Q&A with Fennec
JY: Tell us the three most important/interesting things about you
FENNEC: 1. In high school I competed in a science competition where I medaled in Food Science and Herpetology. These were two separate events.
2. I was working craft services at Lollapalooza in 2007 when I met Daft Punk. Thomas Bangalter stopped by the table I was at and took a croissant.
3. I used to make music under a different name that, legally, I’m unable to publicly disclose due to the settlement of a lawsuit. Essentially there was a corporation that had the same name as me and so I was like, whatever, keep it. You can call me whatever you want and I’m still gonna kill it.
JY: Where does the name Fennec come from?
FENNEC: It’s my last name. And the animal is hella cute, duh. My cuteness pales in comparison. It’s got this nice neutrality to it also. The National in some interview talked about how they chose their name because you couldn’t really tell exactly what kind of music they made based on just their band name. I liked that.
JY: When did you first get involved with making music?
FENNEC: During college I started DJ’ing house parties and basement shows as a side thing and I’d make edits and remixes of songs just for my own use. That eventually turned into making my own tracks whenever I needed something to bridge from one song to another. I’ve always messed around with music though starting on drums when I was in middle school and synthesizers later on.
JY: What influences your music?
FENNEC: Mark Rothko, Spike Jonze, Yves Saint-Laurent, and death. I’m trying to live forever. As long as I’m in your iTunes, I’ll always be around. It’s just a matter of longevity.
JY: What specifically influenced your debut album?
FENNEC: Radio played a huge influence, which is pretty obvious just from the sound and organizational structure of it. There’s lots of samples from radio stations, like identifiers and stuff, throughout the album. I had never listened to pop radio seriously until about a year ago. I had always listened to online and pirate stations that played more specialty music and underground music, but pop radio is really unique for a number of reasons. Songs don’t always get played out fully before a bunch of weird, glitchy radio stingers play and then it goes right into the next song. Most of the time it’s not even a human on the other end of that radio signal, it’s just a machine that’s been programmed to play these songs. If you do that within the confines of a song, people would get confused as to what’s happening. Nobody says anything about that in Top 40 radio.
Something else to think about is that songs on Top 40 stations often get edited specifically for play on the radio. So, really, you’re just hearing what the producers thought were the most essential elements of the song. I used that when I was arranging the songs, trying to keep that maximalism of pop production while also never going beyond what was necessary. It’s really a reflection of internet culture and modern culture in general. Everyone’s fighting for your attention, so there’s always gotta be something happening before you get bored.
JY: What was the most rewarding part of creating your debut album?
FENNEC: Having my roommate who lived on the floor above me for the majority of making the album hear the final mix and give his approval. I thank him in the album credits. Also, before I finished the album I moved to a different place and while I was mixing some of the tracks I got a noise complaint from my neighbor because of all the bass from the kick. I was kind of proud of that.
JY: If you could produce the beats for any musician, who would it be?
- Taylor Swift
- Trinidad James
I think Taylor and Grouper would be really killer in dance music. Grouper’s voice has such a unique, ethereal quality to it that it’d be great just have as a kind of bed over a really minimal beat. Dragging A Dead Deer Up A Hill is one of my favorite albums of all time. Taylor Swift is mostly just for selfish reasons because if we ever did get to work together, I doubt that whatever we made would get released. It’d pretty much just be so I can see her writing process. Her voice is perfect for dance music though. I gave my mastering engineer Red as a reference.
Trinidad James has just the right amount of roughness in his voice and he’s got this laidback, just-behind-the-beat flow like he’s writing it as he goes along. He has a song called “Giving No Fucks” where he raps over a Nosaj Thing beat and it works so well. I think he’d dig whatever I could make for him.
JY: You’re stranded on a desert island. What three albums do you bring?
- Drukqs by Aphex Twin
- Untrue by Burial
- Since I Left You by The Avalanches
JY: If we don’t remember anything from the interview except for one thing, what would that one thing be?
FENNEC: Music isn’t my end goal, it’s immortality.