Jim Finn of Art vs. Science is showing off a softer side to his songwriting with side project Vydamo. His debut album, Becoming Human, takes the rollicking, adrenaline-charged party tunes of his main band and replaces them with far gentler and more melodic synth pop sounds.
“I started writing songs for the project in around February last year,” Finn explains. “It was more of an exercise in song writing for myself. I hadn’t written a song by myself in years, because with Art vs. Science, we always write together. After I’d written one, I started to feel more confidence, and feel that yearning to get that same feeling you get when you’ve completed a song you’re happy with.”
Surprisingly, it was a health scare that laid the groundwork for Vydamo. In March last year Finn was due to head off on an overseas tour with the lads from Art vs. Science, spending several months gallivanting around Europe, when he found out that his kidneys had failed and he needed to stay put in Australia. Finn took the news in stride. “I thought I’d make the most of my time and keep writing,” he says.
“I wasn’t intending to write an album, but after about six songs, I realised that I had something that really fit together, something that sounded like a real representation of me, so I kept going and made the record.”
Throughout the whole process, Finn was determined not to let health problems get him down. “I didn’t look at it as too much of a big deal,” he says. “It’s inconvenient having your kidneys fail, but for me it was like having a broken leg and sitting around waiting for it to get better.” Everyone in his family offered to give him a kidney, but it turned out that his dad was the best match, so they wasted no time in organising a transplant. “It takes six months in dialysis to get there,” he says, “but I knew there was an end in sight. I always feel like worrying doesn’t change anything, so there’s no point in doing it. Eventually you get over things, and if you get over it immediately, it makes the whole process easier.”
For Finn, one of the best parts of writing songs as Vydamo is the fact that it allows him to distinguish himself from Art vs. Science. “I’d say that with this project, you can hear my love of those quieter, gentler types of music coming through,” he says. “When I was writing Becoming Human, that’s the mindset I was in, and it all came together in that kind of sound. Right now, we’re writing the new Art vs. Science record,” he continues, “and we’re doing lots of upbeat party tracks, but that’s a part of my personality as well. I guess, when I was writing the Vydamo songs, if I came up with some sort of upbeat party track, I would probably say to myself that ‘this would work better as an Art vs. Science song than a Vydamo song’. I know things like that quite early in the piece, usually.”
As for the future of Art vs. Science, Finn tells me that the band is right back in the swing of things. “I was writing and rehearsing with the boys literally 45 minutes ago,” he says. “I think we’ve recorded about 10 songs so far for the new album, but we have about 30 ideas, and we want to get them all worked up so we can find the best ones.”
BY ALASDAIR DUNCAN
Becoming Human out now through Sony.