Conor Sweetman

Future Vision, Blinkered Sight

Conor Sweetman
Future Vision, Blinkered Sight

Profile of the musician, Favela.

The music of Favela takes off on a sprint and asks your spirit to keep up.

The experience of listening to his ‘Future Visions’ EP feels like you've run a metaphysical marathon, with the beat of your heart pounding in your ears to the pace of the beats, and a clouding of your eyes by a pleasant haze of endorphins released by his soft, triumphant voice.

The power in music lies in its ability to make a very normal moment take on the quality of spectacular and extraordinary sublimity. On bus rides and during waiting times, through walks through malls and university halls, the isolating earphones that cloak you in your own interior existence also brings glimpses of transcendence. Within every mundane moment, there is an opportunity for glory—often provided by the ethereal conduit of music. Favela takes such potential and hones it for the benefit of all involved in the magnificent moment of his music.

The man behind this music explains his sentiments eloquently: “For music and art in general, it’s a fascination how it can affect someone in ways nothing else can. I can quite easily find myself struggling with the idea of why artists deserve a platform for sharing their thoughts. Through interviews, they share their views on anything like politics, or whatever, and I say to myself, why do people like us deserve that kind of airtime? When say, a nurse, who does their job every day doesn’t have that platform… My friend who’s also a singer responded to me and told me ‘It’s because music touches people in a different way than someone like a nurse can. A doctor can heal people physically, but musicians touch the heart and soul.’ That’s just something which can’t be underestimated. While it can’t be physically described, and it’s difficult to pinpoint, there’s something vital there which can’t be overlooked.”

Music has the unparalleled ability to heal and revitalize the spiritual and transcendent nature that humans possess. When music speaks to the interior life—with voices that coo and scold—we, oddly perhaps, want to hear more. We want that voice to speak into our lives in ever fresh and exciting ways. However, we often find this spiritual interaction is possible only through the music itself and cannot be replicated through an interview or an essay… Music simply has a distinct and matchless ability to centre itself in the every-day experience and exert its subtle influence over every aspect of our lives without us even realizing it: a light wash of watercolour paint offering colour to otherwise dreary days.

He grew up playing classical music, first picking up a guitar and writing songs at 10. “Violin was a big part of my childhood” he says, “so it’s definitely had its influence.” The intricacy and skilful nuance that is exhibited through the music is a testament to extensive training and discipline in his craft.

“I absolutely love natural beauty, landscapes, countryside. I hope that it comes as an extension of that.

Electronic music is very grounded in an urban feel, whereas because I have a love for the countryside, nature, that makes its way into my music, even through the imagery.”
The sound is visceral – kind of like a bustling, in-your-face in a crowded city, way. Yet what sets this music apart is the happy disparagement between the voice as an ethereal, otherworldly instrument and how it dances atop the immediate urban beats — the lyrics float separately from it. This creates a mingling effect of the countryside with the city. It’s as if his lofty voice and lyrics hug the ground like a wistful fog, holding glimpses of profound meaning and insight. Yet when one grasps at the lyricism in an attempt to dissect and deconstruct, the locality of meaning cannot be centralized. The lyricism is poetic and based in allusion, referring to something more vague. It whispers things that aren’t concrete. Giving a taste of something beyond itself, Favela elaborates, “I love words, the way things can mean two or more things. I base things in the mundane, but they mean something more and metaphorical.” A distinct example of such strange confluence of meanings is found in his lyrics in the song ‘Blinker’. “I’ll bury my head in a plastic orange grove,” which alludes to the lyrics of the song ‘Starlings’ by Elbow: “Marriage in an orange grove”.

He explains the connection, “I was using something quite metaphorical for earthly things, I guess the pleasure of marriage, paired with the allusive imagery of an orange grove which seems quite distant to me… seeing as it’s not a really a thing.” Though increasingly complex in his poeticism, Favela effectively makes things seem so real, yet so distant.

With eyes on the ground and a mind in the heavens, Favela takes the moment by moment, distracted days we live and elucidates our headspace and directs our vision to the future that is coming quick. By offering lyrical ballads that shift focus between our future visions, the frustrations of ‘blinkered’ sight, and the useless lives that disorients like a clashing gong, the experience of his music is sensuously holistic. There are various and vast allusions to the immediate and embodied experience of humanity that appeals to the five senses in an immediately visceral and accessible manner. The music video for the track ‘Future Visions’ features a young woman’s pensive and passive enjoyment of the carnival in its carnal and fleeting pleasures. The divergence between the quick-cut camera work and speed of roller coasters rushing by and the expression of boredom pasted across the woman’s face reveals the stark reality of life’s pleasures which, while giving us temporary satisfaction, don’t last. They fade.

By encouraging a time of illumination, Favela addresses the importance of carrying out the mundane duties and necessary but often artless responsibilities that give us respectable rank in society. However, he also points to something outside of being satisfied in settling merely into the present moment. He conspires against allowing pragmatism and efficiency to determine our lives thereby reducing human faculties to mechanistic expediencies. He addresses the stagnation of a shallow view of ourselves, where our attention is wholly engrossed in the external decorum we surround and inhabit ourselves with, where the only questions we ask are along the lines of "Are you worth your weight in gold?" But the lyrics go further than such worldly concerns; our minds must be beyond the worldly worth we assign to each other based on external and social signifiers. He leads his lyrics to a question that concerns the soul rather than appearances: "Are you worth your weight in gold when you take the necklace off yourself?” How valuable is your spiritual substance? These questions and examinations of deep value permeate Favela’s music with lyrics repeating phrases like "What do you perceive to be most precious?” and "We find gold in the place we don't look for”. The treasures and bountiful riches of the human spirit are mined by the carefully hewn pickaxe of Favela’s reflections.

Through his music about the grittiness of earthly experience, Favela effectively alludes to something beyond it. Intertwining the temporal with the eternal, he lifts the listener outside of routine and gives a glimpse of heaven. With a breath of life and meaning to the lungs of the soul, he pleads,”Please keep me grounded, but dreaming of future”.