‘Insomnia’. ‘God Is A DJ’. ‘We Come 1’. Just a few of the timeless tracks that have afforded Faithless almost 15 years of dominance of commercial dance; pleasing hardcore ravers, casual clubbers and festival fanatics alike. In 2010 the band released their sixth studio album ‘The Dance’, followed by deluxe remix edition ‘The Dance Never Ends’. Ahead of their Sheffield Motorpoint Arena show on December 8th, Exposed caught up with Sister Bliss for a quick natter.
You’ve just started your European tour. How’s that going?
It’s pretty good, a bit cold, but the audiences have been amazing. The show has gone up another notch; we’re really pleased with the production. The biggest one we’ve done so far was about 17,000 people in Antwerp. That was great fun.
Faithless will be coming to Sheffield in December. What should we expect from the show?
It’s completely and utterly rocking. Faithless is an eight piece live band; we’ve got a kind of punk energy mixed with an electronic sound and live musicians. There’ll be music from all our six albums; the anthems people know and love, some of the new material, and some of our little gems, dusted up especially for the fans.
The band made a very welcome return to Glastonbury earlier this year; playing the Pyramid stage just before Stevie Wonder…
It was mind-blowing. It was just a wonderful thing to be invited back. We hadn’t played Glastonbury since 2002. We kept turning down opportunities to play the following years because we didn’t want to play any other slot unless it was the headline slot. When Bono put his back out we were very much looking forward to being invited to do the Friday, but they didn’t offer it us in the end.
Playing on the same stage as Stevie Wonder, it was a very special event and I know it was a very tight and rocking gig for us. It really was one the best weekends ever; certainly one of the best Glastonbury’s I’ve ever had. I had tequila in every field! It was just such fun. I didn’t want to come home.
This year Faithless released their sixth studio album ‘The Dance’. Where do you keep finding inspiration?
I love making music; I think I’ll probably be making music till I pop my clogs. I’m a great fan of technology. Every time there’s some sort of innovation it’s a chance to experiment; it gives the genre another twist and a whole new sound, keeps it fresh and forward looking. For me, it’s still the music of the future, even though it now has a 20 / 25 year heritage. I’m inspired by just the need to express myself, and the best way I know how to is musically. Every time I get some new plug-in for my G5 I get all excited.
Even if we weren’t making music as Faithless, I would be carrying on making music, exploring and trying to grow as a musician. I’ve made music for TV and film as well, and I hope that will continue and I hope to work with lots of different artists.
You have Example supporting you on the UK leg of the tour. Which other young / new artists would you like to record or tour with?
People like Tinie Tempah and Tinchy Stryder. I know they’re kind of the popstars of the day, but there was a time when British rap couldn’t get arrested. I really like that people have got so inventive with their flow and their subject matter, made it their own and the British public is finally cottoning on to it. Something that is speaking from the heart and is not just a pale facsimile of American rap; which I don’t really like: it’s all just guns and hos and bitches.
I love Laura Marling; I think she’s lovely. If she wanted to indulge in a bit of folk-tronica, we’re here. We also hung out with Paloma Faith in the summer and she’s a proper star. She’s got real charisma, great songwriting talent. I’ve got her number so we’ll see!
The video for the single ‘Feeling Good’ was launched as an extended TV advert for Fiat Punto. Where did that idea come from?
Because we’re not with a major label we can look for brand partnerships. It was trying to do something different that was not just a band putting their song on an advert. We got the marketing and budget that we would have got in the old days from the major labels and it felt like a collaboration that wasn’t cheesy. I’m not in anyway adverse to having our music commercially exploited, as long as it’s in a way that’s sensitive to the artist. But it was more than that, more like a brand hook-up, and I think in these difficult times of selling music, you have to take these opportunities. Being just out of the mainstream, the more we can get our music out there, the better. We just want to reach our fans the best we can.
A sign of the times maybe?
Sure, people are exploring news ideas. It’s a huge burden off many labels; they’re so financially stretched right now. There’s so much music out there; how do you get your band to rise above the sea of fantastic stuff that’s out there? Sometimes these opportunities just come along.
Even if you have got your music on advert, you can still be political and have something to say, it doesn’t have to be a clash of interests. If approached creatively that makes all the difference.
You’ve just released ‘The Dance Never Ends’, a deluxe remix edition of the album. Which of the remixes were you most impressed with?
The Eric Prydz mix of ‘Not Going Home’ was just one of those mixes, we were so happy with it when it came in. It just really showed us the scope of the song and how it could be taken further. It reaches out beyond its own genre.
I also love the Penguin Prism remix of ‘Feel Me’. It has a real lovely groove to it; it’s a bit disco, a bit techy. But I’m really chuffed with the remixes as a whole; there are some really current names, and some unsung heroes. I love how still, beautiful and pure Temper Trap’s ‘Comin’ Around’ remix is. Not everything has to be banging, we can have some chill times too.
We’ve enjoyed 15 years of Faithless. As the band gets older, does it become more of challenge to keep producing the energetic performances you’ve become known for?
Not so much the performances, they seem to be going from strength to strength: we’re fitter than we ever were when we started; we take it a lot more serious now. There’s a lot of boxing and kickboxing that goes on behind the scenes. Maxi is fitter than most people a quarter of his age.
It is harder making the records? Yes, because we always want our records to be better than everyone else. There is a strand in house music at the moment that is quite generic, a bit crude for my taste. Sometimes I gawk at what I hear on the radio; it’s very very poppy. Faithless is outside that genre. We’re quite proud we’ve managed to last 15 years, and still make anthems but to me, they’re not crude and basic, they work on lots of different levels, especially lyrically. We do something that very few other bands do; we have a message in our music and have some sort of subtlety and poetry.
You’ve managed the balancing act of getting bigger, without selling out…
When we made ‘Insomnia’, we could have just made another ten tracks exactly like it. But as soon as we heard people rip our sound of and rinse it, we wanted to move on. We’re exciting and creative, and I don’t want to make a carbon copy of our last records. I love that we have a sound that’s almost immediately identifiable, as Faithless, and that we don’t sound like anyone else. But at the same time I do want to keep growing as a band musically.
I still feel that dance music is so exciting. There’s the disposable, rubbish side of it, but then there’s the deep, twisted, interesting, boundary pushing music that turns me on, and being able to do that with proper songwriters. There’s a huge wave of really good electronic music around at the moment and I feel very proud to be part of that.