Singer, songwriter and producer Fazerdaze - otherwise known as Amelia Murray - has been a touchstone figure in the musical landscape of Aotearoa, New Zealand, for nearly a decade now, her output an intricate combination of both deeply personal and widely relatable.
This autumn she returned to share new single ‘Bigger’ - a synth-laden, alt-rock offering that examines the pressures of international touring on the human psyche and interpersonal relationships. Candidly explaining more about the new cut, Amelia has said that she’s “often felt that ambition and being in the public eye can be a point of tension in my romantic relationships. I think this song is me trying to explore and overcome that with someone I cared about. For the production, I was exploring writing an anti-chorus. The synths do all the work and the vocal melody drops into a talk. I wanted to experiment with strange bendy synths and lean into a cinematic night time world.”
‘Bigger’ is an initial teaser of Amelia’s next era (more on that below!), and landed just ahead of her current UK and European tour, which kicked off last week in Paris. Before she hit the road again, we caught up with her with dig a bit deeper into the themes and context of her new material.
You’ve recently released your new single ‘Bigger’, which explores undergoing growth as an adult. In what ways do you feel you’ve changed since the start of your career?
I think the biggest shift has been going from this feeling of chasing my career and needing external validation to now just embodying and being Fazerdaze. I feel a lot less worried about what people think, and I have more faith in the process of creating and performing. I also don’t feel this desperation to ‘make it’, I know I’m a boss and I just love what I do. I’m also a lot kinder to myself now - my internal dialogue is much more of a friend to me these days.
Do you think of each project as a new ‘era’ of Fazerdaze? In your mind, what’s the throughline from your debut EP to now?
Yes, I definitely see each body of work as an era. 'Fazerdaze' EP (2014) was the era of me trying to create something from scratch for the first time ever. That’s why it was self-titled - I didn’t know what it was at the time. 'Morningside' (2017) was an era of falling in love but questioning if I was loveable back. There is so much doubt, uncertainty, and insecurity on that record. Then 'Break!' (2022) was me after literally having a mental breakdown, leaving Morningside (the suburb), and abolishing societal constructs of “womanhood”.
'Break!' is all about deconditioning my brain, unlearning, and starting again. I had a lot of repressed rage in that era and needed to let everything in my life unravel. I am excited to move into this next era, starting with ‘Bigger’. I won’t give it all away as there is more to come, so I’ll let it speak for itself. Each body of work is reflective of where I’m at on my human journey!
‘Bigger’ also touches on the pressures of international touring. How do you go about reconciling your career and the travelling it entails with your life in New Zealand? How does the experience of playing at home compare with international shows?
I struggle leading up to tours, honestly. I get mad anxiety at the idea of being so far away from my home and routine. But conversely, once I am in the swing of an international tour, I feel myself finding a flow and stepping into bigger shoes on stage. I think playing shows back at home is more comfortable initially, but there are often so many people I know in the audience that I can be a bit afraid to fail or try something new.
“Through that dark period, I found out how important female friendships are to me.”
Your last EP, ‘Break!’, also came after a period of intense personal and social upheaval. Do you have any particular tactics for grounding yourself amid turbulent times?
Exercise and nature are it for me. As soon as I get outside for a run or a bike ride or a surf, I’m good. I also do yoga most days. Through that dark period, I found out how important female friendships are to me, and how uncomplicated they were for me compared to other relationships. So basically staying in touch with my girls, exchanging voice notes, and encouraging each other helps me laugh and ground and feel okay.
Tell us a bit more about how you approach production in your music, and how this feeds into the storytelling - in ‘Bigger’, for example, you’ve spoken about deliberately crafting an ‘anti-chorus’.
When I started Fazerdaze, it was just me in my bedroom with my guitar. That is pretty much still it, though I have developed my process tenfold since then. I involve people more now whilst still staying in the driver's seat. It has been a significant journey learning how to include other people, it took me a while to realise I could work with people and not have to hand over the control.
Now, I walk into a studio without a producer and work directly with the engineers and session musicians myself. So yeah, I self-produce and still do the majority of it at home. The parts I can’t do at home, like live drums or recording a plate reverb, I do in studio. I work with my friend Emily Wheatcroft-Snape who is an incredibly talented studio engineer based in Auckland. I feel really safe and empowered working with her.
‘Bigger’ was an interesting track to write and produce, because for ages I was trying to write a chorus melody that topped the siren synth line in the chorus, and nothing was working so I thought; why don’t I do something that is the antithesis of a chorus melody? And I thought talking down low would be cool, just let the synths do all the work. Gareth Thomas and Buzz Moller helped me finesse my many ideas into a well-structured, complete song.
How would you describe your music to someone that’s never come across Fazerdaze before?
When I started Fazerdaze, the description I wrote in my bio was “girl in bedroom on guitar”. I still resonate with that as the essence of my project.
Fazerdaze will play London's Shacklewell Arms on 11th November as part of Pitchfork Music Festival London.