The Magic of Imperfection and Letting Things Go with Fazerdaze
We had the chance to speak with Amelia Murray about how her latest release lets her further cemented the crowning of Fazerdaze on the bedroom pop throne, flowing raw feelings and introverted approach in her bedroom to becoming an earworm and the voice of angsty adolescents, and undying yearn for Indonesian crowd’s spirit.
Words by Whiteboard Journal
Words: MM Ridho
Photo: Joey Clough
Being stuck for almost five years after releasing the groundbreaking bedroom pop debut album Morningside, better known through her moniker Fazerdaze, Amelia Murray is gaining great momentum in producing music after she lets things go off her baggage. This is better proven by the fact that, during the interview, she was in an undisclosed studio in Los Angeles, brewing up something new, right after releasing her cathartic EP, Break!.
I had the chance to speak with Amelia Murray about how her latest release lets her further cemented the crowning of Fazerdaze on the bedroom pop throne, flowing raw feelings and introverted approach in her bedroom to becoming an earworm and the voice of angsty adolescents, and undying yearn for Indonesian crowd’s spirit.
After a long hiatus, you have finally finished Break! after surrendering yourself and accepting the ugly truths. Buried in a pile of problems can feel so crippling and you don’t know how to get up until there is a “light”. What was the “light” that made you think it was time to get up and start making music again?
Amelia: For me, it was like accepting everything in my life to come undone. That was actually the light: not holding on to things so tightly anymore, and letting people in my life go and letting things unravel and come undone, that was the light that perhaps made me move forward with my music.
And when did you realize that there is this light, and what made you think that it’s time to make an album again?
Amelia: I’ve actually been making music the whole time, anyway. I was really stuck finishing stuff and letting stuff go. It was almost like I had to learn how to let stuff go in my personal life. So, it wasn’t really a single moment that I realized. It just happened gradually over time.
You’re known for your catchy and touching personal lyrics. And now with Break! you’re getting even more personal. But, out of curiosity, I wonder If there is one social (or political) issue that you–as Fazerdaze–wanted to sing about, what would it be?
Amelia: I think, I don’t know if I can answer that directly because there are just so many social and political issues to talk about. But, I think in this record, in particular, I want people to realize that it’s really important to listen to yourself and your inner being—well above everything else.
In society, we have these constructs of; what loyalty is, what being noble is, what love is, and sometimes it can be quite restrictive. And sometimes [you] had to break out of these constructs.
And I think sometimes, in society, we have these constructs of; what loyalty is, what being noble is, what love is, and sometimes it can be quite restrictive. And sometimes [you] had to break out of these constructs, because, you’re buying into this “idea” of what’s good. And, maybe, if anyone could take anything away from this EP is: honor your heart, and honor your inner knowing above all else.
And I don’t mean it from like an ego space, or like a really quiet internal space of what you think is right. Try to hit the bravery and courage to listen to that—even if it goes against what you see around you. So that’s what I kinda personally had to learn. And so I hope people can take that away from this EP.
I wonder, what is “loyalty” for you?
Amelia: Well, I don’t know if I’ve seen the need of people to be loyal. I mean, there are constructs of values that can keep you really locked in. I guess loyalty to me is like honoring myself because that’s the best thing I can do for everyone around me. Take care of myself and be the best version of myself, be loyal to myself, and that’s the most true thing I can do.
If Break! was a movie, what would it be?
Amelia: I was thinking about this! What about you—does it make you think of any movies?
I guess loyalty to me is like honoring myself because that’s the best thing I can do for everyone around me.
The first time I listened to it, it came to me as really cinematic—to some extent—a coming-of-age film.
Amelia: I think that’s such a great… I agree—it would be like a coming-of-age genre of film.
I’m not sure. Every time I hear it, I don’t know what film in particular. I thought, maybe, I don’t know if you’ve seen the film Reality Bites (1994)—it’s got Winona Ryder in it. I don’t know if the film, like, the music would be that… maybe, something kind of the 90s with that kind of attitude as well. I’m not sure. Sorry.
Otherwise, maybe, Ghost World (2001), have you seen it? There’s this one character in Ghost World, I think her name is Enid, and she kinda embodies Break!—she’s just kinda like brashy and slightly annoying, and that wasn’t really cool. I think she dates an older guy or something. I kind of feel like, maybe, that movie has a bit of Break! aesthetics, as well the clothes they’re wearing at the start.
Now imagine someone is interested to make Break! in the cinema and you are allowed to choose whoever the director is, who do you think fits the job and who’s gonna star in it?
Amelia: For Break!? Um… let me think. Probably Edgar Wright. Haha.
Why do you think he fits the job?
Amelia: Maybe I’m still thinking of his film, like Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and Baby Driver. There’s just quite a lot of energy in those films.
Yeah, Scott Pilgrim is one of my favorite “musical” movies.
Amelia: He really comes to mind, and maybe that film too, just in terms of how unfiltered some of the characters feel.
I can see that.
So many musicians translated self-acceptance into a slow, blissful kind of music, but with Break! you prove it can be delivered through lo-fi, raw, and punchy music. Do you mind to share a slight bit of Break! production flow from scratch?
Amelia: Basically a lot of it was recorded at home. I hit these really rafty notes—I loved the magic of them. Like, I get this all the time where I do these rafty notes without thinking about it, and then I just hit this magic. And it’s so frustrating cause I often try to re-record the whole thing, and then the new thing neither has the magic. So, with the Break! EP, I worked on using as much of the demo as I could possibly use in the final outcome.
A lot of what you hear on the EP are the first guitar takes, and first vocals, ‘cause I just want to keep that rawness that the demos had, because there was something really magical about imperfection and grittiness for this EP. So, a lot of what you hear on the EP are the first guitar takes, and first vocals, ‘cause I just want to keep that rawness that the demos had, because there was something really magical about imperfection and grittiness for this EP.
I basically just took the demos and worked them up. I only replaced key elements such as the drums, which, I went into a recording studio and tracked those with the drummer, just because, I feel like they could give it a level-up of energy. And then I just took it all back home, added too much distortion, and I just took the guitars straight into my interface, like, just plug in the guitar straight in, DI-ing (direct inject) the guitars, and all the vocals were recorded on an [Shure] SM58 microphones—you know, those microphones you see live. So, yeah, it’s pretty rough and gritty, but I think I’m really happy with the sounds, really [feel] real to me. Like, it just doesn’t sound overworked and polished, which I really wanted to avoid.
Did you do that as well while recording Morningside?
Amelia: I think… I feel like with Morningside I replaced everything. Like, re-recorded everything. I think with Break! is more of the original sounds.
You’re coming back to Jakarta soon. Indonesia is proven as one of the biggest music markets in Asia, and I believe you’re looking beyond this: you don’t treat us as a mere market. What makes the Indonesian music scene/audience so unique and what makes it different from New Zealand’s? And what makes you have this willingness to keep on coming back to Indonesia?
Amelia: I guess it’s just that, I feel, probably, more welcomed in Jakarta or Indonesia than I do in any part of the world—I mean, obviously my mom is from Jakarta, and I got family in Jakarta—so, it’s quite special to me. And, I think Indonesia is a part of my heritage that I really want to connect to more, so… I guess it feels different for me because it’s like my second home. I was super overwhelmed by the love that I get in Indonesia. It’s like, unreal.
But, if we don’t have to talk about the friendliness of the people here, what do you think about the Indonesian audience? What makes them so unique for you beyond their friendliness?
The last couple of times I played in Indonesia, I’ve been quite overwhelmed at how much people sing along and sing really loudly. And it’s not just the hit songs, but sometimes more obscure songs—like the whole audience were singing word-to-word, and I think I’m very impressed by Indonesians learning all the lyrics.
I think we love to sing or shout our hearts out. Cause we’re stressed on daily basis and, maybe, I feel like you represent us.
Indonesian people, especially my generation (in their 20s) have this tendency to like music that is raw, blasting with energy, but still has pop delivery—like your music. Based on your observation, what causes Indonesians to have this tendency or interest in this kind of music?
Amelia: Gosh, I’m not sure if I can answer that because I don’t know if I can speak on behalf of other people. But, maybe… I don’t know—something I’ve found really interesting every time I go to Indonesia is… I always feel like there’s a little bit more chaos in it. Just like the traffic and the way things work. But somehow things still seem to function in Indonesia, and people still manage to get on with their day.
I always feel like there’s a little bit more chaos in it. Just like the traffic and the way things work. But somehow things still seem to function in Indonesia, and people still manage to get on with their day. I think there’s this element of chaos over there that, like, I don’t really feel as much living in New Zealand. Maybe it’s just that [sense of] looseness or something. So, something rough and raw—like my music—goes well over there. Because it’s like there’s a bit more room for imperfection. But, that’s only my assumption.
I also think that the roughness and the chaotic energy of our country can really represent our music taste, maybe. The traffic… basically, because you had to deal with it on a daily basis.
Well, moving on to the next question: In Indonesia, it is very difficult to make music as our main job or have a musical career in general–especially if the music is “segmented” like yours. Coming from your experience, is it challenging to make a living from music in your country?
Amelia: I’ve been working on this project for about 8 years. So, it has taken a long time to make a living off of what I do. And even so, it’s still challenging. But, I think a very important advantage that I have is that there’s quite a lot of government funding in New Zealand to make music videos and to record music. So, I’ve been lucky to get some of those grants to help me get started making music and afford it in the first place. So, yeah, it’s challenging. I think I’m not sure if I would’ve been able to afford that without the grants that I’ve got from my government funding bodies.
But also there’s quite a lot of music out today. And I don’t know if it’s, I’d say, competitive. It’s just like an oversaturation of stuff coming out every day. So, yeah, I think it’s challenging to make a living from this.
As far as I know, you haven’t been collaborating with anyone or another musician, right? But, lately, collaboration has been proven as an effective formula to expand your target audience and broaden your musical color. Are you planning to do it in the near future? If yes, who do you have in mind?
Amelia: Yeah, I’d love to! I just don’t wanna force it. I think the time will come when I do some collaborations and get featured on people’s song and stuff, but, I’m just gonna let that stuff happen naturally. But, I should probably put myself out a bit more. But, yeah, I’ll just let it happen.
If someday you can make that happen, who do you have in mind?
Amelia: Like my dream collaborator? Maybe either Tame Impala or Frank Ocean.
What’s the thing with Tame Impala? Do you like how Kevin makes music? Or is anything special with Tame Impala or Frank Ocean?
Amelia: They’re both quite different. But, I guess with Kevin Parker, I like that he makes his music by himself. I guess I just really connect with that—a really introverted approach, and being able to make something sound so universal from working alone. I think I just really connect with that.
I love how many vocal effects and just effects in general… He kinda uses effects like it’s a whole another instrument, and I sometimes feel like effects get looked down upon, but I just think, to me, it’s just like another instrument or another color that you get to play with. So, yeah, I’m just such a big fan of him.
And Frank Ocean, I guess, he’s just like this total enigma: everything he makes is amazing, so that’s why I love Frank Ocean. He’s just such a mystery to me.
Well, if you get to choose any musicians from third-world countries, do you have any musicians that you would like to collaborate with?
Amelia: I’m not sure, actually. I obviously need to listen to more music outside of the Western countries. There was this band that opened for us the last time we played in Jakarta called Grrrl Gang. That would be cool.
Yeah, Grrrl Gang has grown so big and cool currently, and they’re in the process of releasing their newest album. I’m so stoked about it.
Amelia: Ohh… cool. I’ll keep an eye out for that. That’s awesome.
By the way, because of your tendency of liking these one-man music (like Kevin Parker) and you do that also. I’m curious if money was not a problem, what would you suggest to anyone who wants to make music by themselves?
Amelia: I’d probably say… just make. I mean, if money was not a problem, for me [is] working with less, don’t overload yourself with too much equipments and stuff. Just start with a couple of instruments. Just start with the barebones, and just try to make as much as you can with that. I sometimes find restraint makes you more creative.
But, other than that, I’d probably just say: make what excites you, and don’t try to make something that’s good, and don’t try and make something that other people like. Just try and make something that resonates with you. It could be something silly, like getting a drumstick, or hitting a rubbish can. And if that sounds really cool, then just do that, and don’t try and do anything correctly.
Bedroom pop has become so interesting in these past years. Like, there are a lot of cool bedroom pop records. But, I wonder; do you have any particular bedroom pop record as a benchmark?
Amelia One of my classic albums that I love is Frankie Cosmos’ Zentropy.
I feel like that’s such a great bedroom pop record, but I don’t know if she recorded that in her bedroom haha. Like, I think… she obviously wrote it all in her bedroom, and it sounds really bedroomy, and that’s kinda cool, like, bedroom feeling. It sounds really personal and unfiltered, like it feels like a stream of consciousness, like, she just wrote the first lyrics that came through her head. And I just love that unfiltered approach to writing songs.
What about you? What’s your favorite bedroom record?
In these past years… I think it is Soccer Mommy’s Color Theory.
Amelia: Yeaah. She’s great, yeah?!
So, what’s next for Fazerdaze?
Amelia: Um… well… I am currently in L.A. working on something, so… there’ll be a lot more stuff out next year, but that’s the extent in which I can say.
Can you tell me what’s this “something”? Give us some hints!
Amelia: I’ll just say… it’s quite different from Break!.
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So, you’re going to have a show in Jakarta in a few days. What do you have in your closet for preparation? What should we expect?
Amelia: What you can expect is to hear the whole “Break” EP live. You can expect to hear some of the old songs, and then you can expect to hear some totally brand new songs that have never been released yet.
Don’t miss the opportunity to see Fazerdaze live in Studio Palem, Jakarta, this Sunday (20/11/2022), which features White Chorus and Milledenial as the opener. Secure your ticket through The Storefront.