Fink is the musical project of Fin Greenall, an English producer, born in Cornwall, now based in Berlin. Fink have long displayed a talent for finding rapid affinity with each musical environment they find themselves in. Their 2014 album ‘Hard Believer‘ saw the band explore a rockier, moodier, hypnotic side that paid off in a giant musical leap forward.
Over the last six months, when not on tour, Fin Greenall – chief songwriter and founder of the band – has been based in Berlin. The results of this residency in the German city are plain to see in the remix package for album standout ‘Pilgrim‘, featuring remixes from Paula Temple (R&S Records) and multi-instrumental trio Brandt Brauer Frick (!K7).
We caught up with Fin Greenall to discuss Fink’s early beginnings, growing up in Bristol, discovering electronic music in Leeds, his own label R’COUP’D, working with Ryuichi Sakamoto, and life in Berlin. Fink’s mix reflects the electronic music that he likes to listen at home, and in the clubs of Berlin, featuring music from Thom Yorke, Dorian Concept, Scuba, DNGLS, Paula Temple, Tessela and more.
Hi Fin, from the looks of things you’re currently on tour with Douglas Dare. How’s that all going? What have been the most memorable moments from the tour so far?
Yeah – we’re touring the Hard Believer album pretty hard right now. It’s been a snowy, cold, fun, road worn European adventure for sure with some really cool gigs and moments. We literally pushed the bus out of a snowy field in Zagreb, I think it was, a few weeks ago in the middle of the night, waking up on a mountain in Austria, the cabaret band in the casino of a ferry we caught for 18 hours in Scandinavia was pretty unforgettable – pretty memorable – touring a record is an intense thing. It’s really cool to share the experience with Douglas and Fabien of Douglas Dare…. their music live is fantastic.
Tell us about your mix for Inverted Audio? It starts off slow with tracks from Thom Yorke and Dorian Concept, then builds bringing in the deep techno sounds of DNGLS ‘Vultura’ – What was the idea behind the mix, how does this reflect your personal music taste and how was the mix recorded?
Yeah – my friend Mel said – “you should do a mix of all the stuff you’re into electronic wise as a mix” and I thought – yeah man – love to! I guess it kinda reflects the stuff in electronic music that I really like and listen to at home, and in the clubs of Berlin. I also wanted an excuse to go shopping and buy loads of cool new stuff.
Thom Yorke’s Boxes record is great, Paula Temple, Tessela…. Electronic stuff can still span many genres, sometimes the clubs get a bit hardlined on the tempo of the music they can play but I wanted to explore the whole range a litte bit. It reminded me of doing Ninja Tune mixes back in the day – so I stuck some Ninjary style spoken intro and stuff on the front – did it all in Cubase whilst running around, got a bit sound geeky, didn’t think about it too much really!
Last year you released your album Hard Believer, now you’re on the cusp of releasing Pilgrim Remix EP featuring Paula Temple and Brandt Brauer Frick. Tell me how these remixes came about and why you asked these artists to take on these remixes?
I saw BBF a few times in Berlin do awesome shows – really interesting, great guys – and Pilgrim is fast and musical and I was really excited when they agreed to do the mix as I knew they’d take it somewhere really weird, I mean – it’s awesome man, really fuckin epic and impressive and live and intelligent – a really Alive mix.
Paula, through this remix, has become a friend. Her mix is so cool it’s just magical. Both artists totally got it – the Moda 232 mix is one of mine, from the forthcoming Horizontalism record I’ve put together. I think all of them retain a kinda core vibe of the original track in their own different way – I’m honoured by the quality of these remixes.
Do you have an all time favourite remix?
Coldcut’s remix of Eric B and Rakim.
You’re originally from St Ives in Cornwall but grew up in Bristol. As a kid were you into the outdoors, surfing and so forth, or more into staying indoors listening to music?
Not much surf in Bristol mate. Growing up on the coast is cool and you do spend a lot of time outdoors, because outdoors is cool…It’s definitely different from city life – for me it was skating and then dance music then college then life.
Tell me about how you discovered music in your teenage as well as your early 20’s at the University Of Leeds, what venues did you frequent and what music scenes were you into?
Clubbing in Bristol, the outdoor rave scene in the West Country at the time, pirate radio stations, John Peel’s show…. It was a time, the last, of record stores and flyers, pre-internet, pre-mobile kind of thing. In Bristol it was Lakota, and Tropic and Thekla, in Leeds it was all Arc and Orbit and like Hard Times and Up Yer Ronson. Leeds was very much more techno, Bristol was really open minded, The North had a harder sound…. the genesis of the dance scene was so bewildering fast, so many genres and ideas spilling out of the new sampling technology… every weekend could produce a new genre – I remember hearing LFO for the first time in the Thekla in Bristol or like Prodigy’s Charlie Says for the first time in Moles in Bath. It was a really interesting time.
How did you start out as Fink, do you remember that breakthrough moment when you realised not to pull the plug and to continue making music?
I got signed at college with my mates Rich (now a famous illustrator) and Lee Jones (who is still Lee Jones, awesome DJ and producer) as an ambient techno act to Kickin Records. We made kinda awful ambient techno, really awful…. but it was a cool experience recording in London, and making a studio in York where we were studying and all that stuff – so I was kinda hooked and amazed to find out that making music wasn’t some kind of magic formula – you just make what you want to hear however you can.
After college we went our separate ways, Lee signed his Hefner project to Dorado and toured and I signed to Ninja kinda making drum and bass, DJ’d and did the London thing. Since then there have been too many “can I carry on” moments to mention, for the entire band and me now for sure. I reckon that “pull the plug” thing is hanging over all of us. I guess the moment to quit is when you either stop loving it, or something else becomes more important. I stopped making electronic music, but that doesn’t mean I stopped loving it.
There’s no doubt that you have invested a monumental chunk of your life working in music – What are your opinions about the current state of music (pop music, record labels, playing live, touring, the role of the audience and how they connect with what you do)?
Dude – he he – this question is so vast I could give a fucking lecture on it I reckon, or at least drunkenly talk on and on about until it’s just me sitting there ranting to myself…;) The thing about the music business is, at the end of the day, the public actually dictate it. Sure you can try and market your way into the market and all that – fair enough, but the public actually decides what is, and isn’t, successful. Amazing music get’s noticed and sells…well…kinda…well…generally…well…I dunno…like I said it’s a vast question….Touring works and is the proof.
Tell me about working with Ryuichi Sakamoto, and how that came about?
Aaahh – in the drum n bass days – somehow he heard some of my stuff on Ninja Tune and asked me to do a remix for his project “Prayers” I think it was called. I did my industrial sample heavy kinda ninjary d+b thing on it, it came out, looked really cool, later on his people asked me to pitch for a movie soundtrack he was doing. I scored this scene and got all excited, and then they changed direction and went Operatic instead. It was a great honour so early in my career I think for me to be asked, same with Elbow.
What are the most profound shifts in the way people experience your music?
Like Spotify and Soundcloud and stuff – that’s been great for Fink for sure – these platforms and the others like them that people use are really cool for kinda discovery missions – like for me in the past I would say rifle through a record store, like spend all day in there.
Today you might lose a few hours easily going down a musical YouTube black hole discovering loads of new things, and then you can instantly buy them 24/7 in like 10 seconds. Love that – I think it’s good for good music, and bad for bad music, which is good, you know, for music.
Fink’s also been pretty lucky with like licences to movies and big American TV shows, so that kinda acts like getting radio play in a way over there, which is a new kinda vibe – it allows us to get out there and tour and try and get a foothold, which is a really big challenge for a European band for sure. Word of mouth always works.
Tell me about the band behind Fink and what each member brings to the table, so to speak? What is it about them that you couldn’t replace or couldn’t do yourself?
One of the really cool things about going from being a solo producer electronic dude to like a band guy was suddenly, when I needed a cool bass line, not only did I not have to think of one, but I also didn’t have to find the bass sound for hours – Guy would just plug in, play, and done….really cool bassline…..and Tim would come in and instead of me working out the genre, drum set, programming all the drums, finding samples, fills, all that – Tim would come over, set up, jam, done – at first I was so ignorant of the different cymbals that I would refer to all of them as “highs”. They both bring a weight of Indy references and a vast array of experiences to the table. At first me doing a solo gig was Fink, now me doing a solo gig is Fin, the singer from Fink. At first it was a producer sessioning his mates for his Ninja album. Now after 5 albums it’s definitely “us” signed to “us”.
Is there an underlying message within your music?
You release through your own R’COUP’D imprint, a parent label of Ninja Tune. What are the benefits of having your own label and why don’t you release other people’s music through the imprint?
Having your own label means you can build an identity – simply put fink were becoming so un-ninja tune it was getting hard for both of us….the label was the way forward – we’ve put out a few offers, looked around a little, we talk to people y’know….Ninja sometimes find stuff too that would be better for R’Coup’d than Ninja – so they have a song based angle too on a more Indy kinda tip….we got a few things up our sleeves don’t you worry about that ;)
You’ve been living in Berlin for a while, how’s the city working out for you?
Love it – it’s really given me a love of electronica back, love the people, the summer, the vibe, the energy – all that. I just feel very at home there right now.
I feel at home with a bag, 2 guitars and my mobile studio pretty much anywhere these days. Right now it’s a hotel room in Regensburg Germany.
Have you considered living anywhere else in the world?
Yeah I’ve lived in a few places – LA, Paris, London – each city has a “thing” y’know – and you gotta try and match the “what I need” or “what my music needs” to the city or environment that might have it. My surroundings are very important to me when I’m not touring. I don’t need a fancy studio; I just need a good space.
Following the release of the Pilgrim Remix EP, do you have any more music scheduled for release?
Yeah we’ve got this Horizontalism record that we’re putting to bed right now, re-interpretations of the Hard Belieiver album inspired by my time in Berlin with a few exclusive tracks kinda all mixed together – trying to get that ready for early summer. Then I’ve been threatening to make some kind of Blues album at some point, then more touring, then another Fink record – we’re already talking about it and thinking about it on the road.
Apart from music, what else do you spend a considerable amount of your time working on?
With the very much less than considerable time left over after all that man. Sitting and reading a book in a café on a sunny afternoon after a late lunch by a canal in Berlin – that’s what I’m dreaming of right now.
What albums have you listened to recently and would recommend us to listen to?
Erm….tricky….albums….new Bjork one, Thom Yorke’s latest one. In the electronic scene it’s not really an albums thing for me – I’m really loving Tessela, Scuba, Paula Temple, House Of Black Lanterns, Radio Slave, Biome, Moths. I think EPs are a better fit with electronic music. Having said that, I’m kinda putting one out in a few months, an electronica album…..ah well…too late to stop it now!
Finally do you have anything else you’d like to mention?
Fink’s Pilgrim Remix EP is out now on R’COUP’D, order a digital copy from Ninja Tune.
Photo by Tommy N. Lance
1. Thom Yorke – Pink Section
2. Dorian Concept – The Sky Opposite
3. Joris Voorn – The Monk
4. Coldplague – Madnight
5. Scuba – Distance
6. DNGLS – Vultura
7. Avalon Emerson – Let Me Love And Steal’ (Triple Scorpio Mix)
8. Paula Temple – Ful
9. Nehuen – Jam2 (El Gaucho Mix)
10. Tessela – Rough 2
11. MoTH – Ritual (Original Mix)