Friday, April 21, 2023

INTERVIEW | 'Your Dreams Are Worth Fighting For' - Faïnn Talks New Single 'Golden' and Returning To Performing

found her voice again.

After a vocal injury derailed her performing career, the Nashville songstress took not just a step but an entire leap back from the stage. Now, after a little detour via the publishing world and vocal coaching, she's back doing what she loves most - and her latest track, 'Golden', taken from an upcoming EP, is proof that she's never sounded better.

She took some time to chat with us about her journey, the new single and her plans for the year! 

You've had an interesting musical journey to get to this point right now, on the cusp of releasing your debut EP. It's also an inspiring journey as you came back from a vocal injury...and you came back from a place where, is it fair to say, you retreated from all things performing?

I honestly stopped doing everything. It all came to a head my last year in college. I walked away from my senior recital thinking 'I'm never going to sing again'. I didn't sing for five years. I didn't do anything. I didn't write, I didn't sing. Physically and emotionally, it was painful.

Working in the music business, especially in publishing, I spent most of [that] career working alongside songwriters and they're just so inspiring. At that point in time, I thought I was never writing again. Just being around some wonderful people writing music got the fire going in me again. It came with my voice first - I didn't even contemplate writing. I just wanted to start singing. That was what I grew up doing, it was my first love. I started tiptoeing and all of the things I said I'd never do again were the things I ended up doing. 

You did retrain as a vocal coach. Was that retraining and refocusing to this new career one of those little tiptoes back into the realms of performing? Or was it just from a point where you loved singing and wanted to remain, in some way, part of that sphere?

It was a little bit of both. I was fortune to have great relationships with voice teachers in my life. My first teacher, I was in middle school, she helped me grow as a musician so much. Then in college, I had a great relationship with my teacher too. It was one of those things where I appreciated what that brings to a vocalist, the things that you can learn - how your voice works, what you do well and working one on one with someone. I really responded well to that and I wanted to be a part of that again in some way. At the time I wasn't really thinking about performing, I wanted to learn more about the voice and how it works and help other people...and if I got more comfortable singing too then great! 

Did that decision to transition to a vocal coach ultimately prove to be a blessing in disguise and bring out a better understanding of your own voice?

It really did help me. Learning more about how the voice works and the science behind it helped to inform me and reference back like 'oh, maybe that wasn't the best decision to lock myself in a practice room for hours a day and hammer things'. I learned how to be kind to my voice because I'm a very driven person. If you tell me to do something, I want to do it perfectly. Earlier in life, I was going for that perfection. That was my goal and that isn't attainable. I was wearing myself out in the process. That was a big learning thing. Having a better relationship and being kind to my voice and knowing when to stop and take breaks...that sounds like something that should be intuitive but it's not always. Teaching and coaching other vocalists now, I see that's a common trait in a lot of singers to keep going and 'get it right'...but that's not always the best thing, you can run yourself into the ground.

What was it that finally gave you the push to pursue performing again? And writing? And, ultimately, this EP?

It was one of those 'I'm never going to do this' things. I had it in my head that I was a terrible writer. Working with a lot of songwriters, I saw what great songs were and I didn't feel like I met that bar. At first,  I was like 'I'm not going to write, I'm just going to release covers'. It helps me flex more of a creative muscle - I started with songs from the 80s, taking those and finding a different way to interpret them. That's where it began. 

I actually started wanting to work towards an EP but I was too scared. There were things that I wanted to say but I thought someone else could say it better. I started reaching out to songwriter friends and saying 'I'm looking for some songs and this is what I'm going for'. I had the idea of what I wanted to say and so I had [them] start sending me things. Some of those things were great. The title track of the EP, 'Force', is not a song that I wrote. It's a song that my producer wrote and it's absolutely incredible. The more I started listening to other songs, the more I was like 'there's nothing quite like saying things specifically yourself' That's when I started getting back into writing and really fell back in love with it pretty quickly - like 'why was I so scared of this?' *laughs* Finding the write people to co-write with has been a really big help. I'm writing with wonderful people and it's a fun collaborative experience.

Your latest track, 'Golden', is one of those songs you wrote for this upcoming EP! And it's a beautiful track for your husband, a sweet thank you to him for all his support...and we love it! But what was his reaction when he heard it? When did you first share it with him?

I actually played the work tape for him that day. He's such an emotional guy, he cried *laughs*. He cries more than I do and it's great. I've written a few songs about him but that one got him!

The song came to life with help from close friends. When writing and recording, especially coming back into music, it must be special to get to share and create all that with a close circle...

Starting off working on this EP, one of my best friends Femke - who is a songwriter/producer - we met when I was working at the publishing company - she was a writer, I've known her for ten years. That was really special to have our friendship experienced in a different way as we hadn't worked together. That's been really great. 

'Golden' especially, writing it with my friend Julie Lavery, man...that was such a special thing. This was one of the more recent songs that I wrote, it was about a year ago. I wasn't planning on putting it on the EP. I had another song in mind but as we were putting the songs together, [that] one song felt [like] it was too dark and a little too depressing *laughs*. I love dark and depressing songs but it didn't quite fit what I was trying to say. I had played 'Golden' a couple of times at some shows last year and that was the one that people kept coming up and saying 'I really liked that one' so [I thought] let's just record it. Writing it with Julie, she has such a great relationship with her husband, Spencer, who co-produced this one [so] I knew she was the perfect person to write a song about a marriage and having a great relationship.

That song is, obviously, a very personal one. Is it important for you to share a vulnerable side with your music?

Definitely. I always try to be super honest in all of my songs, everything that I write. Sometimes it's really scary but with this one, the only pressure I felt was that I didn't want to write a super cheesy love song. My husband and I have been together for seventeen years. We've seen a lot of ups and downs and life together. I wanted it to mean something and have depth to it and I think we did that. Being vulnerable is hard but is the most important thing. There's satisfaction when a song is complete and you've been honest. 

What I adore about your music is that it's not confined to one thing, one genre. There's a wealth of different things about it that makes it sound so great. What, especially when it comes to this upcoming EP, have been your influences?

I really love big cinematic sounds. Lana Del Ray is definitely an influence. The artist Léon, she's indie-pop and has these beautiful cinematic swirls in her music that I absolutely love. We went kind of went, especially with 'Sometimes', with a 90s/early 00s Dido vibe - I love going back and listening to her stuff, it's so good, the production is amazing! These last two songs 'Golden' and 'Force', feel a little like Florence and the Machine for me - I love her so much.

We have that EP to look forward to but what else does the year have in store for you?

I'm getting ready to do a residency at a place in East Nashville. I'm excited about that and getting out and performing a lot more. I'm hoping, sometime, to make it over to the UK. That's definitely a goal to come and play some shows. Honestly, [I'm] just really excited to start working on the next thing. I've already been working on some ideas for the next project and starting to write as well. This EP has been so special being my first one and I've learned so much from it. I'm excited to dig in and start something new.

And, finally, to close things out...what do you want people to gain from listening to your music?

I want people to take away a sense of hope. That's a really big thing. I love a good sad song, of course, but I really want people to listen to my music and feel encouraged. That whatever is going in their life, things are going to be okay eventually. That was the sentiment of 'Sometimes' but I want that to be an ongoing theme. Your dreams are worth fighting for - that's what I say all the time, because for a long time I didn't think mine were. 


For all things Faïnn, click here.

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