Interview with Faron Sage


Your stellar new single “No Alternative” critiques blind faith in the current capitalist system. Can you delve into the inspiration behind the song, and the message you aim to convey with this particular piece?

All my songs are commentaries on different aspects of the societies that we’re living in and the current state of the world as I see it. “No Alternative” is a response to the widely-held belief that our present capitalist system is the only viable way of organising humankind. It kind of plays on Margaret Thatcher’s famous decree from the 1980s that “there is no alternative.” The thing is, that was 40 years ago and yet the mainstream narrative is still trying to push the same message, mainly because there are powerful forces invested in perpetuating the status quo. But we now know that there are countless alternatives. Plus, we’re in the information age where everyone can access this information at the click of a button. So it’s common knowledge that “there are many alternatives” which makes the establishment’s insistence on the old story sound increasingly hollow and ridiculous. I’ve tried to reflect some of that farcical insanity in the production of the track.

By melding punk jazz, progressive rap, and electro swing, the eclectic ‘No Alternative’ aptly showcases the idea that we don’t have to fit into traditional molds. How does your approach to musical genres reflect your broader philosophy on individuality and societal norms?”

What a great question! I’d say that modern societies are too eager to force their citizens into boxes, and if you’re cynical you’d say that’s because it makes people easier to control. The movement towards greater overall homogeneity combined with an increase in perceived tribalism is a pattern that runs through every level of society. We’re all being stripped of our uniqueness and then given a series of pre-decided labels to identify with in order to create the illusion of individuality. But in reality, our creativity knows no limits – and that goes for every single one of us. There’s no reason why we can’t all be melding genres in all areas of our lives and rejoicing in the wonders of what we create. My broader philosophy is that the world would be an infinitely better place if we could all celebrate the diversity of everyone’s unique gifts whilst in the service of the greater good. That’s what you see in the rest of nature and we are an integral part of the natural world.

How did the stellar music video for “No Alternative” come about? Was it self-created, or a collaboration?

I’ve been working with the same animator since the beginning of the Faron Sage project and I think we’ve established a really nice distinctive style. We usually start collaborating on the video once I’ve got a rough mix of the song. The first stage of the process is a quick-fire exchange of concepts and ideas and then the animator takes those and works up the visuals, sending me regular updates so I can keep contributing to the development of the video.

What’s your favorite venue to perform at?

I don’t perform live! But when I have I’ve always preferred smaller venues. I like to be able to connect with the audience and feel their energy as part of the experience. It can feel like there’s a bit of a barrier between the performers and the audience in bigger venues.

Do you have a specific process or ritual when creating new music?

I like to plan ahead so I’ve usually got a list of upcoming songs that I’m going to write, often with an overall theme or title and the first kernels of musical ideas. These will be going round my head in their nascent form for months or even years before I manage to start properly putting the song together. At this point I’ll probably sit down at the piano and flesh out the musical ideas and I also like to get the lyrics written before I start the production process. Then it’s into production and I’ll try and lay down a basic version and produce a rough mix that I can send to the guy that creates my music videos so he can get to work. From there, he puts the video together and I work up the mix and we usually finish at about the same time and put it all together.

Any favorite artists or albums you’re listening to at the moment?

Every week is a voyage of discovery on this front for me. This week it’s been (amongst others) Treacherous Orchestra, Royal Blood, Ayanna Witter-Johnson, Kae Tempest and London Afrobeat Collective.

If you could collaborate with any artist, alive or dead, who would it be?

Anyone with a revolutionary spirit! Kendrick Lamar, Muse, Fela Kuti, Nina Simone, Shostakovich, Beethoven, Hildegard of Bingen…

What do you find is the most satisfying part of being an artist?

When I’m in the flow of the creative process, I feel that I’m connecting with both my true essence and the wonder of universal consciousness! I think that’s the most satisfying part of being an artist.

What is the biggest challenge you find in today’s music industry?

The saturation of the market and the fact that people have such limited time and attention capacity to devote to new, original music, especially if it sounds a bit different to what they tend to listen to. There’s a ridiculous amount of music being released every day so it’s hard for anyone to be heard. And then it all gets funnelled into specific genres so if your music doesn’t fit comfortably into one of these categories then you won’t get the support of those communities and it risks being cast adrift, aimlessly searching for those rare individuals with suitably eclectic tastes and enough time and curiosity to check it out!

What’s upcoming for the project?

I reckon I’ve got another couple of years before I complete this current project so that will mean a new single and music video every 4-6 months probably and then I’m going to have to decide whether to pull the whole thing into an album and how that might look.

Mike Mineo

I'm the founder/editor of Obscure Sound, which was formed in 2006. Previously, I wrote for PopMatters and Stylus Magazine.

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