“There’s no such thing as a demo. They’re just different versions”: Fink on his new album Bloom Innocent
Fin Greenall, better known by his stage name Fink, is a producer and songwriter with over 20 years of experience in the business, yet he doesn’t entirely gather the reputation he deserves. Having worked with various multi-Platinum selling artists, including John Legend and the late Amy Winehouse, he’s now set to release his newest and arguably most intimate album, Bloom Innocent.
When we talk via video chat, he’s immediately welcoming and makes a round of coffee as if we’re in the room, conversing like we’ve known each other for years. We’re also treated to a whistle-stop tour of his Berlin-based live-in studio, cycling through his intimate recording setup, which includes a Fender Rhodes and his small collection of Martin acoustics that he affectionately calls ‘The Power Trio’, before quickly realising he’s shown us four guitars. “Here’s a Martin Concert model from the mid 2000s. I thought it sucked, now I think it’s brilliant!” he enthuses. “It’s really ageing well and really blossoming now. I’ve also got this new black Martin, but I don’t really know what model it is. Like a parlour guitar, it’s just got a kind of punchy Gibson-type strength to it. I also have this beautiful Martin from 1984, I call it ‘The Orwell’, and a Martin D-35. It’s a lovely vintage that’s getting nicely battered by touring.”
His last album, Resurgam, was recorded with the seminal producer Flood, famed for his work with U2, The Killers, PJ Harvey and numerous other chart-topping artists. With the ability to work with such an esteemed member of the recording elite also comes access to impressive studios, of which they chose to use Assault & Battery Studios in London. Despite the glamorous approach, Fink took on his previous outing, it didn’t deliver the desired output. “On Resurgam, we learned a load of lessons. I learned that me doing the whole ‘Pink Floyd, residential-world-class-producer, go hang out in a studio for two months’ shit didn’t yield The Dark Side Of The Moon. It yielded an album which I’m very proud of, but it was a very stressful, tense couple of months. You’ve got an eye on the clock all the time and every tick on the clock is money and you can feel it.”
With that pressure turning over into a lengthy tour in support of the album, Fink realised that when approaching the follow-up, he needed some sort or respite. The Berlin home-cum-studio he’s talking to us from also happens to be the exact location where he recorded LP number eight, Bloom Innocent, an album he feels far more at ease with.
“Every record is done in a slightly different way. Just like every time you’re approached for everything, you want to do it better somehow. Every time you go for a swim, you want to do it better or every time you pick up your guitar, you want to play that E minor with more E minor-yness.”
Alongside the comforts benefitted to him from recording at home, it also proved beneficial to his mental health. “If you do the same things over and over again and expect different results, that’s the clinical definition of insanity,” he admits. Despite his contentment with his lengthy and impressive career – his work is regularly featured in television, including shows such as The Walking Dead and Better Call Saul – he doesn’t want to be tied down by the confines of genre.
The freedom awarded to him from working at his own pace and in the confines of home mean that his eighth long player shows much more vulnerability and simple yet emotionally and musically complex songs, sometimes lasting more than eight minutes.
When the levee breaks
Despite his decision to hold back on the outlay for this record and drastically changing his surroundings from Resurgam, Fink continued to work with Flood. The decision was without a second thought, due in part to him being a “world-class producer, a dear friend and a collaborator”.
Flood, much like Fink, sees the studio as an extension of the music, rather than simply a tool to complete the project. “The great thing about Flood, or when you collaborate with anyone who’s on your wavelength, is that you suddenly don’t feel so alone. I know that sounds so fucking melodramatic. But sometimes when you’re sat in your room, playing away, you just think, ‘Maybe I’m not doing the right thing with my life.’
“It was about trying to get those intimate performances, and to also forget that you’re trying to do that. To let the songs have an emotional depth.” The emotional depth is audible throughout, weaving its way between tracks that begin calmly like a button passing through a hole, before blooming into wild timbres and esoteric guitars. Bloom Innocent also allows both Fink and Flood the freedom to work with whichever recording they see fit, whether that be something they pored over, or a simple demo.
“We Watch The Stars, which is the first track on the record, is completely live,” Fink reveals through a smirk. “When I finished the guide track, I just thought, ‘I don’t think this is going to get any better. We’re going to use the guide.’ That’s something Flood taught me over the years, there’s no such thing as a demo. They’re all just different versions.”
Test of time
Fink’s career began back in the late 1990s, with his debut album Fresh Produce seeing him embark on a career as a DJ. Since then, he’s re-established himself as an admirable songwriter, pulling influence from his days behind CDJs and the records of his heroes passed down to him by his dad. So what made him choose to leave his life as a disk jockey behind? In short, longevity. “It’s about getting older, changing your priorities and all those kind of holistic things. It was very much about the fact that when you make electronic music your shelf life, back then anyway, was weeks. And I just felt like, man, I want to make music that lasts forever!
“My dad would play me records by Dylan, Hendrix… I’d get into John Lee Hooker and the blues and think, ‘This record’s like 50 years old and I’ve got dance records that are five years old that just sounds so insanely dated. No one’s ever gonna want to hear this again.’”
Fink seems to be part of a dying breed, that of that musician who’s dedicated to it purely for the love of the arts. His cheerful demeanour resembles that of a man who’s content with the ability to be creative, regardless of the medium or the outcome. “The reason I’m a happy artist is because I honestly believe that when I make a seminal record, it will get seminal credit or kudos or money in the bank. Until then, I’m okay with the fact that I haven’t made a masterpiece yet. But I’m definitely trying!”
Bloom Innocent by Fink is out 25 October via R’COUP’D.
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