Chet Faker alias Mr. Nicholas James Murphy or Pepps is not only known for his wild beard, but certainly for his heartmelting soul music, which we are addicted listening to. It was in Berlin when we met this very profound, good-looking and smart guy. And had a beautiful conversation which offered us a different perspective of life and new questions, of which we are still thinking of.
Hello Chet, thanks for taking time for our interview. First of all I would love to ask you why there is no picture of you without beard? Is it part of a bet?
(Laughs) No, no bet. I just didn’t shave. I guess it is my personal style. But there is a picture of me with no beard on my Instagram, you can have a look.
Actually I’m already following you on Instagram, but I didn’t saw that picture. I will take a closer look next time. Your real name is Nicholas James Murphy or briefly Nick – who calls you Chet and who is allowed to call you Nick?
You know Chet is just my alias. But people I meet can call me Nick. You can call me Nick, too. My closest friends actually call me Murphy though, or Nick or Pepps – my nickname.
Therefore, hi Nick! Tell me: Do you have a soft spot for something?
Dogs. I love beagles. (Shows me a little beagle-tattoo on his left underarm)
How do you stay connected to your friends when you are on tour?
I have been friends with mine for a really long time and when I am tour I use Facebook and I skype. One of them plays the guitar for me. Usually he is touring with me. Not all the time, sometimes I tour solo.
“Being on tour is kind of a drug, because it is somewhere you have never been before – every single day. Everyday is brand new.”
Are you homesick sometimes?
Usually seeing my friends feels like being home. But right now home is where my suitcase is. It is a bit strange: When I am on tour sometimes I want to go home, but I also don’t want to go home, you know. Being on tour is kind of a drug, because it is somewhere you have never been before – every single day. People you have never met before, places you have never seen, playing everyday. Everyday is brand new. It is really addictive and you feel alive. But sometimes you just want to sit in a park with your friends and relax.
How would your friends describe you in three words?
My friends? You should ask them.
But I am asking you.
(Laughs) mhh, that’s difficult.
Come on, it is not that difficult. What would they say? Kind, honest, polite?
No, they wouldn’t say polite (laughs).
So let’s keep that in mind. Another question: When was the last time you felt alive, like really really alive?
This morning. I went for a run.
What else do you do to relax when touring?
Running is one thing and reading. At the moment I am reading “Norwegian Wood” by Haruki Murakami. And I keep a diary. Anything that is just easy to do but pleasing to do. Go for a walk or go for an easy run, reading, writing. Things that have no expectations, but are still good to do and take your mind of things.
What about music?
Of course, writing music can be relaxing too. But by now it is part of my job, you know. Part of my work ethic. It is hard work to keep a certain level.
That’s the thing about when turning your passion into profession, isn’t it?
Yes, but that is why I try to do things that take of my mind in order to relax and recharge.
Which was the first record you have bought?
I can’t even remember. I’ve forgotten. I was a child of the 90s, I grew up with Napster. I downloaded stuff illegaly.
Not even a Maxi CD?
Mhh, no. Although, I remember listening to “Mambo Number Five” and I also had a Backstreet Boys (laughs). But I never bought them myself, they were presents. Probably the best CD I had was “Talking About My Baby” by Fatboy Slim. I love that CD, it was running in loops.
“I love soul music. If you listen to the melody, it is the happiest music you have ever heard, but if you listen to the words, it can be be the saddest story – totally the opposite thing.”
Why soul music?
Because I love it. It is my biggest influence, for me it is the best music ever. It is emotional, negative yet positive. Which is totally what humans are. People aren’t just sad and people aren’t just happy. They are both. When I am recording a song or you are talking about the things, you become the opposite of what you think. It is a release. That is what I love about soul music. If you don’t listen to the words, it is the happiest music you have ever heard, but if you listen to the words, it can be be the saddest story – totally the opposite thing.
Could you explain that in detail?
Contradiction is human for me. Some people struggle with that. They say how can you be happy if you write sad songs? For me that is exactly what humans being are. People are complaining even if they are having really happy lifes and there are also people struggling a lot and don’t complain and say happy things. I can still acknowledge that I might be lonely or heart broken but I can still be happy with my life where it is. I wouldn’t change that.
Yeah? But when I am heart broken it’s really hard to think of anything else.
Yes, but if someone gave you a pill that said that you would never be heart broken, would you take it?
I don’t know. Pain is part of life I guess. You have to be sad to realise what happiness is.
That is right. And you can also be happy and sad. Do you know what I mean? You know that feeling when you feel like crap but it is kind of nice. Maybe you are sitting on a couch, having a pizza or ice cream, watching some tv shows or some music on. In these moments you feel really okay about how shit you feel. It’s a contradiction. You are really unhappy, but at the same time you are quite happy about being unhappy. So you wouldn’t change anything. Pain is inevitable but suffering is optional. That is what I am talking about. You can be in immense pain, but you don’t have to suffer. Enjoy is not the right word, but you can embrace it. That is how you move on in life.
“For me the ultimate definition of being human is, being a walking contradiction”
I have the feeling that society tries to convince us that feelings are a sign of weakness and should be avoided, what do you think about it?
Well, I think that people trying to avoid pain can get up ending hurt more. Some people might be heart broken but they totally ignore what they are feeling. It can take them years to get over a break-up, because they drink, they party, they change partners. They just never face their problems. Life is not supposed to be easy, it is really okay to feel bad. What I like about music is that is non-specific. We might not even speak the same language, but if I play them a song, they understand. It flies above what we call emotions. We give emotions names like anger, happiness, sadness, all these things, but we gave them those names, they existed before these names existed. It is really just not a feeling, it is much more complex. Sad is not just bad and happy is not just good. There is so much more in the combination of different emotions. You can feel really energetic, but really tired. For me the ultimate definition of being human is, being a walking contradiction. And I am a walking contradiction, too.
TOUR DATES 2015
Aug 04 | Gothic Theatre, Englewood CO
Aug 07 | Outside Lands, San Francisco CA
Aug 16 | KRNK 94.7 Birthday Concert, Portland, OR
Aug 22 | LA Sports Arena & Exposition Park, Los Angeles, CA
Oct 30 | Arts Centre Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia
Oct 31 | Riverstage Brisbane, Brisbane, Australia
Nov 06 | Sydney Opera House, Sydney, Australia
Nov 07 | Sydney Opera House, Sydney, Australia