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INTERVIEW: Fiona Soe Paing

Hi Fiona, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

Hi there, nice to meet you ! I’ve been crazily busy lately, although it’s been great fun… but I woke up this morning from a dream where I was driving my van much too fast during a storm, and it went out of control and crashed… then I started sinking in the mud… think it’s telling me I need to slow down and have a rest!

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Alien Lullabies”?

Alien Lullabies is the name of the album, not the song…. but the themes of the album are about loss, longing, childhood nightmarish fairytales, feelings caught between yearning for something in the future, and nostalgia for an idealised past…

Did any event in particular inspired you to write this song?

I think you must mean the song “Behrot”, as there isn’t a song called Alien Lullabies on the album…. Behrot was not inspired by any particular event.. but just on a general feeling…. feelings that are sometimes too difficult express or impossible to put a name to, or to put into actual words, so I  used improvised vocal sounds to convey a general mood and atmosphere. 

How was the film experience? Who come up with the idea for the concept?

After writing the track, I was listening back to the improvised vocal and trying to figure out some meaning to it… I thought that the intro sounded like an Eastern European platform announcement at a deserted railway station in the wee small hours… so I talked about that to Zennor Alexander, the animation artist I work with, and we went with the idea of a creepy train journey for the video. I think it’s a perfect film accompaniment for the track, it really captures the  mood and dark, bleak  feeling of the song.

Why naming the album after this track in particular?

See above answers in question 2 and 3!

How was the recording and writing process?

For the song, it was a really an interesting process of experimentation. I wrote the music first and then did some improvised vocals over that, recording the first thing that came out without thinking or having a plan of what I wanted to sing about, intending to go back and write proper lyrics later… but I thought that the abstract sounds sounded much  better than any other attempts I did with actual words… so I just kept the original improvised recording, as it was so emotionally raw and unusual sounding!

Does Bjork influence your music in any way?

Bjork has been a huge influence….. I love the way she is always totally just herself, not trying to fit into any genre or style, and constantly pushing boundaries in everything she does

What role does New Zealand plays a role in your music?

Having lots of time, space and freedom to create without the pressures of normal day-to day work routines were great for experimenting and being creative. The landscape and environment gave a real expansive feeling, and being in  totally different surroundings really freed me up to just play around with ideas more.

What films get to inspire the music on this record?

Hmmm, I’m not sure if the music was inspired by films as such… the music all came from playing around with electronic sounds that I thought sounded interesting, and from vocal improvisations, but maybe Eraserhead and Bladerunner….I think they have that surreal, dark feeling that is also there in the music. 

What aspects of the unknown did you get to explore with this album?

Ha, huge question! Well writing the album was pretty much a leap into the unknown in every way… I didn’t know whether I would be able to use a computer to write music for a start! I was writing on guitar before, and really reluctant to get into computer music, and was unsure if that was even for me….and also getting to explore my voice and use it in different ways, and exploring and uncovering feelings that you didn’t really know about-  all a bit scary but exciting too!

Any plans to hit the road?

That would be nice eventually but not until I’ve got a wee team on-board to share the workload.. and the driving! I did a few dates in May, supporting Ruby/Lesley Rankine on tour which was great fun, buy a FSP solo tour is a little way off yet…

What else is happening next in Fiona Soe Paing’s world?

I’m performing at Belladrum festival on the 5th and 6th August, and then at Doune the Rabbit hole Festival on August 20th. In between that, I’m working with an amazing theatre company called Dudendance, who are doing an outdoors performance at an abandoned mansion in the Borders, as part of the Edinburgh Fringe. I’m going to be doing a stripped down version of one of the album songs, along with other unreleased instrumental tracks. In September, I’m performing at Sonada Sonic Arts festival in Aberdeen.

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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