Fink onstage in Utrecht, 2011
|Also known as||Fin Greenall|
|Genres||Blues, dub, folk, indie|
|Occupations||Songwriter, Guitarist, Singer, DJ, Music producer|
Fink, aka Fin Greenall, is an English singer, songwriter, guitarist, producer and DJ, born in Cornwall and currently based in Brighton. Since the 2006 release of his album Biscuits for Breakfast, the name Fink has also referred to the recording and touring trio fronted by Greenall himself, completed by Guy Whittaker (bass) and Tim Thornton (drums). Best known for the 2007 song "This is the Thing" and the 2011 album Perfect Darkness, Fink is signed to independent record label Ninja Tune. Greenall's skills as a songwriter has created a demand for his talents among fellow artists. Most recently he has written in collaboration with John Legend, Ximena Sarinana and Professor Green. With Amy Winehouse he co-wrote the song "Half Time", which appears on Winehouse's posthumous collection Lioness: Hidden Treasures.
Greenall was born 1972 in Cornwall, but grew up in Bristol. His mother worked in the field of classical music and his father was a folk musician. Fin can recall "the one thing of his dad’s that Fin Greenall wasn’t allowed to touch was the old Martin acoustic guitar." In an interview, Greenall remembers "It was his one possession where he said, 'everything in this house is owned by everybody – apart from that.'" Their presence had an impact on his future in music. "The great thing about growing up in a house where music is a big factor... was the fact that music being part of your life was a perfectly natural thing." During his teenage years, he accumulated eclectic musical interests, gravitating towards The Cure, The Smiths, The Orb, African music, and Japanese Hardcore before discovering electronic and dance music at Leeds university.
"It was definitely about wanting to be part of a revolution that I could call my own," he recalls. "A couple of friends and I clubbed together our student loans and bought equipment to make ambient techno – we were really inspired by Aphex Twin and The Orb and Moby. We were amazed at how fucking easy it was to make ambient techno. It wasn’t easy to make good ambient techno," he laughs. "But it was easy enough to make techno good enough to get us signed after six months of mucking around at uni."
He earned his degree in History and English at Leeds university and, with student friends, formed the short-lived dance act EVA, who signed to Kikin' Records in 1993. For the remainder of the nineties and much of the early 2000s, Greenall worked in the music industry for various London-based labels, including Virgin's Source. Simultaneously, he pursued a musical career, remixing and producing for various artists, but also as a DJ. He also worked as a club promoter in London.
Fink's serious recording career began with Ninja Tune subsidiary N-Tone's release of his debut single "Fink Funk" in 1997, followed by the album Fresh Produce in 2000, a well received chill-out set that fitted neatly with the output of the label. In the following years, he continued to produce other artists including Martin Taylor (guitarist), Michael Pitt and Robert Belfour. He has recently spoken of his early sessions with Amy Winehouse, saying, "the songs were there, her voice was there, and she was genuinely who she was, and that was obvious even at 17. She was a no compromise, full-on artist. It was just awesome to work with her.”
Towards the mid-2000s, Greenall developed a disillusionment with dance music and being a DJ, and began to turn to more traditional musical avenues. It was this feeling which resulted in 2006's Biscuits for Breakfast, the first album to feature current collaborators Guy Whittaker and Tim Thornton, whom Greenall had been friends with for a few years, but had never yet had the opportunity to work with. Built around his bluesy voice, finger-picking acoustic guitar and the stripped-back live rhythm section, the self-produced Biscuits boasted a fledgling pop sensibility while retaining some of the signature Ninja Tune sonic hallmarks. He became the label's first singer/songwriter. The album, along with single "Pretty Little Thing", helped define his style and began to bring his name to a wider, and higher-profile, audience, notably Zero 7, who invited Fink to support them on their UK tour.
Distance and Time & Sort of Revolution: 2007-2009
During the extensive European and American tours which accompanied Biscuits, Greenall began to write songs for the follow-up album. For this, he collaborated both with his bandmates and third parties, teaming up with Blair MacKichan for the writing of the "This is the Thing", and producer Andy Barlow of Lamb. The eventual album, Distance and Time, was released through Ninja in October 2007, and was immediately recognised as a more robust, band-led affair than its predecessor, with musicOMH stating that "the soft-spoken confessionals of their debut are more accomplished this time, taken to the big city and returned home just as wounded, but more worldy-unwise than their little brothers." The tour following Distance's release took Fink to new territories such as Germany, South Africa and Canada, and also saw the band supporting Italian rock band Negramaro at their climactic San Siro stadium show in Milan.
One of Distance's tracks "If Only" attracted the attention of American singer-songwriter John Legend, with whom Greenall then collaborated on tracks for the United States star's album Evolver. The hit single "Green Light", featuring André 3000, won a BMI Award award for Greenall in 2010. Legend then reciprocated by collaborating on songs for Fink's 2009 album Sort of Revolution. Greenall decided to return to production duties for this set, resulting in a more experimental approach that the BBC's Keira Burgess described as a "sublime study in the art of pleasing yourself without drowning in indulgence". The band Radiohead became a fan of Fink's work at this time, posting the song "Q&A" on their website playlist. A further champion was found in BBC Radio One DJ Gilles Peterson, who commissioned a live session for his late-night show, recorded at the BBC's Maida Vale Studios.
Sort of Revolution's accompanying tour was even more extensive than previous outings, taking the band to China and Australia for the first time. In the latter country, Fink headlined a three-night stand at the Sydney Festival. It was during this trip that Greenall met Professor Green, and the pair decided on a collaboration for Green's upcoming debut album, 2010's Alive Till I'm Dead. The track, "Closing The Door", features a rap from Green, a sung vocal from Greenall and instrumental backing from Thornton and Whittaker. The experience led Green to request a further partnership, this time for his 2011 release At Your Inconvenience, another full-band collaboration on "Spinning Out", a reworking of The Pixies 1987 classic "Where Is My Mind".
On the American trip for the Revolution album, Fink was invited to perform at a tribute concert for R.E.M. at New York City's Carnegie Hall. Greenall performed a solo rendition of "The Apologist" from the United States band's 1998 album Up.
Perfect Darkness: 2011-present
Songwriting sessions for Fink's fifth full-length album began in early 2010. For this album, Greenall's process was very different. Greenall recounted in an interview that "after all the live shows and all the fun we’d had on stage, we jammed first as a band. No vocals, just these massive soundscapes. We did about 30 of them. Then a couple of weeks later, go through them, pick the best bits. 'Perfect Darkness', the song, was one riff, one bass line and one moment of a 20-minute jam." The band travelled to Los Angeles to record the subsequent album with producer Billy Bush, who has worked with artists such as Beck and Garbage.
On March 27, 2011, the track "Perfect Darkness" was made available for free download via the band's website, followed by the album release on June 13. The critical reception the album received was positive, with the United Kingdom Guardian's Caroline Sullivan describing it as a "delight... achieves such loveliness you don't want it to end", and the BBC's Ian Wade calling the set "a writhing, surprisingly meaty addition to the over-crowded singer-songwriter genre."
To support the album, the band took the decision to beef up their stage show considerably, not with additional musicians but with a visual production, designed by 59 Productions, famed for working with Jónsi and on the stage show War Horse. Says Greenall: "They’ve been part of the album big time since the moment we started to write it because we knew that they would be involved with the stage show. They’ve custom engineered the show that doesn’t overpower the music but just kind of embraces you and it emphasises some of the atmospherics in the music." The live show involved a frame to which forty-eight Anglepoise lamps were screwed, and eight gauze visual screens. The subsequent tour took Fink on forty-nine dates in fourteen countries throughout autumn 2011, including London's Union Chapel, where The Times' David Sinclair found the show "a perfect storm of profound, brooding emotion."
In November 2012, Fink played their largest UK headline show to date, at London's Shepherd's Bush Empire.
"Queen's Night" concert with Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, 2012
In October 2011 Fink were approached by the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra of the Netherlands, and Dutch classical music charity Entree, to perform with the orchestra on the traditional Queen's night concert the following year. The concert took place on April 29, 2012 at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, and featured classical pieces chosen by the band, along with exclusive arrangements of 6 songs from across Fink's catalogue, scored by Jules Buckley of the Heritage Orchestra. Also performed was Buckley's arrangement of Henry Purcell's "What Power Art Thou", sung by Greenall. Claudia Cuypers of OOR stated that "the orchestra gives [Fink's] songs a new, unexpected power and lightness... in this hall his songs become complete, even though you'd thought they already were."
The orchestra commissioned a special iPad application for the event, on which worldwide viewers could stream audio and video footage of the concert live, in real time: the first time such an application has been used for this purpose in the Netherlands.
In 2005, Greenall sings the track "Dead Man" on Nitin Sawhney's album Philtre.
In 2006 Greenall, together with musicians Tim Bidwell (Hardkandy) and Elliot Richards (Heels Catch Fire) founded Folklaw Records - an independent record label based in Brighton releasing acoustic and underground artists. The first signing, Nikolas Barrell, was launched in March 2007 with the album The Gin Club.
Fink also continues to operate within the dance music scene under the name Sideshow on Will Saul's Simple Records, with seven releases to his name. An album, Admit One, was released in January 2009.
- Fresh Produce (2000)
- Biscuits for Breakfast (2006)
- Distance and Time (2007)
- Sort of Revolution (2009) – #60 (NL)
- Perfect Darkness (2011) – #32 (NL)
- Wheels Turn Beneath My Feet - live album (2012)
- Fink Meets The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra - live album with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra (2013)
Fink's music has been used in many films and television shows, including:
- "This is the Thing" (from Distance and Time), used in one of Mastercard's Priceless series of television adverts. The song was additionally featured at the conclusion of an episode of Lie to Me ("Every Life is Priceless"), in Season 3 of the television series Friday Night Lights, and in the 2010 movie Dear John. It also features on the Friday Night Lights Vol. 2 soundtrack album. It was also used in an episode of Secret Diary of a Call Girl.
- "Sort of Revolution", used in the 2010 movie 188.8.131.52. This song was also featured at the conclusion of the Stargate Universe Season 2 episode Awakening, and also in the seventh episode "Perfect Record" in the fifth season of Friday Night Lights. The song was used at the end of the The Tomorrow People (U.S. TV series) Season 1 episode Sorry For Your Loss.
- "Yesterday Was Hard On All of Us" (from Perfect Darkness), aired on season 8, episode 2 of House M.D. and also on season 3, episode 6 of Parenthood.
- "Warm Shadow" (from Perfect Darkness) aired on season 1, episode 6 of the series Hit and Miss and on season 3, episode 13 of The Walking Dead.
- "Perfect Darkness" was the theme song for the 2012 independent feature Middle Of Nowhere, and was also aired on the BBC 3 programme Growing Up Poor episode 2, January 2013
- Official site
- Simple Records Sideshow Profile Page
- Fink on My Space
- Tim Bidwells' band
- Elliot Richards' band
- Nikolas Barrell's band
- Fink on The Mag
- SEEN: Download Fink
- Interview (audio) with Fink on R4NT Magazine
- 2 Live videos at Intimepop.com