This month saw the release of the sophomore album by FAVELA, a singer-songwriter who has delivered a solid onslaught of pioneering electronic music with universal appeal. His music boasts trademark warmth and impactful production, resulting in millions of Spotify streams and support from worldwide radio such as the UK’s BBC Radio 1.
FAVELA’s latest offering, Commensality, is a 12-track album brimming with poignant lyrics and intricate melodic fills. “Commensality came from a time in my life of newfound hopefulness, where after a period of difficulty, many things came into alignment,” says the artist. “It is therefore a celebration of those things, but at the same time, a yearning to be made otherwise complete.”
Commensality showcases skill and intricacy to deliver a whirlwind of graceful, versatile and majestic collection of music. Preceding this were two singles from the album; the beautiful ‘Homingbird’, with its mesmerising vocals, and ‘Breathing’, with its twisted percussion exaggerated by angelic synths and simplistic, but effective, vocals.
“Commensality came from a time in my life of newfound hopefulness, where after a period of difficulty, many things came into alignment.”
FMS caught up with the talented young creative, to find out more about his latest piece of work, the story behind his latest video, and how he’s managing to stay connected to his fans during the worldwide pandemic.
What came before FAVELA, and what inspired your solo project?
“As a teenager I was part of an indie band with three others who are my best friends to this day. We all left for university at a similar time and so FAVELA was an outlet for me to make some music whilst I couldn’t play music with the band. It was an instrumental project with a few samples here and there until a friend of mine encouraged me to sing on the tracks too, and I had no idea that it would develop as much as it has!”
What’s the story behind your new album, Commensality?
“I came across the word ‘commensality’ in a book I was reading, and it mentioned the importance of eating and drinking round a table, and to me felt like a more intense depiction of community. Around this time, I also became very aware of the importance of food, through various documentaries and talks I had heard, and so as I began writing it seemed like the perfect fit, to follow on from Community. With my album titles I like to have another theme running alongside the music, where one can mull over the concept as they listen. So, the title didn’t consciously influence the music itself, but I think retrospectively my songs thematically sit in that space between sharing joys and sorrows, as one must do when in community with others at the table.”
“I think ‘Dipped My Toes’ feels like the pinnacle of the album – almost as if everything is pointing towards that apex in the middle of the song.”
Are there any standout tracks for you, and why?
“I think ‘Dipped My Toes’ feels like the pinnacle of the album – almost as if everything is pointing towards that apex in the middle of the song. It’s the song where I feel the most emotion listening to it, and so I hope others do too.”
Where did you film your recent video for ‘Homingbird’ and what was the concept behind it?
“’Homingbird’ came from the mind of a great filmmaker named Jac Cron, based in LA. It was filmed on the West Coast in California, and the idea for the video came about on a scout-out for locations for a different concept. Although that first concept wasn’t possible to execute at the time, the director Jac Cron listened to the song many times over on the journey and found that it fitted particularly well with the landscape. She then created a concept that would incorporate not only the landscape, but also a close group of friends, and the ‘Homingbird’ video was born.”
Who else did you work with on the new album and what did they bring to the table?
“I generally like to work alone on my own projects, musically speaking, but the only people I drafted in were Sam Brown who is one of my touring musicians, to play bass on ‘Breathing’, and Guy Davie from Electric Mastering who mastered the record. Sam added a new energy to the track with his playing, and Guy did some inexplicable things that glued the record together and enhanced the sound beautifully. I also worked with friend and photographer, Keith Kaselampao who came up with the concept for the artwork. I think he captured the feeling of the album perfectly, and there’s so much life in all of his pictures.
“Retrospectively my songs thematically sit in that space between sharing joys and sorrows, as one must do when in community with others at the table.”
What do you feel sets Commensality apart from your debut solo album, Community?
“I think it’s difficult to compare the two as they came from such different places, but I think Commensality is freer in the songs themselves, as I had a newfound confidence for this record. And I think it’s generally a more uplifting album, whereas Community feels more introspective.”
What are you working on at the moment?
“I’ve been working on a joint project with Pablo Nouvelle which I’m really excited about. We’ve worked on each other’s projects in the past, and we seem to always be on the same wavelength when creating music together.”
Have you been following the #TogetherAtHome series and, if so, do you have any favourites?
“Not particularly, but I did catch a little bit of Coldplay’s and John Legend’s ones. It’s nice to see them play music in such an exposed manner, as I think it’s great in reminding everyone that artists are still normal people, regardless of how successful they are.”
Have you taken part in any live stream sessions yourself, and/or how have you stayed connected to your fans during the Coronavirus pandemic?
“No, I haven’t, but I’m planning a little home-studio live session during this time of lockdown! My album release coincided with everyone being at home, so it’s been great to see how the fans are responding to it. It has been great engaging with them, thanking them for their support and also hearing their own stories and journeys with the album.”
What can we expect from FAVELA once the crisis has passed?
“New music (collaborative and solo), some interactive shows, and some live UK shows. I’m playing a sold-out show at The Grace, London in September, and then in November I’ll play Leeds, Manchester and another London show.”
Commensality is out now. Stream HERE.