FYFE - The Marriage of Art and Music
Having piqued the interest of music lovers last year with his debut single ‘For You’, FYFE a.k.a. Paul Dixon has demonstrated his talents with follow up singles ‘Holding On’ and ‘Solace’. Dixon is a rare breed of modern day musician, classically trained in violin, trumpet and piano; this shines through in his music as he blends instrumental sounds with top-notch production. Dixon’s creative process is characterised by a cross-pollination of the classical and the digital, which extends to his aesthetic decisions. On a quest to present some innovative album artwork, Dixon has repeatedly teamed up with Contemporary Collective artist Sophie Derrick, to shoot his album cover, music video artwork and a number of his single covers, showcasing her unique signature style, which involves striking images of paint-covered faces.
Derrick’s practice usually involves covering her own face in layers of paint, then photographing the result and painting on top of the photograph to create morphed faces and identities. Utilising this unusual process, Derrick’s style has become synonymous with FYFE’s brand image, and both present a wonderful example of a well-matched collaboration between music and art. FYFE’s debut album ‘Control’ is due out 9th March, and having bagged fans such as Childish Gambino and London Grammar, is set to be one of the most anticipated new music albums of 2015. With the present spotlight shining on FYFE, Paul Dixon talks us through his creative process and the coexistence of art and music.
2014 was a really exciting year for you, how’s the reaction been to your music?
It’s impossible to know how people will react to your music when you are making it, so I find the best thing is to just not think about it, which makes it all the more surprising if the public respond positively. I feel very fortunate to have had my music received so well over the last year.
So let’s talk about the cover work for your single and albums, how did the concept to collaborate with painter Sophie Derrick come about?
I had done a press shot previously where we used paint on the back of my neck and side of my face and I loved the effect, so I became really interested in this concept and who might be using their face or other people's faces as their canvas. Then I went on a Google binge and for the first hour all I found was a whole lot of children’s faces painted as Spider Man, and some especially scary clowns. After realising that ‘Face Painting’ wasn’t an effective search term to generate the results I was looking for, I soon found Sophie’s work.
What was the process of having your face painted in this way like?
The actual physical process of wearing the paint is slightly odd at first but after a while it is weirdly enjoyable, although taking it off is not so fun.
You’ve collaborated with Sophie Derrick for three single covers and your album cover, would you say you were an art lover?
I do love art but I am no expert. As a musician the creative process, whichever platform it resides within, and its consequent effect upon an audience upon completion, is inherently interesting.
How important do you feel the synergy between art and music is to you?
As an artist I base a lot of what I do around mystery and ambiguity - wearing the paint to me was almost like wearing a mask, but the amazing thing about the way Sophie paints is that it still points to the subject, i.e. in a lot of ways I still look like me. I found that appealing because it is then a conversation about ‘who could I be’, rather than, ‘who shall I pretend to be’. In some ways I’m being masked but equally in some ways different traits are begin revealed.
Is working alongside an artist for your music artwork something you’d like to continue?
Absolutely, it’s been a really rewarding process and I’m delighted with the final pieces.
Photographer Sophie Harris-Taylor photographed the artwork for your new album 'Control' with your eyes open, which varies from the other portraits, what was the shoot like for you? – And did you get any paint in your eyes?!
I got paint on my teeth! ...My eyes were more or less OK. The shoot was really fun - I felt it was important to have that point of human connection for the album cover with the eyes open.
Did you have much of a say in the colour palette that was used for each shoot, or did Sophie make the decisions – what was it like to work collaboratively?
Everything we did was very much a collaboration. Sophie was really receptive to my ideas and was very good at guiding the project to a successful conclusion.
So the album is out on 9th March, what's the plan after it comes out?
Lots of touring.
Would you ever consider performing with Sophie's style of painting on your face?
That’s an interesting idea - although it could get very messy.
Check out FYFE’s music at https://soundcloud.com/thisisfyfe
View more of Sophie Derrick’s work at http://www.contemporarycollective.com/artists/sophie-derrick
By Hannah Shakir