FIONA JOY
Signature – Synchronicity
(Little Hartley Music)

 

World renowned as a piano virtuoso and music composer, Fiona Joy released Signature – Synchronicity in 2016. In 2015, Fiona released Signature – Solo and its follow up, Signature – Synchronicity takes her music to a whole new level of sonic excellence. Taking the solo piano music of Signature – Solo and reproducing it with number of musicians, the results make Signature – Synchronicity Fiona’s most exhilarating album to date. Commenting on the differences between the two albums, Fiona tells mwe3.com, “I took the same 10 songs and recorded them on a hand made contemporary Australian piano with 97 keys in an edited, overdubbed studio environment with full orchestration. Totally different worlds! I added lyrics, many layers of instrumentation and yet the piano parts are identical almost note for note, taking the keyboard length variations into account. I wanted the listener to see how different each approach can be.” The approach may be different but the music sparkles in a new and different setting. The production work of Will Ackerman, Tom Eaton and James Englund adds to the sonic experience. Recorded in both Australia and the U.S., Signature – Synchronicity also benefits thanks to the added input from key musicians such as Tony Levin (NS bass), Marc Shulman (electric guitar), Will Ackerman (guitar), Tom Eaton (keyboard pads) Jeff Oster (flugelhorn), Borbala Bodonyi (backing vocals), Nick Hawkins (beat box), Jeff Haynes (percussion), Eugene Friesen (cello) Rebecca Daniel (violin) and others. While the basic piano themes of Signature – Synchronicity were first explored on the Signature – Solo album, the music gets a new shine on these newly recorded versions—proving that great music can work in any production setting. An ethereal and captivating listening experience flowing with lush melodies and exquisite production techniques, Signature – Synchronicity is Fiona Joy’s most celestial-sounding music yet.




mwe3.com presents an interview with
FIONA JOY


mwe3: You told mwe3.com that your 2015 album Signature Solo would soon be followed by Signature Synchronicity, which is now your 2016 CD. How did one album grow out of the other and how would you compare the two? It seems like it’s one of the rarer things to happen in music, (to have 2 different versions of an album) although I think The Beatles did it on Let It Be, which they did many years later with Let It Be Naked. (maybe the Naked part came first in the case of Signature Solo) You also described both Signature Synchronicity and Signature Solo as being in two different worlds. Can you elaborate on that concept as it applies to how you approached both albums?

Fiona Joy: Hi Robert and thanks for this opportunity to talk about my fascination with different worlds and my recent two part Signature Series.

Signature Solo was played on an 85 key 1885 Steinway – solo piano recorded in single takes. I guess you are right about the naked part – totally revealing!

I then took the same 10 songs and recorded them on a hand made contemporary Australian piano with 97 keys in an edited, overdubbed studio environment with full orchestration. Totally different worlds! I added lyrics, many layers of instrumentation and yet the piano parts are identical almost note for note, taking the keyboard length variations into account. I wanted to the listener to see how different each approach can be.

I'm fascinated that the same songs, with the same meaning and played the same way can sound so different. To my mind, one is just a fully realized version of the other. I have other people telling me which is their favorite, but I can’t pick because to me they are part of the same body of work.

mwe3: What was your primary piano on Signature Synchronicity? You played the 1885 Steinway on Signature Solo, so did you find a similar sounding Steinway for Signature Synchronicity? Were the pianos mic-ed the same way even though both albums feature different engineers?

Fiona Joy: The pianos were also worlds apart. Going from an 1885 Steinway with 85 keys to a modern hand made Stuart & Sons - Aussie made - with 97 keys was a massive difference. I even had to slightly alter a few notes to accommodate the shorter/longer keyboard! I used all 97 keys in Signature Synchronicity. The very top and bottom notes are what I call ‘color’ – almost unable to tune within an audible scale – but roughly in the vicinity of the chords. The very highest notes are like glass and the deepest give off a lot of sympathetic reverberation and require precise pedaling so as not to carry dark undertones across your chords.

The Stuart requires good pedaling techniques. No doubt the Steinway is easier to play and much more forgiving, but that was negated by the recording technique to get each piece in a single take! That’s tricky – and no headphones or auto-tune... I did sing in one song on Signature Solo.

mwe3: You can hear the other instruments come into to focus on track two “Grace” which has been played a couple different times already. Is the Signature Synchronicity version of “Grace” the definitive version? Who is playing with you on the Signature Synchronicity version of “Grace”? You had said there was also a vocal version of “Grace” and one with your son Nick on it, which you described as a “chill” or “beat box” version.

Fiona Joy: To me the definitive “Grace’” is just the piano part. It’s been on a Grammy winning album (Winds of Samsara) by Wouter Kellerman and Ricky Kej, on a flute album by Sherry Finzer, my own solo piano version and the two versions both with lyrics on Signature Synchronicity. Track two is slower and more acoustic because the Track 7 version is chilled out with beat box and is played on a keyboard.

I have many musicians on the Synchronicity album. I sing the main vocal on both versions and on the slower version is Eugene Friesen on cello, Jeff Oster on Flugelhorn, Borbala Bodonyi with backing vocals, Tony Levin on NS bass and Rebecca Daniel on violin.

On the ‘Chilled’ version there is the addition of beat-box by my son Nick Hawkins, percussion with Jeff Haynes, electric Guitar by Marc Shulman and electric bass by Tony Levin.

I have two totally different videos to show the different takes on Grace:

https://youtu.be/iqkgLhRThIE

https://youtu.be/OcirPxyQnkM


mwe3: The Signature Synchronicity version of “Fair Not” features several other musicians adding in some additional haunting sounding instruments including guitars. Who is performing with you on this new version of “Fair Not”?

Fiona Joy: It's quite a grand production and very dramatic! I just released a video which is inspired by my fascination with A Game of Thrones – we painted a dragon on a piano, set it on fire and then burned it to the ground. I got to wear a princess dress – it was awesome fun.

There is cello by Eugene Friesen, violin by Rebecca Daniel, percussion and keyboard pads by Tom Eaton and NS Bass by Tony Levin.

This is the video for “Fair Not”:

mwe3: The Signature Synchronicity version of “Once Upon Impossible” is great and it also features your vocals. How many tracks on Signature Synchronicity feature your vocals and what can you tell us about the lyrics to “Once Upon Impossible” and who else is playing on the Signature Synchronicity version of the song? There’s a nice guitar solo towards the ending of the song as well. Who’s playing guitars?

Fiona Joy: Both Signature Solo and Signature Synchronicity have a vocal version of “Once Upon Impossible”. Both versions have no auto-tune - of which I’m very proud of! (LOL) Lawrence Blatt plays guitar with me on the Solo album... the only other person on the album, but on Synchronicity its just me and the piano and nothing else.

The song is dedicated to my ex-husband. It's about impossible love, love that no longer exists. It's about being let down by love that you would have liked to make work, particularly for the sake of your children, but the person has let you down and you just can’t continue any longer.

Lyrics:
If I could fall,
In love with you,
I would, I would
But I can’t, you made it impossible.

Impossible Impossible

Once Upon a time,
It was real,

Impossible Impossible

You made it impossible…


Here is the video – as if in a dream…


mwe3: “Calling Earth” is track five on Signature Synchronicity. Who else is playing with you on this version? There’s a lot of movement on this track. Are there some electronic keyboard sounds on that version? Are you playing any electronic keyboards on Signature Synchronicity? Also, I don’t think you’ve described how you came up with that song title?

Fiona Joy: The only keyboard track is “Grace (Chill Version)” The angel choir in “Calling Earth” is Noah Wilding, Borbala Bodonyi, Rebecca Daniel and Fiona Joy (me).

There is also a little cello by Eugene Friesen. He manages to make it sound like a radio tuning into planet Earth, so it’s hardly recognisable as to what the instrument is exactly. A few NS Bass notes are added by Tom Eaton. Its actually one of my favorite tracks.

I was lucky enough that an Ex NASA Senior Flight Engineer made a stunning video using real NASA footage to bring the song to life.

mwe3: How is the Signature Synchronicity version of “Invisible Train” different from the Signature Solo version? What other instrumentation do you feature on the Signature Synchronicity version? The song seems much more ethereal sounding on this Signature Synchronicity version.

Fiona Joy: This was the most fun to put together. It’s storytelling in the true sense of bringing parts to life using different instruments.

The vocal (Fiona Joy) is the smoke, the EWI (Electric Wind Instrument) by Premik Russell Tubbs is the train whistle and the percussion by Jeff Haynes is the train track. The piano is the train and there is some addition of the NS bass by Tony Levin to add to give the idea of movement.

mwe3: The chill version of “Grace” is track seven on Signature Synchronicity. Can you compare this version with the track two version and also the version on Signature Solo? What about the lyrics to the Chill Version of “Grace” or are they wordless vocals?

Fiona Joy: The lyrics are the same on both versions, actually the song is note for note identical in the piano, but one is slow with an emotional delivery and the chilled version is played on a keyboard to a click track with the addition of rhythm and beatbox. It's much faster and has a real ‘groove’.

The lyrics are:

If I could Be,
Near you I would be,
But you are far away
From here.

On the other side,
Of the rainbow,
I see you smile
Through my tears.

Chorus:
To be with Grace, To live with Grace, Always with Grace

One day I’ll find you,
Long way to go,
Sometimes I look for you,
Over the Rainbow

To be with Grace, To live with Grace, Always with Grace,
To be with Grace, To live with Grace, Always with Grace,

mwe3: Track eight on Signature Synchronicity is “Signature”, which is one of your greatest songs. Who’s playing with you on this version? With “Signature”, did you set out to create a kind of signature song? There’s some great string sounds on this version. Is “Signature” one of the heavier songs on Signature Synchronicity?

Fiona Joy: It's one of the few songs derived from improvisation that I have recorded. It’s actually the least associated to any story and just came from a natural place. I called it “Signature” because the whole project was named that as a kind of thank-you to my left hand for holding out so long. I have osteo-necrosis (bone death) in my hand and so therein lies the magic that I still can play any of this.

I’m flattered you think its one of my greatest... that’s awesome. It’s really just me on piano, Will Ackerman on guitar and Paul Jarmin on Taragato.

mwe3: Track nine on Signature Synchronicity is “From The Mist” which is another kind of signature song from you? If one would suggest a Fiona Joy signature song would it be “From The Mist”?

Fiona Joy: My Father writes one main theme on all my albums. He gave me the key theme for “From the Mist” and I took it from there and wrote the rest of the song around it. It sounded like a Celtic march to me and so I imagined it as such. My Father said it was about Scotland... his father immigrated from there to Australia. I called it a Celtic Fairie March! Part of the storytelling. LOL

mwe3: The final track on Signature Synchronicity is “Little Star”. There’s even some percussion on this version. Did you have a different idea for the track on Signature Synchronicity version compared to the Signature Solo version? Seems like a great song to end the album with.

Fiona Joy: For some strange reason, I can always hear the parts and where the song can go, even when I’m playing it solo. It's very impressionistic and I always wanted electric guitar, but more specifically the magic of Marc Shulman’s electric guitar to bring the song to life. Tony Levin helps takes the song to another place and adds some magic with the NS bass.

mwe3: Was the entire Signature Synchronicity album recorded at Imaginary Road with Will Ackerman and Tom Eaton? It sounds like they really captured the essence of your sound and vision. Did Will and Tom also play on the album or were they guiding the sound, behind the scenes so to speak in the studio?

Fiona Joy: The album was recorded in several places, but certainly overseen by Will Ackerman and Tom Eaton. The piano was recorded in my home by James Englund and the violin, Taragato, beat-box some vocals and the Irish Whistle were recorded with James also in his Crash Symphony Studios in Sydney.

The percussion, EWI, cello, bass, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, keyboard, flugelhorn and most of the vocals as well as the mix were all done at Imaginary Road Studios.

I believe the single most important ingredient in recording a good album is the mix. That was done by Tom Eaton, and it’s a stellar and stunning job. I probably give Tom the highest accolade in bringing an album to life.

mwe3: Is the Signature Synchronicity / Signature Solo concept complete in your mind now? Will they ever be released or reissued as a double CD set featuring both albums? Have you thought about what other projects you’d like to move forward with in the not too distant future? You were also talking about some live concert shows with Jeff Oster, Tom Eaton and Lawrence Blatt at some point? Either way, the future awaits!

Fiona Joy: The future is two things. One: FLOW, Fiona Joy, Lawrence Blatt, Jeff Oster and Will Ackerman. We can’t do it without Tom Eaton, so best to add his name in there as well. We are writing and recording an album and hoping to tour. As we are all very busy, the touring part maybe wishful thinking, we will have to see how 2017 pans out.

My other future direction is back to the roots of Signature Solo – it’s with Cookie Marenco and Blue Coast Records in the audiophile world where I believe there is a new market emerging for hi definition music. I have another solo album / SACD coming out as well as some talks for expanding into that area. Thanks for all your support Robert, it's been lovely chatting.



 

 
   
Attention Artists and Record Companies: Have your CD reviewed by mwe3.com
Send to
: MWE3.com Reviews Editor Robert Silverstein
2351 West Atlantic Blvd. #667754
Pompano Beach, Florida 33066

E-mail: mwe3nyc@gmail.com
New York address (for legal matters only)
P.O. Box 222151, Great Neck, N.Y. 11022-2151

 
 
CD Reviews Feature Reviews & Features Archive Photo Archive Contact MWE3 Home
 

 

Copyright 1999-2016
MWE3.com - All Rights Reserved