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Fyfe

Interview — Mohamed Sqalli
Photography — Charlotte Robin

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Before becoming Fyfe, Paul Dixon earned some shine under the name David’s Lyre. That experience left him a bittersweet impression but gave him a definitive chance to go further artistically. The journey he is following as Fyfe consists in producing dreamy, well-crafted tunes that brings him closer to acts such as James Blake or Sohn.

Your album is mostly about love. And you're in Paris, the international capital of love. Tell me about what you've been doing since you're here.

I genuinely had no time but what we have had the time to do is having good coffee. Here, wherever you go, the coffee is over a certain standard. But in the UK, if you go to any coffee shop, it’s really disgusting. You have to go to a good coffee shop. I don’t understand, they have the machines but something, somehow is wrong. Maybe it’s psychological (laughs).

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Tell me about you… Where do you come from musically? 

When I was younger, my parents forced to learn classical instruments. At age 6, I was playing violin, and that’s how all started. It wasn’t until 11 or 12 that I got into more popular music, even though I played violin until 18. It was good for me I think because it helped me to understand a lot of the theory and the foundation of music. Now, I write music with Logic, and I really like making drum beats for example.

How important was folk music when you were younger? Because at your show at The Silencio, I was with a friend of mine, Malca, who is a musician and he told me “this guy, I’m sure he played folk music before”.

I think that folk music is about storytelling and definitely I see why your friend would hear that. When I was about 15, I really got into Elliott Smith, John Martyn and Nick Drake. I also listened to a lot from Bob Dylan but he’s not my favourite.

Is this folk music background precious when it comes to writing songs?

For me, the song is very important. You’re right when you say the song is adaptable. There are some genres of music where there isn’t really a song at all. But yet, they’re still big hits. You’re definitely right, the principles of songwriting are central in folk music.

And how do you proceed?

A lot is about emotion. I try to convey emotion with a song, take the listener to a journey. It’s not really as clinical as people might think. It’s a lot of playing around.

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I read that your brother had a crucial role in your musical development. He gave you pop albums when you were into classical stuff and …

Yeah, basically, he gave me really good soul records when I was listening to the Spice Girls. (laughs). I was playing classical music as a child and like any other kid, I was listening to the stuff that was played in the radio. My brother was like “wo-wo-wo, listen to this stuff”.

He also introduced you to Logic. Tell me about him. Was he supportive? 

Yes, and he still is, even if he doesn’t live near me anymore. He was the reason I played guitar. I was 11, he was 18 and I saw him rocking out guitar and I was like “wah, I just play violin, what’s going on. I need to be cool!”.

And do you think you’re cool now?

No, I often feel very uncool. I don’t think I’m very cool. I’m happy with just being who I am.

Did you ever imagine being in the same band than your brother?

When I was about 15, he played guitar for me on one show. But he moved away, so he wasn’t really around anymore.

You’re only 25 and you’ve already been in many projects. Tell me about your “Life before Fyfe”. 

The biggest thing I did before was this project called David’s Lyre, for which I released an album on Mercury. It just didn’t work out, which is actually good for me because they gave me my album back. For that kind of labels, either you’re a pop star, or you have no value. They hadn’t released the record. So I released myself and I used that experience and money to do Fyfe.

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Do you consider belonging to the PBR&B scene?

There’s definitely a streak of that in what I do. I don’t tend to put myself in the same category than people like Frank Ocean. I like those artists. Recently, I toured with Sohn all around Europe. I just couldn’t get his songs out of my head.

You showed your ability to take advantage of the internet to launch your project…

When I sent my music to music blogs, I just sent a Soundcloud link and a picture in which you couldn’t see my face. The media love mystery, nobody knew who I was. They never heard the name Fyfe before, and it worked. But you never be sure how well it could go.

Do you think it's easier or more difficult to have a career in music nowadays? 

It’s easier to be known but it’s harder to make it your full-time job because the money you get for records is not enough. You can easily get to mid-level but it’s harder to have a successful career. 

What are the advantages of having a label when you can have 200 000 views on your videos by yourself? 

Doing it by myself, I released the Solace EP and another single. I got myself to the lower/mid-level but a label can take you the next level: releasing a physical album, on vinyl, in many countries, etc… And also, people coming to me and asking me questions. (smiles)

Listen to Fyfe here.

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