Fink To Play In India This Week
Brit artist Fin Greenall’s indie act Fink will play at the NH7 Weekender in Bengaluru this December
It’s a rare, quiet Saturday afternoon for Brit musician and producer Fin Greenall as he sits by the poolside of the Taj Land’s End in Mumbai, soaking in the bright sunshine. The past week has zipped past, says Greenall, who was in India in September to shoot for the second season of the television jam show, The Dewarists by Dewar’s that went on air last night. His “linearly trained senses,” accustomed to his London lifestyle have been exposed to a cultural cosmos that is Mumbai. “I feel I know the city inside out now,” says Greenall, who did all the things a tourist in Mumbai would do – auto rides, slum tours, Bollywood studios and even a stop on the sets of the Indian Idol have made his week-long India visit.
“Would you believe it,” says Greenall in his crisp Cockney accent, as he sat back on a comfy beach chair with his feet up on the chair and rolled himself a spliff. “I got onto the sets of the finale [of Indian Idol] with my mates Salim and Sulaiman and… well…I was gobsmacked. I didn’t understand a word of what was going on. But oh gosh the talent and the drama. Amazing. I’m gonna go home and tell all my peeps about it,” says the self-confessed Idol junkie, who made it to the sets of the famed reality TV show with Bollywood music composers Salim and Sulaiman Merchant, who are the judges on the show.
Greenall, Salim and Sulaiman and Pakistani classical singer Shafqat Amanat Ali got together to collaborate for The Dewarists. This is not the first time Greenall is working with an Indian musician though. Greenall collaborated with Nitin Sawhney on the song “Dead Man” from Sawhney’s 2005 album Philtre. “That was the first time I met and worked with Indian musicians. Nitin’s repertoire is magnificent. This flute guy Ashwin [Srinivasan] is a genius. While working on the show, I recalled that time a lot,” says Greenall.
The musician wears multiple hats in the UK having been a star producer for the likes of the late soul diva Amy Winehouse and Grammy winning vocalist John Legend. Inside spit-and-sawdust pub venues, he is an underground indie rocker whose band Fink is nearly a weekly draw. For techno label Ninja Tune, he’s a superstar DJ who spent most of the Nineties conquering the London club circuit. His strategy is to always write songs. “Even now I have one in my head. Really! It’s about this lovely afternoon and how I could use some tea,” says Greenall.
Greenall found songwriting very early in life. Born to a folk musician father and classical singer mother, Greenall grew up following their music and even rebelling against it. “Dad would always be on the guitar and mum would try and follow his lead and adapt her classical style of singing. They’d end up arguing sometimes and I used to watch them thinking what the hell are they doing. Till one day I picked up the guitar myself,” recalls Greenall. In his attempt to resist the rigidity of classical music, Greenall grew up to become a DJ instead. After working as an A&R aide for some labels, Greenall landed a recording contract with Ninja Tune, when he experimented with lounge and lo-fi in his debut album Fresh Produce in 2000.
After the Y2K electronica experiment, Greenall soon took on the role of a producer when he discovered his love for the studio. “I had all these musicians coming up to me, asking my help to just listen to their songs. I said ‘Yeh I would,’ and would eventually end up changing things. After some time, I just didn’t want to step away from the studio,” says Greenall, who soon became a master producer and found himself working on an early session with Winehouse.
The song they worked on together, “Half Time” appeared on her posthumous release Lioness: Hidden Treasures. “What I liked about Amy – even though she took the shortcut route like everybody else of being famous first and then making good, soul music – is that she was a fabulous singer. Her Diana Washington, India Arie influences would not hide her power vocals and emotive stylings. It’s great that she did what she did. I just wish pop music was more than that,” says Greenall.
Pop music might have entertained Greenall for a while, but he progressively got bored with its auto-tuned programming and formula songwriting. Turning down offers for “product singers,” Greenall soon thought of creating music for himself in 2006 when he put together a three-piece, indie rock outfit called Fink. “The way I look at it. I couldn’t be a pop hit maker one year and then crash land on the moon the next when nobody remembers your songs. I wanted to be remembered with credible success. That is the Holy Grail,” says Greenall.
Over the past six years, Greenall has gone through a Renaissance with Fink. From being a trip-hop tune creator in the Nineties to taking on acoustic guitars and emotive songwriting, Greenall’s Fink is a volte face to his earlier club-friendly avatar. “I am really naïve as a songwriter. The day I stopped worrying about making radio hits, the songs just flowed. I went back to my roots of making music on a guitar and keeping things really simple,” says Greenall. From Fink’s first album, the lush sounding Biscuits For Breakfast in 2006 to his fourth record, the incredibly evocative yet emotive Perfect Darkness that he released last year, Greenall has gone from writing reformed pop-mush to introspective sentimentalism.
The track of the album “Yesterday Was Hard On All Of Us,” is a moody six-minute sonic treat and he tells us of the first time he played it. “It was spectacular. We were playing in Bristol, my hometown and I had my eyes closed while we were performing. When I opened my eyes, everyone was crying. Real emotion, you cannot fake it,” says Greenall.
This December, Greenall will return to India to play at the Bacardi NH7 Weekender festival in Bengaluru. “I remember reading about Mumford & Sons and Laura Marling performing in India. I made a mental note that time that I must do this. And here I am. If people in India get these musicians, they will most likely get us,” says Greenall.
Fink in India supported by The Staves performing on
December 14th, Liberty Theatre, Tickets at nh7.in
December 16th, Blue Frog, Delhi, Tickets here
Fink will headline The Dewarists stage at Bacardi NH7 Weekender in Bengaluru on December 15th. Tickets at nh7.in/weekender