Parisian-born Garfive has been making waves since his relocation to Berlin in 2016. Self-proclaimed bedroom producer, he draws inspiration from a wide range of genres. From nu-soul to jazz and hip hop, looking up to names like Mura Masa, Flume, Kaytranada or FKJ, Garfive was able to craft an intimate ambience to his music, displaying at the forefront his struggles with self-acceptance, insecurity, anxiety, grief, loneliness and the need to be loved. With six releases through the course of 2018, followed by a comparatively quiet period that followed, 2020 has brought the producer to a long-awaited closing point on his journey of self-discovery.
Continuing his soothing balance between R’n’B and neo-soul, plus touches of house and bass music, alongside very confessional songwriting, his debut album, Come Over, is a deeply-personal point of no return and the product of a learning experience amid the woes of adversity and growing up. Was it worth it? A better sense of self-assurance, a clear direction for the future and an outstanding debut album all point to ‘yes’.
We invited Garfive to dissect his path in five songs that feel relevant to his journey as a musician and contributed to the making of his excellent debut album.
Jerry Folk – I’m Honestly Not A Gangster
Jerry Folk is a figure whose eclecticism I look up to. His music is defined by his signature touch in production, but it’s difficult to box into one or a couple of genres. As a recording artist and producer, one can be met with the self-imposed fear of incoherence. Especially when navigating the obscure waters of self-promotion and branding, sticking to a certain style that people can easily recognise is a lurking thought that can actually limit the creative process, or at least the creative output.
Jerry Folk showed me that a mid-range artist can be widely appreciated even with an array of different genres and influences under his name. Furthermore, learning to recognise his imprint across his different styles (and loving pretty much everything I heard from him) taught me that it’s pointless to limit myself by trying to shape my sound into a trademark for the audience because that will probably define itself. Also, this track is just banging.
Flume – Sintra
This track is exceptionally special to me; I remember hearing it at a house party when I was a teenager who had just started to discover that there was a whole world of music production beyond just recording my voice and my guitar. This track hinted at a beautiful path to follow into that unknown world, and discovering that first Flume album got me to ask myself so many questions about how he made his stuff, it made me push so many personal creative boundaries, that I can confidently say he’s one of my biggest influences to date and the reason I got into what I do.
That house party was the first time I heard this type of experimental sound design, which made me realise that music could be emotionally captivating through the nature of the sounds used, as opposed to lyrics for example; I found that a huge part of my artistic sensibility related to that technical language rather than more traditional musicianship. I was mesmerised by the clash between electronic and organic sounds, programmed and arrhythmic beats, the power and the fragility in the music. It’s been six or seven years since this discovery and I’m still just as much of a fanboy for this guy.
Mac Miller – Come Back To Earth
I re-discovered this gorgeous piece after Mac Miller passed away, and the grief from his death combined with the sheer beauty of the song touched me in a way that has stayed with me. This song makes me feel peaceful hope but also desperate sadness, pure joy but also bitter melancholy. Mac had a unique way of externalising his internal world through his music. I had been especially fascinated with his later stuff like The Divine Feminine and Swimming, and now his posthumous Circles.
With those three albums, I felt that he showed an extremely touching and vulnerable sensitivity, which the jazzy hip-hop production he crafted in his later years framed perfectly. He reconciled me with the power of well-written lyrics, and with more organic instrumentation: turns out that a guitar, keyboard, drums and smoky vocals can go a long way.
FKJ & Bas – Risk
FKJ is another huge influence for me, for many reasons: I’ve taken after his multi-instrumentalist approach to performance both in the studio and on stage, his groovy jazz- and soul-influenced style, his minimal use of layered vocal harmonies, his taste for collaboration… I think this particular track is a beautiful example of all these elements – FKJ at his best and most tasteful.
I’m a bedroom producer and singer at heart, and I see myself as a jack-of-all-trades, master of none. From that perspective, one of FKJ’s most admirable qualities is his knowledge of how to use (and dose) all the tools at his disposal; he’s subtle and minimal, but the overall result of his songs is unquestionably rich, and always gets me right in the feels.
Big Piig – Perdida
This was a more recent discovery, and a fresh new breath of fragility; Biig Piig gave me a taste of honest emotion, gracefully conveyed through a nonchalant lo-fi hip-hop/soul vibe (with the help of Puma Blue, another great recent discovery). My new album owes a big debt to her, and her way of laying carelessly delicate vocals on an instrumental that gets straight to the point with no excess. I find that this minimal formula gives a truly intimate experience to the listener as if
Biig Piig were sitting on a couch across from you and just thinking out loud to a cool beat. This track really gives the impression that something genuine was captured perfectly, and I definitely relate that feeling to how I approach some of my songs.