Many people know Faye Fadem from her incredible work as the drummer for Thank You Scientist. Others know her as the drummer for Sentient Moss. But Faye’s solo project, Trust Fund Ozu, is a complete world of mythology and vibe, carefully and skillfully crafted by Faye as a humorous and heartfelt rendering of her inner life. Her first album, the self titled Trust Fund Ozu, was as introduction to this character and world, but her follow up album, joe, delves deeper into the Trust Fund Ozu mythology and narrative, discussing topics ranging from life’s purpose to coming out as a transwoman to run-down Subarus. Like Faye’s influences, she manages to discuss a range of topics artfully and with lots of humor throughout. And perhaps most amazingly, almost every aspect of the music (rapping, singing, synths, programming, drums, even video animation!), is done by Faye herself (with a little help from collaborators Jessica Kion and Bob Botanist).
Faye stopped by Proglodytes to talk about her latest album (will be available here on Bandcamp), as well as her history with drumming, her favorite artists growing up, the Trust Fund Ozu world, whether girls actually poop, her now-dead Subaru, her work with Sentient Moss and Thank You Scientist, and her plans for the future.
Tell us about some of the artists that influenced you growing up. What artists do you feel like left the biggest imprint on your current work? How did you discover the drums? Who were your idols?
My dad took me to see Rush when I was 12 after I showed interest in the song YYZ from Guitar Hero 2. It was literally like a switch flipped in my head and I knew what I was going to do all day, every day, for the rest of my life. A few of my early idols besides Neil Peart were Frank Zappa, Terry Bozzio, Zach Hill, and Kashikura Takashi from the Japanese band toe. Kashikura Takashi has probably had the most lasting impact on my drumming! And Frank Zappa really instilled the sense of playfulness I try to bring to everything I do.
Your solo music features a character called Trust Fund Ozu. How did you come up with this character? What’s their story?
I decided early on that I wanted to design a real simple character that would be recognized in any medium. I originally planned to hire friends to do artwork for me featuring Ozu. My friend Shamfoo (who has also done art for Thank You Scientist and Sentient Moss) did the artwork for my first album and helped me settle on Ozu’s initial design. Then I learned 3D animation so I could build a universe for Ozu and have her go on adventures and meet all kinds of characters! Her archetype can be described as “clumsy robot” but her story is getting more fleshed out. She has friends such as Eugene, a sleepy dog, and Kimi, a misunderstood alien princess.
Your latest album, joe. will be out very soon! What are some of the themes you discuss on this album?
The most prominent theme on the album is my identity as a transwoman. I wrote most of the album while I was still in the closet and with no intention of ever coming out. I tried really hard to speak about these things as vaguely as possible, so I used a lot of lyrics about shedding my skin/living a lie/not being honest/feeling guilty. I’m not sure if anyone would have put the pieces together if I wasn’t out but I’m really happy I don’t have to worry about that. The fact that making this album gave me the strength to come out is a beautiful irony!
Other topics on the album include girls pooping and my Subaru Outback. Each of those get their own songs. “Landmine My Reality” is about my back pain and the debilitating nature of trying to get help from doctors. The closing track “Virus Spread Thru Your Ghost” is about self-discovery through stolen identity, with Bob Botanist and I trading bars about McAfee and a healthy amount of Naruto references. At the end, I alternate between reasons I want to live and reasons I want to die. The reasons I want to live triumph in the end. That’s definitely the most honest and vulnerable I have ever been on a song.
This album features Bent Knee’s Jessica Kion, as well as Bob Botanist. Tell us about what it was like to work with those two!
Jessica Kion aka JUSTICE COW is my best friend, greatest inspiration, and superhero. Witnessing her creativity is one of the driving motivators in my life. We are talking all the time so it was kind of like “Jess do u want to sing on this song about poop?” and then she just came back with 6-part harmony for a poop chorus and I melt into a puddle. I chopped up her vocals from the track “eatpreylove” that appear on almost every track on the album. I think she’s technically on 7 of the tracks even though she only really sent me specific parts for 2. Finding spots for her chopped vocal really tied the record together for me. Justice Cow FOREBER!!
Bob Botanist is an incredible friend and straight up lyrical mastermind. We play together in a band called Glass Garden and watching him work over the years really inspired me to take myself seriously as a rapper. It’s just so easy to know where a song should go once he hops on. His energy is absurdly palpable. What he brought to the closing track on this album is easily one of the best moments on the record. Glass Garden has an album coming out in 2021!
The production on this new album is really great! What were some important lessons you’ve learned about mixing and production as you’ve progressed as a solo artist?
I’m really confident in the themes and lyrics on this album, so I felt that gave the songs clearer direction and allowed me to be a little more free with my choices. If I’m going into the DAW trying to make a drum-n-bass track, I’ll constantly have the super clean production of my heroes to reference and feel inferior. Once I put my vocals on it, it becomes more of my own and I can just do whatever feels right. My friend Angel Marcloid AKA Fire-Toolz is one of the best musicians I know but also a godly mixing engineer. She gave me a few really helpful tips on mixing vocals and also mastered the record! Legend!!!!
The new album is a great blend of complex, highly orchestrated music, catchy hooks, personal themes, and humor. Who are some of the funny people that have influenced your sense of humor as it relates to your music?
My bandmates in Thank You Scientist + our tour manager Matt Reynolds! There’s a line in “Poop Divas” that goes “Shitting in a thermos, I’m feeling worthless.” That’s because we saw a woman shitting into a thermos outside of a venue in Vancouver last time we were there. That band is the funniest people and we find ways to spin the endless dumb stuff that happens to us into humor and glory. Oh. Also Ben Levin and Jessica Kion, OBVIOUSLY!!! I never laugh as much as I do when I am with them! Go check out their YouTube channels. They’re geniuses and I love them dearly!! (Ben here) (Justice Cow here)
What are some of your favorite Thank You Scientist songs to play live? What about Sentient Moss?
My favorite TYS songs to play are Anchor, Geronimo, and Absentee. My favorite Sentient Moss songs to play are Greener, Crawl Space, and My Own Best Friend.
Who is inspiring you these days?
My dad. My dogs. Ben Levin. Jessica Kion. Angel Marcloid. As far as music made by people I don’t know, I’m pretty in love with what people like JPEGMAFIA, clipping., and Backxwash are doing as far as pushing the envelope of hip-hop. It makes me feel like I can rap about whatever I want, and gives my ideas for how I can incorporate my rock/metal background into the Trust Fund Ozu world. Dorian Electra is one of my heroes and their music is super groundbreaking and exciting. NNAMDI is an incredible drummer who makes incredible hip-hop/math rock/uniqueAF music. His album Brat is probably album of the year for me!
Any advice for artists during these uncertain times?
Learn how to make music on your computer or phone!! Learn how Google Drive works and share files with your friends from Cañada.
If you ran a secret society, what would it be up to?
Probably just really elaborate, high-effort/low-reward trolling. Like we could train for decades to become the greatest orchestra in the world and then have a performance for all the wealthiest oil tycoons and have holes in our seats and poop on the floor. Or we’ll establish prolific careers in Hollywood so we can get millions of dollars from Netflix show to make a show that’s just two raccoons kissing for 12 episodes. I’m not sure, but it wouldn’t be exceptionally notable.
Top 5 Miyazaki films?
Castle in the Sky
My Neighbor Totoro
What would be your superpower of choice?
Be on the lookout for Trust Fund Ozu’s new album, joe., out December 4, 2020. In the meantime, check out Trust Fund Ozu’s Bandcamp, as well as Thank You Scientist and Sentient Moss, while you’re at it.