LATEST NEWS! … from Fiona Ross- 12 Jan 2019 -
In this interview, we catch up with Fiona Ross on her soon to be released album Fierce and Non-Compliant.
Image: Fiona Ross Jazz Vocalist/Songwriter/Pianist/Producer/ Journalist from London, UK
First of all, tell us about you. When were you first introduced to music?
Well I was pretty much born into it and I really don’t know anything else. My Mother would tell you that I was singing before I could walk. I have been surrounded by music my whole life. My mother was a huge opera fan and my Dad loved all the old big band music. I started dance, drama and music lessons when I was very young – had my first professional job when I was 2! Crazy time. But it’s just always been what I do and I don’t know any different. I have always worked in and around music in some way – I’ve only ever had 1’normal’ job ever and that was only for about 4 months. I started piano lessons when I was six and started my dance and drama training at around the same time.
Who has been the greatest influence on your sound?
Way too many to answer! Everyone from Billie Holiday to Prince to Steve Wonder to Hiromi. But I was initially trained as a classical musician, as well as training in musical theatre, so everything has influenced me in some way. I have had a hugely diverse musical background.
When did you start work on this new album? How was the process?
I started writing about six months ago, same process as usual but with a few differences. This is the first time I have decided on the album title before actually writing the music. That has been a weird thing for me. I just thought the title was great for an album, but then when I started to write about it, I did kind of worry about what it really meant in relation to the material on the album. I ended up deciding to completely forget about the album title and just go with my normal flow – apart from the title track. I wanted to use that song to explain the album title. But it turns out, the title makes perfect sense on so many levels. This album has become a lot more personal to me than my others.
I’ve heard you have some special guests on this album? How did that come about?
Oh yes, wow, I am so excited about this. I have four guests. As well as being a musician, I am also a Jazz journalist and I have been extremely fortunate to meet some incredible people. I wanted to include some of the people I had interviewed that had inspired me in some way – I still can’t believe they said yes! I went to Vienna and recorded two songs, live, in a castle with the Grammy nominated, world renowned bassist Snow Owl. It was overwhelming. I have someone incredible writing the sleeves note – I haven’t announced that yet. And finally, guitarist Marco Piccioni and saxophonist Kim Cypher are guesting on two songs. I am also looking at some special guests in some videos too.
Can you sum up the album lyrically and musically?
I’m not sure I can! There’s a bit of everything under the heading of ‘Jazz’ I guess. I seem to write that way, don’t know why, I just go with the flow and write whatever is in my head at the time. So, you have some tracks that have a hint of more traditional aspects, but also some Latin grooves, some slightly freer ballads and some funky stuff too. Lyrically, there are songs about the challenges of life, me, me as an artist and a song dedicated to my Dad.
How do you work on your lyrics? Do lyrics or the music come first?
I mostly come up with some elements of the music first – a chord sequence, or a riff or something and the lyrics come quickly afterwards. It’s mostly at the same time really – I do tend to tidy up the lyrics after the whole song is completed though.
How did the album title come about?
Well, I posted a quote on Twitter – I don’t do it often, but I liked it – and someone tweeted saying it would make a great album title and I just thought, you know what, it would! I didn’t think about it in relation to me or my music, just thought it was cool. But then it did become something I had to consider seriously when working on the album, as I was worried about what people would think I was saying. So, I used the title track to explain this – I hope it works! It’s not me saying I am Fierce and Non-Compliant – although, maybe non-compliant, ha – people refer to me as fierce, not my words. I actually used some quotes from reviews I have had in the title track. I’m just trying to doing my thing and work as hard as I can. I don’t consider that especially Fierce – it’s what we all try to do isn’t it?
What’s your favourite song to play live and why?
I don’t have any favourites really. I enjoy playing the different elements of my songs from the fun ones, to the vocally challenging ones, emotional ones – but I also love just sitting back at the piano and accompanying my musicians while they play amazing solos.
What’s next for Fiona Ross?
Well, I shall be busy gigging the new material and of course releasing the album in April. I have some amazing gigs lined up and I am really excited to play some wonderful and iconic venues.