The following is an interview with composer and musician Fiona Joy, whose new album, Signature – Synchronicity, is now available on iTunes and Amazon. In this interview, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief Barbra Dillon chats with the concept of her new album, the inspiration behind the fairy tale theme, how she balances writing, recording and touring, and more!
Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: You recently released your eleventh album, Signature – Synchronicity. How would you describe the concept of this album?
Fiona Joy: I’m very proud of this album about fairy tales told from an adult perspective; it has taken me a long time to be able to find a little ‘naive’ in some of these heart-felt issues.
I originally wrote this album as a plaintive personal exploration of the deteriorating ‘signature’ bone in my left hand and how it affected my work. I pondered my hopes, dreams, love, and reality, and the album evolved into stories reflected as modern fairy tales featuring magic, imagination, and the worlds into which we escape.
Despite the Doctor’s prognosis (osteonecrosis), it became my 11th album and I’m performing and recording more than ever. Right there is the real magic of this album!
BD: What inspired you about fairy tales as it relates to this album, and what do you hope that listeners will take away from your work?
FJ: I think so many stories relate as fairy tales – it’s real life with a touch of magic. For example, “Fair Not” is about a princess in a tower and a dragon at the bottom who protects her from an evil person. In a nutshell, it’s a story about a dangerous person who threatens the safety and sanity of my world, and so I translated that into piece of music that tells the story. It’s synchronicity – you feel something one way and you translate it into another form – a musical form.
I hope listeners can hear a little of their own lives in the stories. I can only suggest subject matter with instrumental music, the listener has to read the rest into it, and that is why I want them to identify with what they hear. The songs with lyrics are different; they are given a subject matter, but most of the album is instrumental.
BD: What can you tell us about the talented musicians with whom you worked on this album and their contributions?
FJ: I have been incredibly lucky to work with some of the best musicians in the instrumental world. Producer and guitarist Will Ackerman was the founder of Windham Hill Records, and his team which includes Tom Eaton at Imaginary Road Studios are second to none. James Englund helped produce the piano layer at my home studio on a Stuart and Son’s piano. We then took the piano to Imaginary Road Studios, where parts were laid by luminaries such as Tony Levin (Peter Gabriel), Jeff Haynes (Pat Metheny), Jeff Oster, Rebecca Daniel (ACO), Eugene Friesen (Paul Winter Consort), Premik Tubbs, Marc Shulman (Suzanne Vega), Noah Wilding, Borbala Bodonyi, Paul Jarman, Nick Hawkins as well as my own vocals.
BD: Can you take us through your artistic process of composing a song or album? From where do you find your inspiration?
FJ: I always start with a concept – it’s a basic plan or road map that gives me a sense of purpose for the music and an ultimate goal to achieve. This album was real live themes as fairy tales, but in the past I have written an album as a 68-minute film score (with 22 index points to move through the album). That was Blue Dream, and the idea behind that was so I could change directions, worlds, and genres in an instant by joining the music together rather than relying on the normal cohesive collection of pieces that sit together to form an album. After that I wrote 600 Years in a Moment which was about answering the question of globalization in a musical sense. I took a contemporary, hand-made piano and recorded it with ancient instruments from around the world to bridge time, distance, and history and bring them into a modern setting.
BD: As a full-time composer and touring musician, how do you balance your time creatively between writing, recording, and performing?
FJ: Great question. With a lot of difficulty. I have different hats. The easiest hats to wear are the creative ones such as writing, recording, and performing. The one you missed is the really annoying one that allows me to run my own record label. It’s a necessary evil, but I really need to put the business/marketing hat on when an album is complete, so I can get the music out to the wider world.
BD: Are there any additional projects on which you are currently working that you would like to share with our readers?
FJ: I’m working on two super exciting projects. One is a new SACD with Blue Coast Records (content partners with Sony for hi res music) – it’s called Into the Mist and it’s due out December. I’m also recording with FLOW which is a new group and the letters stand for Fiona Joy, Lawrence Blatt, Jeff Oster, and Will Ackerman. As four musicians with successful solo careers, we create something unique when we come together. The first FLOW album is due out next May – it’s as yet an untitled album even though we have the basic tracks recorded already.
BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find more information about your work?
Thanks so much for asking great questions. I enjoyed thinking about and answering them.