Fink, aka Fin Greenall, is an English singer, songwriter, guitarist, producer and DJ, born in Cornwall and currently based in Berlin and London. From 1997–2003 he recorded electronic music and DJ'd internationally, releasing in 2000 his debut album Fresh Produce on Ninja Tune. Since the 2006 release of his album Biscuits for Breakfast, the name Fink has also referred to the recording and touring trio fronted by Greenall himself, completed by Guy Whittaker (bass) and Tim Thornton (drums). Well known for the 2007 song "This is the Thing" and the 2011 album Perfect Darkness. Greenall's skills as a songwriter have created a demand for his talents among fellow artists. Most recently he has written in collaboration with John Legend, Banks, Ximena Sarinana and Professor Green. With Amy Winehouse he co-wrote the song "Half Time", which appears on Winehouse's posthumous collection Lioness: Hidden Treasures. In 2012 Fink collaborated and performed with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam, resulting in the live album Fink Meets The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. Fink is currently signed to his own label, R'COUP'D Records, a subsidiary of Ninja Tune. In 2014, he released the album Hard Believer, his most successful album to date, charting in a great number of European Albums Charts.
Greenall was born 1972 in Cornwall, but grew up in Bristol. Fin can recall "the one thing of his dad's that he wasn't allowed to touch was the old Martin acoustic guitar." In an interview, Greenall remembers "It was his one possession where he said, 'everything in this house is owned by everybody – apart from that.'" Their presence had an impact on his future in music. "The great thing about growing up in a house where music is a big factor... was the fact that music being part of your life was a perfectly natural thing." During his teenage years, he accumulated eclectic musical interests, gravitating towards The Cure, The Smiths, The Orb, African music, and Japanese Hardcore before discovering electronic and dance music at University of Leeds.
He earned his degree in History and English at University of Leeds and, with student friends, formed the short-lived dance act EVA, who signed to Kikin' Records in 1993. For the remainder of the 1990s and much of the early 2000s, Greenall worked in the music industry for various London-based labels, including Virgin's Source, Def Jam, and Sony. Simultaneously, he pursued a musical career, remixing and producing for various artists, including Riuchi Sakamoto and Elbow but also as a DJ.
Fink's serious recording career began with Ninja Tune subsidiary N-Tone's release of his debut single "Fink Funk" in 1997, followed by the album Fresh Produce in 2000, a well received chill-out set that fitted neatly with the output of the label. In the following years, he continued to produce other artists including Martin Taylor, Michael Pitt and Robert Belfour He has recently spoken of his early sessions with Amy Winehouse, saying, "the songs were there, her voice was there, and she was genuinely who she was, and that was obvious even at 17. She was a no compromise, full-on artist. It was just awesome to work with her."
Towards the mid-2000s, Greenall developed a disillusionment with dance music and being a DJ, and began to turn to more traditional musical avenues. It was this feeling which resulted in 2006's Biscuits for Breakfast, the first album to feature current collaborators Guy Whittaker and Tim Thornton, whom Greenall had been friends with for a few years, but had never yet had the opportunity to work with. Built around his bluesy voice, finger-picking acoustic guitar and the stripped-back live rhythm section, the self-produced Biscuits boasted a fledgling pop sensibility while retaining some of the signature Ninja Tune sonic hallmarks. He became the label's first singer/songwriter. The album, along with single "Pretty Little Thing", helped define his style and began to bring his name to a wider, and higher-profile, audience, notably Zero 7, who invited Fink to support them on their UK tour.
Perfect Darkness: 2011–2012
Songwriting sessions for Fink's fifth full-length album began in early 2010. For this album, Greenall's process was very different. Greenall recounted in an interview that "after all the live shows and all the fun we'd had on stage, we jammed first as a band. No vocals, just these massive soundscapes. We did about 30 of them. Then a couple of weeks later, go through them, pick the best bits. "Perfect Darkness", the song, was one riff, one bass line and one moment of a 20-minute jam." The band travelled to Los Angeles to record the subsequent album with producer Billy Bush, who has worked with artists such as Beck and Garbage.
On 27 March 2011, the track "Perfect Darkness" was made available for free download via the band's website, followed by the album release on 13 June. The critical reception the album received was positive, with the United Kingdom Guardian's Caroline Sullivan describing it as a "delight... achieves such loveliness you don't want it to end", and the BBC's Ian Wade calling the set "a writhing, surprisingly meaty addition to the over-crowded singer-songwriter genre."
To support the album, the band took the decision to beef up their stage show considerably, not with additional musicians but with a visual production, designed by 59 Productions, famed for working with Jónsi and on the stage show War Horse. Says Greenall: "They’ve been part of the album big time since the moment we started to write it because we knew that they would be involved with the stage show. They've custom engineered the show that doesn’t overpower the music but just kind of embraces you and it emphasises some of the atmospherics in the music." The live show involved a frame to which 48 Anglepoise lamps were screwed, and eight gauze visual screens. The subsequent tour took Fink on 49 dates in fourteen countries throughout autumn 2011, including London's Union Chapel, where The Times' David Sinclair found the show "a perfect storm of profound, brooding emotion."
In November 2012, Fink played their largest UK headline show to date, at London's Shepherd's Bush Empire.
"Queen's Night" concert with Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, 2012
In October 2011 Fink were approached by the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra of the Netherlands, and Dutch classical music charity Entree, to perform with the orchestra on the traditional Queen's night concert the following year. The concert took place on 29 April 2012 at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, and featured classical pieces chosen by the band, along with exclusive arrangements of 6 songs from across Fink's catalogue, scored by Jules Buckley of the Heritage Orchestra. Also performed was Buckley's arrangement of Henry Purcell's "What Power Art Thou", sung by Greenall. Claudia Cuypers of OOR stated that "the orchestra gives [Fink's] songs a new, unexpected power and lightness... in this hall his songs become complete, even though you'd thought they already were."
The orchestra commissioned a special iPad application for the event, on which worldwide viewers could stream audio and video footage of the concert live, in real time: the first time such an application has been used for this purpose in the Netherlands.