A Fine Frenzy interview
September 8, 2009 by Beatweek
iProng Artist of the Week for October 19th
iProng Magazine talks with Alison Sudol, better known as A Fine Frenzy, whose new album Bomb in a Birdcage makes its debut today…
interview by Bill Palmer
Alison Sudol, who makes music under the name A Fine Frenzy, has just released her latest album of beautiful piano-based melodies today, entitled Bomb in a Birdcage. Alison and I had the chance to chat about the new album, along with what life is like on Twitter when you have a million-plus followers, her recent acting role on CSI: NY, and how she puts her iPhone to use while she’s on the road…
Your last record was well received and gained you a lot of new fans. Did that external success end up influencing you when you sat down to create this new record?
It did at the very, very beginning, and then I just kind of had to shake it off. It was influencing it in positive and negative ways, but I just kind of had to shake my head free because once you start thinking too much about how something will be received or what people might think or anything like that, it really stunts your creative process, I think. So I just kind of had to rediscover what I love about music and push myself to grow as much as I could, personally, and hope that people will come along for the ride.
In some places I’ve seen “A Fine Frenzy” referred to as your stage name, in other places as the name of your band. Which is more accurate in reality?
It’s the name of the music, and that encompasses everybody that plays on it and everyone that has a hand in it, and so I consider A Fine Frenzy a “we” not an “I” – and I play with the same people. We just added two more members to the band, Omar Cowan and Ryan Lerman, but we keep all the same people. So it is a band in that way, that it’s not just a constant rotating cast or anything like that. And I couldn’t do it alone.
You’ve been quoted as saying “I have a wild side too, I like to bang on things and cause a ruckus.” What kind of ruckus do you like to cause?
It’s more of an internal ruckus. But I mean, I like to dance and I like to be loud and fun sometimes. Not incredibly loud, like some people are loud. It’s more just an attitude of finding things funny and having a good time. My definition of a good time is different from a lot of people’s because I’m not a drinker or a partier, so naturally people kind of assume that I’m a little bit of a quiet nerd. And I kind of am.
Of all the musicians I’ve interviewed, you’re the first one who’s been on Twitter even longer than I have, which is awesome. Almost no one had even heard of Twitter back when you joined in April 2007. How did you first come across it?
Someone from the label actually said “Hey, we found this site and we think it’s kind of cool, do you want to check it out?” And I was like, does that mean I don’t have to blog very much? And they were like “yeah.” And I was like okay, I’m in! (laughs)
Because I’m a major, major perfectionist when it comes to blogs, and sometimes it’ll take me like a week to craft a blog that I feel good about, so Twitter I just throw things up there and it’s like who cares? It’s a lot less pressure and it’s also a great way to chronicle things. I try to tweet about details so that I can go back to it and remember.
So initially it was just me being lazy, and then once I realized that it was really cool, I got really into it.
When 2009 started, you had about seven thousand followers. Now you have a million followers. What’s the day to day experience like on Twitter when you say something and you’ve got that many people potentially replying to you?
It’s always an adventure. It’s really funny, sometimes the responses make me laugh quite a lot, and no one knows why I’m laughing because I’m just sitting there looking at my phone. Every now and then you’ve got the odd grossy one, nasty. But for the most part it’s just really interesting, and it’s really cool to feel connected to that many people. It’s weird. It’s very surreal.
Aside from being able to tweet, what are the other ways having an iPhone makes like different for you when you’re out on the road? Do you have favorite apps?
Just having the iPod on the phone is incredibly helpful, cause sometimes you just don’t want to carry a bunch of stuff, so that’s great. I’m gonna have to get out my phone. Let’s see. I just bought Scrabble, that’s pretty exciting. Not. (laughs)
I use BeeJiveIM, which is great for IM’ing cause I do a lot of stuff with the album artwork and stuff like that over IM, so that’s great cause I can do that wherever. I have something called Ambience which makes white noise and just random sounds, and that’s great for going to sleep. It sounds like you’re in the forest. And I use GigBaby, which is a four track recorder, and that’s really helpful if you have an idea that you need to get down right away.
I saw you on CSI: NY where you were portraying a piano player, a fictional character but your music was still kind of involved. Is that something you want to pursue, where you have roles that are further away from you being a piano player, pure acting roles?
If the right role came along. I think that being a good musician means always challenging yourself, and acting can be a huge challenge. So in that respect I think I would love to do it. And also it’s just an outlet. So I definitely would be interested in that, but I would want the right role, and a small role so I could learn. I think all creative endeavors are interesting.