the quiet achievements of fazerdaze
From breaking out to hanging with Bjork, New Zealand’s favourite new act is making serious waves.
Photography Imogen Wilson
Fazerdaze — Auckland musician Amelia Murray — is a Capricorn, which basically means she's a definitional quiet achiever. Amelia works hard, as you can tell by her list of achievements and accolades since the release of her 2014 self-titled EP. To begin with, the first single, Little Uneasy, from her upcoming debut LP Morningside has received considerable radio love. She's also played shows around the world, taken part in Montreal's Red Bull Music Academy recently and is set to play at New Zealand's Laneway Festival in the new year.
It's a big resume for an artist with such an insular sound. "Quiet achiever" is probably a pretty good way to sum up the music she makes too. Her songs are dreamy and slight, but they have a habit of working their way into your life. They're the kind of tunes you play when you need to retreat for a bit, to feel good about feeling sad.
But while her fans still maintain the luxury of descending into her music, Fazerdaze herself is currently very much front and centre. With an Australian tour and the release of her debut album in her future, and before we lose her to the bloom of success, we caught up with Amelia to chat about about her very big year.
You were just at the Red Bull Music Academy in Montreal! How was that?
Oh man, it was unreal. It's so hard to articulate because it was such a massive experience. I think the best part about it was hanging out with the other participants and making some really good friends with people who are doing exactly what I'm doing, but in different parts of the world.
Bjork was there, right?
Yeah, she gave us a lecture and did a couple of DJ sets and came and had lunch with us. I just couldn't believe it, I never thought I'd ever be able to just... be in the same room as her, just hanging out, it was so cool.
You've had so much on this year, how does it feel to have this solo project suddenly become so big?
It's scary, because it still feels like I'm learning, and I'm definitely still figuring things out. Fazerdaze is definitely a project to me, and it's a work in progress, it's not a product. I don't ever really want it to feel like a product, I want it to be a space where I can learn and grow, so these shows are really cool but also really scary because I still feel like I'm learning how to do this.
How have you found international music scenes compared to the Auckland community?
Really great, I think going overseas has made me really appreciate Auckland and New Zealand's music scene. I guess when we were traveling around the UK it was inspiring to meet all of these really creative young people doing exactly what we're doing in towns I'd never heard of and making some really cool music. We had this instant connection with a lot of the other bands and artists we met, I guess from having these parallel creative lives.
You self produced Morningside, right? What was that process like?
It was really challenging because I was still figuring out how to find a community around me. A lot of the process was quite lonely and isolating. I made it when I was moving between flats, and I felt like I was homeless. I really struggled to feel at home anywhere, and really struggled to feel at home with anyone. When I moved to [Auckland suburb] Morningside, it was like the first time I felt grounded, and I had the grounding to pull it all together and finish it finally. I think before that it was kinda reflective of my life, like all these bits of songs, half-finished, floating around, and then when I moved to Morningside I just had this really nice feeling inside and I just had the belief in myself to just finish it. It was really nice finishing the album. Some days I thought I'd never finish it. And some days I felt like I was battling the tiny logistics of day-to-day life, as well as trying to battle this album, and when I finally didn't have to battle moving flats every few months I finally had this mind space to complete everything.
A lot of those personal struggles are funnelled into your music —does that openness come naturally to you?
I think so. I would find it really hard to not be personal, because songwriting is this really cool space where you can write a song and choose whether or not to show it to other people. So when I'm writing a song I never think about who's gonna hear it, I just think about what I'm feeling, and I try and articulate that. Quite naturally I get these songs that are really personal. But it is kinda terrifying showing people those songs, because it kinda feels like you've written all this stuff in your diary that you were never meant to show anyone, and then you decide to put it out into the world, and it's really weird and scary.
How have you changed between making the EP and making the album?
I guess so much changed around me, because with the EP I was still at university and still had this real sense of community around me, and when I finished university I felt super on my own. It's a really weird transition from having your life structured and laid out for you and then you reach the end of that structure in your life and it feels like you're just floating in the abyss. I guess I changed from thinking I knew what I was doing to completely not knowing what I was doing, and questioning and wondering whether I really wanted to be a musician and an artist or whether I should give up and get a full time job. But I just had this real calling to make Morningside. It's just something I had to do. I think I've just grown a lot through making it and also learned the importance of community and friendship.
After moving through all that, does being a musician feel worthwhile now?
I feel it is for me, because I think the people who are musicians and the people who work around music are the people who really understand me, and vice versa. Pretty much all my friends are musicians and creatives and it feels like a space where I belong, the one space where I feel entirely understood by my peers. It feels super important to me to surround myself with people who appreciate me. What I sometimes think are my faults are my strengths in music, so it's pretty important for me, on a real personal level, being a musician.
Head to her Facebook page for more upcoming tour dates.