About a month ago, I approached Fae and Seffi to discuss two projects that their label Girly Girl Musik was involved in…
(sidenote if you have’t yet caught up with the incredible Siren compilation curated by none other than b l u e s c r e e n…
…or the new Princess Commodore 64 album Death with Benefits…
…you should really do yourself a favour – you will NOT be disappointed, I assure you)
…as a fan of the darker, more discordant side of internet music I have been following their work for a while and was overjoyed to see their work cross over more explicitly into the vaporrealm. I contacted them immediately to discuss the two articles I was planing, and what started off as a business as usual conversation to get all the necessary particulars, soon turned into something so much more. Their ability to play off each other, bouncing stories back and forth between then until they’ve spun the richest of narratives out of the simplest of questions left me with a wealth of material too wonderful to waste.
In many ways, this post is like the DVD extras package to accompany those two articles (which can here found here and here). It traces the evolution of Fae and Seffi as artists in their own rights and recounts the origins of their label. In doing so, this, what you are about to read, tells an epic tale of love in the days of post internet culture.
For those of you who aren’t aware, Fae and Seffi are probably the internet’s most wonderful couple who, despite being separated by an ocean, exhibit the kind of synergy that normally requires decades to develop. In fact, one of the first things I noticed about them was how they always seemed to be able to know where the other one’s mind was leading and speak as a pair who are always telepahthically in kahoots on a level that mere mortals cannot easily comprehend.
So anyway, to start at the beginning…
Fae and Seffi met in a chatroom, the result of a misunderstanding over Seffi’s then-alias, VaporCutie.
“I had actually never so much as heard of Vaporwave until I met Seffi. Seeing this word in her nickname caused me to (wrongly) assume that she was into vaping e-cigs. I vape ecigs, so this is actually what led to me initially trying to speak with her. I asked her about it, and that’s when I learned about Vaporwave.”
But this story doesn’t begin, so much as end with Girly Girl Musik’s entry into vaporwave. The origins of the label are far more personal than subcultural, evolving out out of a moment between the two founders when Fae shared her music with Seffi, music which up until this point had been a well kept secret. Seffi remembers:
“It [Firly Girl Musik] started when I heard Fae’s compositions and loved them, so I spent a couple of month trying to convince her to try and release them because she had a full finished album just laying there. She eventually agreed but only if we released it ourselves.”
That album eventually became known as Transitions, which was written back in 2003, but even with the creation of Girly Girl Musik didn’t see the light of day quite some time later in May 2018. The album, for those who haven’t heard it, sounds simultaneously timeless, borrowing from the 90s hard dance music traditions, and futuristic, pushing the boundaries of what today would be labelled as hardvapour and synthwave.
As Fae explains, the decision to create the label came out of a desire for “a platform for the two of us to have the combined confidence to take, what we felt, was a risk together”. A project which, as well as fulfilling their artistic needs, gave them a way to bond, helping close the gap that time and space had placed between them.
In their own words:
Seffi: And it was nice to have something together when we live so far apart.
Fae: That’s so true. The long distances are so horrifically painful emotionally. Anything that we’re able to do that makes us feel closer together we do without hesitation. As for Girly Girl Musik’s growth, It didn’t really begin growing until we released “Origin of Conflict” which was the very first album the Seffi and I made together — the first Fae & Seffi album. It wound up becoming very well received by the Synthwave community and its dark sound brought several artists to contact us.
Listening to Origin of Conflict the listener is confronted with an experience which is both extremely menacing and filled with fragile beauty. It conjures up a sound that feels caught between two worlds, rooted firmly in a pervasive darkness and anger but, at the same time, drifting helplessly in spite of itself into the ethereal world of vapor, and all within a cyberpunk aesthetic more akin to synthwave than anything else. This, I discovered is a direct result of the unique process which Seffi and Fae employ to produce their collaborative works, a process which Seffi sums up as “trying to find the hidden melodies in her [Fae’s] compositions”. An explanation to which Fae adds:
“She transforms the stuff I compose into something magical. Is it Vaporwave? Sometimes, but not always. It is, however, made in much the same way. She samples particular sections of compositions, slows the pitch on them, sometimes does a bit of remixing and makes other variations (post-production isn’t something I know much of anything about) that cause the resulting Fae & Seffi track to be a much improved version of my original composition.
I think it’s because my mind works very fast. I grew up listening to and consuming Happy Hardcore — and I mean the old pre-2000s cheesy, loved up kids songs on drugs stuff. A lot of my compositions are “too fast to be appreciated”, so Seffi slows them down and finds what she refers to the “hidden melodies” within my tracks. I didn’t even know that there could BE hidden melodies, but she’s right. Many of my compositions sound nothing like their Fae & Seffi counterparts”
A process which, like most of everything to do with Girly Girl Musik, reveals the deeply personal nature of Fae and Seffi’s work – music which is more about connecting their lives and experiences together, intertwining their two beings into creations that become something so much more than the sum of its parts than it is about fitting in to anything anyone else is doing. It is a personal philosophy which the pair take into the running of their label which has a small but solid fanbase that transcends vaporwave, bringing the community together with lovers of dark ambient and witch house. At the heart of it, this eclecticism is about the desire to build a community which Fae describes as:
“We really like the idea of being able to find something for everyone, blurring genre lines, and really just bringing everyone together Both Seffi and myself have dealt with exclusion a lot throughout our lives, so if we can help bring everyone together, I think it would make everyone happier while also leading to innovation and fresh sounds”
It is an approach that has meant that not only the label, but both Fae and Seffi, both separately and together, have been able to explore a range of different musical terrains and reach out across different communities finding success through the strangest of sound experiments. A perfect example of this is the album Sinister which was created by Seffi, almost on a whim:
“I was having a really bad day and i decided to spend my angry energy to make the meanest and most sinister album possible out of some old compositions I had made years ago. I released it the same day on the label and expected it to be completely forgotten but then it ended up gaining a cult following in the witch house genre and it ended up as #10 on Witch Spectra’s list of best albums from 2018. This led us to release two albums by the duo behind Humanphobia, Yaka-anima and Filmy Ghost.”
The result is, in my opinion, the curation of a truly unique label, who’s musical output is unencumbered by preconceived notions of genre and unconcerned with the expectations of any one community of fans. Whilst this may frustrate some genre purists, I think this makes Girly Girl Musik the label we all need. It is a label that reminds us that these weird corners of the internet that we all find ourselves in could, NAY SHOULD, be places where everyone is welcome to express themselves in any way they please and feel welcome… free from the judgement of others wanting them to conform to some arbitrary expectation.
Which, and let’s face it, should really be the point of all of this, now shouldn’t it?
And so… before I get off my soapbox and you click out of here in search of your next thrill. I asked both Fae and Seffi to each select a favourite from their back catalogue to help anyone interested in diving into their back catalogue to find a place to start. As well as to give us fair warning of a new release they have in the works which they think we should all know about.
And here’s what they had to recommend:
Seffi: My choice is Indigo Fairground by Abi Acid. Abi was the first artist who trusted us enough to let us release an album for her.
Fae: My favourite release that we’ve done is actually a very recent one (our most recent for another 3 days) which is “Giant Eyes & Infant Steps” by Whettman Chelmets. It’s actually Girly Girl Musik’s first physical release, and the concept behind it (which I suggested calling “Drone Rock”, although I’m not sure if that’s a current genre or not) is both beautiful sounding and very original. I absolutely love it.
Seffi: Which brings us to our future release. We’re releasing the new EP by Fictional Girlfriend and they allowed us to announce it here in the interview. The EP is called Imbroglio and will be released on February 22nd. I fell completely in love with that EP and had to listen to it six times because of how beautiful and moving it is. One of the tracks even made me cry. I think this is probably Fictional Girlfriend’s best work to date.