In Conversation With: Farao

Photo credit: Maxime Imbert

Photo credit: Maxime Imbert

This October saw the release of Berlin-based Norwegian artist Farao’s second album ‘Pure-O’, which discusses the “beauty and destructiveness in sex and relationships.” At the heart of ‘Pure-O’ is electronica, modernised R&B, and pop which allows Farao to slip into the musical interests of a wider audience. We caught up with her to find out a little bit more about the album.

Can you tell us a little bit about the subject of the new album and why you decided to call it ‘Pure-O’?

I called it ‘Pure-O’ after a type of OCD where intrusive thoughts come into your mind when you least want them to – normally about quite uncomfortable subjects. It’s actually pretty normal. I randomly came across an article about it online and realised this is something I’ve had my whole life without knowing it was a thing. The album doesn’t really have an overall theme in the traditional sense, but most of it is about me putting myself in other people’s shoes, trying to understand their position within a specific subject matter. I’m not really the “I” in any of the songs. 

There is an interesting combination of genres that transpire throughout the new album, such as dreamy pop, disco and r’n’b. Where do you find your musical inspiration?

From listening to a lot of new age or minimal composers like Laraaji or Terry Riley during meditating, growing up listening to R&B like Robyn, Lauryn Hill and Destiny’s Child, and from partying around Berlin going to disco/boogie parties in altered states. These are all important aspects of my life and I wanted to combine them all together to recreate the sound of my existence at the time. 

Your songs seem to feature heavy use of synths and sound sampling. Do you feel like you are able to be more creative with the final product when using machines?

I actually used very few samples on the album. Off the top of my head I can only think of one – ‘The Ghost Ship’ starts with a sample of a nice sounding toilet in a restaurant in Mitte. When it comes to the synthesizers, I need to create music as something removed from my own personal self. I’m sick of overly emotional music with a high level of intimacy. The synthesizers transform the music into something otherworldly and removes a certain personal aspect, acting almost like a dissociative within the arrangements. 

There is a high polished quality that comes across in your songs, due to the layering of sound. Do you start off with a simple demo and build it up from there, or is everything all planned out from the start?

I start out making a simple idea consisting of a beat, some synth parts and a vocal melody, and then the song slowly transforms and develops from there. I don’t have a concise idea of where I want it go from the beginning – instead I try to let the song itself lead the way.  

Can you talk us through the writing process of songs like Triumph Over Me which has a really interesting 360 surround sound effect in the intro? Do you get involved in the producing aspect, in order to create an aural experience?

We actually modelled the vocals after Ozzy’s voice going through a Leslie in Black Sabbath’s ‘Planet Caravan’. It’s a really nice effect. I was very involved in the production of the album and produced it together with the amazing producer and mixer Ådne Meisfjord. He is the best producer I have ever worked with and I learned so much from him throughout the process. His attention to detail is inspiring. I tend to create quite a dense soundscape at times, and to pull this off it’s crucial that everything has a purpose within the arrangement. We spent a lot of time flickering things back and forth, making sure there was enough room for every single idea. 

What can we expect from you in the coming months. Will you be touring in support of ‘Pure-O’?

Yes, I will be touring around Europe and USA early next year. All tour dates are on my website or on my Facebook page!

Feature created by Tyler Damara Kelly