Pat Fa: Germany's Musical Trailblazer
Pat Fa is a German musical extraoadinaire; a man who somehow combines drumming for the likes of Rea Garvey, working as musical director for The Voice of Germany winner, Jamie-Lee Kriewitz, and still finding time for songwriting and, as you can imagine, a whole lot of admin. Headliner couldn’t pass up the chance to ask how on earth he manages that schedule, finds time for motorbiking across Europe, and how using RME’s audio products has made everything just that bit smoother.
How are you today, Pat?
Fantastic, thanks! I’ve just returned from a motorbike tour through France, Switzerland and Germany. I was driving a fantastic vintage Yamaha SR.
What have you been up to recently, besides blazing trails on your motorbike?
[smiles] The whole summer was very busy touring with the Swiss first lady of soul, Stefanie Heinemann. I was also on German superstar Rea Garvey’s Get Loud Open Air tour. We played some huge festivals – great vibes!
How did you get into music and playing drums?
Well, my dad was a musician himself, so there was always music around the house. A lot of rock and soul records, and guitars! One day I saw Ringo Starr and it kind of thrilled me. But at that time I wanted to be Paul! [laughs]. But it wasn’t until I discovered Nicko McBrain of Iron Maiden – that blew me away. I had to become a drummer. Begging my parents for a drum kit finally paid off, and then I spent the rest of my youth in our basement.
How do you manage to juggle drumming, songwriting, and musical directing?
It´s quite hard, I must admit. But I´m a very organised guy. I spend a few hours every day in my office, planning travel or organising gear, but I really love the challenge. I discovered there´s still quite a lot of wanting to be Paul in me! I see myself as a musician, not a drummer. So I can live that persona during songwriting sessions, and arranging for my MD Work.
And what's it like drumming for Rea Garvey? He has a great social media presence.
Oh, it's a fantastic gig. We’ve had the opportunity to play to pretty big crowds over the last few years. It reminds me of when I was a kid; I sat down and listened to all the live records I could find. I’d collect all the LP inlays with photos taken on the road at airports, hotels, backstage scenarios, trucks, buses and stages. Very often, I remind myself that what I’m doing now is what I’ve actually always wanted, and I’m very grateful for that.
And what's the story behind getting the gig for Jamie-Lee Kriewitz?
Well, after The Voice of Germany tour ’15 and ’16, I got a call from her management. They knew me mainly from my musical directing work for Stefanie Heinzmann. It’s just fantastic when something like that happens – I put a lot of energy and all of my passion into every one of those projects. And when that leads to something new, because people understand and feel my dedication, that´s just a dream come true.
Tell us about your studio in Cologne, and how you utilise your RME interfaces...
Yes, the studio is where we produce and write a little bit of music. Sometimes we have some interesting projects in the loop: music for computer games, or recording for a movie soundtrack, stuff like that. I use a lot of RME equipment in combination with Ableton Live. For live, I use the UC, the UCX, UFX, and the UFX+; and in the studio it's the Octamic XTC in combination with the UFX+. The first time I used RME was in a live television show on March 1st, 2012. That date is ingrained in my mind, because shortly before that we had a massive problem with our audio interfaces from a different brand! [laughs] In the past, I was really desperate quite often, because we had all of this computer gear on stage, and it wasn´t working properly. You couldn´t rely on it, and that´s a horrible feeling on stage! Somebody gave me a contact to RME, and I called a guy called Kai Reiter; he told me not to worry, and sent me a UFX, so on that date, my life changed! I never ever had any problems again.
What is it about the RME equipment that floats your boat, so to speak?
[pauses]... Everything! It's all so well made, and it’s just fantastic gear; for me, they're the best audio interfaces in the world. I see the UC, UCX, UFX, and the UFX+ as more or less one product – you just decide what you need for specific situations. So they are all my favourites. Also, the RME team are really lovely people to work with; they offer great support, especially when you’re at your most desperate! In fact, a very special thanks to Kim Anna Knödler on this point; whenever I need a solution, she knows who to talk to. That's pretty amazing.
And you're a guitar fanatic too, we understand...
Of course! I have a very fine collection [of guitars] myself, some really beautiful acoustic guitars and a few precious electric guitars and basses. During my studies at the conservatory, I had to play the piano, and I played a little trumpet. But guitars, that's a matter of the heart for me.
Before we let you go, what are you hoping to do in the future as a musician?
To be quite honest, I just want to keep on doing what I do now. Because it always expands; you meet new people, you listen to new music, and there’s inspiration to be found everywhere. I only hope to keep growing, and get better as a musician and a human being.