ALBUM: Hard Believer
Fin Greenall does not belong in a single genre; one would not even begin to contain him. As a musician, he has dabbled, and possibly produced, in almost every style, learning skills and developing a taste for each, taking away what he enjoys and moving on to a new avenue of sound. He was surrounded by music his entire life, but began experimenting with his own sound after he began at Leeds University. There, in the early 90’s, Greenall met electronica and dance music.
"A couple of friends and I clubbed together our student loans and bought equipment to make ambient techno – we were really inspired by Aphex Twin and The Orb and Moby. We were amazed at how fucking easy it was to make ambient techno. It wasn’t easy to make good ambient techno," he laughs. "But it was easy enough to make techno good enough to get us signed after six months of mucking around at Uni.” The ambient techno group he refers to was known as “EVA”, and was signed to Kickin’ Records in 1993. Subsequently, his first album, Fresh Produce, sports a dub-sampling fondness paired with an attraction to trip-hop and techno roots. Through the new millennium, Greenall grew tired of the extent of electronic musicality, and felt disenchanted with the life of a DJ.
Leaving the collegiate sound behind him, Greenall took up with drummer and guitarist Tim Thorton and bassist Guy Whittiker, and today they make up Fink. To digress, the advantage Greenall did gain from that “mucking around” at Uni is an English degree, which provided him with songwriting chops that complement his coveted singing voice. These two talents were first produced together on Biscuits for Breakfast in 2006. His tracks like “Pretty Little Thing” utilize a musical tone and intensity that work alongside and properly convey the emotion of his songwriting through the simplest of details. For instance, Fink harmonizes layers of his voice as he tells the listener, “All my boys say, / she’s the type to fake it,” reinforcing the involvement of multiple voices.
Since he delved into a more bluesy, indie rock scene, he has collaborated with the unrivaled talents of John Legend, Professor Green, and Amy Winehouse, to name a few. As if jumping from musical genre to music genre wasn’t complex enough, Greenall, has been known to set intentions, or rather emotions, for Fink’s albums. Perfect Darkness, made in 2011, stemmed from a fear of embarrassment, or feeling of intense anticipation. He said he experienced this as a musician performing on stage. His 5th album harnesses the resounding sounds of presence, capturing a "sense of right nowness" and an "organic sounding recording" within the span of 20 days.
In an interview with Soul Culture , Greenhall said: “Especially in the early days; going out onto those stages and being that person – it can be pretty terrifying. But our vibe is, you can burn the house down with it, you can use the fire to ruin yourself and not do anything, or you can warm your hands and go, ‘this is great, look at this.’” Fink has learned to embrace these anxious feelings, channeling the energy towards facilitating an entire experience for their fans when playing live. The production team working with Fink is as involved in this process as the musicians are. “They’ve custom engineered a show that doesn’t overpower the music, but just kind of embraces you and it emphasizes some of the atmospheres in the music.” These “atmospheres” are constructed through attention to the smallest details; Fink has a vision for each of his tracks, and he works towards transporting the listener into this vision through sound, lyrics and visuals.
Hard Believer continues to facilitate his ability to reinvent the listeners’ atmospheres. The album title track is particularly successful in achieving a transformational atmosphere, with its use of live sessions and piercing, raw vocals. Its unintelligible range of tantalizing noises and echoes acts as a vacuum sucking the listener away from real things, like stress or plans. Anything outside of his voice becomes unimportant. It’s that quality that makes Greenall such a captivating artist, and it’s obvious which tracks are infused with this, and which are not. When his songwriting skills aren’t there to hold them up, some of the album’s later songs meet a much different fate than his successes.
“Pen on paper seems so definite/ Every innocent simplicity is intricate/ When it's in your hands it's harder to forget yeah/ Pen on paper seems to fit/ The permanence of it/ The green and the blue/ Have seen me through/These trials.”