Album of the Week Interview :: Chet Faker – ‘Built On Glass’

April 8th 2014


Two years ago, Nick Murphy aka Chet Faker performed at SXSW. It was his first festival experience as an artist, and the number of live shows performed under the ‘Chet Faker’ moniker had only just entered the double digits. The success of his debut EP Thinking In Textures was only just peeking its head above the water; the next two years would be spent playing almost every festival in Australia as well as you know, a sneaky SuperBowl commercial. All on a whim decision, after a long night out and too many Red Bulls, to record a cover of “No Diggity”.

Returning from another SXSW appearance this year, Chet Faker has just released his first full-length album Built On Glass – which we’ve made our album of the week on FBi. Lucy Smith caught up with Murphy about the rollercoaster that has led to this record, chucking a ‘Yonce and his favourite sax solo.


Lucy Smith: So, how was SXSW with Future Classic? 

Nick Murphy: It was good fun! I mean… people that go to watch complain that it’s kind of stressful, but when you play at it it’s even more crazy, because you’re loading in and out of venues and there’s nowhere to park… But SXSW was the first festival I ever played at two years ago, so it was pretty cool to come back again after such an amazing two years. It was weird retrospective, I’m not even sure how to describe it, but it was nice to be back there and to be slightly more level-headed than I was last time.


If you could describe the new record in one sentence for people who are about to hear it, how would you describe it?

I would just say – listen.


Chet Faker - Built On Glass


Thinking In Textures was released two years ago, and that title literally summed up the EP on all textural levels. Can you talk me through the significance of the title Built On Glass?

Thinking In Textures was a much easier concept to explain because it was just one idea – but this is an album, there’s twice as many songs on there, it’s taken two years.

The title references lots of different things. But the main thing is honesty – which in turn begets fragility, and glass was this perfect metaphor for that. Because it is a transparent, honest, fragile medium.

But it can also be very strong, and glass itself can also help frame things, it can take the mundane and turn it into art.

And because this record is basically a two-year diary of my life, that just totally made sense to me. It was just this fragile thing, but the way it’d been put together and the care that I’d taken with it was open to be viewed by other people, and that was the intention.

And the “Built On” references the fact that it’s been done myself, that I recorded it myself, that it’s a DIY process and also looks to the future. It’s saying, “This is my first album – so what ever happens from this point on is built on glass.”


And it’s open for everyone to see – I like that. So touching on the DIY two-year process, I have read that you are a bit of a self-confessed perfectionist – how do you know when you finally have a finished product that you’re set on?

You just know. It’s that kind of thing… it’s like a matching of something. It’s like something in the back of your brain switches off to say, “Yeah, we’re done here.”


I also read that with Thinking In Textures you never really thought about it being performed in a live setting – when you were creating Built On Glass was this now a factor in the back of your mind?

Not consciously, I didn’t want it to limit what I would write – because I started as a production-based thing. But, I mean arguably because all I ever did when I wasn’t recording was toured around and played music, I guess you could argue that it was inevitable that it would affect the way you write music. Plus it can become a thing of, why would I want to write a song that doesn’t sound good live if I then have to tour it and play it live for years on end?

It becomes this weird catch-22 where it’s like, you don’t want to write, like, stadium hits… because musically it does shit-all for you, but then whatever you do write you have to somehow take that on tour for two years. So far the best way I’ve managed to deal with that is just by changing the music live, so I often have different live versions of songs to the album, which I think is way better than letting it define the writing process. I didn’t think about it, but I probably thought about it a little bit more than the EP. You know, that EP I didn’t think I was starting a career.



The two singles that have already been released – ‘Melt’ and ‘Talk Is Cheap’ – they’ve had excellent reception so far. Was there any particular reason why these were the first two singles off the new record?

‘Melt’ was never really a single – I wasn’t signed at the time and I hadn’t finished the album, it was just a song I put out. I felt like I had a huge amount of support from people and it had been like a year and a half since I put anything out, and that song was done and I was happy with it. I wasn’t even sure it would be on the album when I released that, you know? There was no press or anything for that, I just put it on my soundcloud, I didn’t tell anyone. [laughs]


Chucked a Beyonce – oh no, well she copied you really!

Nah, everyone copied Jai Paul. But you are right, that was four months before Bey-Bey!

And ‘Talk Is Cheap’, as far as I’m concerned I think of that as the first single. That just felt like a really good stepping stone from the EP to the album. It felt like the missing link for me between those two, not that the link is missing hopefully when people listen to the album… but that embodied that progress.


You’ve had some recent noteworthy collaborations with Kilo Kish, and Flume of course – what have you learnt the most from collaborating with others?

It’s different every time; that’s why people keep collaborating. Everyone thinks of music differently, all musicians, everyone has their unique experience – that’s why there’s so much different music and that’s why everyone has their own taste. So there’s always you can learn from collaborating with someone.

Sometimes you can’t learn because you’re an asshole [laughs], other times you learn heaps and sometimes you land somewhere in the middle. It’s just this bizarre lucky dip.


Built On Glass has a couple of pretty noteworthy sax moments with ‘Talk Is Cheap’ and ‘Lesson In Patience’, which made me go “DAT SAX” the first time I heard it. Can you recommend any other songs that would have the same effect?

Sax jam:



Built On Glass by Chet Faker is out April 11th through Future Classic.


Interview :: Chet Faker on Thinking In Textures



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