Bio"I feel like I'm 21 all over again," says Fink exuding enough wide-eyed enthusiasm to back up his claim. This former purveyor of cool, laidback Ninja Tune beats has done what very few recording artists would dare to do - he has changed. Completely. "I've DJed the world over, remixed for countless acts, and produced inspirational artists (including Martin Taylor, Amy Winehouse, Michael Pitt, and Robert Belfour), but what I've achieved with this album has wiped the hard-drive off anything else! I'm completely consumed by it and nothing else seems relevant."
What Fink has achieved is to have been reincarnated as Ninja Tune's first ever guitar-toting singer-songwriter. Immersed in a very personal labour of love, the brooding Bristol-bred, Brighton-based artist has written, produced and performed a striking, stripped-down symphony of an album. Like a twenty-first century John Martyn, Fink's insistent songs are flushed with bruised basslines and skinny blues licks. And they're exceptional.
"When I was sixteen, music to me was all about the guitar," reveals Fink. "I was obsessed with it - I played the guitar constantly and immersed myself in indie rock. Then…" he shrugs coyly, "I discovered the bright lights and illicit pleasures of raving - and the two just don't mix!" Seduced by house and Acid Jazz, Orbital and The Orb, he made what he now self-deprecatingly calls "a horrible" ambient techno record ("I was part of the make-dance-music-in-your-bedroom revolution of 1990," he says chuckling.) That first record earned him a deal with Ninja Tune Records. Fink was delighted. But he promised himself his guitar playing would be his "private thing - something I would do only when no one was listening." And so it was.
In 2000 Fink released Fresh Produce on Ninja Tune's experimental imprint, Ntone. This much-touted trip-hop-tinged album was packed with funky, dub-driven beats. But following years of DJ gigs around the world, he realised his fling with electronic music had run its course: "I wasn't interested in what I was supposed to be doing anymore. Something was missing. I thought of all the artists that inspire me – Joni Mitchell, John Lee Hooker, James Brown, Jimi Hendrix, John Martyn - all the Js! - and what I love about them. What makes their music unique is that they pour themselves into it. And that's what was missing from my music - ME." This epiphany inspired Fink to go crawling back to his first love – guitar music. "Like a 16 year-old, I went to every gig I could get a ticket for," he says. "From grown-up gigs like Sting and Coldplay to thrash metal like System Of A Down or the Yeah Yeah Yeahs playing in some shitty indie hole. I wanted to suck it all in, absorb it all. I devoured music. And it made me want to play Barflys so that I could be a part of it in some way."
With the quasi-masochistic verve of an adrenalin junkie, Fink began creating an album that would turn him inside out. Armed with his trusty six-string, Fink wrote and sung the album’s first single ‘Pretty Little Thing’ in his home studio over a weekend. Desperate for an honest opinion, Fink took his completed song to Ninja and lied: "I told them I'd used an unknown guest vocalist from the States. I said ‘…he's really young, really hot, blah, blah, blah - what do you think?’ " It was only after Ninja commissioned an album's worth of material that the newly-born singer-songwriter admitted it was all his own work.
The resulting album, Biscuits For Breakfast, is everything Fink hoped it would be: a collection of intriguingly personal, folk-inflected, acoustic soul songs that are essentially and intrinsically him. And aside from a guest appearance from Tina Grace on the lush ‘Hush Now’, they are all tales told in Fink's own voice. "These songs are VERY real," confirms Fink earnestly. "They are very much about my life. Every song has a mental image attached to it and every time I sing those songs I'm taken right back there, feeling those emotions again."
But don't take his word for it - listen to the record and you'll soon hear that Fink's tales are undeniably intense, intimate affairs. From the lust-stoked ode of ‘Pretty Little Thing’ to the brutal disappointment of ‘Pills In My Pocket’, and the wry disillusionment of the album's title track, to the crushing heart-ache of ‘Kamlyn’, the singer's bare emotions parade themselves in his revealing lyrics and the aching swoon of his raw soul voice.
"This is my learning curve published," he says with equal parts trepidation and pride. "I've written all of the songs on the album - I've given everything to this. It could have gone horribly wrong: I could have fucked up my record deal, ruined this private musical thing - my love life's already a disaster - but I could have wrecked EVERYTHING! It was a gamble but I'm really chuffed that I've done it."
"There's a fine line between arrogance and confidence," he continues. "But there's enough on this record for me to think, ‘these songs really aren't bad.’ " He fixes his gaze, but instantly his face creases into a grin as he slips back into the vernacular of his old dance music days. "Actually, I think they're wicked!"