Faye Webster | After The Stillness, Growth

Via Issue 191, Fresh Cuts

Written by

Photographed by

Yong W Kim

Styled by

Michelle Mercado

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KKCO coat and bag, STRAY RATS socks, BRAIN DEAD shoes, and HAPPY99 earmuffs.

I’d become one of those unfortunate statistics they warn you about. I had daily appointments with Student Psychological Services where I was acquainted with one of the only useful therapists I’ve ever had. She would tell me I’d feel better in time, but that phrase never seems to account for all the time in between the Awful Thing and feeling better. For a while my daily routine was as follows: barista shift, school, therapy, cry in my room, listen to Faye Webster in my bed. This cycle felt insurmountable, and Faye seemed to be the only person who understood that.

Faye has built a name for herself as one of music’s most emotionally effective artists. In a sea of prideful, vindictive, and/or self-aggrandizing songs, the Atlanta-based artist lets us know there’s nothing wrong with longing. Portrayals of love, heartbreak, happiness and everything in between glide on atop unabashed remembrances of her life. Each album a diary entry, she indulges in every feeling, creating equally indulgent music to feel to. With many of her lyrics being written on the spot, she believes “every project is like a chapter” for her.

KKCO coat and bag and HAPPY99 earmuffs.

Thematically, Faye weaves a kind of contemporary familiarity. Many of us may have suffered through the 2010s overload of “bad bitch” mentality and glorification of hook-up culture. These ideals are challenged by Faye’s willingness to wear her heart on her sleeve. Instead of attaching shame to vulnerability, she offers listeners a different way to feel empowered. Soft melodies accompanied by understanding lyrics makes you feel at home, wherever that may be.

Underdressed at the Symphony marks the end of Faye’s two year hiatus as she turns a new page. In the stillness of the Texan desert, her newest album was born, not dissimilar to the feeling that inspired the sound. Faye reveals she “recorded it on a ranch outside El Paso. It was just very still. It wasn’t cold. It wasn’t hot. It was just like there... still.” With an unwavering disposition, this album embraces the full spectrum of life, and the calm that comes with letting it pass. She explains that, “even though it’s a breakup album, and there are sad moments and happy moments, it gave me a lot of certainty of how I felt or what I needed.”

KKCO coat and bag, STRAY RATS socks, BRAIN DEAD shoes, and HAPPY99 earmuffs.

Named after her post-break-up tendency to purchase last minute tickets to the theater, Underdressed at the Symphony tells a story of quiet wins. With her favorite song on the album being “Feeling Good Today,” it is no surprise this album expresses the most assuredness yet. This is a slight change in temperament from the wildly vulnerable heartbreak albums of her past. Even so, her discography as a whole agrees with the classic saying: the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Faye remains undefinable as she captures a unique blend of genres, grabbing inspiration from artists like: Teezo Touchdown, Alex G and Upchuck. She reveals a not-so-surprising line-up of inspiration as an artist grown from Atlanta’s Awful Records. In addition to Faye, the label has gifted us with 2010s hip-hop classics like: Playboi Carti, Father, and ILoveMakonnen. Faye describes her time at Awful as nostalgic. “I wouldn’t even say ‘my project that I put out’ when I was on Awful, but more so like singing on other members’ songs. I feel like that was a whole era of just being [inspired by being] in the same room as somebody making a song.”

KKCO top and bottoms.

Faye was exposed to some of the more influential names in hip-hop during her time with Awful; however, her 2019 release with Secretly Canadian would turn out to be the most pivotal in her career. Atlanta Millionaires Club catapulted her into indie stardom. With hits like “Right Side of My Neck” and “Room Temperature,” Faye brought Southern porch culture to the masses. To the possible dismay of her many indie listeners, Faye’s roots are more country than they might like to admit. “I feel like I grew up listening to a lot of country music,” she shares. “And there is a side of it that should be avoided at all costs,” she pauses for a moment, before continuing, “but I feel like maybe I’ve done all the hard work for somebody by sifting through and finding the good inspirations, finding the good parts and then putting it in my music so that when people listen, they get to fall in love with the roots of country.”

Her appeal is widespread as her music has been used in over half a million short-form videos across platforms. In today’s finicky media climate, where artists are advised to pick a lane in an effort to be easily searchable, Faye has taken an opposite approach that has streamlined her across algorithms. She has built an essential niche in a world of hyper-categorization for those who want to relate without being hashtag-relatable. Despite her recent spike in popularity on TikTok as “I Know You” rises to the top of the lip-syncing charts, she is not a huge fan of social media.

BRAIN DEAD sweater.

The chance of interacting with Faye online is slim, but never zero. She says, “The internet is... spooky. I can’t. I don’t like social media. I wish I didn’t have to exist period.” You can catch her on Reddit Q&A’s or bimonthly IG posts showing off her playful personality. While her cyber wariness may limit her ability to connect with fans, she has innovated by interacting with her fans in person. Faye describes touring as her favorite way to connect with her listeners, bringing them a notoriously magnetic stage presence. Grateful for the sound that keeps on giving, and some obvious parasocial influences, Webster’s fanbase is known to give back. “My fans bring me a lot of gifts. They’re so cute and so touching,” she smiles. “It’s always poking at something [they know about me], like minions or handmade stuff... it’s so personal and special.

It was a cold, rainy day in LA the day before the March 2020 shutdown. The boy I liked had taken my bass to Guitar Center for a tune-up, so we could play together after my shift. I made him a cup of coffee and a sandwich to keep him warm while I closed up the shop for what I didn’t realize would be the last time. We made it back to my room, the room I’d spent the past year crying in. On my shiny, blue bass guitar, I played him the bassline I’ve spent the last year learning. He joins in Faye Webster’s “Right Side of My Neck,” which soundtracks my first moment, in a while, of feeling alright. 

BRAIN DEAD sweater, pants, and shoes.

Photographed by Yong W Kim

Styled by Michelle Mercado

Written by Erica Brown 

Hair/Makeup: Michelle Mercado

Flaunt Film/Producer: Bree Castillo

Flaunt Film Music: Ety

Production Assistant: Annie Bush

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Flaunt Magazine, Issue 191, Fresh Cuts, Faye Webster, Erica Brown, Michelle Mercado, Yong W Kim, Bree Castillo, Annie Bush, Underdressed at the Symphony, Music, People