age and time in history when the sheer speed of life can actually
slow you down, Australian composer and piano virtuoso Fiona Joy
Hawkins encourages you to stop and smell the roses with her 2013
CD entitled 600 Years In A Moment. Once again,
Ms. Hawkins joins forces with the production team of Windham Hill
Records founder Will Ackerman and Corin Nelsen and the
results provide yet another winning instrumental album that combines
modern classical, jazz and World Music. Although based in Australia,
Fiona is on track towards becoming a world wide music phenomenon and
the release of 600
Years In A Moment only
enhances that fact. Featuring Fiona performing her hand made Stuart
& Sons piano, 600 Years In A Moment finds Fiona in the
studio backed up by a number of veteran musicians including Will Ackerman,
Eugene Friesen (cello), Todd Boston (wooden flute),
Marc Shulman (guitar), Tony Levin (bass guitar) and
a whole lot more. A sense of floating, sonic timelessness is rooted
at the core of 600 Years In A Moment. Commenting on her latest
masterpiece, Ms. Hawkins adds, 600 Years In A Moment was
created as an answer to the question of globalization
in a musical sense. I played a contemporary hand made Australian piano
with ancient world instruments from around the world to bring the
village and its hidden treasures into a modern musical setting.' Highlighting
the pairing of Ms. Hawkins and her concert piano with a range of old
world instruments, performed here by a number of musicians, theres
quite a contemporary feel to the music on this album. Being all instrumental
and mainly acoustic based, with a pair of tracks featuring female
vocals, 600 Years In A Moment encourages your mind to wander
and ultimately find safe haven in the magical, fantastic music of
Fiona Joy Hawkins. www.FionaJoyHawkins.com.au
mwe3.com presents an interview with
FIONA JOY HAWKINS
I was reading that you felt the effect of globalization was one of
the prime influences on your new album, 600 Years In A Moment.
How did you arrive at the concept of recording an album that combines
classical, jazz, New Age and Celtic influences with ancient instruments
and does the title and concept have something perhaps to do with the
timelessness of life and how things like, the internet say, can bring
centuries of history into modern day focus with the click of a button?
FIONA JOY HAWKINS: I think thats exactly it. Its about
bringing worlds together. To do that I tried to create a sense of
time, space, distance and history and bring ancient instruments and
their cultures into a modern setting. Slightly slower than a click
of a button but same concept.
mwe3: Where and when was 600 Years In A Moment written
and recorded and what was it like working once again with producers
Will Ackerman and Corin Nelsen at the famous Imaginary Road studio
in Vermont and how did you pick and choose the various players who
appear on the new CD with you? What other studios was the album recorded
in and how did that affect the sound and concept?
FIONA JOY HAWKINS: I love working at Imaginary Road. It was
a highlight of my career working as a producer with Will Ackerman
and Corin Nelsen. I think it may be the first time there has been
as such from Imaginary Road and that an artist has produced their
own album. Im honored to have had that trust in my work. I wrote
some pieces with various instruments and sounds in mind, other times
I spent hours searching youtube for the instrument I was after. I
researched all the harp sounds by listening to CDs. There are so many
different harps, and after I identified it was the Paraguayan Harp
I liked most, looked on youtube for a player in the US. I not only
found a great sounding instrument but when I saw Alfredo Rolando Ortiz
it bought tears to my eyes. He is a musician of the absolute highest
degree. Music comes out of every pore of his skin... he doesnt
just play it, he lives it. My journey was to find people like Alfredo.
People with a passion for their instrument but not too precious with
it in the traditional sense and able to play within a contemporary
I recorded in three different countries and the project took 4 years
years from conception to release!
This is the list of studios :
Stuart and Sons Newcastle Australia: Piano, Didgeridoo, Violin, Vocals,
Double Bass, Turkish Oud, Tarogato, Irish Whistle, Mongolian Throat
Singing, Morran Kurr, Buwu and additional percussion.
Imaginary Road Studios Vermont USA: Percussion, Cello, Vocals, Bass
Guitar, Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Tiple
Heart Strings Productions Halifax Canada: Vocals
Bryan Carrigan LA: Paraguayan Harp
Ted Spencer Studio NY: Laud
Phil Aaberg: Arrangement and keyboard at his Sweetgrass Studios.
Mastering: Gateway Studios with Bob Ludwig
Was the album recorded mostly in real time or was there a lot of overdubbing
and file sharing via the internet to make the album? For instance,
the title track 600 Years features you backed up by Heather
Rankin (vocals), Tony Levin (bass), Todd Boston (wooden flute), Eugene
Friesen (cello), Andy Busuttil and Dan Houghton (Irish Whistles),
Jeff Haynes (Irish Bodhran), Eugene Friesen (cello) and Marc Shulman
(guitars). The sound is flawless. Did you meet all the musicians?
Can you say something about recording the title track to the CD?
FIONA JOY HAWKINS: I worked with everyone. I flew all over
the place and the only session I missed was with Charlie Bisharat,
Corin did that session. Phil Aaberg worked alone and sent his orchestral
parts in first so we could build on them. I was the only producer
at the Paraguayan Harp session and only Corin and I did the Canada
and N.Y. sessions. All three producers were at the Newcastle Australia,
Imaginary Road and mastering sessions. It was a mammoth undertaking
and one that required a lot of organization. All parts are overdubbed
but the artist has all the other players playing in their headphones
as if everyone were in the room. It was impossible to have every player
together at the same time. When we play all at once, it's closer to
a live album rather than a studio album and that's one of my favorite
things - playing live. I cant wait for the album release in
Sydney on August 22nd. We are playing at the Seymour Centre Sound
Lounge and have 5 players on stage covering about 9 instruments and
mwe3: You also cite Eugene Friesen and Rebecca Daniel as being
important to the album. What did those two musicians contribute and
who else would you cite as being important to the overall concept
and recording of the 600 Years In A Moment album?
HAWKINS: Rebecca Daniel and Eugene Friesen not only did amazing
solo parts but both contributed substantially to the string arrangements.
It's Beckys amazing voice you hear in The Journey
also. I did a lower alto part but its very secondary to her
vocal. Their musicianship was key to the orchestration as was Phil
Aaberg. I think Heather Rankins vocal in 600 Years
is also amazing and so is Paul Jarman and Alfredo Roland Ortiz. All
the musicians were standouts so its hard to narrow it down.
I guess Im saying these names because they featured as soloists
mwe3: How would you compare 600 Years In A Moment with
your last CD, Sensual Journeys and how do you feel your music
has changed or evolved over the past decade? Where does 600 Years
In A Moment find you in your career and life?
FIONA JOY HAWKINS: 600 Years In A Moment is the album
I wrote after I grew up. It was more in an emotional sense than a
musical sense as I could write when I was a kid. Its slightly
more sophisticated in the writing but much more mature within the
concept and the life stories conveyed on the album. Blue Dream
was also epic but it was an outpouring of emotion that represented
my own life at the time. You are limited by your self and your place
in the world when you write, you can only tell the stories that you
are living. When you can move on from this and take on a broader aspect,
your writing is much more diverse and by being less self focused you
can use the wisdom you gain to move on with life, and that shows in
mwe3: Whats been the reaction to 600 Years In A Moment
in Australia and elsewhere? Is it very challenging to bring your music
to all the places in the world where you want it to be? Theres
that globalization thing again! lol
JOY HAWKINS: The album is very well received and the reviews have
been embarrassingly good. No one has said anything other than praise
and Im grateful for that. I should really add that, as usual,
the same old gatekeepers have ignored it but apart from them... You
just have to pretend they dont exist cause they will always
be prejudiced, I just wish the gatekeepers would put the darned thing
in their player and turn it on!
mwe3: I see you pressed vinyl records as well as CD and SACD
for 600 Years In A Moment. How would you describe the differences
in sound between vinyl Lps and compact discs and SACD and which do
you prefer and why? Also speaking of mastering guru Bob Ludwig, what
did he bring to the album sound?
FIONA JOY HAWKINS: Mastering is really important to the overall
product. Not only is the preparation of the CD into the different
formats but also some amount of very careful compression to allow
for radio play and car stereo play but without changing the integrity
of the music. The tracks are topped and tailed and spaced and global
reverb is added as well as small changes to the overall sound. Its
far too technical for me and Im giving you the Mastering
Guide for Idiots list. Bob is referred to as having the best
ears in the industry and of that there is no doubt. The SACD and vinyl
are for the audiophile population. The SACD is a hybrid/multichannel
and its remixed into 5.1 surround sound for a soundscape experience
if you have the expensive gear to play it on! The vinyl version is
180gsm double gatefold manufactured in Holland to the highest audiophile
specs and includes a bonus track that no-one else has heard.
Do you feel music is the dominant cultural art form in the 21st century
and with all the upheavals in the world, culturally, politically and
economically, can music still help bring world peace?
FIONA JOY HAWKINS: Yes to all you just said. Music transcends
language, culture and religion. Instrumental music is one of the few
art forms that speaks all languages and can reach all hearts and speak
to all people. I would love to think that music can bring peace greater
even than the peace it brings on a personal level.
mwe3: What do you think about the current music scene in Australia
and the rest of the world today? Do you feel like a New Age / Celtic
artist or more like a modern classical artist and do you see the borders
between genres melting away in time?
FIONA JOY HAWKINS: I struggle with genre identification. Australia
doesnt recognize New Age so its tricky to get around,
thats why I added the Celtic in there. Sometimes Im not
played on radio or included in festivals because they dont know
into which pigeon hole to place me. If I could abandon all genre descriptions
it would help I think. Its a shame we need a genre for retail
placement, ARIAS, Grammys and general recognition including download
categories, but clearly we still do. Windham Hill got around it by
supplying the shops with shelving tabs saying Windham Hill. They became
their own genre. Maybe there can be Classical, New Age, Pop, Country...
Fiona Joy Hawkins. That would be cool!
mwe3: What else keeps you busy these days? What other activities
enhance your composing and musical skills? Are you still painting?
JOY HAWKINS: I dont seem to get much spare time at all.
Im aiming to change that a little after this U.S. tour. I get
back late November after covering much of the U.S., and then Im
going to sit in the lounge chair and have a competition with the cat
to see who can stay in the one place for the longest.
After that I would like to have a more normal routine of cooking,
walking and one day I would love to find time to paint again! Next
year I have two major projects and a small tour, so it will be a wee
touch quieter. So long as no major films or new projects come along
its all good. (LOL)
Tell us about your upcoming tour of the USA. Are you performing with
Trysette as well and what music will you be performing on the American
tour? Is Trysette planning any new albums too? What pianos will you
be using on the tour?
FIONA JOY HAWKINS: We start in Raymond, Washington on the 8th
September and move down through California, then over to the East
Coast, to Colorado, Arizona and back to LA. We have all the venues
and ticketing listed on the front page of my website at www.fionajoyhawkins.com.au
or on our tour website at www.twograndimyours.com
Trysette is working on a new album and hopes to have it finished by
the tour. I know for certain she is playing songs from her new album
as am I. I think my track listing is a little more serious
this time, but having said that we have a lot of laughs in store for
the audience and will do some songs together also. Rumor has it I
may have a mandolin with me, thats if I get off my butt and
start practicing it in time! We are partially sponsored by Stuart
and Sons pianos and yet we dont get to play one on the tour.
We use the venue pianos and they could be absolutely anything. Grands
only of course!
mwe3: How about other plans you have for 2013? Last year you
mentioned you were planning to release a DVD and do some soundtrack
work. What musical mountains are you planning to climb next?
FIONA JOY HAWKINS: The DVD is taking FOREVER
.. it is
coming though and may get pushed back to 2014.
Next year Im recording a solo piano album live to DSD with Cookie
Marenco (ex-producer from Windham Hill) at her Blue Coast Records
in San Francisco.
Im writing and producing an album with Rebecca Daniel for a
brilliant writer and poet by the name of Spencer Ratcliff. It will
be a mix of poetry, stories and music.
Next year will see the release of the first album produced by Fiona
Joy Hawkins and Will Ackerman - it's my big my entry into producing
other artists! The pianist is a new pianist by the name of Jennifer
Defrayne and she will entering the music scene with her first album,
By A Wire, and trust me, it will be an album to watch out for!
My future will very much be centred around finding amazing new talent
and producing other piano and New Age artists.
I'm doing a small Two Grand Im Yours tour with Trysette
in November and thats the whole year done and dusted. Back to
the cat on the lounge after that!
Thanks to Fiona Joy Hawkins @ www.FionaJoyHawkins.com.au