Zurich based indie-rock band Fai Baba started as Fabian Sigmund‘s solo project. A decade after, Fabian is not alone anymore, Domi Chansorn (drums) joins Fai Baba, followed by Oliver Zurkirchen (keys) and Rodrigo Aravena (bass). I met the band in its actual formation at Paléo Festival in July 2017, a few hours before their gig. We sat down backstage and they agreed to let me have an insight in their music and creative world.
Thanks to Fai Baba and thank you to the Paléo team for organizing the interview!
The Liberation: Your fifth studio album Sad and Horny came out last year, if I’m not mistaken, and brought you one step forward into the indie-rock world. How did you make this album and how did you do this step forward?
- Florian: It’s the fifth album coming out six years after the previous one. And it was just all the steps in between you know, to come to the point that the album got so much attention. And since it’s a really nice record because we put a lot of effort in it, it got well appreciated by the press and it’s not like a band that’s doing a debut album and they poke out but it was a very long way to get to this point. But what was the question again ? (Laughing)
The Liberation: How was the process to make the album, how did you get there?
- Florian: It was a little bit of a trip because I recorded the record myself with different people and I recorded everything except the drums that I recorded myself. I finished the record but I didn’t release it and then after a while I started working with Domi and then we decided to go to the studio and work on some new songs. So let’s say 50/50 is older and new, this had an influence in the choice of the title Sad and Horny because first there was the sad part and then the second part with Domi was horny. (Laughing)
- Domi: And yeah the horny part. When we got to know each other we were really horny, musically speaking.
The Liberation: So this is the first album in which you two collaborate?
- Florian: Yes.
The Liberation: In which way would you say the new album differs from the others?
- Florian: I think the spectrum is a little wider, it’s not so much lo-fi anymore. We took a lot of time, we did it like you know when you want to record the vocals you find the right spot by the math. (All laugh) You press “recording”. No I mean we were just working on this album and there were different people working with us like Rodrigo and Olivier and it came out really nice and since then we’ve been playing live shows. And recently we just recorded some new songs which come out on the 24th of August (2017 ed.). It’s gonna be a single with two songs and it’s the four of us working on it.
The Liberation: Nice! And how do you usually compose your music? Do you write the lyrics first or the music itself?
- Florian: Most of the times I have like a little melody and I process it into a song. For the single we just recorded it was the same but then we were really working on it all together.
- Domi: We were sitting in the studio for quite a while and working on the songs you know, arranging it. Making it into a piece you know.
- Rodrigo: One of the songs that we recorded actually was an idea that Fabian had at a sound check when we were touring in Germany and then we started jamming at the sound check and went “awww”. We thought “we have to remember this idea for later on” and then we came back with the idea and we added some more bits and then we were just playing in the studio and sort of trying out different ideas and yeah until the song came out.
The Liberation: Very spontaneous.
- Rodrigo: A little bit. And also we had like an idea of the feeling that we wanted to get, you know. Maybe we didn’t have all the right chords, the structure of the song, but the feeling that we wanted to convey with the song. It’s really cool, it’s a really nice way to work.
The Liberation: Nice! So you’re based in Zurich which is like a music hub for Switzerland.
- Domi: I don’t know. Maybe, I mean the all concert thing, there’s a lot of stuff happening and also people go out and are willing to pay, you know it works. And the system works.
- Rodrigo: There are a lot of musicians of course.
- Domi: Yes, and lots of different music and really really good ones. Not that many but there are some really good ones. (All laugh)
The Liberation: Did the fact of being based in Zurich help you getting your music known to the public? Or not really?
- Domi: We met in Zurich.
- Florian: You know I started playing music ten years ago under the name Fai Baba and this band in its actual formation has existed for a year so far. So it’s been a long way to get to this point. And I was not based in Zurich all the time you know. I think it’s the same when you live in a city like Berlin or New York even there, there are so many people that you kind of have to build your fan base, especially in this kind of music we’re into. It’s not like a concept. We don’t plan to be famous we don’t have a goal so it’s just about music, making live music and don’t force it too much and don’t go too fast. I think Zurich in a kind of way is a nice city because there’s lots of financial support. You know we’re going on tour with this background and they support us for the tour’s driving costs and stuff like this. That allows us to go around and play, so Zurich is very supportive in this way.
- Domi: It’s also a very beautiful city in the Summer.
The Liberation : Yeah, I know!
- Florian: There are also a lot of nice people, my family lives there, yeah.
The Liberation: OK. And what do you think of the Swiss music scene in general? And of the indie-rock scene specifically?
- Domi: Yes! (all laugh) Yes it’s there. No I think it’s an interesting time, I think people gain self awareness and also they start to kind of trust themselves and trust the things they do. In most parts it’s good that this is happening.
- Florian: I’ve been living in the city for 15 years. Even before I moved to the city there was a strong scene, it’s like it comes and goes in waves. Sometimes there’s a lot of young people and they really wanna go for it and kinda build this energy and they make their own shows, and then after a while this or that band doesn’t exist anymore and then there’s another band coming up. So I think it’s not every time and it’s funny we’re already second or third generation musicians. When I look back my musical influence came from Zurich, from Switzerland and there are bands in Switzerland, in Zurich that still exist like for example Disco Doom. They’ve been making music for 20 years and it still sounds the same. (All laugh)
The Liberation: Is it good or bad?
- Florian: It’s good! (Laughing)
The Liberation: And which bands inspire you the most in your work?
- Florian: Like Bob Marley and Fela Kuti.
- Domi: Yeah Bob Marley and Fela Kuti. (laughing)
- Rodrigo: I think that probably we all have so many bands we like that it’s hard to say.
- Domi: We listen to all the good stuff.
- Rodrigo: Most of the good stuff.
- Domi: There’s good stuff everywhere. That’s really good and that’s what we are listening to.
- Rodrigo: There’s really a lot of good stuff, Ice Cube, Bon Jovi (all laugh).
- Domi: Linkin Park, rest in peace. (Linkin Park singer Chester Bennington took his own life on July 20th ed.).
- Florian: We were listening to Blink 182 the other day.
- Domi: Yeah yeah I like Blink 182! Travis Barker he was involved in a plane accident it’s crazy he survived.
- Florian: My parents grew up with rock n’ roll music and rock and pop from the 60s and 70s mostly like The Beatles and the Stones and then I grew up in the 80s and 90s, there were lots of great bands from that time playing with rock music you know. And in the last forty years or so there were so many musical changes in a short period of time, there is so much great music happening all the time.
The Liberation: So if you had to choose with which artist would you like to collaborate?
- Florian: Paul McCartney.
- Domi: No, Ringo Starr!
- Florian: Oh yes, Ringo! You Rodrigo?
- Rodrigo: Where do I begin? That’s such a hard question. Most of the people I would really like to play with are dead unfortunately. I’d love to collaborate with The Kendricks for example.
- Olivier: Kendrick Lamar. (all laugh)
- Florian: I’d love to work with Neil Young.
- Olivier: That’s nice!
The Liberation: All big names..
- Florian: The greatest, or Nick Cave!
- Olivier: Is he still alive?
- Rodrigo: Yeah!
- Florian: I don’t know for me it was always Keith Richards because I think he’s such a weird figure.
The Liberation: Why?
- Florian: Because with the life he has it’s a miracle he is still alive. He is like this living mummy. He is well preserved in alcohol and drugs. If you touch him in the wrong spot with a needle he is gonna fall apart.
- Rodrigo: Especially last year when all the legends were dying and everybody was waiting for Keith. And Keith is like “forget it!”.
- Florian: You see like pictures where he is standing in front of a supermarket with Marlboro.
The Liberation: He’s very strong. Do you have any projects for the future?
- Florian: Yes, we are going in this tour in Europe, we play almost fifty shows. It starts in September and ends on the 31st of December 2017. We play a lot of shows in France, Germany, England, Spain, Portugal, Austria, Italy, Serbia.
The Liberation: Wow! And how are you going to prepare yourself for the tour?
- Florian: We are going to sleep a lot, take a walk in the forest. No I mean we are always playing music together. This Summer we already had ten shows or so.
- Rodrigo: We are very self critical too.
- Florian: For sure we’re gonna go to the studio and check out some new songs, there’s gonna be new music coming up, and the singles.
- Rodrigo: Yes, the two new singles.
The Liberation: And one last question, how does it feel to play Paléo tonight (July 21st, 2017 ed.)?
- Florian: Oh it’s great!
- Olivier: Really looking forward to it!
- Domi: I’m really really excited. I’m even more excited now that you asked this question. It’s like “oh yeah, true!”.
- Florian: I think it’s an honour to play here for a Swiss band. And for Fai Baba it’s already the third time. And this time they put us in a really nice slot, we play at 12pm in a big stage and that’s really cool you know. It’s not like ok you play Paléo and then you end up playing in the afternoon. Yeah it’s really cool and the Paléo staff is always very supportive and it’s good.
The Liberation: Thank you very much!
- Fai Baba: Thank you.