recommends the music of Eminem alongside Frank Ocean and Ben Howard. The enigma and contrasts of FØNX are apparent in the music – that imbued with so much nuance and allure.
FØNX is live-streaming his latest track tomorrow - via his Facebook page - so make sure you get a first-hand representation and experience of the incredible music.
Hi, FØNX. How are you? How has your week been?
I’m great, thanks. How are you doing?
It’s been an awesome week so far! The single came out last Friday - so there’s been a constant stream of things to do and people to talk to which is great.
For those new to your work, can you introduce yourself, please?
I’m FØNX. I’m an artist/songwriter/producer - forever on the move.
Tell me a bit about your new track, Can’t Get Enough. What compelled the song?
The track, Can’t Get Enough, came about after a night out with a friend in Brighton - during The Great Escape Festival weekend. During the night, he told me how he recently had a bad trip on something funky and was tripping out for twenty-hours straight - which sounded pretty horrendous.
Forward a few days later, and I still had his story going through my head and thinking how nuts it sounded, so, I started penning some lyrics down and that’s how the initial ideas starting flowing.
Was it true you found yourself sofa-surfing and busking? How did things get to that point where you had to live like that?
When you put it like that, it sounds bad - but it wasn’t quite like that. I was moving house and it was that in-between stage where you don’t have your old home to live in anymore and you don’t have a new one to move into yet.
So, I was just sofa-surfing with friends for a couple of months, which was cool, but a bit random not knowing where you’re going to be staying the next night!
Lucky, I have some cool friends with sofas to lend! It was during this time that I started writing Can’t Get Enough and I remember turning my mate’s living-room into a little make-shift studio - while he was at work during the day - to record the demo.
IN THIS PHOTO: Tommaso Colliva
Tommaso Colliva produced. Was it quite daunting working with a Grammy-winning producer? What did Colliva bring to the process in terms of expertise and insight?
It was awesome working with Tommaso because he really wanted to get to know where my mind was at and what I liked; down to my favourite films, music I’m digging and everything else - so we could draw from that palette, if you like. It felt like we were on the same wave-length in terms of wanting to experiment with sounds; find something unique within what we were doing and not being afraid to try something outside the box. His studio is sick too. He has a lot of analogue and vintage gear, so we used some bits in our recording sessions.
The whole process just felt really exciting for me as it was the first time I had worked with a producer on my stuff. It was amazing going to the studio every day to work on these songs and ideas that were born in my room.
Tommaso won his Grammy during our initial recording sessions so it was pretty cool walking into the studio, one day, to see his Grammy had arrived. It definitely has a presence to it. Feels like you’re in good hands when you can see that in the corner of your eye!
How do songs like Can’t Get Enough come together? Do you set time aside to write or is it a more natural process?
The initial spark of an idea is usually a natural process as something will trigger an idea or story for me that I’ll want to carry on writing about. I guess, once I have that, it becomes more about setting the time aside for writing. I usually want to write about something specific or express a certain way I’m feeling before I write it - instead of forcing a thought or a song idea to then write a song out of it (if that makes sense?!).
Then there’s a point where musical ideas meet the lyrics. This process I find has to be more forced as you are trying out different musical ideas with different lyrics until something clicks - and you feel like you’re onto something.
Sometimes, I can write most of a song, produce (up) a demo for it and still be missing a verse. But I know I will eventually find what I want to say and come back to it later.
PHOTO CREDIT: Emily Nelson
What has been your most-treasured memory in terms of gigs and achievements?
I think writing the next song feels like the biggest achievement each time for me because that’s my favourite part of the process - and means the most to me as it’s something I’ve created and can treasure forever - whether it reaches a lot of other people or not.
Hearing my song being played on BBC Radio 1 for the first time was a big deal for me too. This was when I wrote music under my old name, in a slightly different vibe.
How important is London to your work and outlook on life? It seems like you vibe hard from the people and sights of the city.
London is really important.
There’s this buzz I feel when I’m London that I can feed off for inspiration. When I’m there, I feel more inspired than anywhere else. I feel I can think outside the box and look at things in a different way.
It’s definitely a good place to write for me.
Is there going to be new material or hookups in the future? What have you got brewing?
Definitely: lots of new material to come in the near-future.
I’ve been writing solidly for the past couple of years and I almost feel like the music, in terms of releasing and sharing, has now got to catch up with where I’m at now. So, yes, there’s a lot more to come and I really can’t wait to start getting it out.
It seems like you take a lot of influence from the likes of Frank Ocean and Childish Gambino. Is American R&B music you connect hardest to or are your tastes quite broad?
Yeah, I’d say you’re right.
It’s definitely one of my favourite genres of music right now. It’s the sort of stuff I stick on with friends and dance to - but I also love how artists within that genre are pushing forward and searching for something different and surprising within production and song form. It’s exciting.
My tastes are pretty broad but, at the moment, I’m loving artists like Anderson Paak, Kendrick Lamar; John Mayer, Mac Miller; George Benson, Tom Misch and Francis and the Lights (to name a few!).
PHOTO CREDIT: @emelizabeth
Do you have any tour dates approaching? Where can we come and see you play?
I’m playing a few intimate Sofar Sounds shows over August - which I’m really looking forward to. These are some of my favourite shows to play right now as you can really connect with people in a way you don’t in a big music venue or festival. I’m also going to be playing a few London shows in September:
Saturday 19th August - Sofar Sounds, London
Monday 21st August - Sofar Sounds, Bath
Sunday 27th August - Sofar Sounds, Cambridge
Wednesday 30th August - Sofar Sounds, Cardiff
Friday 8th September - The Spice of Life, London
Tuesday 19th September - The Bedford, Balham
Thursday 26th October - Aloft Hotel, Excel London
Tuesday 5th December - Sofar Sounds, Southampton.
IN THIS PHOTO: Tom Misch
Who are new acts you recommend we check out?
If you had to select the three albums that mean the most to you; which would it be and why?
That’s a really difficult question…can I pick ten?!
Earth, Wind & Fire - I Am
My earliest memory of music is listening to this album in the car…you just can’t go wrong. It’s a magic record from start to finish.
Eminem – Encore
This was the first album I bought with my own money. I used to listen to it on my Walkman on the way to school. I knew all the lyrics and played it on repeat for quite some time!
PHOTO CREDIT: Emily Nelson
Ben Howard - Every Kingdom
It reminds me of a magical time when I starting studying music in London and experiencing that buzz for the first time and falling in love. Not quite the style of music I’m listening to much these days, but still, a beautiful record.
What advice would you give to artists coming through right now?
Keep writing and never think you have the song - or ‘hit’, as people like to call it.
Support other artists.
Finally, and for being a good sport, you can name a song and I’ll play it here (not one of yours as I’ll do that).
Tom Misch - South of the River
PHOTO CREDIT: Emily Elizabeth