Woman of Indie: Fiona Bevan – Us and Darkness


Our Women of Indie issue has been an absolute whirlwind for those of us at IMR. We anticipated maybe 100-200 submissions tops when we first discussed this idea. The response was over ten times that; quite overwhelming when you think about it. Over 2,100 submissions to go through to give us 25 Women of Indie.

If you have listened to any of the women we have covered over the last few days, you know that we found some absolutely amazing talent. Brilliant women from different styles and various walks of life, but they all had one thing in common: tremendous drive to be heard.

2,100 submissions…25 female artists…one cover. How do you decide which one deserves it over the others? It is no simple task. Which is why we are so proud to have Fiona Bevan as the cover artist for Women of Indie!!! You will not confuse this artist with any of the others. With a singing voice as distinctive as James Earl Jones speaks, and a sound that is equal part theatrics and music, she has set herself apart from the pack.

Bevan has been working the UK music scene heavily and supported singer/songwriter Ed Sheeran on tour and worked with the infamous Adam Ant last year. Hailing from London, she has put together and EP that could be the soundtrack to a play. Us and Darkness is brilliant in its ability to create a picture in your head long before Fiona sings her first word. Part jazz, part folk, part artistic experimentation; you cannot pigeonhole this album or artist.

Opening and title track “Us and the Darkness” starts with busy piano play creating the foundation for the hustle and bustle the song builds. Bevan’s voice, Macy Gray-like, is bright and infectious. She almost whispers in spots and it pulls you right in. Repetitive strings that almost sound like sirens contrast with Bevan as the soundscape is of chaotic city life, but her voice rises right above it.

“Feeding the Love Bird” is driven by a bass, piano in a minor key and occasional frantic strings, creating a dark picture of love and how it can be something that devours all that you are.

“Dial D for Denial” is a brilliant tune, and was a semi-finalist at the International Songwriting Competition last year. Feist-like, it carries a bouncy tune despite the subject matter. Hiding from the reality that a relationship is over, you can see the smudged lipstick and smeared mascara as Bevan creates that perfect illusion that many of that have experienced heartbreak has. The brilliant part is that you can see the cracks in the façade in the music and hear it in her voice.

The perfect complement to the last track and the EP closer is “A Broken Heart Can Heal.” It feels almost as if lifted right off the stage and Bevan is the one giving sage advice to another heartbroken lover. Even the worst crushed heart can’t help but bounce to the melody. The video for this song, featured below, is a stroke of brilliance in creativity.

Fiona Bevan is the epitome of independence as she has created a career out of marching to the beat of her own drum. Her music needs to be seen almost as much as heard. The artistry of the whole package is nothing short of amazing.

I had the chance to talk to Ms. Bevan and learn more about her. Take a look below:

Who is Fiona Bevan?

I am a singer songwriter, half British, half Canadian, from the deep countryside of Suffolk, England, and now living in the vibrant hip buzzing neighbourhood of Hackney, East London… I’m an optimist, I love meeting new people and hearing their stories. I’m always gigging, composing and songwriting or out seeing my friends gig or catching up for a jam. I also do music therapy with adults.

It is pretty obvious when listening to your music, seeing photos of you and watching your videos that you are blazing your own path. Has that helped or hindered you in your music career?  

Blazing my own path has definitely been a very necessary part of me working out my own identity, finding out what I want to do, and working out the way of doing that which is most true to myself artistically and politically. Although this process can be long and hard without any support, you also don’t have the pressure of anyone else’s desires or agenda, so you have creative freedom to experiment before being in the public eye. This might have hindered me because from the outside, it probably looked like I was being managed and had a team around me, whereas really I was just running round like crazy and juggling everything myself… It has been a challenging but wonderful learning curve!

What type of music did you listen to growing up and who in your life influenced those tastes?

Oddly, neither of my parents are into the music from their era, so I was brought up on old jazz, classical and songs from the old musicals which was all the music that my mother likes, and she taught us how to sing harmony together so we would all sing as a family every day. My dad never had any music lessons, but taught himself to play the piano by ear, and can play anything that takes his fancy, though it always comes out in his very identifiable style. I started listening to the radio from my early teens and was playing in a rock band by the age of 14 and listening to Radiohead, Jimi Hendrix and pop, rock and grunge… The first time I properly sat and listened to the Beatles, Joni Mitchell or Leonard Cohen was when I was about 16… So I had this odd feeling of discovering those things for myself.

What current musicians are influences and inspirations for you?

I love Joanna Newsom, Bon Iver, Fleet Foxes, Esperanza Spalding, Patti Smith, Anna Calvi, Ed Harcourt. My contemporaries continuously inspire me and keep me on my toes – Eska, Ed Sheeran, Ghostpoet, Soweto Kinch, Samantha Whates, Michael Kiwanuka, Gwyneth Herbert, Marques Toliver, Kate Tempest, Soumik Datta.

What were your first thoughts when you heard you were a winner of IMR’s Women of Indie issue?

I was really excited to be in such great company, with some wonderful, strong female music-makers! Hooray! Thank you! It’s such an honour to be picked from so many thousands, I’m overwhelmed :)

Your music is very eclectic. Jazzy, yet folk. Experimental, yet Pop. How do you describe your sound?

I call it folk, jazz and soul inflected pop. If you come up with a better description, please let me know!

Does it translate well live? What would one expect from a Fiona Bevan live show?

I play solo a lot, accompanying myself with my classical nylon strung guitar, as it’s so easy and simple to rock up anywhere and play, without too much drama, and so tempting to play about with the songs and take liberties with the structure and emotional delivery, which you can’t always do when you’re playing with a band. Having said that, I have a fantastic band and I really love playing with them – they really give the songs more dynamics and variation than I could achieve on my own, and they’re all incredibly talented musicians and arrangers/composers themselves, and we have a really good time onstage together!

What does it mean to you to be an independent artist?

I’m happy at the moment being independent as it is allowing me a lot of freedom and creativity. But there are a lot of widely-believed music industry horror stories and a widely-circulated myth that it’s better to be independent than “signed”; but in my opinion, most musicians wouldn’t choose to go it alone, and would love a team around them. The most important thing for me is that whoever is helping me out, I retain a strong vision of what I want to create musically – that is true independence.

What would you say to an aspiring singer about following their dreams as you have?

My advice would be to do at least one thing every single day towards your dream – I stole this tip from Antony of Antony And The Johnsons. I would also say, you need to work very very hard, develop a thick skin, and work to your strengths – don’t go barking up one tree if you’re really good at some slightly different aspect.

What is next for Fiona Bevan?

I’m currently recording a new EP of my songs, and doing a lot of co-writing, so I am sowing lots of seeds at the moment. I’m about to feature on Gwyneth Herbert’s new album which we are recording at Snape Maltings concert hall on the Suffolk coast. And I’m about to sing and perform in Soumik Datta’s new project Borderland which juxtaposes the writings of Rabindranath Tagore on violence in society with the recent UK riots. I am also working with a very talented team of women to create a beautiful multi-disciplinary film that will go with my song “Pirates And Diamonds.”

Rating: 5/5 Stars!

Album Name: Us and the Darkness
Release Date: March, 2011
Location: London, UK
Genre: Jazz, Folk, Pop
Members: Fiona Bevan
Website: www.fionabevan.co.uk
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FionaBevanMusicNews?sk=wall
MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/fionabevan#!

“A Broken Heart Can Heal”

Victor Alfieri

About Victor Alfieri

For Victor Alfieri, music has been in his blood from the very beginning. His father raised him on names like Plant, Morrison and Hendrix. For his mother, Motown was a religious experience. Smokey would wake him and Stevie would put him to bed. As he started collecting music of his own, it was always the artist nobody had heard of that would draw him in. He would spend countless hours in used CD and record shops scouring for hidden gems, and his friends never knew what the hell he was playing. While he makes a living as a desk jockey, his two lifelong passions are music and writing. He has covered mainstream music and has interviewed national acts, but like his early years of collecting, he has always been drawn to the hidden gems. He has helped create CD samplers that feature unsigned acts on two different websites and has worked exclusively with independent artists for the last few years. His goal, and the reason for Wordkrapht is to shine the light on amazing talent that needs to be heard. This is what he was meant to do.

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