If you’re up for an exploration of the self and the cosmos, newbie Brisbane experimental hip-hop/chill psychedelic producer Fonz Whaler has the album for you – Day By Day In The Universe. Spend fourteen days listening if you like, one for each track, and let the artful mix of sounds, samples, genres and tempos take you somewhere slowly and surely off-planet, Fonz Whaler’s Tom Kakanis is not just a talented self-taught producer, but a thoughtful writer with stacks to say. Read what he has to say about himself, his music and the universe.
WF: Who are you and why do you make music?!
FW: My name is Tom! I’m a self-taught musician, songwriter, and producer from Brisbane. Almost a year ago I decided to leave my old career behind and focus entirely on building whatever life I could in music. Since then, I’ve been making tonnes of music for Fonz Whaler and I’ve also been doing composing work for some different brands like Stone & Wood Brewing Co. on the side.
What I love about music: you can do whatever you want, and you can always get better.
I’m pretty obsessed with exploring ideas and trying to be uniquely creative. Making music is like having a jigsaw puzzle the size of a football stadium, where you get to decide which parts of this incredibly varied picture you complete. Half of it happens by accident as you come across different puzzle pieces, and half comes by design, because you’re looking for certain pieces of the puzzle.
I love the realisation that in music you don’t have to be attached to a specific genre or a specific sound forever. You really can do whatever you want if you allow yourself.
WF: Day By Day In The Universe is very rich in sounds, samples, genres and tempos – how long did it take you to craft this and put it all together, and who helped out?
FW: The record kind of happened by accident as I was learning to play keys, use a drum machine for the first time, and learned to record on some new software. I would say that 95% of it was done in two and a half months. Unfortunately the last 5% took me another 6 months to finish because it’s always the hardest part. You second-guess every decision and end up endlessly tweaking tiny details.
My friend Ethan Greaves of Jouk Mistrow and Good Boy did the final mastering for me (and did a damned fine job), my good friend Josh Cranstoun (JayCee) contributed the amazing verse on The Art of Happiness, and the utter legend Tom Tom listened through an early cut of the album and provided me with some helpful feedback. Other than that I did all the instrumenting, recording, producing, mixing etc.
WF: Your album explores the self and the cosmos – what have you discovered about yourself and the cosmos in the making of this record?
There is endless depth to both.
They are both fleetingly knowable.
I’m pretty certain they’re the same thing.
WF: What’s the one thing you’d LOVE people to take from their experience of Day By Day In The Universe?
FW: I would absolutely LOVE for people to think, “Holy cow, I can’t wait to see what else he can show me.” But when they listen to it again they realise there are layers and layers to it they can explore deeper. That’s always my goal, to make something where each listen reveals something new if you pay close enough attention. Those are my favourite records. The ones that seem to grow and change over time.
WF: How can people buy the record?