Transitus, Deciduous, & So Much More...Up Close & Personal With Fiawna Forte.
On a recent road trip to Dallas to see Ms. Lauryn Hill and Austin City Limits releasing their 2016 line up, I began to feel a terrible sadness in my heart. I was telling Lin that I used to live for shows. He remembered. I would literally travel to see Wilco all over the world. (I even got a hummingbird tattoo on my arm just for "Hummingbird" which is my favorite Wilco song ever.) I didn't miss a Ryan Adams show as long as it was within reason. I attended so many ACL's, SXSW's, and let's not even get me started about attending as many live shows as I could in my current hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma. I had this "concert fund" jar and anytime I had extra cash floating around it just went into that jar that I forgot about until it was time to purchase tickets. I never missed a Pitchfork interview and I was your "Go-To" girl on the latest and greatest of anything involving music. I miss that Sam greatly. I miss being connected and involved to the music scene. I was introduced to Fiawna Forte's music about 7 years ago, maybe longer and I immediately fell in love with her voice and her song writing just tugged at every emotion in my body. I was going through a transition in my life where I spent some much needed time alone after a terrible break up ( the break-up that you think you will NEVER get over) and her music healed me.That might sound silly to some but music is truly such a critical part of my life! I was once asked would you rather be blind or deaf. I immediately said blind. The thought of never hearing music again would just be the hardest thing for me. Her Soundpony show in 2009 was killer and I needed more. Her music was an instant obsession of mine.
A few friends and I bought tickets to her Transitus cd release show May 14th of 2010 and I never looked back. Fiawna became a favorite and Transitus didn't leave my record player for probably a good six months straight. As the anniversary of that album approaches and with her debut of 15 new songs tonight ( solo, acoustic, and voice) at Soul City of Tulsa , I am just so honored she took the time for my interview. Tonight is going to be amazing. As soon as she's finished inside, they will be headed outdoors to close the night with a good - old fashioned - outdoor rock & roll set! Zach Short & Zac Hardin at their side! As a bonus, "Deciduous" vinyl will be there and you can grab it tonight! 180gram - white vinyl, heavyweight gatefold - cd included! Get all the info here and GO !!! 9:00 p.m sharp. Fiawna just posted to fb today saying " I've been in a long writing phase and I am tired of playing to my refrigerator "
FIAWNA FORTE INTERVIEW:
-Where were you born? What brought you to Tulsa?
Lake City, FL
Within nine months, our house burned down, my parents sporting good store burned down and then my dad passed away in a freak accident when I was five and then my mom dropped everything and moved us to Tulsa so she could go to school. Cheery, I know.
-So Transitus...can you believe that was 2010?
Nope. Crazy. It was 8 years ago, yesterday, that we played the first full band set.
-I'd rather die and Boat Song are still frequents songs of mine that i listen to! They embark so much emotion in me. Can you talk about them? When and where you wrote them? Who are they about?
When I was about 14 there were a few times I went into the studio and would just improv. The producer would hit record and go run errands. When he came back we would go through it and split up the songs. There was a simple 30 second ditty composed of 2 notes going back and forth. It stuck with me through the years and later turned into I'd Rather Die.
Boat song started at Matt and Amy Sawyers house on Damien Shades birthday. I was sitting in the living room drinking tea, trying to write, and Damien kept yelling out random words from the kitchen to try to spark something. But I was stuck on it for quite awhile. It then came pouring out on the dirty floor of a Days Inn while I attended rehab. It's one of those real life fiction songs.
-Deciduous...I cannot get enough of Love ain't loving me? Can we talk about this ? When and where you wrote it? Who is it about?
Haha! Again, written when I was 14. My entire family in Florida play music and so we'd all sit around and go through what we had written since we last saw each other. My cousin Lance and I would trade songs for hours but I quickly realized i had very little that he could play along with me. So I wrote Love Aint Lovin Me as a call and answer song. The lyrics began to form over time. It was written to show that face value isn't always reality.
-I saw on FB you have been busy writing some new songs that you are going to be debuting May 6th at Soul City...how many can we expect to hear? And can you share a favorite chorus of one of the songs?
15 in total. That is if I finish these last two tonight. Here's a chorus from one of my more favorite ones to sing.
"It's just like John said,
It's just like John said,
How an untamed eye can't see the light.
And as I write, my hand goes dead.
It's just like John said."
-You're in the groove right now? Do you want to be the type of artist who puts records out on a regular basis?
I love making albums. Especially, when you find the right people to work with. I have about 5 albums worth of material right now and the more I write the more I get a little overwhelmed about not being able to just instantly release it. So yes, there will many more albums of all sorts. Just working on a more fluid way of getting it all out.
-How can someone in the audience get your attention?
When they engage. It's not always easy as a performer and sometimes you feel completely worthless to an audience. But those shows when you know you have at least one person connecting and becoming a part of the experience with you.. I never forget their face.
-Do you carry a special drink on stage?
Yes, an old family remedy for throat coating
-Favorite show to date? What made it so special and unforgettable?
There's been a few. One unforgettable show was at Pianos in Manhattan where I was almost kidnapped. Long story. But in a positive way.. Columbia, MO last year. In a secret venue behind a hair salon. It wasn't the biggest of crowds but everyone in the room was 100 percent there with us. The band has never been more tight and connected. Just one of those that left an impression.
-Do you collect anything ?
My husband would say notebooks. They're all over our house. But other than his record collection, all I can think of is old wine and champagne corks from special occasions. I hang them on a small white Christmas tree that stays up in the corner of our dining room. Oh, and, unintentionally, Coppola wine bottles.
-You work closely with your husband (Phillip)..even playing music together? Do you ever butt heads on the music?
Actually, never. We have a great system where if it's my material I have the final say and vice versa. And when it's a co-write we've learned to flow really well. I think it's more about letting go of your pride and being honest about what the best direction really is. Hasn't failed us yet.
(top photo by Michael Cooper) Bottom photo by Derrick Weber)
-What do you and Phillip enjoy doing outside of the music?
Well, most of our time revolves around music but we love to hang out together. We talk about our dreams a lot and come up with ideas for new projects. We love to play tennis, or have a catch in our backyard. We take as many road trips as possible, getting cabins along the way. And all around just being a couple of goofballs. We're extremely goofy.
-What is your favorite food?
Indian hands down.
-Latte or cappuccino?
Always black. I worked as a barista for years and after awhile the cream and sugar get to ya.
-Pie or Cake?
Pie! Buttermilk is a favorite. But my grandma makes the best pumpkin pie!
-Fave place to travel?
Canada in the fall. Or Colorado. Just anything with a beautiful drive.
-You have the best hair of anyone i know..what are your hair secrets?
Haha.. I read this out loud to Phillip and he laughed. I am terrible with my hair. It controls me more than I do it. We have a constant love hate relationship. I use to try so hard with it, buying all the fanciest products. Now, just chemical free Shampoo, conditioner and rinse. And then I stay out of its way. Seems to be the best fit for us both.
(photography below by Phillip Hanewinkel, Michael Cooper, & Derrick Weber)
-Your favorite Sunday consists of...?
Waking up early. Getting a cup of coffee and writing a song. If it's raining, all the better. Not much I like to do more than writing.
-Fave season and why?
Autumn. I love the weather, the colors, the smell of chiminea's and barbecue. Playing volleyball, football, or softball at our families house. We also got married in the fall, so we always plan a fun trip around that time. But I'll take a good wintery snow any day.
Two Old Goats body lotion.
-Where do you shop?
I don't actually like to shop. Please don't shoot me. Unless, it's hardware store supplies. I've professionally painted for years and love
buying new brushes and pails. I also like Michaels craft supply.
-Oldest thing in your closet?
Probably an itchy, puffy, bright pink pageant dress my mom made me when I was 4. She was an amazing seamstress. I was a terrible contestant.
-How would you describe your sense of style?
Leather jacket, boots or barefoot. Or whatever's comfortable.
-Advice you would give to the young aspiring musician who doesn't know where to start?
To stop trying and just do it. Everyone and their grandmother has opinions. And they all know you and what you should do with your life better than you ever will. So let them live out that scenario and you just do what makes you happy. Pure, sugar coated free honesty. Learn the word 'No' as fast as you can and develop thick skin for when you need it. And remember that if someone on the planet has done it, then there's absolutely no reason why you can't. Then, shoot for more. But, in my opinion, the greatest piece of advice I know is to always, always, ALWAYS be grateful. Stay humble. Go out of your way for others and they will go out of theirs for you.
-At what age did you know you were going to be a musician?
The day the doctor said it's a girl and slapped my butt. I was in a way born into it. I wrote my first song at two and began playing guitar at age seven.
-What's next for you Fiawna?
I, guess, we'll have to wait and see. I change my mind at a very rapid pace. And I'm in a very strange place in my life right now. Lots of life altering things slapping me in the face. Many different directions and paths opening and closing all the time. So I'm going to play this show,release my new vinyl and then take it one day at time from here.
-If you could write an impromptu song about me what would you call it ?
"The Smoky Ballads of Sweet Sophistication"
And now I am going to flip out in a great way if one day I hear The Smoky Ballads of Sweet Sophistication...
Local loves..go to this very special show tonight. Not local to Tulsa...purchase Fiawna's beautiful music. We will all be on the edge of our seats waiting. Deciduous ends with a track called Goodbye, Dear Tulsa and I cannot help but wonder if Fiawna is feeling a bit of wanderlust. Time will tell. Time will tell.
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