How do you say the title of Faye Webster’s new album, I Know I’m Funny haha? She’d love to know.
When Webster says it over the phone, it sounds just as it does on the title track – fluid, seamless, somehow a perfect blend of dignified self-aware levity. I try it on for size and my attempt is stilted. It’s a nervous ha-ha, like a bungee cord that snaps taut too soon. I repeat it, but my fastening self-consciousness makes the delivery even more wooden.
Webster comes to my rescue, swooping in to save me from myself.
“It’s like trying to read a script, right? Like dude, why is it so weird?”
Discussions about weird comes up a lot with Faye Webster. The idea of writing songs with other people is a weird concept (“Nope! Send me an MP3 and I’ll send one back!”), as is strangers sidling up to her inbox (“Who is this DMing me? Who are you? I don’t know you”). What’s distinctly not weird for Faye Webster, however, is writing about being love and living with her partner. Which, in a way, is weird.
After all, Webster’s young discography has been intrinsically tied to loneliness and solitude. On her 2019 breakout, Atlanta Millionaires Club, Webster’s glassy, atmospheric folk songs won her a legion of new fans who were enamoured by the matter-of-fact serenades to lost loves and odes to solitude. The album’s success led to more opportunities and exposure: Adult Swim commissioned a song (which is re-recorded on the upcoming album), Atlanta Millionaires Club made some end-of-year critics’ lists and by the close of 2020, even Barack Obama was listening.
I Know I’m Funny haha sheds the most of the melancholy, opting for warmth as Webster documents the bloom of her relationship with fellow Atlanta musician Keeling ‘Boothlord’ Thompson, one half of rap duo Danger Incorporated. I Know I’m Funny haha gestures at the grandiose, like loving so hard brings on tears, but Webster shines brightest when she brings life to mundane moments. Passing comments at the dinner table, stray observations from her porch and an acerbic internal monologue form the bedrock of a record that Webster describes as refreshing to write.
“Normally, I just want to write when I’m sad because that’s the only time I feel like I can work to express myself, so this was different,” she says.
“I don’t think I even noticed until I had done it, like ‘Aw, this is my first hopeful album’, but it’s nice.”
More than hopeful, I Know I’m Funny haha sees Webster with newfound confidence and assurance. She admits that her last record came as she was still finding herself, releasing when she was 22-years-old. Now 24, Webster is more comfortable.
“I feel so in my skin when I’m writing. It’s such a natural thing to me now that I’ve found myself writing about new stuff,” she says.
Part of that growth Webster credits to therapy, but she also stresses the benefits of being surrounded by loved ones. Across the rollout of the new album, Webster’s inner circle is ubiquitous. Her brother Luke designed the merchandise and helped name the project, whilst the bombastic music video for ‘Cheers’ radiates community.
The hometown production, shot in the underpass made famous by Migos’ ‘Bad and Boujee’ video, features a micro-constellation of Webster’s friends and previous collaborators, including director Matt Swinsky, photographer Brandon ‘Eat Humans’ McClain and Boothlord.
Webster also brings Japanese folk singer Mei Ehara, for the album’s sole feature on the sparkling ‘Overslept’. Given the chance to talk about her close friend, Webster is effusive with praise.
“I just fuck with her music,” Webster says .
“I feel like we’re very similar in the sense that we basically use the same instruments and style, but at the same time she does stuff that my brain can’t even think of doing.”
A number of high-profile names were floated to feature on the song, but Webster preferred a collaborator that had personal significance to her. She analogised it to Father’s feature on ‘Flowers’, the only track with a guest verse on her previous album.
“When I wanted someone on AMC, it was really special given the person I chose for that. It was such a meaningful person for me at the time and for my career,” she says of Father, whose label Awful Records released Webster’s 2017 self-titled album.
“So when I was thinking about this and everyone was throwing out all these names, I was just like, ‘I don’t know, the person who has influenced me the most over the past two years is Mei and if anyone is going to be on this record, I feel like I owe it to her,’”.
Webster is a big believer in letting songs form organically, like a green thumb tending to a sprouting garden. Earlier in our conversation, she rejected the suggestion that the sonic diversity on I Know I’m Funny haha was the by-product of deliberate experimentation.
“I’ve never done that,” she says. “When you put too much thought into what you want it to sound like, I feel like in the end that makes it different from what it should be.”
Instead, Webster runs off feeling and experience, writing songs that often feel like a patchwork of stray thoughts that coalesce into a central epiphany. I Know I’m Funny haha is so polished that it’s hard believing there’s as little premeditation to it as she claims (she also has a policy of withholding demos from the band until they’re all in studio), but it’s even tougher believing Webster to be anything less than authentic.
Like anyone in their mid-twenties, Webster is still in some ways a person in flux. I Know I’m Funny haha deals with that candidly, especially on the haunting album closer ‘Half of Me’. The result is a holistic body of work that beautifully illustrates the feeling of maybe, hopefully starting to figure it all out. Faye Webster may not have all the answers, but at the very least she’s much happier and, most importantly, she knows she’s funny.