On You - Chet Faker x GoldLink
Written by William Abramson & Claire McKinzie
Photographs by Gari Askew
Seconds after stepping into Werewolf Heart studios, located in the shadow of
the Capitol Records Tower, Chet Faker is at the ivory. Tasting the chords with his
fingers for the first time, he kneads its keys and hums to himself. Goldlink and his
manager, Henny, stand in a semicircle, flanked by record execs there to touch the
gilded hem of the guy behind The God Complex.
Goldlink tunes out and drifts towards the keys. He's stone still save for his lips, which mirror Chet's mumbling. No words are exchanged between them as Chet lays down the chords for what will become their song from scratch.
Unapologetic perfectionists, Chet and Goldlink are used to a healthy musical isolation-a fact that makes collaboration, or friendship, come as a surprise. Then, a guilty grin spreads across Chet’s bearded face, as he dishes details of a woman he’d just met in Vancouver. Goldlink leans in, he’s heard this story before, and told it a few times too. “We’re just bonding over that shared experience [of women] because you know- we all suffer,” Chet laughs. This moment– just two guys talking about a girl- cements their understanding and lays the foundation for their collaboration, a song about a girl.
Goldlink is thumbing raps into his iPhone, spitting just above a whisper as Chet nods in silent agreement. ”We’re just writing about how no matter how much you have, you just want to spend it on that one girl,” Goldlink smiles to no one in particular. “My verse is from his point of view,” he says sheepishly, a memory flittering across his mind, “I’m the narrator of this story.”
Chet paces the control room, his head in rapid motion as Goldlink settles into the vocal booth. After two takes, Goldlink walks back in like he just woke up. Chet, amped, greets him like a surviving gladiator, all palms and shoulders. Goldlink has set the tone, and in the process, earned Chet’s trust. “You said we were gonna do it proper. Well I guess we’re doing it PROPER then!” Chet says, taking his place in the booth to add overdubs.
Artwork by Babak Khoshnoud
Later, with the song on its way to completion, Chet is reflective. “I haven’t collaborated a lot for starters, so vocally I had to let go,” Chet reveals, “So it’s nice to come into a room and say that I’m not going to have to do everything today,” sitting comfortably back in his chair with Goldlink at his side. Goldlink adds, “I like to see how other people work and adjusting to that- so he goes on the keys, and I’m gonna sit over here and think of a melody while he does his thing. And whatever he wants to do, I’m just gonna figure out what I wanna do with whatever he wants to do without telling me....” Goldlink trails off as Chet nods in agreement. He doesn’t even need to finish his sentence for Chet to understand the words left held back under his tongue.