The Faim’s show was originally supposed to be at The Underworld but due to demand it was upgraded and moved to The Garage. Josh’s heartfelt performances and engagement with the audience was incredible and very raw. I was lucky enough to chat with Josh and Stevie before their massive London show in February 2019. We spoke about mental health, how they make music, their adoring fans and much more!
Josh Raven and Stevie Beerkens were acquaintances in high school and slowly became the best of friends they are now “I mean we didn’t know each other that well, we played a performance together” Josh said “I think we played Hallelujah at the interschool dance in between the dance acts” Stevie adds. When asked if they always wanted to be in a band Josh told me they never planned for it to happen, “Now that I really think about it, it kinda like just came together. We didn’t think like “hey, we really wanna start a band just to get go!” We love playing music together. It kind of happened from there. I remember our first song was called ‘Intoxicated’, that will never see the light of day. It was awful! If you heard it you’ll know why! We played it at school in year 12 with our teachers, oh it was just awful”.
“Really, recently it’s been ‘fly me to the moon’ by Frank Sinatra, that song just puts me in a good mood, I don’t know why!” Josh tells me when I asked what song gets them through an emotion or whatever mood they’re in. “‘Nerve’ by Don Broco, it’s like all my moods wrapped up into one.“ Stevie adds.
Josh has had a hard time trying to express his emotions a young child, he hardly spoke to people, even his confidence to sing in front of people was close to non existence, he struggled to find his identity and who he wanted to be. “I ended up finding myself through music really. I remember the first performance was this musical theatre thing I did with my primary school teacher Miss Kay, who was a huge inspiration because she really encouraged me to get outside of my shell and I remember the first song was a cover of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, I was dressed as King Tutankhamen.” Stevie then tells me about how he started playing piano and that it goes down in his ancestry, both his father and grandfather played the piano and organ, he also talks very fondly about his grandfather always coming over and getting him to write the chords on his music sheet. “Just growing up piano from the start and I just like music in general, it’s always been a huge part of my life and it’s been the way I express myself. I can just sit down and get lost in instruments for hours and hours on end and then you sort of just snap out of it and all of sudden you realise you started 2 in the afternoon and now it’s 8pm, and I’m like “I just spend 6 hours on the piano playing, I don’t even know how that happened”.”
Josh telling me what their song writing process is like, “Well we tend to like really sit down and talk about it, you know what’s going on in our lives or what’s going on in the world or something we are passionate about, just things we really wanna put out there. We want people to hear and people to know about us. That’s the biggest thing for us, the concept is a huge part when it comes to our songs, obviously everything comes to into play but for us we really want something that means something to us for the rest of our lives, because at the end of the day- once you put a song out there, it’s there forever. So if it doesn’t mean something to you and every part of your being, when you’re playing that song 40 to 60 years time, it may not have the same emotion or content behind it and that’s something we always keep true to ourselves about. We tend to talk, we’re all very honest with each other, and we’re very open people. We also write acoustically as well, we strip everything back- we like it to be naked of its production, with acoustic guitar and Stevie shredding on the piano as always and then we go from there.” The bands new single ‘Fire’ is about pursing your dreams and passions, they wrote it back at home coming off their first tour. Stevie tells me “It literally takes up every moment of your day because nothing great comes easy, so it deserves all of the time you put into it. Fire is about almost the repercussions of that like the things that you stop thinking about, the relationships that you start missing out on and what you give up to pursue this dream of ours.” Josh adds, “Yeah, it tends to become an addiction, like when you really become consumed so physically and mentally, that somewhat becomes your own personal therapy. It’s easy to kind of forget about everything else by getting kinda lost in it.”
Working with different producers and songwriters for The Faim has always been a different experience from each person they work with, I asked who was their favourite to which they replied back with not having a favourite. “We always learn something unique every single time we come into the studio with producers, songwriters, or whoever it is really. We apply that to every song writing process after that. Just like us they have a different background, they’ve had a different journey and everything that they’ve learned is so unique to them and we try and tap into that to have this perfect collaboration, where we can find the perfect song and expression for it. So, every single session that we sit in is always another learning process and always something unique that we can learn from it or a unique song or sound that comes out of it.”
Josh was very open to talking about mental health and is an advocate for people who speak out about it, “It’s pivotal, I feel like a lot of people are afraid of it, especially because young kids these days grow up so quickly, like when we were younger we didn’t have iPads or stuff like that at our finger tips- now kids are exposed to a lot of things at a very young age, whether it be very positive or very negative.” He adds “I feel like kids emotionally kind of sometimes don’t know how to handle those things whether they’re seeing violence, racism, sexism on the other side of the world or they’re seeing these crazily positive things that are happening. Sometimes a kid just needs to be a kid and live in the moment and live in the life they’re living instead of living in a screen or living in a world they can’t touch or really become one with. I feel like it’s really important for artists to acknowledge that and on top of that there’s no difference between me, Stephen, Sam, Linden or anyone else, we’re all human beings just like any body else. That’s easy to forget, and I feel like not enough artists in that sense, in their position really acknowledge that enough. Kids really look up to you and idolise you but what they need to remember is that everything that we do, everything that’s happened in a short time on this earth really is possible and anyone can do it, I feel like that important as a responsibility as artists to really put out to the world.” Josh tends to show a very open, honest, exciting and uplifting side of him to the world but he also tells me that there’s another side to him that a lot of people don’t know about “there’s a side to me that is quite dark, anxious, insecure. I tend to forget to focus on myself and become consumed with what goes on in the worlds of others more than my own.”
As many people struggle to get into the music industry, I asked the boys what’s their top tip advice to get past those barriers, to which Stevie replied back and said “As musician wise, I’d say be true to yourself. If you’re doing something that’s isn’t true to you, it’s not going to be lasting happiness, you’ve gotta be absolutely stoked on what you’re doing. You’ve gotta do something that makes you happy and you need to believe in yourself. If you don’t believe in yourself then no one else will, you’ve got to be the first and last person to back yourself up.” Josh adds “We believe in each other too, like this journey would be possible without every single one of us here, that’s just the reality. Be it Rob, who works behind the scenes and everyone else who helps along the way. At the end of the day, it’s always a team effort, but don’t get me wrong the individual passion side of it- is pivotal.”
The band’s daily rituals are quoting School Of Rock, something they have gotten in the habit of doing all the time they tell me, “It’s just one of those movies when we were young, it kind of just gave us this energy and inspired us. It was this positive, happy and just silly- it was almost ridiculous to the fact that “You know what, it’s ridiculous, pursuing this dream can be ridiculous, pursuing any dream of being creative or whatever can be ridiculous.’” That’s the beauty of it, the exciting part of living such an unpredictable life. I feel like that’s why we pretty much quote school of rock every single day, like before the show we do the “let’s rock, let’s rock today!” as a pre warm-up chant and other things.”
Josh tells me he loves his fake leather jacket when asked what’s one piece of clothing they can’t live without on tour. “I like the fact that with age, it tends to wear and tear quite a lot but it feels like it adds that vintage look to it as well. At the end of the day I feel like one thing we all have really like come one with on tour, we are all fashion orientated but socks and underwear have been the biggest part of our world and if you don’t have those comfortable things, you’re gonna be lost really!”
“Oh hands down Don bronco, they’re killing it. They’re one of our favourite UK bands as well as artist wise Yung Blud is absolutely crushing it right now, we’re loving his new single and all the work he’s done.” Both Josh and Stevie telling me who they are loving in the UK music scene at the moment.
When asked what mottos they live by, I was told two different sayings by both band members. “There’s something my mum taught me” Josh tells me ”when I was really young that’s just stuck with me and it’s: “You can’t control how the world reacts to you but you can control your reaction to it.” So I think in that sense it’s like if you strip everything back- a positive and negative reaction is actually completely within your control.” Stevie also adds “I don’t know if it’s necessary but “you doing you, being yourself.” That’s something that I’ve sort of embraced in the last year or so. And I think it’s a really healthy thing for people just to embrace who they are and whatever that means in any way shape or form. You shouldn’t be afraid of it.”
Josh tells me he feels a woman holds a powerful position in the music industry. Whether it be artists, A&R, directors, songwriters, designers, bands or the press and so on, he believes the bridge of acknowledging the achievements of any gender in this industry is improving. “In my own career I’ve had the pleasure of working with and learning from many women, in a variety of aspects in the industry. At the core of it all, the decision of involving someone in your project should be based around their own talent and passion not gender.”
“I’ve always been obsessed with the blind passion in their vision. They pushed boundaries and challenged the modern way of thinking in the face of critics and judgment.” Josh tells me in regards to Queen. “With the world around him saying, “they shouldn’t act like this, dress that way or play that song”.” Josh goes on to tell me “Queen strove to be icons of empowerment and stand for a positive change in the way anybody is perceived despite their appearance or mannerisms. Freddie is a huge inspiration of mine and he will always hold a special place in my heart.”
When the discussion arose to fans, the boys got super excited and told tell me about a time when a fan made them a book full of lyrics and photos of them inside. “There was this guy named Matthew and he had this book for make believe (during a song the band were singing) and as we were singing he was singing every word but he had the whole song in his book and he had pictures attached with it that were part of our lives a well, we were playing he was scrolling through the book, thorough the verses, through chorus’ and it just hit me so much how deep the connections we have with our fans.” Josh adds “There’s endless amount of things we love our fans for. We appreciate everything they do; they inspire us in more ways than one. They tend to lose track of how much they actually really have an influence on our lives really. We want people to feel free and express themselves and feel free to be creative, to feel a senses of identity in what we do. Because at the end of the day music can only help so much but it’s the person themselves that gets them out of whatever hole or gets them into that positive mindset.”
I couldn’t get a word out their mouths about new music or anything that was up coming. Although I did have Josh joke around and tell me “no new music, nothing, it’s over!” Steven goes on to say “Contrary to popular belief, you can actually expect a lot more new music, you can expect more touring hence more shows everywhere, we can’t talk about much but there’s a whole heap in store!” I guess it’s a surprise and waiting game for now.
Words: Rojan Said
Photography : Joe Hart