Chet Faker opens up about experiencing the effects of “long COVID”

"It never occurred to me that it would mess with my brain"

Chet Faker has opened up about his experience enduring months of lingering health effects after first contracting COVID-19.

Speaking with triple j’s Richard Kingsmill, the singer-songwriter – who released new album ‘Hotel Surrender’ earlier this month – said that after first catching the virus, he was able to recuperate from the initial effects in bed from his apartment in Manhattan.

“I was basically sick in bed for three days,” he explained. “‘I’m pretty sure this is COVID because this is nothing like the flu or anything I’ve had before.’ But then I was all good.”

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Three months later, however, Murphy began to notice the symptoms of what’s been described as “long COVID” – the term used to describe persistent, long-term mental and physical health issues that remain after first catching the virus. Common symptoms include fatigue, headaches, shortness of breath and cognitive dysfunction.

For Murphy, the worst symptom of the illness he experienced was “brain fog”, a general term to describe cognitive impairment including memory problems and inability to focus.

“I thought brain fog was when you wake up in the morning [and think], ‘Oh, I need my coffee’. It’s not like that at all… It’s more like you know you’re awake but every time you try to think, something smacks the thought out of the way,” Murphy told Kingsmill.

“That for me was the scariest part of it, basically my brain didn’t work… I remember standing in my kitchen for like 15 minutes, trying to figure out if I was going to sit down or what I was doing. It was really hectic. I wasn’t scared by the physical sickness… But it never occurred to me that it would mess with my brain.”

Murphy said he recovered after he received his vaccination, having not experienced any symptoms since he got his second jab.

“An article said something like 40 per cent of people with long COVID had said that the vaccine had helped with their symptoms,” Murphy said. “By that point I was so fucking messed up; I hadn’t done anything in three months, I went and sat in the park every single day. I was so not good. So once I read that, I’m like, ‘Alright! I’m going to get the vaccine.'”

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‘Hotel Surrender’ marks Murphy’s first album under his Chet Faker moniker since breakout 2014 debut ‘Built on Glass’. The record was preceded by singles like ‘Low’, ‘Get High’, ‘Whatever Tomorrow’ and ‘Feel Good’.

Speaking to NME earlier this month, the musician talked about how when COVID struck in New York, he would spend his days at his “second home” – his own studio in Soho – working on the songs that would eventually form ‘Hotel Surrender’.

“My studio became a sanctuary for me. That’s what the record is essentially about. Hotel Surrender is the nickname I gave that space – it’s a place within yourself, of being present. You have to check in to this hotel by surrendering whatever was going on,” he said.

“I wouldn’t bring anything into the room that didn’t need to be brought in. You don’t have to not be angry, or sad, and the more I did that the sooner it would pass and open up this space of being fundamentally OK.”

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