Somewhere in Between the Darkness and the Light: The Music of Fat Transfer

Singer and songwriter Fat Transfer. Picture courtesy of the artist
Fat Transfer is an Oakland, California based artist who owns her emotions. Her tunes come wrapped in a sweet package and also pack a serious punch. On the track "we r enemies" from her latest EP Highly Sensitive Supremacist, she sings, "this isn't MTV, you can't treat people so irresponsibly." The sound of her music is lo-fi and delicately layered. Bells and melodious synthesizer chords harmonize perfectly with pulsating drumbeats.Some tracks are down tempo and contemplative, while others are outright dance tracks.

How would you describe your sound?
Dreamy and sentimental. Cartoonish sometimes. Sad, lovesick, introverted. My friend said it is sounds like Hall and Oates but scarier. I've also heard it sounds like massage music.

On "Highly Sensitive Supremacist," you sing candidly about tapping into emotions that aren't necessarily considered nice or acceptable (naming enemies, giving up on a struggle, allowing oneself to be sad and in pain). What was your inspiration for exploring those themes? Why is the not so nice stuff important?
One of my favorite books is called The Highly Sensitive Person, by Elaine Akon. It describes sensitivity as an neurological orientation as opposed to a defect of the wimpy. Anyway, I identify as one of thse HSP's. My emotions demand a lot of attention. All of them, including ones that are societally devalued, like uncertainy and hopelessness. Challenging feelings are important because they're as big a part of my life and identity as pleasant ones. I view all emotions as spirit guides. They can be cryptic, contradictory, straight up bat-shit whacky. But when I'm listening and decoding them, life feels less exhausting and scary. I find that if I ignore them, my mental, physical and emotional health suffers. Making music is one of the ways I tend to them.
Fat Transfer in concert. Image courtesy of the artist

What is your creative process like? Do you spend a lot of time writing? Do you like to improvise?

I really like to use the analogy of taking a shit. I usually feel a build up of emotions and I'll get to the urge to start writing or playing around on Garage Band and stuff just gets pooped out. Often the lyrics and music are created separately and combined later. I'm not a very good improviser. I'm can be pretty calculated. I think that accounts for some of the stiff, static (meant affectionately) ways my melodies sound sometimes.

What instruments, etc. do you work with?
I mostly use electronic instruments. Keyboards and Garage Band effects. I'm a pretty non-technical, minimalistic composer so I rely on layering to make things sound more complex than they are. I also use guitar, vocal, effects, four track cassette recorders and samples. I do most of my recording through Garage Band right now. I like reaaaallly simple, accessible, almost paint-by-number recording software.

You went on tour over the summer, right? What was that experience like? What areas did you play? Any highlights of your journey?
I went on tour with a rad queer punk band, Cher Horowitz, which is comprised of some of my favorite people. They had planned a U.S. summer tour for almost a year and let me tag along. I'm eternally grateful! I met up with them in Atlanta and followed them up the east coast across the north midwest and back down the west coast to Oakland. The experience was one of the best of my life. Members of the band were going through a lot of intense personal challenges but were so sweet and supportive to each other's needs. The folks we played for were almost always receptive and welcoming. Nice, at the very least. Being a queer artist is so awesome, cuz there are all these other Queers making smart things and being really excited to see each other and share stuff.

What's next for you? Do you have anything coming up that you'd like to share?
Right now I'm in the middle of a Bay Area couch surfing project. I'm couch surfing for an extended amount of time to save money to buy a bus and convert it into a house that i can tour and live in. If anybody reading this knows folks in the Bay Area I can stay with please email me: bossabot@gmail. I have a few songs that feel like the beginnings of a new album. Usually after 6 months to year, I've shitted enough new songs for an album :)

For more on Fat Transfer, visit her website where you can download both of her albums for free.