Interview: Foals – “Laneway Festival is a must-go!”Posted December 15th, 2010 At 11:58 am By MTV ASIA
Text and interview: Jonathan Fong
It is 11am in the U.K. and Yannis Philippakis has just gotten up. Starting his day with breakfast and a phone interview with MTV Asia, the frontman of Foals sounds upbeat and recharged with the current break that the band is currently on, having just completed a tour back home in the U.K. in November.
Clearly, 2010 has been a good year for Foals. Their second full length recording, Total Life Forever, charted at No. 8 in U.K. and was nominated for the Mercury Prize. Yannis describes 2010 as “amazing” for the band and mentions their five-and-a-half week tour of the U.S. as being a very memorable highlight in promoting and performing the album.
“(Being nominated for the Mercury Prize) is a big honor. On one hand, it makes it feel worthwhile with the recognition for our efforts in making the album. But at the same time, it felt like a nervous breakdown! Fortunately we gave a good performance at the (Mercury Prize) event and enjoyed ourselves,” says Yannis.
Other than receiving good reviews, Total Life Forever also made it to a lot of year-end Top 10 lists. However, the frontman remains humble with all the accolades. “It’s nice and validating to hear good reviews (of the album) but I don’t really think much of the need to compile lists and rank music. Music isn’t a blood sport, it isn’t a rugby league. I think the need to compile lists and rank things is born out of the fact that people are generally…neurotic.”
Neurotic or not, it’s evident that Foals do make some quality music. “The Orient,” an outstanding track from Total Life Forever, is a perfect example. Inspired by the Greek mythology of Icarus, the song describes feelings of love, yearning and being in relationship. Lyrically, there’s this evoking line – “this Western feeling” – that epitomizes the song. So, what is it about “this Western feeling” that Yannis is singing about?
“It’s basically the feeling of flying towards the sun, eclipsing the sun and having your wings melted. As a result, you start falling, plunging towards the sea, towards death,” explains Yannis. “It’s that feeling of falling, which, somehow, you find yourself enjoying very much, in an almost perverse manner.”
For someone who comes across as a very polite and deep thinker, it’s not surprising that Yannis says he really enjoys writing music because its “almost like creating magic on your own,” something he’s done on his own since he was a wee teenager. He also isn’t fond of touring too extensively, preferring instead to “stay in one place for some time if possible.”
Not that he isn’t excited about excited about coming to Singapore for Laneway Festival in January. While he admits he’s not a regular festival punter, Yannis says that if he were to pay to attend a festival, Laneway would be a must go for him.
His voice perks up when asked which bands he’s excited to see on this year’s lineup but cautiously mulls on the question at the same time. Eventually, Yannis names Beach House (” I think they have one of the best albums of the year”), Yeasayer, !!! (Chk Chk Chk), and Holy F@#k as his Top 4 personal must-see bands on the bill.
Having never been to Singapore before, Yannis says he’ll probably arm himself with a copy of the Lonely Planet guidebook and a camera when he gets here and set off to wander about on his own for an explorative adventure. “Unless,” the frontman adds, “Anyone would be so kind to take me around.”