We are back at Casa Bertallot this week, an amazing loft located South East of Milan, where dj and radio speaker Alessio Bertallot hosts his radio programs almost at ‘home’: the ambient is familiar and cozy, people are friendly and very relaxed and all artists don’t feel the pressure of the stage. After three beautiful unplugged songs by Fink (Fin with Tim Thornton - drums/guitar), it’s time for a break in the terrace under a very pale sun and here’s where we have a chat with Finn Greenall
Ciao Fin, thanks for the great acoustic session here at Casa Bertallot. You have an impressive CV: singer, guitarist, songwriter, producer and DJ.
We are pleased to welcome you finally back in Italy; how may times have you played in our country?
I don’t know, i think 7/8 times since the early days. One of the very first time i came exactly to meet Alessio at Radio DeeJay (his program was called B-side) and then i remember to be back for the big Negramaro gig in San Siro stadium where we did the opening of their concert. That was crazy, one of the biggest audience we had in our career.
You are a Brit man in Berlin. How long have you been living there?
Yes, indeed. I love my country but the weather makes it so tought to live there, so that’s why i am moving a lot. Previously i’ve lived in Paris and Los Angeles. And now Berlin, since one year. You know, i think that everyone should live abroad for a while because it gives you an extraordinary energy and great personal and professional inspiration.
Right now Berlin is so cool for me, it’s super edgy, alternative like even New York can’t be and it’s a true Mecca for music. I am living right in Mitte area in a big industrial loft: i’m a true hipster, as you can see. And by the way, Berlin suits also my wardrobe, that is totally black (laughs).
Does the city influence your music and style?
It won’t probably influence my style but for sure my personal lifestyle. It’s one of those cities where you don’t plan to stay forever: Berlin is good for two/three years when you can get all the right energy, all vibes, all good people; everyone around me is very creative, coming from every kind of nationality and this stimulates me a lot. For some people it’s not very beautiful but it’s really the people that make it an extraordinary place.
Is Berlin bringing you back to your electronic roots?
Yes, i’ve been recently doing a lot of that; i’ve retired from djing in 2003 and when i moved to Berlin within 3 months i was back djing under another name: it was kind of nice to reconnect and a lot of my friends in Berlin are my ‘old’ friends from my ‘dj period’, so it kind of magic. I haven’t been in a club for over 10 years and then suddenly in Berlin you are back to that kind of thing and it looks natural. My friend and i did a small side project and it’s fun for a while not to be tour on a bus with 11 other people and so easy just bring with your your USB key with you and let the cd players do the work! Can you believe that i ended up playing at 5am at ADE in Amsterdam last october? By the way, I am too old for that, the latest slot i can take is 2am (laughs). You know rock life is so different, you are on stage at 9pm and in bed (on your bus) for midnight! So yes, to answer your question: Berlin took me again into electronic music. I’ve been a couple of times at Berghain and it’s the best club i’ve ever seen, so open minded: a gay club and a straight club in the same building, with no hassle, no bother, no judgement. Apart for the door policy that is brutal: the first time i didn’t get it (laughs).
Tell us more about “Hard Believer”, your new album.
Hard Believer is very much a Los Angeles record, much inclusive. It’s a post-rock album and the bands we like that inspired us are Atoms for Peace and Arcade Fire that are totally post-rock. I don’t want to do anything traditional because every time it happens it looks like a cliché to me; and i’m trying really hard to fight that ‘cliché’ all the time. I wrote my first song in my thirties so my landscape is dictated from who i am, so less easier in a way compared when you are in your twenties and less conscious of everything.
Me and the band all like this album a lot but i think next time i want to do something more urban and i hope Berlin will bring new inspirations.
The song “Yesterday”, a beautiful masterpiece, was chosen for a film called Selma.
Yes, the song is part of the soundtrack of this new movie that speaks about the life of Martin Luther King and it’s not out yet. We did a concert with a big symphony orchestra few years ago in Holland and the director of this film is a good friend of us so he took the orchestra version of the song into the movie. We haven’t seen it yet but apparently is a very sad and touching story where everyone cries. We can’t wait to see it!
An artist that currently is worth a mention?
For me Bruno Mars is an extraordinary talent: so eclectic and – unlike me – he is someone that is able to be both on the commercial and music side and make it work perfectly. I am always just on my music side, i don’t speak about business and don’t care if an album sells well or not: this is something that can ruin the music. But i admire him a lot because he is able to match both sides of the work without making suffer music. Someone else that is very interesting is Ed Sheeran. He is very good in what he does, he just connects to the young crowd like a new Bob Dylan, in a way that i really don’t… he has the X-factor (laughs).
Many say you are at the peak of your creative potential with your latest work: do you feel this way?
I hope not, otherwise my career is finished here (laughs). I am always looking for perfection and the key for me and the band is not to get into the commercial side of it as we are afraid to ruin what we do. Again, we are just on the music side that keep our work, true, original and passionate. Hopefully the best is yet to come.
Fink played at Circolo Magnolia in Milan on Tuesday, January 26th 2015. A Barley Arts Production.
Photos by Fabrizio Consoli – instagram @fabconsoli