Through the Walls is equally stunning and sulky, cosy and sad, with the kind of lo-fi production (achieved with a 4-track cassette recorder) that instantly makes me think of Starry Cat, Cyberbully Mom Club and Kimya Dawson. But listening to FARE play a mini set in the soundhouse—including two songs of her own and a slowed-down cover of Blue Öyster Cult’s ‘Don’t Fear the Reaper’—is an ethereal experience. It’s not very often that, as an emerging artist, you get to play an impromptu set at Glastonbury or open for someone as big as Ben Howard; which Christina (as she is known by her friends) is incredibly humble about, anecdotally recalling Glasto as her least favourite performance and having to sit on an uncomfortable keg for the duration of the gig. With the confrontational and moody lyrics down to a T (“I need a drink in my hand just to talk, and when it rains it pours/Am I bringing you down?”), ‘Grey Sky’ and ‘Lavender’ blend seamlessly on one of my own playlists featuring tracks by the likes of Soccer Mommy, Cat Power, Mitski, Warpaint and Phoebe Bridgers. FARE spoke to me about her influences, creative process and evolving as an artist in Cornwall.
T: What song on the album do you think will resonate most with people?
F: I think maybe people resonate with [“16/25”] the most because we can all probably relate to it on some level. You’re moving on from an old relationship, and it no longer lingers with you. You’ve grown and are happy from the experience but know you needed to be on your own. You’re content… but then you realise you don’t actually want to be alone forever, haha. Maybe I thought I did—and in that time I grew and I met some wonderful people, I experienced relationships with no pressure, but then I started to let myself romanticise a bit and want what the people around me had, [although] my self confidence was low. This song is kind of about that shift in mentality and realising that what I wanted had changed. I think we can all relate to that; we like to think we’re more complex than that. But really I just wanted to build a relationship with someone, that whole thing, even though it’s super scary (for me, anyway). I was ready for it, to put myself out there, which wasn’t something I was expecting.
T: What women do you feel are really making waves in the music industry at the moment?
F: My favourite lady of all time is Liz Harris, a.k.a. Grouper (and I don’t think I’ll ever stop going on about her). She inspired the music I make now and when I first heard her I was so happy to finally have found my little place in music—something I’d been struggling with for a long time. I’ve not actually been listening to much new stuff lately which is bad… I’m in a bit of a music rut! But Grimes is a super incredible lady, she’s been releasing some new stuff lately and I’m a big fan of the music videos that have come with it. I think I can relate so her and her work because she’s super hands-on and her energy runs through every aspect of her music, and I like to do the same. I saw her a few years ago and it was one of the best gigs I’ve ever been to, she’s so full of energy.
T: What was the most emotionally-charged song to write?
F: With the nature of my music I’d say all of them are emotionally-charged, but some that were maybe more of an emotional experience as and when I wrote them, would be songs like ‘Lavender,’ ‘Grey Sky,’ and ‘I had to stop, put my book down.’ This one evening I sat down to write some stuff, and play with a new pedal, and I started writing ‘Lavender.’ I was quietly shocked at what started to come out, I think. I realised I was feeling quite isolated and lonely, and didn’t know how to break out of that. Anyway, it came together so easily—so that was an important song for me. ‘Grey Sky’ was written when it had snowed this one day in Feb [last year]. I was sat on my bed with my little classical guitar, and I felt like I was holding a lot in. I felt like maybe I hadn’t let go of some stuff, but life had gotten in the way and wasn’t letting me have that time I needed. I think sometimes it takes writing music for me to really get my emotions out. IHTSPMBD is similar to the other two, I think. I was writing my dissertation one day and reading so many books about emotivity in ambient music, and I was getting so frustrated because I’m just not a writer and I really feel that I can say what I wanna say through music with a lot more ease. I was listening to some music I hadn’t heard before while I was writing, and one of the songs just made me stop and I got a lump in my throat and I was like: I need to write something. So I sat down and wrote IHTSPMBD. I recorded it all there and then, and it’s what you hear on the album, as it was written that day.
T: Is there a song or project you feel marks a point where you evolved significantly as an artist?
F: ‘I Am Now’ was pretty scary for me to share; I’d never written so honestly before, but it was what I needed to do to take myself seriously as a musician. Before then, I wasn’t really making music, not music I was happy with anyway. People were really lovely about it too, incredibly supportive and gave me some wonderful feedback that I definitely needed. I had been going by Christina Smith up until that point, and I felt uncomfortable with that… I was also only just realising the kind of musician I could be. Playing with the band has also helped me grow into a better, more confident performer. Those boys really helped push me out of my comfort zone and they’ve allowed me to try new things in my own time, not making me feel silly for doing so.
Through the Walls is available to stream on Apple Music, Spotify and Bandcamp. Follow FARE on Instagram: @faremusic_ and on Facebook: @faremus.