September 14, 2019
We met up with the charming and beautiful Talvi Faustmann model, artistic director and one-half of Prince Innocence at a local coffee bar to talk all things life, music and growth.
What has you excited?
Anything that takes me out of my usual context. That’s why I love travelling. Any sort of novelty feels like I am making a new creative pathways in my brain.
Talk to me about being in a duo. (Talvi is in the musical duo, Prince Innocence) Is the process of creating equal? Was it challenging to find your voice with another voice present?
There is always a bit of a power struggle working with Josh because he had played in a band before me (Little Girls) so he had a bit more experience and I feel like I was trying to carve my own path and assert myself musically. I’m not a producer which can be limiting – you’re trying to describe your vision to a person who has the tools to create it. But I really respect Josh’s input a lot and I like that the music we make is a reflection of us both. Josh has incredible music taste.
How long have you been making music?
I think its been like six, seven years. Since I was in [my] second year [of] university.
There is this sort of luxury. This thing that means a lot, but doesn’t have to consume your every single day.
I know, and it feels now – after all this time – we are finally taking it seriously, but in a different way. We had a bunch of false starts in the traditional music industry world – like labels courting us and putting money into us which never really panned out. And it’s hard, it can be really disappointing and hard on you as an artist, but I view it so differently now – it’s not so much about outcomes but the process and weirdly enough when I developed that relationship with music and art in general is when we started actually having success with it.
“Any sort of novelty feels like I am making a new creative pathways in my brain.”
You’ve been making music for sometime, as a woman in the industry what have been the hardships ? Have you seen any change from when you started to now?
When we were in talks with labels I would often find that men would only talk to Josh and not make eye contact with me. That was something I noticed a lot. Then when I did try to assert my presence It would be anxiety inducing and my thoughts wouldn’t flow as well.
Also – on a personal level – I feel like I have hung out with a lot of guys who do not appreciate female voices in music. Whether or not they acknowledge to themselves, they don’t like hearing fragility or femininity in the music they are listening to. You could replace a female voice with a male voice in a song and suddenly they would like it. I have noticed that in people I really like and respect. I think it is really internalised with men. Try being in a room full of guys at a party and putting on a female singer, sometimes they change it or tell you to turn it off, and don’t even question within themselves why they’re having that reaction. My test these days with guys is if they like, or appreciate Joni Mitchell. I have a lot of respect for men who openly love Joni Mitchell. I feel like gen z is dismantling all this dumb shit – I have a lot of faith in that.
What does growth look like for you?
I’ve realized growth is a lot of things, it can be pain or mistakes – sometimes even periods of stagnancy as long as you’re learning from it.
I want to talk about you creating music videos and directing things. I want to hear about your process, how you shape your ideas and what sort of things you look at. What do you love about it; what do you hate about it?
I am a very visual person. It’s what fires off the most stuff in my brain. I went to McGill for English Lit but my original plan was to go to Pratt in Brooklyn for Illustration – which obviously didn’t pan out because going to school in the states is like a million dollars. But at the end of the day I think all forms of creativity is linked to the same internal source but you can flex it in different ways.
I think I got into direction because it was a way to bridge the gap of music and visuals.
It is cool because there is a lot of power that comes from creating a really striking image or movement with music. It makes the song. It can change the context. Like when you see a good music video it elevates the song and can…
Make it better.
Yeah really! Even when you hear soundtracks, or a song in a really emotional charged moment in a tv show or movie.
“Growth is a lot of things…..pain or mistakes – sometimes even periods of stagnancy as long as you’re learning from it. “
Are you involved with the art direction of album covers and single covers as well?
I do all the album and single covers yes.
Y’all have some cool stuff though.
Some of it I don’t love and wish I had consulted more people on and relinquished some control over but there’s a charm to those weaknesses. I think that’s why people appreciate the whole indie band thing – not everything is polished, you can see the raw creativity there.
Which is such an annoying balance of things. [If I relinquish control] I know the DNA of the thing I am working on will still be there, but I still want to be the one [who does it]. (Laughs)
I do think it is a thing that you do grow out of a little bit. Thinking you need to control every aspect of something. I mean when you see something really well executed you see how the roles have been split up. It is so much to take on yourself, and it’s almost a little bit delusional to be like, ‘I can do it all!’
With directing or being the director of photography, are those skills and roles something you want to [keep working on] and further develop, or are you cool with where you’re at right now?
I kind of go back and forth. For a while it was the main [thing]. I do have long term goals for it. Sometimes I feel insecure because like, I didn’t go to film school, so I feel like there are certain things I am missing. I am working towards it being something I can do more commercially one day.
“You become comfortable with uncertainty.”
How do you deal with doubt?
I kind of realized at a certain point you have to just do shit and not think necessarily about what the outcome is going to be. You become comfortable with uncertainty. And that’s really hard if you don’t have tons of savings or rich parents funding everything. That’s why some of the most successful artists come from rich families, they were able to give their art room to grow and make mistakes.
This sort of go with the flow mentality is basically only possible in my life now because I have more commercial stuff that consistently pays the bills. I was in a Shoppers Drug Mart beauty campaign this month for instance.
So, you are making content, you are making stuff and you have to believe in the fact that something will come out of it. I made a music video last summer, that wasn’t the best thing in the world, but I’m happy with it. It’s a window into that moment for me. There are some really cool happy mistakes you’re open to when you’re inexperienced that you might overlook if you were super technically trained.
Was it “999”?
You did that all yourself? Shit that sounds stressful. (Laughs)
It was made with zero budget and one camera person and I basically continued to teach myself premiere from editing the ‘Manic’ video a few years ago and you know – to some extent it shows- its not perfect. There are some amateurish moments but I learned so much and so quickly. In a strange way it opened a bunch of doors and ended up making me money. I was hired to direct a video for this girl signed to Universal. I also have another video coming out this month for Prince Innocence that I’m really proud of and is a huge step up.
I feel like doubt has been the bane of my existence for the last while.
Yeah it’s the worst.
Even sending an email to find work is a two day stress. It shouldn’t be this hard. I’m like, ‘Am I that good?’
Last question. First off, do you like karaoke?
Are you a superstar with the mic, or do you fall back and just enjoy [it]?
I think as a singer people expect you to be amazing, but sometimes I go for a song that I’m not vocally prepared for and butcher it.
Like a secret weapon. What’s your go to karaoke song?
I’ve always sung “Girl from Ipanema”, this bossa nova song that i guess Frank Sinatra did a cover of because it’s pretty much on every karaoke list and its sort of a smooth sexy number that no one is expecting and easy to sing.
Interview: Michael Nyarkoh
Photography: Lauren Armstrong