IT has been interesting discovering more about Rändi Fay…
and the video for her song, Supernatural. The songwriter talks about her start in music and how she had to give up her career as a veterinarian after a hand injury – Fay tells me about the music scene in Wisconsin and recommends some artists to look out for.
I was keen to know whether there are tour dates coming and what she hopes to achieve before the end of this year; a few records that are important to her; what sort of music she grew up around – Fay ends the interview by selecting a great track.
Hi, Rändi. How are you? How has your week been?
Hi! I’m amazing! I’ve had a great Labor Day weekend. Most of my family was up at my Door County, WI getaway and we did touristy stuff but also we are getting ready for my son’s wedding up in this area in two weeks. I’m also flying high off my release of Supernatural. We have so much to celebrate!
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?
I am a vocalist and songwriter from Green Bay, WI (go, Pack, go!). Like most musicians, I have been making music forever but I waited until 2010 to begin my professional music career when an injury forced me to retire early from being a veterinarian. I will try any genre but am known for being a jazzy torch singer live. I have had four nominations for Jazz Artist of the Year in Wisconsin! My writing has really taken off while earning a Master’s certificate in Songwriting (2017) through the Berklee College of Music online program.
I work with amazing instrumentalists, co-writers; teachers and a fantastic producer, stretching my skills and challenging genre. I have recorded six C.D.s that are representative of my development as an artist, from Chill (Red Hot Chili Peppers) covers through jazzy/bluesy originals to my current work in this sort of earthy symphonic Pop. It has been quite a ride!
Supernatural is your new track. What is the story behind the song?
The inspiration behind Supernatural was the age-old controversy regarding what makes music ‘real’. A lot of musicians are down on some of the synthetic sounds used in music today. But, to me, music is what’s in the heart of the creator and in the ear of the listener. It’s music if it connects.
I wanted to write a song that could show this by layering two very ‘natural’ instruments; a bass (upright, fretless and electric) and my voice - and with some cool processing - to create a winding ‘supernatural’ duet. I had a willing player (Timothy Perkins), a willing co-writer; arranger and producer (Aaron Zinsmeister) and we went for it! After coming up with a groove and some basic melodic ideas, the rest was like was like sculpting a rose from buttercream frosting - so sweet!
The lyrics flowed in the same vein, creating a story of the surreal chemistry of love and desire and the intense magic of it when equally matched - like the bass and the voice -; no one-sided idol worship; a 'supernatural' relationship. The magic was key! Aaron and I etched our way through several lyric re-writes and two bouts of a terrible cold while recording on my part, but always coming up with something more precise and on target for the best version of the song!!
What was it like filming the music video? Might we see more material coming up?
Filming the video was a blast! We had a really sweaty day and rain was threatening, but all went as planned! I got up early and ran (Haha - wanting to sweat off a few last-minute pounds, I suppose!) to be ready for call at my home for hair and makeup at 7:30 A.M. We chose a last-minute dress change for Azure Hall (the gorgeous dancer) which producer Jocelyne Berumen had just found and it was brilliant! Honestly, the worst thing was my dress would pick up every drop of sweat or oil and show a mark. I was terrified to touch it.
We took a break in the middle of the day and later met Tim Perkins (the bassist) and Aaron Zinsmeister (co-writer and song producer) at a studio to film the indoor scenes against a ‘cyc’ screen, allowing that cool shadowless effect. We were done by six and eating Mexican food next door to celebrate by 6:30. Jocelyne was amazingly prepared and a complete doll to work with.
More material, coming up? Sure. We are already three songs into a fantastic album to be released next year!
When did music come into your life? Which artists did you follow when you were young?
This question will date me! Music has always been in my life. By four-years-old, I knew every song to Disney’s Mary Poppins. In fact, I thought I WAS Mary Poppins’ saying “spit spot” and rearranging the living room to look like an array of chimneys to Step in Time. I continued to learn every song from the early Disney movie: The Sound of Music to White Christmas to Jesus Christ Superstar.
I also loved the amazing Jazz crooners who were still a part of normal radio and T.V. play, like Frank Sinatra; Rosemary Clooney, Ella and the Rat Pack. I was crazy for A.M. radio (thanks to savvy older sisters!), with the fantastic vibe of the emerging Rock scene - the British Invasion! Herman's Hermits, The Animals; Clapton, The Beatles; The Moody Blues and Dusty Springfield - and that is all before I was ten. Haha. So much intense and creative music!
Is it true you almost became a veterinarian until you hurt your hand?!
I did become a veterinarian and practised for thirteen years until I hurt my hand. Following the first hand injury, I had four additional random injuries to my right hand or arm over the next seven years - yes, #accidentprone. I kept trying to return to veterinary practice then finally got the message! I have am still a klutz but my hands have been injury free since I became a professional musician. Now, my greatest fear has shifted from limb injuries to laryngitis!
Wisconsin is where you are based. Is there a good music scene there at the moment?
The music scene here is mixed. There are fantastic and extremely capable musicians, writers; performers and producers who are based in Northeast Wisconsin. You can make inspired music here. But, the live music scene is a challenge. I think that is true in many places these days. Many venues are not comfortable taking a chance on original music and there are some super, super cover bands around here - so, they seem to prefer the ‘sure thing’. I am just so grateful to those venues that have supported my music and to the fans that have come out to listen and make their efforts pay off!
What do you hope to achieve by the end of 2018?
Hmmmm…I am hoping to make good progress on writing my new project, Intuition. This is a studio project I am co-writing with producer Aaron Zinsmeister that is a concept album. The understory is about moving through fear and isolation to a place of courage and love - for your imperfect self and for an imperfect other.
Track titles include Mystified, Uncaged; Serenity, Rise with Me; Lone Wolf, Melancholia and, of course, Intuition. We are going for a ’Symphonic Pop’ sound – Disney-meets-Moody Blues-meets Evanescence; rich melodies and instrumentation, passionate lyrics; earthy grooves. It is a huge project and I love the challenge. I also would love to grow my email list. Please sign on! I can keep you posted on progress!
Have you got a favourite memory from your time in music so far – the one that sticks in the mind?
A favorite memory…I have so many of great memories from my involvement in music, some hilarious and some uplifting, as I have such an oddly diverse background. I will narrow the choices to a favorite gig moment...
We were a part of a showcase for nominees of the Wisconsin Area Music Industry’s annual awards: sort of the Wisconsin Grammys; raising funds for kids and music. We had a thirty-minute spot toward the end of the evening and my band just shot on stage and totally rocked. We were so tight. It was great to be playing together, making money for kids and enjoying the evening with others who were celebrating our nominations.
Which three albums mean the most to you would you say (and why)?
Only three? Oh boy. These are today’s choices!
The Beatles - Abbey Road
A miracle of variety, sounds and stories; each so individual and yet so memorable with ambitious instrumentation and that Beatles thread of consistency. You can recognize the fingerprint of each of the guys as they each were ready to take off on their own while working on this one final collaboration without knowing it. NO fear of pleasing their audience with being predicable either. I admire that!
Linda Ronstadt - Simple Dreams
Linda Ronstadt had an amazing voice and an amazing ability to cross genre and do it in a chart-topping fashion. Without me realizing it, I am quite certain she is one of the reasons I have felt it possible to sing in many different styles; to continue to hone different techniques and to believe it is possible to do that. This album pulls songs from Buddy Holly, Roy Orbison; Warren Zevon, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards; a fantastic variety of writers, songs; renditions and a single singer.
Eva Cassidy – Songbird
What a voice Eva Cassidy had - and such a short life! This C.D. is so haunting in that it is so simple, so sincere and so beautiful. Eva Cassidy was a cover artist who she gave her renditions an intimacy that came through in her recordings and transcends her early death. I would have LOVED to see her live, using both pronunciations and meanings of that term.
If you could support any musician alive today, and choose your own rider, what would that entail?
I would have a hard time choosing an artist. I am a huge fan of Classic Rock artist, and most of the musicians I have been passionate about are sort of winding downing doing their own thing. I know a ton of hard-working local and regional musicians who just rock! I love their originality, their musicality and their work ethic. I would love to figure out a way to be sure songwriters get their credits and that live music pays better wages so that all of these incredibly talented struggling artists are supported in the industry!
And, my own rider…being on my own for so long, I can’t imagine anyone ‘taking care’ of me in that way. Hmmm. My dogs backstage would be a blast; Diet Coke and ice; fresh flowers? And no T.V. Take my phone away too! Privacy, a masseuse and a hair and makeup artist? Now, that would be fun!
Might we see some tour dates coming up? Where might we be able to catch you play?
After the release of Supernatural, I have chosen to take a break from live performance. I have been progressively creating music in the studio which I am not able to play live with my existing instrumentation. My band is amazing and we have been doing fantastic acoustic ‘covers’ of my recent work.
But, this new project is completely crazy and I have to get into it completely to be sure it is the best it can be as created in the studio and then figure out how to share my new music live. I will still be doing some feature vocalist work for fundraisers and private events! And there is a side of me that would love to do some cover work - some straight, big band music or maybe Classic Rock? Hah. I still cannot decide on one genre!
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
Experiment, play; learn, be open to new experiences and constructive criticism of those who are successful in the industry! There is a craft to be honed in creating music and you will find so many ways to better communicate your message. Honestly, never give up learning. Your music will be better for it!
IN THIS PHOTO: Caroline Dare
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
I am a little compulsive, but I do love to chill…sort of intensely! Haha. I run, hike; ski, read; garden, bake; hang with my family; my grandkids, dear friends; my dogs and kitties…
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
The Moody Blues - Nights in White Satin
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