If it hadn’t been for the headstrong, opinionated, intensely committed, and notoriously media shy Rollo Armstrong, the world would never have been blessed with the eclectic musical talent which is Faithless.
It was these encounters which spawned Faithless, and continue to fuel its vitality.
Formed in 1995, it took Faithless a mere 17 days to create their first album release 'Reverence', which fast became one of the most spectacular, and internationally successful dance albums of the decade. The eclectic diversity of the members of Faithless fuses the sounds of house, blues, rap, and folk together in both melancholy melody, and throbbing bass tracks, which continuously stand out from mainstream music.
The release of Reverence in 1996 marked the departure of Jamie Catto from Faithless. He didn't leave the band on bad terms (rumours said otherwise). He contributed to a few tracks on 'Sunday 8pm', and continues to pursue other projects which occasionally have him working with various members of Faithless.
The few hostile critics which remained after Reverence were sent spinning with the band's second album. Sunday 8pm gave birth to several hit singles including 'God is a DJ' which remains a club anthem years down the track. The album received nominations at The Brit Awards, and the MTV Europe Awards in 1999, and was also one of twelve Mercury Prize nominations. It's success lead to Faithless being listed as one of Europes biggest dance artists. Sunday 8pm sold in excess of 1.5 million copies and 4 million singles world wide; And Faithless soon followed up with Saturday 3am, a limited release of Sunday 8pm, with a bonus cd of remixes.
2001 saw the release of the groundbreaking third Faithless CD 'Outrospective'. An intensely creative release, this album was conceived after a long break from the otherwise hectic touring schedule Faithless have stuck to over the years, and was a hit even before it went on sale. 'We Come 1' was the albums first single and sparked much interest from the public, as well as criticism over the video clip. In many countries the video promo was cut for daytime viewing due to government claims that the violent clashes between party goers and the police were not suitable viewing. Outrospective reflects a peak in the creative powers of Faithless, and lead them into another impressive worldwide tour.
Sister Bliss and Maxi Jazz have over the years (and the departure of Jamie), become the public face of Faithless. Maxi's Buddhist worldview somehow compliments and enhances Bliss's thought-provoking opinions and endless knowledge of the realms of house music. Opposites unite: classically trained female house music producer, joins charismatic Buddhist rapper on stage. The result? A creative explosion of eclectic sound and fierce intellect, which has vibrated through the world since the release of the first critically acclaimed Faithless album. It has been proven once and for all that individuality is the essence of true beauty.
Although Rollo is one of the key members of Faithless, he confines his contribution to the studio, and does not tour or make appearances on stage, due to the simple fact that he doesn’t play any instruments. The Rollo/Sister Bliss production team in the studio is something to marvel: They each seem to know what the other wants. Rollo lays the chunky bones to a track, whilst ever the perfectionist Sister Bliss polishes fragile melodies with her classically trained ear, and creates the perfect bassline.
Faithless would not be the same without the energy Maxi Jazz contributes to the group. His rap monologues are as powerful as his onstage performances. With beautifully woven words he shares his intelligent worldview with anyone who cares to listen. His poetic prowess, and energetic stage presence leaves most other performers for dead.
Faithless lyrics are not left to Maxi alone. Depth and difference is added to the amazing album releases, and live performances by many other contributers.
Rollo’s sister Dido has performed lead vocals on all three of the Faithless album releases. She has also lent her backing vocals to several tracks, along with samples of her music, one of the most well known being a sample of her song 'My Love Is Gone', which has been used as a chorus on the Sunday 8pm track 'Postcards'.
Vocalist Zoë Johnston from Bent made a stunning Faithless debut on Outrospective, and is the newest addition to the Faithless crew. She tours with the band, hypnotising the crowd with her haunting vocals on songs such as 'Evergreen', and 'Crazy English Summer'.
Whilst being ignored on the most part by the mainstream music culture the world over, Faithless have become veterans of the worldwide live scene. They are considered by many to be one of the most passionate, and individual live acts in the world. And their recreation on stage of their albums lives on without fault.
'When I'm on stage, I see couples who are at least 65. I see disco kids who scream whenever I move. I see people in their thirties, who listen intently, squeezing their eyes shut and pumping their fists whenever they hear lyrics they like. There's no such thing as a typical faithless fan.' - Maxi Jazz
With delirious melodies which make you swoon, at times it is easy enough to embrace the belief that melancholy is what Faithless do best. But upon hearing the throbbing intro of We Come 1 the crowd on the dancefloor begin to pogo like crazy, fingers pointing in the air, those on the balcony moving as much as possible without breaking their hands on the low hanging ceiling, every soul singing in harmony with each utterance of the familiar line from Maxi’s lips, realisation hits. It is this mixture of diverse extremes which lies at the heart of Faithless.
The music they create continues to influence the sound of contemporary dance music. Ever widening arcs of emotion, from fenzied love to dejection, and absolute empowerment to bittersweet tales of unrequited love, find their home in the perpetually morphing musical masterpieces of Faithless.
'When people come to our gigs, we want them to be lifted. Changed. Empowered. Moved off the ground.'
- Sister Bliss
Reverence - 1996 - Cheeky Records
Reverence/Irreverence - 1996 - Cheeky Records/Jive/Zomba
Sunday 8pm - 1998 - Cheeky Records/Festival/JIVE/Zomba
Sunday 8pm/Saturday 3am - 1998 - Cheeky Records/Festival/JIVE/Zomba
Outrospective - 2001 - Cheeky Records/BMG