FAKETHIAS By Sam Clarke 4

Unrelenting and discordant, the music of FAKETHIAS (AKA Mathias Humlen) has been characterised by its unapologetic bleakness, anthems for 5am warehouse raves and pulverising noise shows. His new self-released album Core Echo comes as something of a surprise. Although it retains his trademark nerve-shredding sensibility, it marries these influences with sensitive singer-songwriter hallmarks. It feels like an inflection point, peering out of the experimental underground towards a big tent mentality, a pivot made by like-minded artists Eartheater and Space Afrika this year. This dualism is reflected in his TANK Mix, which straddles the two worlds with ease. Listen to his TANK Mix and read our interview below. 

TANK You’ve spoken of being drawn “towards sounds that paint mental imagery.” What mental imagery did you have in mind when composing Core Echo? 
FAKETHIAS It’s very layered. Every little sound makes me imagine something visual, so the productions are like deep collages of impressions. I make mood boards with images to try to pin down what it is I’m trying to capture, or create an imagined environment to write the music within. This release had a lot of images from cities. Skyscrapers at sunset. Power lines. Hovering helicopters. Fashion ad posters. I find a lot of inspiration in big cities.

TANK The title track is a wall of harsh, impenetrable noise that eventually reveals a melody sitting underneath. What was the idea behind the gradual reveal? 
FAKETHIAS I put the tracks together as if they were scenes in a movie, and the title track feels like a turning point, a sudden traumatic event that changes everything, though I think it’s less about the idea behind it and more about the feelings it can evoke. I’ve been playing a version of this track live: after a show, someone told me that they felt like they were on the verge of a panic attack throughout most of the performance, but started accepting their lack of control towards the end, which made them appreciate the experience instead. 

TANK You wrote the album on a “shitty” guitar. How do mistakes or defects inform your creative vision? 
FAKETHIAS I process sound in destructive ways and make music out of noise. If I’m in full control or can predict the outcome, it gets boring. I need to be surprised and discover things in the process.

TANK The songs straddle the borders of shoegaze, industrial and singer-songwriter music. Are you conscious of genre when writing music? 
FAKETHIAS Yes and no. I’m interested in making new connections and exploring grey zones. I knew I wanted to make something that felt like «rock music», but I wanted to make it from my perspective. I have a laptop, so I can make music out of anything. If the sound of a roaring engine makes me think of a distorted guitar, I think that’s a good reason to try to make it play like a distorted guitar and see what happens. In a time where everything feels like it’s been done, we should look beyond established ideas of how sounds should be used in pop music.

TANK What inspired the album art, a collaboration with Sam Clarke? 
FAKETHIAS We took the photos used for the artwork while we were exploring the city of Kyiv in the summer of 2021. I was in the middle of the writing process at the time, and he hadn’t heard the music yet. I only gave him some vague direction that had to do with the use of sunlight. As we were working on packaging for both the lead-up single “Excess” on the Cease To Exist EP and Core Echo, I kept feeling that something was missing. The photos he took were great, but they were too clean. I asked him to play around with them, print them out, rip them apart, throw them on the street. He came up with the idea of making these collages that feel like the collages of torn posters you’ll find around the city, and it almost felt analogous to the album’s sonic palette. Sam is incredibly good at interpreting both my music and my cues. I think it has to do with a common appreciation of noise, both sonically and visually speaking. 

TANK Your song “Premium Defects” opened a 2021 film for Mugler. How did this come about? 
FAKETHIAS Ashland or Bobby Beethoven, formerly known as Total Freedom, asked me to send him some music. He didn’t say exactly what he wanted it for. I sent a folder that included an unreleased track I had made with Daniela Lalita a couple of years before. She had sent me a bunch of recordings of her voice, and I built the track by sampling them in different ways. Seeing Bella Hadid walk to it was special. I couldn’t have imagined a better way to premiere the track. Ashland, who put together the soundtrack for the show, is an amazing artist, who’s influenced me a lot since I first got into club music.

TANK How did your involvement with MASSIVE GAIN begin, and what should we expect from the project in the future? 
FAKETHIAS I started MASSIVE GAIN together with Onleash, formerly known as Drippin, back in 2019. We both felt like something was missing in club music at the time. We wanted a sound that was intricately designed and ignorant at the same time. Every release has been an experiment and attempt at carving out a new niche. It’s funny how they’ve appealed to everything from fashion to underground to festival techno DJs. Most people would categorize MASSIVE GAIN as techno, but most of the ideas come from somewhere else. Onleash doesn’t even listen to a lot of techno, he’s more inspired by drill. We just make hits.

Core Echo is out now.