Frazey Ford comes to Brighton as part of The Old Market’s Reigning Women Campaign

Speaking softly, in that same gentle tone she sings with, Canadian singer and songwriter Frazey Ford says her love of music was established in the family home. Her mum and dad “had a huge collection of records” she tells me, “constantly blasting music”. Fond, early memories include singing along to Emily Harris songs, or listening to albums by Linda Ronstadt.

As a solo super star, she has released three well-acclaimed albums, and will be setting off on another tour this March. The Old Market will welcome Frazey Ford on Friday the 17th of March as part of their Reigning Women Campaign. I had the opportunity to speak with her all about her musical journey including where it all began, her influences and writing processes.

Back to the start…

To go back to the genesis of her music passion, she gives insight to a small segment of her family history. Her mum is French Canadian, and moved from the states to Canada with Frazey’s father in the 60s. Frazey grew up in a household where her mum was always playing the accordion and piano. She was taught to sing by her mother when she was three or four. The two of them would harmonise together. “I think that is where my love of music originated”, she states reflectively.

Growing up around so much music, what Frazey has developed in her own songs is something sweetly original. When I asked her to describe her sound, Frazey said she “does not like to describe my music. The only way to describe music is by comparison of styles.” The two styles she locates herself, however, are “somewhere between Otis Redding and Joni Mitchell”. Shifting her ‘sound’ to genre, she relates it to a melding of folk, soul and country influence. In terms of her originality and experimentation, she describes rhythm as the layer of music she is excited by the most. Rhythm is what makes music so interesting.

Image by Alana Paterson

U Kin B The Sun

In 2020, Frazey released her third and latest album U Kin B The Sun. This album elevates every beat and groove with the subtle magnetism of her mesmerising voice. Going back to the time of writing, I am curious to know what initially inspired this project. “It is always hard to think specifically about what inspired a particular project. I am always writing music,” she responds. “Or not always writing” she continues. “But when I am in a writing mode, I am writing for years and I can’t say what specifically inspires anything”.

The lyric ‘U Kin B The Sun’, too, is hard to describe. She explains that it was something that just came to her spiritually and her interpretation of it changes all the time. Frazey compares that song to a form of meditation: “it can mean your soul, your light, your experiences”. “It just means something to me and that changes”. “A powerful song will morph to the needs of the listener”.

Writing as a spiritual journey

Writing the album, however, she was going through a lot emotionally at the time. “An album is always inspired by things I am going through”, she reflects. One of these emotional experiences was that she unfortunately had a lot of the death of the family. She openly reveals “I had gone through many years of healing myself from the trauma that I had experienced as a child”. Frazey tells me her albums always tend to be a reflection of self growth and development. That is a journey she has known for a long time.

Her music is arguably a product of her healing. While U Kin B The Sun invites self-reflection for the listener too, it also encourages wildly joyful movement. It ultimately sparks a quiet transcendence. Another inspiration was the chemistry she had with her band while performing her second album Indian Ocean on tour. She said this chemistry sparks from the fact that it was a “technically difficult album to play”. Her band are evidently a large part of her musical creations.“In fact a lot of [U Kin B The Sun] was co-written with my band and also improvised in the studio”. What you can expect when listening to this album is therefore raw love and emotion. Also raw talent as it is extemporised at the musicians’ very fingertips.

How Frazey’s writing style has changed

Frazey explains that this unconcealed nature of the album is one way her writing style has potentially changed since producing Obadiah, released in 2010. Both albums “come from a different place and different avenues”. She says, “In Obadiah I wrote a lot more about family story and the mythology of my life. Maybe now it’s more the raw experience of it’.

Indian Ocean, her second album, was recorded with the help of members of legendary Memphis soul band The Hi Rhythm Section. One thing Frazey and her band learnt from these siblings was just observing the way they move together. Frazey speaks in awe of the “joyous expression they have” when they perform music. She allows this “long term musical connection” to influence her own band. Exploring their sound collectively, this is how the chemistry amongst Frazey and her band was enhanced.

Image by Alana Paterson

Writing this third album still did not come naturally for Frazey Ford. She describes herself as feeling like a beginner every time she wants to write. The creative process always varies; “I just try to get into a rhythm”. She makes a space for “ideas to come and shape and craft”, also using other creative modes to let her imagination run wild. Ceramics, sculpture and drawing are listed amongst the other hobbies she enjoys to “explore my creative mind in different ways”. Dipping her toes into these other outlets “always allows something new in the writing process”.

U Kin B The Sun was recorded at Raham’s Afterlife Studios in Vancouver, British Columbia. It features Craig McCaulon guitar and Phil Cook on keys. Another inspiration for the album was accidentally seeing American musician D’Angelo performing live one night in Holland. “I play that a lot in the back of my mind,” she explains.

On working with a band and celebrating other kick-ass women

Before delving into her solo career, she performed with The Be Good Tanyas and I ask how her career compares now. “I am still part of a band, it is just my own band” she explains. Collaboration evidently seems to be the key when it comes to her album making, emphasising again that “[the band and I] arrange songs and work together”. The difference between her music now and her music then is that Frazey wanted to independently explore more soul. “Be Good Tanyas was all under the genre which was closer to what I grew up singing, in the alt-country umbrella”. Thinking back, she decides, “I miss that music” and hints that she may return someway to that form.

Frazey Ford will be performing live at The Old Market in Brighton on Friday 17th of March as part of the Reigning Women campaign. This campaign is a celebration of kick-ass women across the creative scene. Amongst some female artists that Frazey is currently listening to she mentions SZA without hesitation and The Weather Station. “Oh and Cleo Sol, I love her!”

Getting ready for a new tour

Kickstarting her tour in March in Stockholm, Frazey is very excited to go to many of her favourite cities. She then proceeds to tell me that “Brighton has a great vibe” and the story continues, “I met someone recently in Canada who was at my show in Brighton when I was heavily pregnant”. She remembers that show being full of baby hormones, and is looking forward to making more memories in our town. “I am expecting to enjoy myself as much as I always do”.

The females of the Reigning Women campaign span a range of genres, but it is no surprise Frazey has been included in the line-up. Her music is delicately uplifting, fully embracing her soulful musicality. Her amicable spirit transcends into her songs in ways that are deeply purifying. On this tour, you can expect to hear a brand new track and even Frazey on the electric guitar. The tour will be a chance to fully immerse ourselves in the beauty of You Kin B The Sun while anticipating that “a new album is percolating”, Frazey beams on thinking about what is next.

Book your tickets to see Frazey Ford live at The Old Market at www.theoldmarket

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