Nathan Fake: 'Never ask a musician to describe their music'

British producer Nathan Fake on not needing lyrics and romantic techno

Nathan Fake

There’s something to be said for artists who first discover music without being pushed into it. Nathan Fake wasn’t encouraged to learn an instrument, nor has he ever taken a music lesson. Instead, he got his start playing along to his favourite tracks on a toy keyboard. Fake grew up in a small village in Norfolk, England, far removed from musical influences, which helped him develop a style that is all his own. Don’t ask him about it though: 'Never ask a musician to describe their music,' he says, 'because you’ll get a long-winded drawn out answer'. Instead, Fake defines his sound simply as 'melodic'.


We’d define it as a unique mixture of techno and ambient, a sound that’s kept his career going strong since his debut in 2003. He became keen on techno and house as an early teen and cites the British electronic group The Prodigy as his greatest early influence. During his first year at university, Fake sent a track to James Holden, the founder of successful British label Border Community, who immediately recognised the

young producer’s raw talent and released Fake’s first EP, Outhouse, later that year. 'It all happened quite quickly. I didn’t set out with a mad ambition to have a music career. I always wanted it obviously, but I didn’t imagine it would actually happen.'


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Fake, who’s still a bit groggy when he Skypes us from his Norfolk home, quickly perks up as he speaks of the quick transition from being merely a Holden fan to having the producer remixing his tracks. Holden’s 2004 remix of Fake’s 'The Sky Was Pink' will bring hazy flashbacks of dancing at dawn for most people who’ve attended an outdoor festival. But despite the remix proving the more popular cut with DJs around the world, Fake says 'it’s nice to have a track that has that much longevity'.


Listen to Fake's hit track, remixed by James Holden, here [VPNs on].


In 2006, Fake released his debut album Drowning in a Sea of Love and since then has released two more albums and several EPs on Border Community. His most recent album, Providence, was released on the infamous independent London-based label Ninja Tune in March of this year. Despite the recent switch, Fake still has loyalty to Border Community and attributes the change to Ninja Tune’s sustained interest in his work and Holden’s recent focus on his own releases. Fake also runs his own label, Cambria Instruments, with close friend Wesley Matsell, but he says it has lain 'dormant' as he focusing on touring in the recent months.


Despite the fact Fake has toured extensively during his 15-year career, his Dada show this month will mark his first contact with China. With little pre-existing knowledge of China’s electronic music scene, he admits he doesn’t quite know what to expect, but isn't bothered by the unknown quantity. 'Humans have the same connection with music wherever they are no matter what their background is'. The only place he puts down is his own homeland. 'The UK has got a weird culture with going out. People either will just not get it and stand there or get really, really drunk and also not get it, but go a bit mental.' Despite this, Fake remains based in the UK, and even moved back to a tiny town in Norfolk after eight years in London. Why hasn’t he moved to Berlin like every other DJ these days? 'Being surrounded by that many electronic musicians would be a bit like being in school.'


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Fake has never given much heed to the reigning trends in electronic music and although he expressed an appreciation of trap – and his track ‘RVK’ featuring Raphaelle is rather poppy – he prefers to continue developing his particular brand of underground sound. 'I do like a bit of pop music, but some of the lyrical content is troubling – encouraging people to get f**ked up and have one night stands.'


The vast majority of his tracks lack lyrics, and rather than write a song that dictates the agenda with words, Fake likes 'the idea that people can attach their own ideas and feelings to the track. My tracks aren’t really about particular stuff'. One of Fake's more recent tracks, 'Degreelessness', refers to a cheat mode in a video game he used to play, proving that inspiration can come from anywhere. 'It’s utter nonsense to someone else, but then they can also give it their own meaning.' Fake’s pleasantly melodic tracks may be largely lyricless, but a set of tunes he produced for his now girlfriend during their courtship are testament to Fake's ability to make wordless music croon. Who knew techno could be so romantic?

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