Introducing Faye Meana, the up-and-coming singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and producer making music that is 'Sweeter Than Heaven'.
Completely DIY in her musical approach, Faye Meana has honed her skills to the point where you’d think she has a whole team behind her. On her luscious new EP, ‘Sweeter Than Heaven’, Meana’s creamy vocals slow dance over self-produced beats as she sings about both the good and bad in relationships. Whether it’s the reflective and questioning “Was It Really Love?”, the disco-tinged “Giving It In”, 80s synth-backed “What You Do” or slow jam “Better Than Her”, Meana’s new project is meticulously crafted and highly polished. Long time listeners will notice a marked departure in sound from her earlier records, which carried more of a bedroom production. But there’s no secret recipe. Meana admits that it’s “just growth” and she’s still very much a one-woman band.
Trained in jazz piano from the age of five, Faye Meana originally had her sights set on a career as a jazz pianist, however, after being introduced to GarageBand as a teen, her eyes opened to a world of possibilities. Releasing her first song on Soundcloud in 2016, over the years, Meana trickled out a handful of jazzy, neo-soul releases, including her ‘Shades Of A Dreamer’ EP in 2019 and the popular single “Patience”, which has racked up more than 730,000 streams on Spotify alone.
A die-hard fan of Motown since childhood, it’s no wonder that you can feel the genre’s influence breathe through Faye Meana’s music. With big dreams for the future, it seems that people are finally wisening up to her many talents. This is Faye Meana’s time.
Tell me about your journey. How did you get to where you are today? Was music always the dream?
I started playing piano when I was five. That was my first intro to music. I was obsessed with playing piano, that was my dream up until the age of 16, to play jazz piano and be a jazz pianist. But I’d always write things on the side, just as a casual thing, even since I was like 9 or 10 or 11. And then when I was 16 I realised I could actually do that as a thing. My dad bought a family Mac when I was 14. There was GarageBand on there and he bought me a MIDI keyboard. I started producing three little songs, obviously, they weren’t good at the time, but I was just dipping my toes in. And then I really started taking it seriously when I was like 16/17. I went to music college – I only went there for one year – and that’s how I started. I released my first song in June on Soundcloud in 2016.
What’s your first memory of being able to sing?
When I was a kid I only used to listen to Motown. Aretha Franklin was my actual hero. I had her CDs and I’d always sing along to her. But then – do you remember Dream Girls? So I was obsessed with that film because obviously, the soundtrack was Motown. My mum bought me the karaoke CD for it. I used to sing it constantly in my room. So that was probably the first time I realised I really enjoyed it.
Nowadays the idea of genre is incredibly blurred, but how would you describe your sound?
I would say it’s kind of neo-soul, R&B inspired, but with a disco, 80s synth twist on it. My music’s always been quite chilled out.
What drives you to create?
A lot of the time, hearing a song that is really, really good. I want to make something that makes me feel like that, but about my own music. A lot of the time, if I’m on the bus or walking home and I hear a good song and it’s the first time hearing it, I’ll go home and work [on music]. Also watching films, like biographical films about people that have had their come up and worked really hard, then I’m gonna go and do my grind. But just life in general, all the feelings that you get from life, all of the emotions you feel, the only way that I let them out is by writing and producing.
Give me a window into your creative process – how do you write a song?
So it does depend but usually, I’ll start producing a track. I start with a drum beat, then I do some chords on the top. As I’m working out the chords, if I find a couple of chords that I like, then I’ve got this melody in my head. So for me, it’s definitely melody before lyrics and a lot of people work the other way around, but for me, it’s 100% melody. As I’m figuring out the melody, I have maybe one or two lines that I keep repeating. I’ll use that for the basis of my song, so whatever the subject is roughly then I’ll use that for the rest of the song. But that’s mostly how I do it. But sometimes I’ll play on the guitar or on the piano, it depends.
So you produce all your own music, right?
Yeah, completely a one-man band.
The set of music you’re releasing now is quite a shift in sound from your previous releases. I can tell you’ve been on quite a journey production-wise. Was this a conscious change or did it just happen naturally?
I think it’s just growth. I could tell that when I was making it, it was so different from the stuff that I’d been doing before. But I hadn’t sat down and had a talk with myself like, ‘right, we’re gonna make this music different’. It was just happening. The songs are very different but I think that they all fit really well together and that was not intentional, either. Every time I’m doing a new project, I can tell that I’ve grown since the last time – even just down to the production, anything that you practice that much, you’re gonna get better at and really just honing in on my sound – whatever that may be.
Your new EP is called ‘Sweeter Than Heaven’. What’s the story behind the title?
It’s a feeling that I had. All the songs have a different message I’m putting across but in general, it’s about how the grass has been greener on the other side for me, which I’ve written like on the cover. I’ve written a little excerpt from my thoughts. I’ve been in such a good place over the last year, even with the whole pandemic going on, creatively, in my relationship, and just in my general life. All of these songs are almost a product of having been in such a good place. So ‘Sweeter Than Heaven’ was fitting because it feels like that.
What messages and themes play into the EP?
There’s a lot of talk of relationships – the good times in relationships, also a little of the bad, but not so much in a negative way, more in a learning kind of way. Talking about it from a less angry perspective and more of a grateful perspective that I’m glad I went through some of the pain and have come out the other side knowing better. That’s the overall theme I’d say.
What do you feel most excited and nervous about when releasing new music?
Do you know what, I don’t actually get nervous about releasing music because the music that I’ve made, I like myself if I’m going to be putting it out. So of course I want people to love the music of course. But it’s like, this is me, I can’t be anything but me, so if people don’t accept it, or like it or enjoy it, then that’s just the way that things work. But I was lucky enough that people did like my music. Before I put my song out, I had no clue what the reaction would be at all. But people just seem to like it because they say it’s a little bit more real – they feel like they can actually relate to the music as opposed to being indifferent. I think for this release, because I haven’t done a proper video yet, so I’m nervous but intrigued about how that will be received.
What are your big dreams for the future?
There’s so many people that I want to work with. I’d hope that from a list of 10 I’d hope to tick off at least five of those. Even just to chat with those people, not even necessarily to work with. I would love to chat with Quincy Jones and talk about his life and how he got to where he is, I think that I would be really cool, but also to just be gigging a lot. Doing bigger shows with my band – I have a five-piece band and we’ve been gigging together for a couple of good couple years now. One of my favourite things is gigging. I do luckily have some gigs coming up, thankfully we’re finally getting back to that. But also just doing some support shows would be really cool for some of my favourite artists.
Who are the artists you’d love to support?
I’d love to support Erykah Badu. But then just people like that are on my same wavelength, not necessarily huge. I feel like people like this, their following’s a little bit more real and very loyal. So Q but also someone like Tyler, The Creator would be cool, GoldLink would be cool. Just something a little bit different.
Manifest it, put it out there! And lastly, where are you happiest?
Okay, so I’d say there are probably three. One would be – this is my studio. I’ve just moved out so it’s not finished – but when I’m in my studio by myself, it’s dark outside and stimulating here, I’m just writing or just playing the piano, playing something classical or playing a jazz piece, that is my most comfortable, happy place. Also, I love anything nature. I really really really love being somewhere with natural beauty like at a mountain peak or at a beautiful lake, I feel really happy there, or on the beach even. And then just at home. I’m kind of a homebody. I love travelling, I love being out but I love coming home to my girlfriend, my dog and just watching some Netflix. That’s such a happy place for me.