Fazerdaze, who? A question most would certainly ask, as I did when hearing the concert announcement.
Fazerdaze may be far from a household name, none-the-less firing on all cylinders with a musically tight performance in Manila at the 20:20 Bar last Saturday night. Certainly, a quick background check may be in order here.
Amelia Murray, the singer/songwriter hailing from New Zealand at 24 years of age is Fazerdaze. Although Murray tours with a three-piece band, the recorded music is basically all her, skillfully performing on all instruments. An impressive combination of tender vocal arrangements, soothing guitar riffs, pleasing synth programming and a lyrical sensibility that lays it all on the line. At a young age, Murray’s parents enrolled her into piano lessons, as many parents will do. Consequently, she lost interest rather quickly, as most kids will do, moving on to explore other things. As fate would have it, entering her teen years she was inspired to pick up a guitar and she has run with it from there.
Fortuitously, Murray attended a New Zealand high school that is well-known for its inspirational music program which introduced the art to her on various fronts. In high school and college, she participated in numerous attempts to establish a band, but none of them panned out so she decided to go solo. Fazerdaze has been steadily gaining exposure on the international stage, opening for acts like Explosions in the Sky, Frankie Cosmos, and Unknown Mortal Orchestra or attending the Red Bull Music Academy in Montreal and taking the main stage at the Laneway Festival in Auckland. Currently promoting her latest EP, Morningside, headlining a seven-city Southeast Asia tour coming off shows in Japan, then heading out to Hong Kong.
Following the trend in today’s music scene, essentially one person sitting at home on a DIY path of creating music. You can picture the tangle of wires and guitar pedals scattered about her bedroom winding their way to a laptop. With access to today’s electronic gadgets, you can literally produce a song of professional quality right from your home. Not unlike the garage bands of yesteryear, Bedroom Pop music provides the same grassroots efforts of young musicians on a tight budget, yet an abundance of creativity.
Combining words to describe the music of Fazerdaze is somewhat of a challenge, one of those artists where you really must listen to in order to fully grasp. As the bedroom name implies, her music is a combination of soothing melodies with an inviting aesthetic, with dripping sweet vocal tracks that would attract honeybees. The lyrics convey thoughts and feelings like something you may read out of a private journal, speaking of worry or anxiety while confronting life hurdles. Music that people can relate to.
A sort of dreamy lo-fi sound which Murray creates that’ll get a statue swaying to the subdued rhythm. My favorite of the night was “Lucky Girl”, an upbeat number with a catchy hook and a straight up guitar fuzz echoing throughout the venue, which had the whole place rocking to the beat. The crowd paid attention for the most part, other than a few guests who had bellied up to the bar in the back of the room that was quite loud, at times even being politely hushed from fans close by. The stage lighting was far from desirable, non-existent really but the people in attendance weren’t here to see the lighting. There were a couple of opening acts, Outerhope and local favorites Taken by Cars, both did well, warming up the crowd in fine fashion. The venue itself is relatively small but what the audience lacked in numbers they certainly made up for in enthusiasm. It was instantly clear with the first notes of Murray’s airy vocals that the excitement meter in the room spiked.
The touring version of Fazerdaze includes three other musicians with Guy Cowan on bass, Ben Tindall on guitar and keys with Oliver O’Lough on drums. Murray exudes a warm and humble presence at the mic stand, front and center on guitar with a setlist that flowed effortlessly, not much banter in-between songs. Obviously, taken aback on numerous occasions by the hospitable welcome of tonight’s audience, surprised at one point that everyone in the house actually knew all the words, Amelia addressed them with a smile from ear to ear, “Thank you, you guys are really good at singing.”
Crafting some impressive stuff here, I’m curious to see what the future holds for Fazerdaze. A refreshing sound with a youthful angst, yet carrying a message of hope, that all is not lost by any means, no matter the obstacles. Rather charming from a live performance standpoint, wearing her heart on her sleeve and the audience responding in kind. At first glance, the music may be perceived as effortless dream pop, with a bit of investigation is actually far deeper than what appears on the surface. Keep an eye out for this name, the potential for greatness here is far from marginal.