FatherDude: “How Much Time Do You Have In People’s Periphery?”

Written By Sam Murphy on 06/28/2016

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New York singer FatherDude has become somewhat of an honorary Australia. Despite the fact he only visited the country a few weeks ago for the first time ever he’s worked with local producers GRMM, Slumberjack and Motez. He’s also become a part of the etcetc giving him a solid base off which to launch his debut EP The Balance.

The Balance is a confident, cohesive collection of electronica bound by FatherDude’s impressively soulful vocals. Each song is melodically rich with an innovative backdrop pushing the boundaries of numerous genres all at once.

FatherDude was in the country a couple of weeks ago playing a few showcases and hooking up with local legends to work on music and further embed himself in the Australian dance community. We caught up with him to chat about the debut EP, Australia and keeping up with the rapid pace of the internet.

Is this your first time in Australia?
Yeah this is two years in the making.

You’ve worked with Aussie producers before though yeah?
Yeah, the short of it is. I was in a band called Smokey Robotic and one of the producers had a friend in Vancouver who was coming to New York and he said, “yeah, you should work with him”. We got in the studio and made some songs together some really cool stuff and he was like, “hey, you should work with my friend in Sydney GRMM”. So we started talking and we did this track and we put it up online and things started going and somehow triple j started happening. I started working with people here and then I got into the etcetc family and then a bunch of other people like Slumberjack. It’s just taken a while to get out here.

Is it weird to be releasing music that has someone’s name attached to it that you’ve never come face to face with?
No, not really. In 2016, our online reputation precedes us. So whatever we’re putting out there, we feel comfortable enough letting that do its own description for us. And then, of course, we’re talking so much online and on Skype. I’d say it’s pretty natural.

Is it different when you’re in the studio working with someone as opposed to when you’re just online?

In the beginning I liked getting tracks and being in New York and holing up by myself recording vocals which I still enjoy doing but nowadays I like being in the studio with some. Being able to do the vibe thing first. Yesterday with Motez, he sent me nine tracks and I listened to them all before I came and I liked them but then we came in and decided to do something completely new. That’s the thing. I come from…I’ve played in bands my whole life. Coming into electronic music the thing that was always missing was the visceral experience of creating something together.

You never really know how your energy is going to collide either. It could fall flat.
It could but it rarely does because most of the people I work with are professionals.

What attracted you to move from that band world to an electronic sound?
Um, that project Smokey Robotic was electronic. It was with !llmind who is a legend in the hip-hop world and Konrad OldMoney. It was all based in electronic stuff…hip-hop/electronic. It was myself and a rapper/singer, we’d do soulful hip-hop but essentially pop topline over it. That was my real introduction to electronic music and then being embraced by the electronic world outside of that, at least I had that running start. Before that I was into straight-up R&B playing with a band, a lot more band band type stuff.

Was there anybody in particular who opened your mind to the capabilities of electronic music?
I’d say those guys, those two producers – !llmind and Konrad OldMoney. It had a lot to do with me opening up to that whole world, knowing that the things I do could also work over those types of tracks. Also, GRMM opened the door to this world. It made a lot of sense and sometimes it’s funny how you’re doing one thing forever and you’re like, “ah, I’m hoping this works,” and then all of a sudden something opens up and you’re still allowed to do what you do well and have it done in a way that’s new and fresh and exciting for you and other people.

When you’re in a band you tend to keep things internal but when you’re by yourself you only have one person to check with to see if you can go and collaborate with others. Have you found that it’s been refreshing to be able to constantly bring in new people?

That’s definitely the coolest part. I’ve always been in the band thing so I’ve always been mindful of other people’s opinions and being in a band is a marriage. Collaborations are always about everyone feeling good about what they’re contributing and no one should be stepped on or overrun. When it is for my project I get to have the say. I’ve sometimes taken something I’ve worked on with a producer and said, “hey, how about this guy adds something to it”. Usually everyone’s open to that because it’s for the better of the song. It’s a collaborative thing but it’s nice to be the overseer of your own project. I take the best of all the people I know. It’s what’s best for the song.

After this week, you could leave with multiple songs. How have you condensed all the material you had and made an EP?
That process was a little different because it’s my first EP. Some of those songs are like a year and a half old. It’s a weird thing for me because I’m used to just putting them out. They took so many turns to make it a cohesive thing. It’s such a process that now I’m making music for the next project which will have a bit of a faster turnaround now I have an idea of what works and what doesn’t work. It was during the process of stepping out of the feature world and really understanding the Fatherdude project. This is the definition of a debut and I have over thirty tracks for the next project. We’re making songs today, we’re making songs all week and I’ll go back and make more stuff. Sometimes they’ll fit on other people’s projects, sometimes they’ll fit on my own. Like, there’s a top line I wrote seven years ago that fit in something that I just did. You never know. Good music doesn’t really have a time.

Did gathering the songs force you to find some cohesion in your project and define what your sound was?
Yeah, actually that’s a good way to put it. In 2014, we put those things out and it was a future-bass thing or chilled-trap as they were calling it at the time. I’m never into those genre things because I come from totally different music. I never wanted to limited myself. But the EP I was originally putting it together very different to what we ended up with because at the end of the day there was a turning point where I thought, “fuck the genre”. Particularly for something that took a year or more to put together. Things move so fast now. You put a song out and two days later people forget about it. How much time do you have in people’s periphery? You have to create something that will transcend that.

Is the rapid pace of the internet what makes you want to make a song and put it out immediately?

Yeah. The only problem with that is, this is your brand. It’s a special thing. Good art can happen in moments but the truth is that is the difference between the Soundcloud world and the more pro version of it, becoming a seasoned artists. That’s about being able to put something cohesively together. It takes time. It takes patience. Making something really great one day, it may be ready to release the next day but it’s a business too. You have to make sure it’s understandable to the people you’re release it to.

The biggest part is making the music but after that there’s so much stuff that comes like touring and visuals. Is it a learning process to figure out there’s so much beyond just making the music?
Oh definitely. The whole thing is a learning process. It’s taken me my whole life. Sometimes it blows my mind to see people have so much success early on when you haven’t been able to have some failures. You need to have failures. I feel bad for people who have them in the spotlight. Regardless of that, nobody can choose their success. It happens when it happens. Great if it happens early, great if it happens late. The main thing is, if it happens that’s a good thing.

You speak to a lot of artists who get frustrated about the things beyond just making a song but I speak to others who love the process afterwards. Do you enjoy the part beyond just the song in terms of visuals and packaging?
It’s a little stressful because I’m a perfectionist and I do all this work in New York just to survive and all this work on the creative side just to create something that will sustain me and fans. You want to make sure that no ones listening to it and thinking I didn’t put the effort in. At the end of the day, the artwork is cool and that adds to it. The music is the thing I can control myself.

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New York singer FatherDude has become somewhat of an honorary Australia. Despite the fact he only visited the country a few weeks ago for the first time ever he’s worked with local producers GRMM, Slumberjack and Motez. He’s also become a part of the etcetc giving him a solid base off which to launch his debut EP The Balance.

The Balance is a confident, cohesive collection of electronica bound by FatherDude’s impressively soulful vocals. Each song is melodically rich with an innovative backdrop pushing the boundaries of numerous genres all at once.

FatherDude was in the country a couple of weeks ago playing a few showcases and hooking up with local legends to work on music and further embed himself in the Australian dance community. We caught up with him to chat about the debut EP, Australia and keeping up with the rapid pace of the internet.

Is this your first time in Australia?
Yeah this is two years in the making.

You’ve worked with Aussie producers before though yeah?
Yeah, the short of it is. I was in a band called Smokey Robotic and one of the producers had a friend in Vancouver who was coming to New York and he said, “yeah, you should work with him”. We got in the studio and made some songs together some really cool stuff and he was like, “hey, you should work with my friend in Sydney GRMM”. So we started talking and we did this track and we put it up online and things started going and somehow triple j started happening. I started working with people here and then I got into the etcetc family and then a bunch of other people like Slumberjack. It’s just taken a while to get out here.

Is it weird to be releasing music that has someone’s name attached to it that you’ve never come face to face with?
No, not really. In 2016, our online reputation precedes us. So whatever we’re putting out there, we feel comfortable enough letting that do its own description for us. And then, of course, we’re talking so much online and on Skype. I’d say it’s pretty natural.

Is it different when you’re in the studio working with someone as opposed to when you’re just online?

In the beginning I liked getting tracks and being in New York and holing up by myself recording vocals which I still enjoy doing but nowadays I like being in the studio with some. Being able to do the vibe thing first. Yesterday with Motez, he sent me nine tracks and I listened to them all before I came and I liked them but then we came in and decided to do something completely new. That’s the thing. I come from…I’ve played in bands my whole life. Coming into electronic music the thing that was always missing was the visceral experience of creating something together.

You never really know how your energy is going to collide either. It could fall flat.
It could but it rarely does because most of the people I work with are professionals.

What attracted you to move from that band world to an electronic sound?
Um, that project Smokey Robotic was electronic. It was with !llmind who is a legend in the hip-hop world and Konrad OldMoney. It was all based in electronic stuff…hip-hop/electronic. It was myself and a rapper/singer, we’d do soulful hip-hop but essentially pop topline over it. That was my real introduction to electronic music and then being embraced by the electronic world outside of that, at least I had that running start. Before that I was into straight-up R&B playing with a band, a lot more band band type stuff.

Was there anybody in particular who opened your mind to the capabilities of electronic music?
I’d say those guys, those two producers – !llmind and Konrad OldMoney. It had a lot to do with me opening up to that whole world, knowing that the things I do could also work over those types of tracks. Also, GRMM opened the door to this world. It made a lot of sense and sometimes it’s funny how you’re doing one thing forever and you’re like, “ah, I’m hoping this works,” and then all of a sudden something opens up and you’re still allowed to do what you do well and have it done in a way that’s new and fresh and exciting for you and other people.

When you’re in a band you tend to keep things internal but when you’re by yourself you only have one person to check with to see if you can go and collaborate with others. Have you found that it’s been refreshing to be able to constantly bring in new people?

That’s definitely the coolest part. I’ve always been in the band thing so I’ve always been mindful of other people’s opinions and being in a band is a marriage. Collaborations are always about everyone feeling good about what they’re contributing and no one should be stepped on or overrun. When it is for my project I get to have the say. I’ve sometimes taken something I’ve worked on with a producer and said, “hey, how about this guy adds something to it”. Usually everyone’s open to that because it’s for the better of the song. It’s a collaborative thing but it’s nice to be the overseer of your own project. I take the best of all the people I know. It’s what’s best for the song.

After this week, you could leave with multiple songs. How have you condensed all the material you had and made an EP?
That process was a little different because it’s my first EP. Some of those songs are like a year and a half old. It’s a weird thing for me because I’m used to just putting them out. They took so many turns to make it a cohesive thing. It’s such a process that now I’m making music for the next project which will have a bit of a faster turnaround now I have an idea of what works and what doesn’t work. It was during the process of stepping out of the feature world and really understanding the Fatherdude project. This is the definition of a debut and I have over thirty tracks for the next project. We’re making songs today, we’re making songs all week and I’ll go back and make more stuff. Sometimes they’ll fit on other people’s projects, sometimes they’ll fit on my own. Like, there’s a top line I wrote seven years ago that fit in something that I just did. You never know. Good music doesn’t really have a time.

Did gathering the songs force you to find some cohesion in your project and define what your sound was?
Yeah, actually that’s a good way to put it. In 2014, we put those things out and it was a future-bass thing or chilled-trap as they were calling it at the time. I’m never into those genre things because I come from totally different music. I never wanted to limited myself. But the EP I was originally putting it together very different to what we ended up with because at the end of the day there was a turning point where I thought, “fuck the genre”. Particularly for something that took a year or more to put together. Things move so fast now. You put a song out and two days later people forget about it. How much time do you have in people’s periphery? You have to create something that will transcend that.

Is the rapid pace of the internet what makes you want to make a song and put it out immediately?

Yeah. The only problem with that is, this is your brand. It’s a special thing. Good art can happen in moments but the truth is that is the difference between the Soundcloud world and the more pro version of it, becoming a seasoned artists. That’s about being able to put something cohesively together. It takes time. It takes patience. Making something really great one day, it may be ready to release the next day but it’s a business too. You have to make sure it’s understandable to the people you’re release it to.

The biggest part is making the music but after that there’s so much stuff that comes like touring and visuals. Is it a learning process to figure out there’s so much beyond just making the music?
Oh definitely. The whole thing is a learning process. It’s taken me my whole life. Sometimes it blows my mind to see people have so much success early on when you haven’t been able to have some failures. You need to have failures. I feel bad for people who have them in the spotlight. Regardless of that, nobody can choose their success. It happens when it happens. Great if it happens early, great if it happens late. The main thing is, if it happens that’s a good thing.

You speak to a lot of artists who get frustrated about the things beyond just making a song but I speak to others who love the process afterwards. Do you enjoy the part beyond just the song in terms of visuals and packaging?
It’s a little stressful because I’m a perfectionist and I do all this work in New York just to survive and all this work on the creative side just to create something that will sustain me and fans. You want to make sure that no ones listening to it and thinking I didn’t put the effort in. At the end of the day, the artwork is cool and that adds to it. The music is the thing I can control myself.

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