Fassine: Whatever it takes

Fassine bill themselves as “producers, performers, purveyors”. But what the London-based trio of  Sarah Palmer, Laurie Langan, and James Hayward truly specialise in is crafting  cinematic soundscapes that complement moody electronica with ethereal vocals.

Having just released their debut album, ‘Dialectik’, they open up about their creative process.

One of your songs is called ‘Englander’. What do you think living in London has added to your music? Or taken away from it?

London is full of noise. Sound, imagery, smell, and taste. It’s hard to write from the centre of this storm and whilst living here allows a certain amount of awareness to the world, it doesn’t add much to the music itself. If anything it allows a point of reference against which we position ourselves.

Your music is very cinematic. Do you imagine the visuals that could accompany it when you’re writing?

To a certain extent. Usually, however, the full imagery doesn’t reveal itself until the piece is completed. That’s a beautiful point to arrive at – to discover things the piece brings after the creation process.

How important is the actual visual aspect of your work (the photos, the videos)? They don’t seem like an afterthought but part of the whole presentation.

It’s essential. The artwork and photographs are designed and created with as much thought as the music is. Each photo and video has a strong concept created behind it and we never let anything out into the world unless we are in love with it. Why throw your life into an album only to have a photo shoot of the band in a car park holding their instruments – unplugged? It’s disrespectful and lazy.

You’ve described the album as “about isolation, those treacherous thoughts that wedge themselves in the door”. How “autobiographical” is it?

It has to be autobiographical. Isolation is the one feeling we all feel at some point in our lives. This album is a summing up of the different types of isolation we feel – psychological, physical, geographical, etcetera.

What one song helped show you the way forward as Fassine?

Probably ‘Bring The Weight Down’. It was a track that was not going to be included on the album until the eleventh hour. We were in the car and happened to have a very old demo of it. For some reason it took on a new life and perspective. We all looked at each other and had the same thought. It was an incredibly bonding experience.

Are there any songs the other band members like that you absolutely cannot stand?

We’d never put a song on an album that we would skip. We love them all and each one went through a rigorous vetting process. Live is a different matter: probably ‘Dialectik’ – it’s unplayable!

What do each of you bring to the group – as people and as musicians?

Sarah brings enthusiasm and drive as well as a vocal naivety that sits perfectly with the music. Jim brings a relaxed, meditative personality to the group as well as being an amazing programmer and producer. Me? What don’t I bring?

What are you able to achieve together that you wouldn’t as individuals?

We have always admitted that without all three, Fassine would not have the sound. We all have vastly different tastes and strengths and when we work together a strange thing really does happen with the work. I’m sure we could all do our own thing but no one person could create a Fassine album or indeed song. That only happens with all three of us in a room. That is why we work obsessively – it’s a finite thing like all things, so we want to create as much together as possible.

Is there one song on ‘Dialectik’ that best sums up what the band’s about?

One song that comes to mind is ‘Whatever It Takes (To Help You Sleep)’. It came very easily and very quickly and has always felt natural for us. It has a deeply cinematic sound and at the same time is a “pop” song.


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