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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, October 12, 2012 - Volume 40 Issue 41
Arts & Entertainment
ALL STORIES
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Her roots are showing

A Fine Frenzy channels her native Seattle on new album

by Albert Rodriguez - SGN A&E Writer

She's a hometown girl. Born in Seattle, Alison Sudol is very proud of her roots. Best known by her stage name, A Fine Frenzy, the 27 year-old is a blossoming singer-songwriter in the U.S. and Europe. Her newest work, Pines (out October 9), is an organic collection of delicately written tracks embedded with all of nature's usual suspects: trees, water, wind, animals, and the mountains. And even if you've never heard her name, you've probably heard her music, which has been featured on numerous film soundtracks (The Lucky One, What to Expect When You're Expecting) and TV shows (The Vampire Diaries, How I Met Your Mother, House). Now based in Los Angeles, A Fine Frenzy is one of this year's City Arts Fest highlighted performers, slated to appear with Joshua Radin at the Moore Theatre on October 18 (info at www.cityartsfest.com). Speaking by phone from a hotel room in New York City, here's what Seattle native A Fine Frenzy shared with me inside 'The Music Lounge.'

Rodriguez: I know you moved away at a young age, so how much do you remember of Seattle?

A Fine Frenzy: Weirdly enough, I remember a lot. It was all kind of vague, as most childhood memories are, at least for me, but I remember the trees so vividly and I remember my street and the ocean. We used to go all over the place, we used to go on little day trips. The landscape is something that stuck with me my whole life.

Rodriguez: Do you have family here in Seattle?

A Fine Frenzy: My godparents and their family live up there, so they're sort of my roots that remain up in Seattle. My parents moved up there after they got married.

Rodriguez: You're touring with someone I met and interviewed a long time ago, Joshua Radin, who's a really great guy. Have you two known each other for a while?

A Fine Frenzy: No, actually. We met years and years ago very briefly, and this will be our first time getting to know each other. But we've talked pretty briefly recently, and he seems like a real cool person. I'm looking forward to it.

Rodriguez: Are you and Joshua sharing a tour bus? That might be distracting because he's super-cute.

A Fine Frenzy: [laughs] No, we have different tour buses. I'm spoken for, but he seems like a nice guy.

Rodriguez: Are there plans to do any collaborations with Joshua, aside from your own individual sets?

A Fine Frenzy: Yes, there's definitely an idea of a little collaboration work, we're just working on that, actually, and thinking about it. But for the most part, it will be just our two sets.

Rodriguez: You mentioned that this new record tells a story, so would you say it's a concept album that's tied into one specific plot or theme?

A Fine Frenzy: I've been describing it as a fable or a story, but trying to steer away from the concept album stigma. But it is technically a concept album.

Rodriguez: The album begins with 'Pinesong,' which clocks in at nearly eight minutes. Will the live version be about the same length?

A Fine Frenzy: It might not be that long. I think we're going to cut down some of it, intros and outros, from the show. It just really depends. What works with the song and what doesn't on the record doesn't necessarily work live. We're trying to approach everything as conveying the spirit of the song, rather than being tied down to specific things.

Rodriguez: Walk us through your live show. Are you performing solo or with a band, is it mostly quiet or are there moments of loudness?

A Fine Frenzy: I do have a band, so there will be a few of us on stage. The show is sometimes very bare and quiet, very intimate, and sometimes it's big and fun and loud and occasionally danceable. It's definitely like a ride.

Rodriguez: The new album sounds really, really good. Will you play all or two-thirds of the songs from it on this tour?

A Fine Frenzy: We're still figuring that out because we're still rehearsing through things and working out different live arrangements of songs, so I think it depends on how it all adds up live with how much time we have. Ideally, I'd love to play the whole record - it just depends on time constraints.

Rodriguez: When you have some chill-out time, who do you listen to?

A Fine Frenzy: I listen to all kinds of stuff. I listen to Fleet Foxes and Grizzly Bear, Emiliana Torrini and Gonzales - Chilly Gonzales's piano pieces. I listen to Fats Waller and The Black Keys.

Rodriguez: Do you have any guilty pleasures? Like, do you have anything from 'the Biebs' in your iPod?

A Fine Frenzy: [giggles] Ah, no! I don't even know what the Biebs sounds like because he's so sweet-looking. I've been known to sing along to Kelly Clarkson if I happen to hear it on the radio, but that's about it.

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