Jennifer DeFrayne is a composer and pianist, one that has in fact, won awards for her composition and piano work. That said, she has gone on to release two full-length albums, “By A Wire” and recent follow-up “Sisu”. This time around, she has decided to go with an emotional depth, self-assuredness, as well as technical artistry, to keep the music more personal. Having the listeners go on a voyage that will have you wanting more, each time you listen to either of these releases. She has taken the time, to discuss “Sisu”, as well as her past work, and where you can discover more of her craftiness with music creation.
NP: “Sisu” is your second sophomore album, dedicated to your Finnish heritage, why did you want to go in this direction with this release?
I went in this direction because it is also a very similar direction I went in for my first album in many ways. My first album “By a Wire” was a musical story of my life up to the very year I recorded it. From the memories of playing as a young girl, to high school, not having lessons, yet finding the piano as my way of expressing the many emotions that life throws at us all…. The piano is my haven in times of turmoil and my happy place in times of joy. I dedicated many of the songs from ‘By a Wire’ to various people. The title track is dedicated to my father who passed away when I was a senior in High School, and while he was in the hospital I found solace in the wires of the piano, they spoke the words I was unable to find, or say… The song ‘I’ll See You There” from that album is dedicated to my sister who passed away 16 years ago. The song “Summer Reunion” is dedicated to my Uncle Frank who passed away about 7 years ago.
All three of them were big supporters of me one day pursuing my music and putting a CD out. The song “Clear Night” is dedicated to my two wonderful children Jacob and Hanna. The songs “Hope Floats” and “Calling Angels” are my dedication to myself, in celebration of my recovery from a stroke 4 years to the date that I had finished recording ‘By a Wire’. The piano wires, have always been my way of expressing joy, or loss, and a way to heal not only myself, but I believe others in the process… So, to answer your question more directly, “By a Wire” was dedicated to my strength in this life to overcome many things, and I did that not only with the piano, but also with the help of sisu!! I grew up knowing we all have sisu, and my family would often remind me, that nothing is too much to overcome, you just need to find your sisu. So, my second album “Sisu” is dedicated to that upbringing, my Finnish heritage, it is a Finnish word, and a universal capacity that we all share! This being my second album, in many ways it is a continuation of the same perseverance that “By a Wire” was also about.
NP: What would be the summary as to why you wanted to title this album “Sisu”?
Sisu is the best way to describe that inner strength I have drawn upon over the years to overcome many challenges, find courage, help myself and others heal, and persevere!
NP: Can you describe the artwork for “Sisu” does it have any symbolize to it?
The cover art is Fractal Art, and several years ago while I was going to school to become a Massage Therapist I came across this interesting art form. When I was looking on the Internet for cover art ideas, this artwork basically found me, I fell in love with it instantly. I like the way it has many layers that come out of it, much like the many ways to use sisu! I have asked many different people what they see when they first look at it and there are almost as many different answers. I like that people see what they want to in it, just as I hope they feel what they need to for themselves when listening to the music.
NP: How would you say that “Sisu” and “By A Wire”, compare, differ, and are in equal to one another, and why?
They are the same in that they are both about finding strength, and perseverance. They are both also piano with instrumentation albums, and include a list of award winning artists, and both are produced by Grammy Award winning Producers. Many of the songs on By a Wire were many years old, but needed to be included in order to tell that story, with the exception of a few new songs that were also necessary, like ‘Calling Angels’, ‘Hope Floats’ and ‘Clear Night’ to list a few. With Sisu, it was my first time co-producing, so that is one difference. I really enjoyed the process of making some important decisions with the direction of the songs, which persons/instrument got to play on what piece, and helping with edits. With Sisu, I also got to work (co-produce, learn about editing, mixing and mastering and a deeper understanding of the overall recording process) with my Fiancé Grammy Away winning producer Corin Nelsen. One other way Sisu is different than By a Wire, is that I named all of the songs on Sisu before I began writing them. I knew I wanted each song to represent and embrace the spirit of sisu, so I needed to make a song list first. I then took each title and focused on that meaning/feeling and began to write. I write most all of my music by improvisation, so I just let the feelings flow, some took many days, but some were done in just a couple of takes.
NP: It’s been three years since the release of “By A Wire”. Why such a long time period between albums?
I would love to put a new album out every year, I have the music for it, and I am always writing new songs, but most artists in the New Age genre release an album (on the average it seems) every 2-3 years. There are the exceptions to this, and again I wish I was one of them. I am also a CranioSacral Therapist, Reiki Master, and Sound Vibrational Healer, and work at a job that I love just as much as I love music. I am also a mother of two teenagers, and for anyone that has children or teenagers for that matter, they know how much time is spent making sure they have what they need first. There is another realistic side to the releasing of an album, the cost. Musicians/recording artists get paid very little for the digital plays and download world we now live in. It costs a lot of money to put out a quality album and market it correctly, that is not something everyone can do once a year, but if I am ever so lucky, believe me, I will be doing it!
NP: If you were to take any of your songs off either album, and place them into a movie, TV show, video game, comic book, cartoon, anime, etc. Which song would it be and for each of the categories given and why?
I could hear the song “Letting Go” from ‘By a Wire’ in a movie, possibly in the ending of a love story movie, where at the end there is for some reason the need to say goodbye… I could also hear the song “Roots” from ‘Sisu’ in a movie, or even a TV show. I could hear this one as the theme song the signature song to a movie or TV show about too long lost lovers who find their way back to each other after many years…going back to their roots… WHERE they first fell in love! I could also hear the song “Renew” as a TV show or commercial song for something uplifting and/or about positive changes. There are many songs from both albums I could “visualize” in many different areas of either TV or Movies, it all would depend on the subject and content of the message being delivered.
NP: Did you get the album, that you wanted, or was there stuff you wanted to do but didn’t get to do?
Yes, I got to do all I wanted with this album and more. Mostly in part to the fact that my Fiancé and I got to work on it together, and our studio is in our home so, we had the freedom to work on it together as much as needed to make it all that we had envisioned it to be!
NP: “Sisu” comes with 12-tracks, were there any tracks that weren’t included but we will see included on the next album?
No, for this album all 12 tracks were meant to be there because of them being named and thought about before I started writing the music. My next album will be of all new songs!
NP: Do you see your debut and sophomore album, to perhaps form into a trilogy of sorts, come your third album? Or does your music not have that type of connection or continuation with material given.
Well, that is an interesting question. Since, ‘By a Wire’ and ‘Sisu’ are somewhat a continuation of a inner strength and perseverance, I could possibly see the next album going in that same direction, but, it is not anything I have thought about until you asked this question. I would have to answer No, at this point, only because it is not anything I am working on at the moment, and I won’t know the direction of my next album until I begin that process.
Thank you very much for the opportunity to tell you about my music, my first album ‘By a Wire’ and my newly released album Sisu! I hope you have enjoyed learning more about the meaning behind each album, and the reason I named and wrote them as I did. For more information on my music, to hear samples, or to purchase CDs or downloads, visit my website at – http://www.jenniferdefrayne.com.
Natalie A. Perez – www.nataliezworld.com – firstname.lastname@example.org