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Faye Webster is as versatile as they come. As Pitchfork succinctly noted in their review of her 2019 album Atlanta Millionaires Club, “Few R&B albums have a pedal steel; few alt-country albums have a rap feature.” Her jack-of-all-trades (and arguably a master of all of them) ways were part of Webster’s life well before that album and they remain central still.
Tomorrow, the Atlanta-based artist follows her 2019 LP with a new one, I Know I’m Funny Haha, which has everything from a twangy number about not getting her security deposit back from her landlord to a bedroom R&B jam about being in love with a baseball player. Elsewhere, there’s a Forrest Gump-ness to Webster’s vast and varied array of resume-worthy achievements and trivia facts, which could populate the most impressive and entertaining LinkedIn profile on the site:
- She’s an accomplished photographer who has had shoots with rappers including Killer Mike, Offset, and Lil Yachty. (She was previously classmates with Yachty and she began her music career on the hip-hop-focused label Awful Records.) Also, Backpack Kid.
- She’s a huge Atlanta Braves fan and even got to sing the national anthem at one of their games.
- She’s an avid yo-yo enthusiast who has designed her own yo-yo and attended the World Yo-Yo Contest.
- Early in the pandemic, she squared off against fans in online Pokémon battles.
- Her I Know I’m Funny Haha highlight “Better Distractions” found its way onto Barack Obama’s list of favorite 2020 songs.
The list goes on, and a few weeks ahead of I Know I’m Funny Haha’s release, Webster got on the phone with Uproxx and talked about it. She also touched on creativity in the pandemic, working even more musical ideas into her songs, and the music from Animal Crossing.
I’ve seen you described as an introverted person, so I was wondering how you’ve handled quarantining and the pandemic.
I’ve been pretty bored, but I feel like I like being bored. So I thankfully have been doing OK just staying at home. I live really close to my family, both my parents. It just feels like after tour for me. This is what I would be doing if I wasn’t touring anyways.
What impact has this pandemic had on making the new album?
I have been struggling a little bit creatively just because I feel like there’s even more pressure than ever for musicians and artists to make music. I feel like it probably sucked all the fun out of it for me, if that makes sense. But I feel like it was a good challenge and obviously I am about to put out a record. So I think it’s been a success, but I have struggled a little bit.
When you’re finally back to doing concerts, what’s going to be a bigger thrill for you: Being on stage and playing a song or being on stage and doing a yo-yo trick?
[laughs] Definitely songs, because I feel like that’s probably what people want to see more. But I’m honestly excited for both.
Do you have some sort of a connection about how yo-yoing is like music, or is there no connection and it’s just fun and that’s it?
I think it’s just fun. But at the same time, when you compete in competitions, you have to perform to music. Depending on what division you’re competing in, there are different lengths for different songs. It’s been really cool at competitions to see what songs people will choose. When I was at the World Yo-Yo Contest in 2019, I literally made a playlist of songs that I heard people perform to. I was put onto some really cool music and I feel like when people do perform to music, it’s kind of like this synchronized swimming feeling. So, I don’t know. It’s kind of both.
How did you first get involved in the world of yo-yoing?
I just got one for Christmas, just as like a shitty stocking stuffer. It was right before we went on tour, so I just brought it not thinking that I’d actually use it every day. It wasn’t really until I found other players online and connected with them and actually saw what it could escalate to. That’s when I realized how fun it is.
When you released the I Know I’m Funny Haha title track, you explained how it came from a more casual approach to songwriting and perhaps not gatekeeping your own thoughts as much. Is that a philosophy that’s present on the album beyond that song?
Yeah, I like to think so. I just feel like in general, I truly mastered being extremely comfortable in songwriting and just saying whatever I feel like I want to say, and not, like, changing words because it makes me feel weird. I think that song specifically, as you said, is a good representation if you haven’t listened to anything else.
Your albums include influences from a variety of genres, more so than a lot of other artists. Were there any new genres or musical ideas you tried to work into this new album?
With this record, I definitely chose to make it a little more string-heavy than usual. Even though I did have strings on my last record, I thought that it really worked [this time] and I liked doing it. I’ve also put synths in the record a couple of times, which is something that I have never done and never really wanted to, but I just think it was like the perfect thing at the moment.
As a pretty accomplished photographer, I’d imagine you put a lot of thought and importance into album art. How did you end up with this album cover?
I have worked with the same team on this record as I have Atlanta Millionaires Club. One of my really good friends, Eat Humans, is of the top photographers in Atlanta has taken my album covers, so I kind of just let him do that. And then I worked with my brother [Luke Webster], who’s a graphic designer, on my albums as well. I feel like just us three together, it always ends up with something really great. I was inspired by a bunch of different things and then I think we just all came together.
I’m sure once the album drops, there will be a lot of laudatory press quotes about it, but can any of them measure up to having a song from it included on Barack Obama’s top songs of 2020 playlist?
It’s very, very different. I feel like when I saw that, it was just like so random and I was just like, “What?” That was so strange. I mean, it’s cool, but yeah, it’s very random. That’s kind of just like a cool thing to say.
It’s a nice story for the kids and grandkids someday.
I’ve seen videos of you and your old classmate Lil Yachty in the studio together. Has he influenced you at all or have you otherwise learned anything from him?
Yeah, for sure. We basically came from the same place and were doing the same thing, so it’s really inspiring to see him thrive. You know, it makes me feel like, “OK, well if I work really hard, too…” I think just sharing ideas with him… What we do is so different, but when we’re together, it doesn’t feel that way at all.
I would say also what you guys have in common is that you have both done well while showing that you can be open and outward about having fun and not take things too seriously.
Yeah, for sure. I’ve always respected how he has a “f*ck it” mentality. He just does not care what anybody thinks of him, which I am trying to learn to do.
I was doing a deep dive on your socials before this and it looks like you’re a pretty big gamer. Over the past year, you were playing a lot of Rocket League and Animal Crossing and Pokémon. Do you have a favorite video game song or overall soundtrack?
I really liked “5PM” from Animal Crossing: New Horizons. When I bought the game and I heard that song while I was playing it, I literally found the YouTube link and I showed it to my band, and I was like, ‘Is this us? Like, did they secretly record us? Why do they sound so good?’ It’s funny how good the music on Animal Crossing is.
Which of your own songs would you most like to hear K.K. Slider cover?
I heard a K.K. Slider cover of “Kingston” before. It was really funny, especially the chorus.
I Know I’m Funny Haha is out tomorrow via Secretly Canadian. Get it here.