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VydamoJim Finn of Art Vs Science overcame a health setback to record and release his debut solo LP, Becoming Human, under the alias of Vydamo. ALASDAIR DUNCAN reports.

Jim Finn of Art Vs Science shows off a softer side to his songwriting with his 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 for Finn that laid the ground work for Vydamo. Early last year, he was due to head off on an overseas tour with the lads from Art Vs Science – he was looking forward to spending several months gallivanting around Europe when in March, 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 explains.

“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.”

Given his album’s retro-leaning sound, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Finn himself is a big collector of vintage keyboard gear. In fact, most of the sounds on Becoming Human came from the studio.

“I wrote most of the songs on Garage Band, and they were fully formed even then,” he explains. “I recorded it at 301 in Sydney, and they have a room of keyboards there, so I went in and played with all of them ‘til I found the sounds I wanted.

“There were times when I’d think ‘okay, I want a stabby synth sound here and a floaty synth pad here’, so I’d find things that fit the demo, and seek out better sounds when I got to the studio. That part of it was definitely really good fun.”

For Finn, one of the more enjoyable parts of writing songs with 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.

“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.”

“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 reveals that the band are 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.”

The aim now is to get the remaining songs fully formed, so that they can go into the live show.

“That’s ultimately what will decide it,” Finn says. “The songs that get the best reaction in the live show are the ones that will make it to the album. It’s a lucky place to be, that we have a following and we can road test the song and gauge the response – we’re very grateful for that.”

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