Fri 02 October 2020
LIVE: FAKE LAUGH
A socially distanced piano performance of new album ‘Waltz’
Live at Oslo, Hackney
Originally scheduled for The Grace on 2nd October, we have decided to move this event to the larger room of Oslo, cut the capacity to just 12.5% and socially distanced the venue with seating and tables. This event will also now be solo. We hope that with small events like this we can help to support artists and live performance staff, while keeping our customers safe. Tickets must be bought as a pair to ensure you stay within your social bubble.
As a venue we will have the following procedures in place for the safety of our customers and staff
– Separate entrance for gig goers only
– Temperature check on arrival.
– Hand Sanitiser on arrival and available in the venue at various points
– Track and Trace via our in-house app
– Artist will be at least 3 metres away from the front row of the audience
– Tables will be at least 1 metre away from each other
– One-way system in operation for entry, exit and toilets
– Air extraction unit in use, with all available doors open
– Tickets sold in pairs to ensure social bubbles
Kamran Khan began playing music at the age of 7, when he and his twin sister, Yasmin, took violin lessons together at primary school. Over the years, violins transformed into guitars and pre-teen dalliances with Scandinavian metal morphed into an obsession with British 80s alt-pop. Aged 13, and influenced by compilation CDs from older friends at the local skatepark, Khan formed his first band. Whilst this mainly consisted of playing covers of The Cure’s early singles, Khan also tried his hand at songwriting for the first time.
Fake Laugh first emerged in 2013 as a side-project to Khan’s main band at the time, eventually becoming his primary focus of creativity. Fake Laugh’s self-titled debut full-length arrived in 2017 as the delicate accumulation of years of experimentation. The album is a vivid rummage through the worlds of love, confusion and self-questioning.
Khan shed the hazy, bedroom aesthetic of his debut with a quick follow-up in early 2018, Better For Me / On Loop, a contrasting pair of singles which showcased the broadening and refinement of his songwriting craft. ‘Better For Me’ stood out in particular, celebrating and lamenting loneliness in equal measure. The song endeared Fake Laugh to a new, much wider audience and sparked one of the most wholesome YouTube comment sections you’re likely to find. Anticipation for Fake Laugh’s second album grew further in 2019 with the AA-side release, Honesty / Surrounded.
Khan’s sophomore full-length, Dining Alone, released in March 2020, saw him take a bolder, more adventurous approach. Liberated by the absence of a strict tracklist, Khan was able to exhibit the diverse array of writing styles he had accumulated through various collaborations. The fruits of this process were clear, with melancholy interludes blending seamlessly with jangling powerpop. But, Dining Alone never lost sight of the melodic sensibilities that run throughout Fake Laugh’s back catalogue, instead pushing them in rich new directions.
Waltz marks a departure from the rest of Kamran Khan’s work as Fake Laugh in many regards. Recorded at his home studio during the period of lockdown, the album is based around simple arrangements that pair Khan’s tender vocals with understated piano.
The effects of our current social sea change are evident on the album’s opener, ‘Watching’. Borne out of a daily quarantine songwriting exercise with his housemate, here Khan captures the strange feeling of being cut off physically from your friends and loved ones, whilst still being able to engage with them and observe their lives online. A cold synth line joins the plaintive piano at the song’s close to compound this unsettling mood.
Waltz is not wholly an album of isolation, however. ‘Mind Tricks’ reimagines a fuzz heavy 2016 Fake Laugh song (and live set favourite), which now sounds as if it was made for the piano. ‘Disturb Him’ was written on tour in Austin whilst waiting to hear if an outdoor show would be cancelled due to a looming thunderstorm – this uncertain setting contrasting with the soft swing of the song’s melody. While the roots of serene instrumental track, ‘Fairly Close’, date back even further to Khan’s childhood home in Burgess Hill. These glimpses into a past life, which suddenly feels very distant, compliment the contemplative tone that Waltz carries throughout.
The sparse nature of the album’s instrumentation allows its subtleties to come to the fore, whether that be the impressionistic storytelling of ‘Disturb Him’, or the abrupt introduction of a synthesizer on anguished final track, ‘Amhurst’. Khan describes this as acting like ‘a solemn fireworks display at the end of the album’.
As with previous full length, Dining Alone, Khan demonstrates his knack for smartly examining feelings of distance and closeness in modern life, tying his songs together with this emotional through line. It is this aspect that connects Waltz to the rest of the Fake Laugh catalogue, despite its marked sonic differences.