Fin Greenall is no fake, his visceral, impassioned songs are no cheap tricks.
“I’m not an actor, I’m a music guy,” says the man better known as Fink.
“A lot of these big, big stars they’re actors too, it’s part of the package that they have this song they didn’t write, about an experience they didn’t have, that was produced by someone they’ve never even met, and they’ve got to act like it’s from their heart.
“Whereas me, I can’t act and I can’t lie very well so I have to be really honest to be able to pull it off.”
And pull it off he does. Brooding introspection delivered via acoustic guitar and grainy voice, songs like ‘This Is The Day’ have a rawness and intimacy that simply can’t be manufactured.
But there is a downside.
“It’s tough on the people that love you when you’re being artistic and creative and part of the process is to get quite introspective. You can get a bit moody, you can get a bit of a pain up the ass. It can be difficult,” Greenall confesses.
Difficult too is standing out from the crowd of men and their acoustic guitars.
“The song is definitely back. If you write a very very good song and you perform it really well, there is some space for you now. But in a way it’s the same as it always was – there are loads of singer songwriters all over the place,” he reasons.
“It is difficult to stand out but there’s only one way to do it and that’s to genuinely be yourself. If yourself is just a generic photocopy of what a record company man says you should sound like then you’re not going to stick out much are you?
“The less commercial your music, the more likely you are to be commercial.”
It’s a belief Greenall and his bandmates cling to.
“We could settle in and do strummed out acoustic mellow folk until we’re blue in the face, but we actually make an effort not to because we want to stick out a little bit.
“I definitely don’t want to be seen as a singer-songwriter full stop and the boys don’t want to be seen as a kind of folk band.”
And although he has hopes of making it big like Ben Harper, any success would have to be on his own terms.
“The people I really respect, like James Brown, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Marley, Joni Mitchell, John Martyn, John Lee Hooker, definitely made it being themselves. They didn’t pander. Later on in their career, on their 19th album, they pandered but they didn’t follow a brief, they did exactly what was inside of them and that was absolutely awesome.
“So I’d love it if it could work out like that. And that’s why I’m signed to an independent label – it just gives you the freedom of expression, the freedom to grow and learn. You swap a big cheque for freedom and that’s a really good deal at the moment.”
Not bad either are his sideline careers as a remixer (he’s just finished tweaking a Nina Simone track) and a songwriter for hire – although the latter can come with its own frustrations.
“It’s like a Sudoku sometimes, this kind of puzzle that you have to work out. Everybody wants different things, everybody’s got different interests in things: the agent wants it to work live, the record company wants it to work on the radio, the manager wants it to be cool so that he can pitch it to other people. The drummer wants it to be drum led, the bass player wants it to be bass heavy, the lead singer wants his vocals up – it’s every ‘Spinal Tap’ cliché in the book. It’s all true.”
But Greenall has not a bad thing to say about a young singer he worked with back in 2001, just after she’d left school. Her name? Amy Winehouse.
“She was absolutely incredible back then – her voice was as good as it is now. Literally every take in the studio would be incredible, just solid gold, workable, releasable, classic stuff, even though she was only 17. It was absolutely mind-blowing to work with an artist that young,” he says.
“She really deserves all the success she’s getting, no question at all,” Greenall continues.
“She’s legit. She’s always been the same, she’s always been like that. Even back in the day she was definitely a hellraiser, there’s no doubt about that,” he chuckles.
Fink himself may not be a hellraiser to rival Winehouse, but there’s no doubt that he’s equally legit.
- This article originally appeared on iafrica.com.