FaltyDL's third album may have the word "hard" in the title, but it's his most delicate and approachable yet. Its melodies and jazzy flourishes are hard to get out of your head, and when he contracts his rhythmic palette to something as simple as a shaker, it's as though he's outwardly taking ownership of the fact that great sounds just speak for themselves. When we asked him to make us a mix, the New York producer took some originals from Hardcourage and wove them together with a Martyn remix and some outside music that he's "just really loving right now." Appropriately for an artist of his stylstic breadth, going from Mos Def to William Basinksi to Darkstar doesn't seem like that much of a brain-leap. He also told us the story behind Hardcourage, which is out now on Ninja Tune.
Download: FaltyDL's FADER Mix
In an interview you did with Pitchfork around the time of 2011’s You Stand Uncertain, you said that you wrote that record during a period of intense isolation. Did you go through something similar this time around? Yeah, it [was] the same sort of thing. When I was actually writing it, I was very closed off in my own space, but there were a few interruptions—tours where I'd go out. I’m the complete opposite, and I'm throwing a party and I'm DJing, so I’ve got to be a little more awake and aware of what's going on than when I'm home. But definitely in the midst of my production period, I was sort of unaware of everything that was going on around me. I’d lose track of time and just forget to leave my apartment and stuff.
Did you cut off outside music as well? I think I try to. I'd like to say that I do, but there's just so much that filters in through social media networks and stuff like that, and friends sending over tracks and demos and stuff, so I end up hearing a lot of different things. But when it comes down to it, I'm really trying to do my own thing every time I crack open a new song.
What was on your mind musically when making this album? It's one of those things [where] when I'm making a song, I’m not actually thinking [about] whether or not it's going to be released or be a part of an album or part of anything—I'm just sort of doing it in the moment. But when I'm compiling the album, I'm thinking more consciously about the end product and what's going on in my head— I’m more aware of it. Part of Hardcourage is a big dedication to someone, but part of it was I developed a new sound and I really wanted to share it. I’ve been listening to so much Detroit house and techno within the past year, and I’ve been continuing to sort of slow down my music and uncomplicate things, so I think it's a little bit clearer-sounding. I kinda feel like I'm putting together a gift for people when i'm finishing up an album. I really want people to enjoy this—I really want them to feel that they are getting something special and they are sort of held a little bit and loved by listening to it. Unfortunately, I [also] think of what people are going to think about it.
You mean, you’re making music for an audience? Yeah, you know what I mean? When I'm making the songs themselves, I'm just doing it for myself, which is great—which is what's kept it underground dance music for me. It's been what I love doing. But then when it gets released, it sort of no longer belongs to me. It belongs to whoever else wants it.
How much did you think about how people would move to the record? You mean like dance-wise? I think there's some housey tracks that can definitely work on a dance floor on this album, but when I make my music, I'm thinking more about the space that I'm in—and I'm at home, in a comfortable space. I think that translates in my music a lot. The majority of people listen to music on their laptop speakers these days, or on YouTube, so it doesn't really get the chance to breathe on a big, beautiful soundsystem as much as it might have used to. But it still does in some places.
What’s the meaning behind the album title? I had gone through a lot last year with my family and my own personal life and I sort of needed the courage to continue on and finish things. This album almost didn't happen—it took me a long time to sign it to the right label and stuff like that. And I was just like, I need the courage to finish this, and I just think matched with “hard.” It sounds cool. But, yeah, I just needed to finish it and it get it out there and I can't move on until I finish something. That's why I do this—so I can make a living so I can make more music, you know? Sell art to make more art, basically.
I really loved the album art. What's the story behind it? Scott Bendall of La Boca did the album art. He's amazing. He's been a friend for a little while and I've always loved his art work, but I've never quite had the budget to work with him. And I think Ninja Tune really hooked it up on this one. The front cover is my muse, so to speak. The woman.
Your muse? Yeah it's an illustration of my woman. M'lady.
Did you describe your muse to him? I described her to him and then I made him put a mole on her cheek, where she has one. I sent him a photo and I just told him that she was informing a lot of the music on this album. And that I'm trying to win her: Help me win her with some good artwork. And he's like, Alright man, I'll do my best.
So it's an actual person? It is, yeah. And if you open up the gatefold, you'll see my face is on the back of the album and they sort of mold together.
I didn't realize that. That's very romantic. Yeah. I was trying to win her, and then I got her. So it's good.
1. FaltyDL, “She Sleeps”
2. FaltyDL, “She Sleeps (Martyn remix)”
3. Toro Y Moi, “Say That”
4. FaltyDL, “Finally Some Shit/The Rain Stopped”
5. Moire, “Lose It (Actress remix)”
6. Gerry Read, “Gibbon”
7. Bodhi, “Culture”
8. Joy Orbison, “Big Room Tech House Dj Tool-Tip!”
9. Mos Def, “Umi Says (Falty DL edit)”
10. FaltyDL, “Korban Dallas”
11. FaltyDL, “Uncea”
12. William Basinski, “Melancholia V”
13. Tim Heidecker, Eric Wareheim and James Murphy, “You Are In The Demon's House”
14. Four Tet, “For These Times”
15. Visionist, “Control This”
16. Policy, “Look At Them”
17. Machinedrum, "Demvibez"
18. Braille, "Rise"
19. Darkstar, "Amplified Ease"