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An Interview with Faerie

Words by Melody J Myers
Photos by Ciara Nicdao
Photo by Ciara Nicdao

Following the release of her first single “k-town,” New York based singer/songwriter Christine Lam aka Faerie just presented listeners with her second single “showgirl,” inspired by vintage Vegas noir and the perspective of a recovering people-pleaser. Most recently, she shared another brand new track entitled "Champagne Tears." Known for her dreamy aesthetic and vulnerable lyrics, Faerie's music will make you feel like you are part of the best movie you’ve ever seen, but also get you completely in your feelings. Influenced by an array of musicians from Lana Del Rey to Harry Styles, Faerie has a distinctive sound that is purely hers, and only hers.



We recently had the opportunity to chat with Faerie about her recent releases, and what's coming up for her this year.

 

Hi Christine! Thanks so much for answering my questions, how are you?


Hi, Melody! First off, thank you for inviting me to chat with you at Penny! I’m doing well! Just took time to do some self-care after working on music and I feel great.


You’ve recently released your newest track “showgirl” can you tell us more about the track? What was the inspiration behind it?


Yes, I did! The inspiration came from my experience being a recovering people pleaser and where that has led me in terms of (personal and professional) relationships. I hate the feeling of someone hating me. I tend to automatically nod my head just to agree, I avoid confrontation and conflict as much as possible, and I apologize way too often for just being myself. It’s taken me 25 years to learn that it’s okay to say “no” sometimes, too. Because it’s only taken me until now to realize this is not healthy, I’ve often been taken advantage of and it’s messed up my mental health. I’m automatically programmed to blame myself when something goes wrong.


In “showgirl,” I created a storyline between two lovers with the narrator being a people pleaser and telling listeners about that experience. I really wanted that cinematic, knife-in-the-heart feeling to be expressed because that’s how I felt every time I realized I was in a toxic relationship. It’s also a cry for help asking, “Why do I always attract these kinds of relationships?” Not gonna lie. There was a time when I was in a deep hole asking myself this question because I had lost who I was as an individual since I cared too much about what other people thought about me. Like my other songs, this was very therapeutic to write and record.


When creating “showgirl” were there any similarities in the creation and writing process with “k-town”?


I would say there are more similarities! I worked with producer Matty Bedrosian (aka Yummm) for both “k-town” and “showgirl.” At this point, we had worked with each other for almost a year (“showgirl” was our fourth song together) and both knew how our creative process works. For “showgirl,” it started with me writing completely different lyrics but with the same concept. I had just had a conversation with someone in the music industry, who I thought I could trust, that took such a misogynistic turn. I was ranting through lyrics afterward because I was so upset and hurt. I didn’t look back at it for months. But when it was time to submit a new song for Matty to work on (March 2022), I turned back to it, revisited that feeling of anger and confusion, and started brainstorming new lyrics. I ended up recording this demo of just me singing with my guitar and sending it. Matty did his magic and we went back and forth on chord progressions, vocal melodies, and production notes until it felt just right. My favorite part has to be the bridge of course! Ugh, I am obsessed with how it sounds. I worked with Matty, Bob Li (mixing engineer), and Gabi Grella (mastering engineer) to get it as overdramatic as we could! I’m so happy with it. Then I went to Paige Duché, who did the visualizer/lyric video for “k-town,” to create a lyric video for “showgirl.” She totally went above and beyond and captured the colors and visuals that represented the song so, so well!


Your music has such a dream esque vibe that it almost feels like it’s coming out of a movie. How do you go about grasping that and cultivating it into your sound?


Thank you so much! That’s honestly the goal for all my music, haha! I love adding drama to my music and I feel like you can hear that in “showgirl.” When I first started writing music, I always wanted to write songs that sound like they could be in a montage of an indie movie. I still feel like that’s the goal! I used to love writing fictional stories when I was younger and I practiced creative writing in college for a bit. Everything I write, including lyrics, plays like a movie in my head. I envision the characters, the clothes they’re wearing, what they smell like, what they’re feeling, and combine it with my personal experiences.


I love that you mention “dream-esque” because I have very vivid dreams and I always can recall specific details. I sorta want my music to feel as if you’re peeking into someone’s dreams. And you know when you finish watching a movie and you kind of feel so connected to the main character that you start feeling what they’re feeling? Yeah, that’s how I feel listening to music sometimes and I try to cultivate that exact feeling into my sound as much as possible to really make you feel like you’re there.


“showgirl” is about the reminiscing of vintage Vegas noir and a recovering people pleaser, how did you go about putting these two ideas together?


My family moved close to Las Vegas, so I visited a good amount of times. Something about the atmosphere was so inspiring. Maybe it was just nice to see something different from NYC, but I immediately thought Vegas would be a cool setting. I was also inspired by the aesthetic of classic film noir and thought it would be perfect to combine the two ideas and incorporate them into the vocal melodies, the lyrics itself, and the overall sound of the song. One of my favorite ideas that eventually made it into the song was adding an organ. Sorta reminds me of the whole atmosphere of The Phantom of the Opera. So lots of old movie inspirations as well as the combination of my experiences in the present day.


The subjects of your lyrics are always so relatable, but also have a sense of vulnerability to them. How do you go about keeping the truthfulness in your lyrics?


I try to be honest about my struggles and mental health in my music. Sure, there are some fictional aspects, like the fact that I wasn’t actually in Vegas involved in a toxic relationship, but I try to keep that raw emotion in there. Songwriting is my gateway to expressing those late-night deep thoughts I would never tell anyone in a normal conversation. Those times, I feel, are the most vulnerable. I’m hoping by writing about those haunting moments I have, someone else will listen and realize they’re not alone.


Who were your musical inspirations for “showgirl”?

Oh, Lana Del Rey for sure. The whole old Hollywood glamor aesthetic and her cinematic songwriting really inspired me. I circled back to Arctic Monkeys, St. Vincent, Alice Phoebe Lou, The Beatles, and Harry Styles a lot, too.


When creating “showgirl” how did you go about creating the music for it?


FAERIE: I felt like “showgirl” needed three things: drama, vintage effects, and a killer bridge section. Matty understood that immediately after I sent a demo and created this cool yet simple backing track of just an electric keyboard and percussion to continue writing to. I remember mentioning the song “The Frog Prince” by Keane because I loved the dynamics of that song (I used to listen to it a lot in middle school to get in my feels). We then worked on the lyrics, structure, and nailing those build-ups. I actually recorded all the vocals first before Matty really got in and started adding that extra spice to the song. The bridge was the last thing we worked on because we really wanted to perfect that overall. It’s so interesting listening to all the old demos/voice memos and the final product. Maybe I’ll share it one day! The process of creating the music for “showgirl” was definitely collaborative though.


MATTY: “showgirl” always had a sultry, burlesque energy - thanks to the lyrical content. We tinkered around with that as our driving inspiration, but the identity of the song wasn’t solidified until we added “Hollywood crime scene” as a reference. That’s when the bridge came together, and the overall mood shifted to become more intriguing and intoxicating. The tempo of the song contributes to a cinematic, almost sludgy feeling that I love to sink into, and aimed to emphasize with the understated, but decisively rocky instrumentation.


You have such a unique sound, and it’s always different from each track you release! How do you always keep it different and not make it sound the same?


I love having a common theme that kind of strings things together, which I guess in this case would be healing from past traumatic experiences (fun, fun). In terms of sound, I try to experiment as much as I can at this stage of my career. I guess that’s why you can kind of hear a bit of a difference between the sound of “k-town” and “showgirl.” It’s based on whatever mood I’m feeling at the moment, whether it's a road trip-type song or something a bit more melodramatic.


When writing music, what would you say is your main inspiration?


My main inspirations would be significant life experiences (ie: reading old journal entries), whatever state my mental health is in (lol), and just watching videos of artists performing live or explaining their creative process. When I’m stuck or doubting my work, I always turn to those 3 things for some spark.


You’ve done so much in music, and accomplished so much. Is there anything else you’d love to do in your music career that you haven’t done yet?


That’s so, so sweet. Thank you! There’s so much that I’d love to do. I want to improve my craft, especially when it comes to performing live. I used to do it a lot when I took voice lessons and when I was in choir/ensemble in college, but that was years ago. I’d love to keep practicing guitar and piano for sure. The main thing I really want to do is set up more local, small concerts!


You are also Asian American, (which is so exciting because so am I!), how has that impacted you as a musician? Has it inspired your craft in any form?


That’s awesome! To be honest, I can go on and on about how I grew up thinking an Asian American girl like me would never be able to work in music. First, because my family expected me to work in the medical field, and second because the music industry is dominated by white males. That really took me down. But in some ways, I feel like that also pushed me to actually do the damn thing and prove to everyone that I belong here! How our cultures view mental health as a whole kind of inspired me as well because I’m on a journey to breaking that stigma. When I meet another Asian American in the creative field, we instantly understand each other when it comes to mental health and career obstacles. I had a conversation on a podcast called Dear Asian Girls back in April 2021 about a similar topic!


Between “showgirl” and “ k-town” , which one was your favorite to write and create?


Hm, that’s a tough question because so much love and thought went into those two tracks. I would say that “k-town” was a song I’ve always wanted to write and it’s been on my mind for the longest time, but I didn’t know how to execute it until Matty and Christian Young (aka ImTrying, co-writer) came along. I never felt more satisfied sitting down and reading back the lyrics we all wrote together. For “showgirl,” it was interesting because it was satisfying to complete sonically (ie: the vocal melodies, harmonies, production, dynamics). Aesthetically, it was something I always wanted to try. This vintage sound was so fun to listen back to and the process of building harmonic structures within the song was super cool! Loved working on that with Matty.


Last question, what other exciting things can we expect from you?


More music for sure! I’m planning on releasing an EP this year. Crazy to think about! I’ve been hiding new music for the longest time. Only a few close friends and colleagues know what’s coming, hehe.


Photo by Ciara Nicdao


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