When his sultry, downbeat cover of Blackstreet's No Diggity exploded across the blogosphere last year, bearded mystery man CHET FAKER (real name Nick Murphy) was astounded. “I actually didn't take it as well as I would've liked. It stressed me out, because I didn't see it coming and didn't quite feel ready to back it up,” says Murphy. "Because it's not my song, I didn't identify with it that much. It was getting played on the radio and things like that. I was excited by it but what I really wanted to do was get my own songs out. I wanted to prove to people that I could write my own music and not just ride off a cover. So as soon as it blew up I started working on the EP.”
Released early this month, Thinking in Textures features five originals as well as No Diggity, which the singer concedes has become “somewhat of a calling card.” To launch the EP, he's playing a few capital city shows around Australia. He's managed to sell out three shows in Melbourne alone – not bad, considering he's never played there as Chet Faker before. Ironically, given his concerns about No Diggity being a cover, Murphy had adopted his successful new persona as a way of asserting his identity.
He started out playing gigs under his real name, but swiftly discovered that there was another Australian muso called Nick Murphy. This proved problematic: “I think last time I played under my real name, I had a bunch of people turn up thinking I was the other Nick Murphy! So a pseudonym seemed the best option. I started thinking about what artists and influences I wanted to pay homage to and Chet Baker was one in particular I was a fan of.
“He was a jazz musician back in the day and had a very gravelly, broken-sounding voice. It was by no means a full or polished voice but he embraced those flaws. It was so unique and so himself that it made the music more personal because you recognised the person behind it. That was relevant for me, because for years I saw flaws in my own voice and didn't like how it sounded. This is the first time I was like, ‘You know what? My voice sounds the way it does’. If Chet Baker can sing with one of the dodgiest voices around, then I’m going to reference that.
“I've had a lot of questions about the name, whether or not it was used to create some kind of persona. But it's more just an alternative. And now I definitely feel like it's me. I write and record and perform all the songs by myself. They’re all written about personal experiences. Chet Faker has become a kind of second name to me. And it's quickly becoming my first name!”
Chet Faker’s Thinking in Textures tour touches down in Melbourne and Sydney with all shows sold out. You can stream the EP free on his website, www.chetfaker.com .