Azure Ray Return with a Remedy More than a Decade in the Making

From the first notes of the bright, blissful “Sleep” on their self-titled debut, it was clear that Orenda Fink and Maria Taylor had tapped into something angelic with their indie folk project Azure Ray. Forming in Athens, Georgia in 2001 and eventually moving to Omaha, Nebraska to immerse themselves in the Saddle Creek scene, the duo was rather prolific until their 2003 hiatus. After a brief reunion in 2010 produced another album and two EPs, the project once again went silent, though Taylor and Fink kept busy with other creative pursuits. Now, Azure Ray returns with its fifth full-length and first in over a decade, Remedy, which sounds both new and reminiscent of Azure Ray’s early classics.

In the usual vein of the band, the songs have a mellow, minimalist vibe. In “Bad Dream,” they sing against dreamy synths about the dissolution of a relationship: “Would you even know a bad thing when you’re stuck inside a bad dream?” In “Already Written” — perhaps the track most reminiscent of older Azure Ray songs like the wistful, reflective “November” from the 2002 EP of the same name — they sing about working through difficulties in a relationship, Taylor and Fink’s voices harmonizing with almost no instrumentation.

The title track, “Remedy,” uses acoustic guitar and folky, almost whispered vocals to reflect on the process of facing demons during self-isolation: “I visit my old tendencies/A secret grave in a cemetery/A yellow rose for my old heart/I feel it stop, I feel it start.”

The concept for the record was born during the 20-year anniversary of the band’s formation, when Fink and Taylor went through old photos of themselves together over the course of the past few decades, which inspired them to celebrate themselves as a band by making another album.

“We felt so strong back then, but looking back, I just see how fragile and frail we were,” says Taylor. “We dealt with a death of someone close to us, and writing our first Azure Ray record and starting Azure Ray was a way for us to process our grief. It just brought me back to how powerful music is and how powerful and healing it can be, and how powerful it can be when you combine music with friendship.”

“The record was written and recorded entirely during the lockdown period this last year, so the themes reflect the feelings a lot of people had during this last year – fear, isolation, hopelessness, but also hope for a better future,” says Fink.

They titled the album Remedy with the hope that it could serve as such for some of the psychological travails of the pandemic. “I think that’s just what art does,” says Taylor. “We all went through similar emotions, and so we put them to music and put them into words so that maybe someone can relate.” In the spirit of the album’s theme, the vinyl version of the album is sold alongside a custom essential oil blend.

Taylor, Fink, and their producer Brandon Walters worked remotely from three different locations during the pandemic to record the album — a process that challenged the band’s previous notions about the music-making process.

“We’ve always gone to a studio and slept in the studio and lived and breathed the whole recording process, so this was a complete detachment from that,” says Taylor. “I was afraid it was not as cohesive, but I think the process gelled together, and it felt like we were in a room together even though we weren’t.”

You can hear the band’s usual influences — which include Cat Power, Elliott Smith, and Nick Drake — and iconic whisper-like vocals, but with a stronger electronic component, evident in the prominent percussion tracks on songs like “Desert Waterfall” and “I Don’t Want to Want To.”

The duo gave Walters their voices and allowed him to add guitar lines, string samples, bass, and drums, without much instruction other than to maintain Azure Ray’s signature sound. “We wanted to be true to our sound, but we also wanted a fresh new approach,” says Taylor. “It’s a little more dense — I feel like there’s more depth and there’s just more going on — but it still has the intimacy. The music was kind of secondary to our harmony and our voice.”

Fink and Taylor created several campy videos to match the group’s simple, wholesome sound. “Bad Dream” is an amalgamation of TikTok-style clips of the band and their friends doing silly dances to the song, while “Phantom Lover” encapsulates a mystical, vintage aesthetic, with the two members swaying in white clothing and bull horns alongside glimmering trees and people dressed as wolves.

Currently, the group is busy making more videos and promoting the album and hopes to play outdoor shows in the near future. As they weather all the changes the world is going through, their friendship and history hold them together and provide a constant.

“Every record’s going to differ, especially one that’s ten years apart from the past ones,” says Fink. “As humans, we change. Our perspectives change, and the things we go through are reflected in our art. But ultimately, I don’t think [the album is] a huge departure form the older Azure Ray. I think it’s a more modern, updated version of Azure Ray.”

Follow Azure Ray on Instagram and Facebook for ongoing updates.

INTERVIEW + PREMIERE: Maria Taylor of Flower Moon Records

Sometimes a new record has a familiarity to it that feels like curling up under a warm blanket. Flower Moon Records Compilation Friends and Family Vol 1 puts a listener at ease; its laid-back cadence urges you to close your eyes and relax. These are old friends reintroducing themselves.

Dead Fingers’ “Whistling Song” stands out as the kind of nouveau standard that requires a google search to make sure it isn’t a cover, though with graceful lines like “Life is a series of ups and downs / overs and unders and round and round / I think I’m gonna make it to the down down down / Eventually I’ll find a way out” it’s certainly a YouTube ukulele video in the making. It makes sense that the album features artists who have worked together and identify as friends in the music world; the collaboration is effortless, straightforward, well tuned.

We sat down with Flower Moon Records co-founder and musician Maria Taylor (of Azure Ray) to talk about the album’s genesis, what it’s like to run a record label, and how she balances music & parenthood:

AF: You were 15 years old when you and Orenda Fink founded Little Red Rocket. What were your earliest songs written about?

MT: Our very first song was called “Follow You For Now” but we named it that because we had huge crushes on these guys in this band Follow For Now. The lyrics to our song was “Wherever you go, I’ll follow you, follow you for now. I’m not doing this for you, I’m doing it for me… I’ll follow you…for now” They were mostly about love but we also had some of our friends who were poets write poems and we would put them to music.

AF: Your career is full of collaborations, whether it’s with Orenda, Moby, or Bright Eyes. Do you find yourself looking for artists you’d like to work with or is is it more organic than that?

MT: It’s more organic. Mostly it’s that my friendships play such a huge role in my life and through our friendships we collaborate on music.

AF: Flower Moon Records was founded by you and your husband Ryan Dwyer, who is with us for this interview. What was the catalyst for creating your own record label?

MT: I had been thinking of doing this for some time now, but I knew that I couldn’t do it alone. Ryan is (among many things) a businessman, and I knew that with my understanding of the industry and my connection and his business skills… we could do it.

RD: For me it was a few reasons. One is that I’ve always been a fan of music (especially the bands that are featured on the Friends and Family Vol 1 compilation) and I’ve always loved the idea of working at or running a record label. I was in bands when I was in high school, but my career took me into politics and public relations – which leads into the second reason. From an outsider looking in at the music industry – especially now, how it’s changed so much and the uncertainty around where it’s going – I wanted to bring what I learned in those fields and apply it to a label.

AF: How do you both find artists for Flower Moon? Is it through submissions?

MT: At this point it’s just literally our good friends and family. We’ll see how the label grows. Ryan is already the busiest guy I know, so he pretty much can only focus on one release at a time. We started out only planning on releasing my music, but then we heard my friend Louis Schefano’s record and decided we just had to release that too. And now Azure Ray is planning on releasing something in the future.  And my sister and brother-in-law have a band called Dead Fingers which we will be releasing too! With these releases, plus the compilation, makes our hands super full of love and music.

AF: You have two children together. I know this is a tired question, but as an impending mother myself, how do you balance running a label, being an artist, parenthood, and finding time for yourselves as a couple?

MT: It’s hard balancing it, I’m not going to lie. Ryan is better at multitasking than I am. I try to find a little time in the day to sit and write, but I find that it takes an hour just to clear my head of the chaos and then my time is up and I’ve gotten nothing accomplished. I’m also exhausted at night and I fall asleep when I used to stay up writing. So – it’s possible to balance, but it’s hard and I’m still trying to get the hang of it. I have taken my kids on a few tours and I’m lucky to have a husband who can work from wherever and a mom who is retired and loves to travel. Ryan is a machine. He’ll read to the kids and then watch a movie with me while making band posters and Instagram posts. He’s always doing five things at once and doing them well. And as for us as a couple, we try to do a date night at least every couple of weeks. And I try to stay awake for our “Homeland date” every Sunday night.

AF: When did the idea of creating a compilation record start?

MT: Ryan and I both love our playlists. We love having parties and we spend so much time getting all of our favorite songs together to create the mood. This compilation is just that: a bunch of our favorite artists together on an awesome double colored vinyl. These artists also happen to be our greatest friends and family! Now that we did it, I can’t wait for Volume 2! I honestly have listened to the comp so many times and I love all the songs. It’s such a great way for us to all get exposure and build something together.

AF: What was the compilation process like? Are most of the songs previously released or were some written especially for this project?

MT: Lots of the artists had these songs previously recorded. Some friends gave us a few options and we picked the song we liked the best. As for me, I wrote something specifically for the compilation. I liked the idea that I could have a little more freedom to do things differently since it was for a compilation and not a full length album. I didn’t edit the song… I just let all six minutes roll on by and the F bomb roll right off of my tongue. None of the songs have been previously released, that was the only thing we asked for.

AF: This album covers a lot of topics, including rebirth and living in the era of Trump. Was there an overarching theme or feel you were looking for?

MT: No, we weren’t looking for a theme, but I think we are all living through these crazy times together so it would make sense that there is a common thread or theme.

Flower Moon Friends & Family Volume 1 is officially out TOMORROW on Flower Moon Records. It features 16 new and unreleased tracks from Louis Schefano, Whispertown, Dead Fingers, Doctor Samurai and the Firekeepers, ghosts, Nik Freitas, High Up, Orenda Fink, Maria Taylor, Umm, Taylor Hollingsworth, Jake Bellows, Viva Violet, Ryan Dwyer, Brad Armstrong, and Mike Bloom. Order it here.

BAND OF THE MONTH: High Up Premieres “Alabama to the Basement”

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Photo by Andy Lachance

Ever been to a karaoke night and heard a voice rise up that actually sounded… really good? Christine Fink has one of those voices. She’d relegated her talents to karaoke nights in crowded Alabama bars – that is, until her sister Orenda, well-known for her work with Saddle Creek mainstay Azure Ray, dragged her into a bigger spotlight.

Christine moved to Omaha to form High Up with her sister, brother-in-law Todd Fink (also of The Faint), Josh Soto, and Matt Focht. This month, they released a self-titled four-song EP that blends classic Southern rock and soul, with a little punk vibe thrown in for good measure. Thematically, its songs capture longing and love in the tradition of Otis Redding and Aretha Franklin, but also critique the Capitalist machine with sassy bangers like “Two Weeks” and “Your System Failed You.”

Whether belting out a protest anthem or crooning an ode to a crush, High Up is a band that feels good to listen to, like slipping on a favorite jacket you haven’t worn in a while. Their debut album You Are Here, slated for release next month via Team Love, continues along the same lines, mixing up bluesy, heartfelt ballads and raucous shout-along refrains, like on album opener “Alabama to the Basement,” which we’re premiering below.

The song is a celebration of letting go and rocking out, with clear autobiograpical vibes regarding the band’s origin story. As a kid in middle school, there were certain songs I would set my radio to wake me up to; this song has that same rush, that energy you need to fight through another day, or push through a shitty situation on your way to something better. It’s the perfect introduction to an album that that tonally runs the gambit from high energy cheer to soulful sorrow.

We sat down with Christine to talk about loving your parents music, what it’s like writing with her sister, and when we can see High Up out on the road.

AF: You’re originally from Birmingham, Alabama correct? What did you grow up listening to as a kid?

CF: Yes, born in Birmingham, but spent varying years of my life in other towns – Ashville, Oneonta, and Muscle Shoals. My parents exposed me early on to stuff like Pink Floyd, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, Hank Williams, Graham Parsons and the like. I was really into oldies as a kid – Frankie Valli, Beach Boys, etc. My first real exposure to soul I think was when I saw Smokey Robinson on Sesame Street in the late ’80s. I was never really the same after that. As I grew older, I developed a taste for punk and indie as well, and all those styles kinda melded to form my tastes as an adult.

AF: I always find it funny when people initially reject their parents music, only to come back to it later on with more perspective. Music can be so interesting when styles collide.

CF: Absolutely. I don’t remember really ever having disdain for what my parents listened to. They have great taste! Of course, they might remember differently!

AF: The story goes that your sister and band member, Orenda Fink, saw you perform karaoke in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. She was blown away and immediately thought you should start a band together. Was this a scary proposition?

CF: I jumped at the idea. It was really a big reason for me moving to Omaha to begin with – giving up the corporate grind and pursuing more creative endeavors. I’ve always had such great reverence for Orenda and her work, and wanted a chance to work with her creatively. The scariest part is probably the financial instability of playing music more or less full time. And rejection of course. But those fears come with the territory and the rewards outweigh the risks in my eyes.

AF: What were your go-to Karaoke songs?

CF: I love trying out all genres, so I pepper in a little bit of everything. My go-tos are usually midnight train to Georgia – Gladys knight and the pips, whole lotta love- Led Zeppelin, sometimes I’ll throw in some Radiohead or Dolly Parton for kicks.

AF: Can you tell us a bit about the songwriting process for High Up? Is there a lot of back and forth between you and Orenda? Or does she take lead when it comes to composition?

CF: Orenda does the bulk of the songwriting, but I co-write and we have a few other co-writers. The whole band collaborates on the tunes to varying degrees. It’s very open and collaborative.

AF: I love the video for “Two Weeks.” It really nails the playfulness and soul of the band. What was the production process like?

CF: Thanks! We recorded the video over the course of two days I believe? Harrison Martin directed and filmed and we had so many friends help. It was a blast and very low stress. It’s important to have a good time and we wanted to reflect the good vibes of the group who gathered to help us. It was a relatively quick and easy process because of the professionalism and talent of everyone involved. The scariest part was probably me having to stand on the table without busting my ass!

AF: “Blue Moon” really hit me in the gut. Can you give me a little background on its genesis?

CF: It hits me too to be honest. I’ve struggled with mental illness most of my life, and the song is really a way to express an almost constant sinking feeling, of feeling like I’ve exasperated those I care most about. There’s a little glimmer of hope in there: “I can’t take it much longer… Or so I say.” Because I can, I hope we all can, and can learn compassion, patience and love for those in our lives who are struggling.

AF: It’s wonderful that you felt comfortable sharing that kind of emotion. I myself struggle with anxiety and depression. It can be comforting to hear someone else’s journey. Were the lyrics difficult for you to share with the band? Or was it more of an unburdening?

CF: I feel like not sharing that emotion would be disingenuous. It’s who I am and I’ve gotten such comfort from other musicians who have been brave enough to open themselves up. Orenda and Morgan Nagler of Whispertown actually wrote that song for me, culled from many tearful admissions on my part. They took what I was experiencing and their reactions to it and wrote the song. It was heartbreaking to read for the first time, but also very cathartic. I’m so very grateful for their talent and ability to fine tune my messy emotions.

AF: Many of the songs on the album take their subject matter loosely from the Bible, such as “Glorious Giving In.” How does spirituality (or your reaction to it) play into High Up’s themes and material?

CF: I can’t speak for other members of the band, but I don’t have any kind of religious belief system. I love religious iconography and many of the allegories associated with religion, but I don’t subscribe to the actual belief system. We use spirituality and references of such because they do speak to the human condition a lot, and I appreciate that. I’m more of a nihilist, with a heavy dose of the Golden Rule.

AF: Can we expect to see High Up on tour soon?

CF: Yes!! We have a nationwide tour in the works for the month of March in support of our first full length, You Are Here, which comes out February 23rd on Team Love

AF: What do you hope the audience takes away from a High Up show?

CF: Lots of merch! Just kidding… My goal is to entertain and connect. I want people to have fun, get mad with me, get sad with me, laugh and cry with me. We’re all pretty fucked up, right? And so many times we feel like we’re the only ones, but we’re not. It’s important to reach out to others and say hey, you’re not alone, we can get through this together. If you can dance and sing along through the anger and tears, so much the better.

Preorder High Up’s debut album You Are Here via Bandcamp, and be sure to check them out on tour this Spring.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

INTERVIEW: Maria Taylor

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Photo Credit: Liz Bretz

Maria Taylor has a long history of creating music – she played in her first band when she was just fifteen, and spent most of the ensuing decades as a cornerstone of famed Omaha label  Saddle Creek, releasing records both as a solo act and as part of duo Azure Ray (alongside Orenda Fink). Last December, she put out In the Next Life, her sixth solo record, this time on her own label, Flower Moon Records. The album sees vocal accompaniment from longtime collaborators like Conor Oberst, Joshua Radin, Macey Taylor, and others.

In the past three years, Taylor has taken time away from music to focus on family; she got married in 2013 and has two young children, slowing her prolific musical output somewhat. The result is that Next Life is an album full of appreciation and love for family as well as a personal reflection of a life spent seeking out higher fulfillment. The tracks are delicate and intimate, the type of warm and glistening folk music that resonates deeply. She reflects on the past (“Pretty Scars”), promises made to her children (“A Good Life”), perseverance (“There’s Only Now”) and living life to the fullest (“If Only”), with wisdom, grace, and gratitude.

Taylor has been touring to showcase her latest album, and we chatted with her briefly about how it’s all been going.

I see that you recently released In the Next Life and are touring for it. How has the reception around it been so far? Was it what you expected it might be?

It seems to be well received. I never really have any expectations when I release a record, but it’s always nice to feel like your fans are on the same page as you. We are all growing up together.

What inspired you to create this album?

I had taken three years off since having two kids. I adore being a mom, but writing and playing music has been such a part of me for my whole life. I really felt like I needed to write this record to remember my identity other than just being a mom. It was also important for me to show my kids this side of me, for them to see what I love and what makes me happy.

What has it been like setting up your own label and releasing music through it? I imagine there’s a certain sense of elation and pride behind doing so.

It’s been a really gratifying experience. I couldn’t do it without my husband. He’s the label head. It’s a ton of work, but it’s been a fun process, and we’ve even released my friend Louis Schefano’s record on the label.

You’ve toured alongside many notable acts and have some fantastic features on In the Next Life. Are there any past joint performances that shine particularly brightly in your memory? 

Hmm. I think that the time I played with Bright Eyes at The Town Hall in New York was one of my most memorable performances. He played seven shows in a row and had guests each night. I was on stage playing two of my songs with his amazing band plus Gillian Welch, Dave Rawlings, Nick Zinner, and Ben Gibbard. I remember looking around and thinking, ” Oh my god, what the hell is happening?!”

Who would be an artist or band that you’d love to play with (living or deceased)?

I’d love to play with Carole King.

When playing live or writing an album, it is difficult to keep your solo work separate from the work you do with Azure Ray?  

In Azure Ray we always wrote individually, so the writing process is the same. When I’m playing live I usually don’t play any of my Azure Ray songs. I have so many newer solo songs that I want to play, it’s hard enough to narrow that down to a set.

Your musical history is quite prolific at this point. What do you have in mind for next moves?

I’ll always write music—as long as i’m breathing! But my kids are my first priority now. Their needs will dictate what I do with my time from now on.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]



We are all searching for something on this earth. Whether it is truth, love, acceptance, or even validation, we’re convinced that the questions we have are deserving of answers. But we spend so much time looking out into the world for answers that we sometimes forget to look within ourselves. Singer-songwriter Orenda Fink’s third solo album Blue Dream utilizes self-exploration first and foremost to answer life’s biggest questions. Prompted by a series of dreams about death, Orenda began writing introspective songs that expressed precisely what she experienced through her dreams. She’ll share those thoughts with the world on August 19th, when Blue Dream is released.

It has been said many times that dreams have varied, and invariably deep meanings, and with Orenda’s new album comes an opportunity for all of us to dig deeper into our own unconscious selves. While her previous solo LPs Invisible Ones and Ask the Night relate to events in her life, Orenda feels as though Blue Dream is far more personal than anything that she has created before. With this album, Orenda finds new ways to cope with immense pain and heartbreak. She truly believes that if we gain a better understanding of death, then we can live a better life — an intriguing perspective that challenges us to dig a little deeper, rather than just continue on, scratching the surface of our feelings. I was fortunate enough chat with Orenda about Blue Dream, as well as her progression as a musician. Here’s what went down.

AF: How would you describe your music and your sound?
OF: I usually use the words melancholic and ethereal for music and sound. I usually write about things that are very personal. I guess it’s confessional in some ways, but maybe slightly a little romantic too.

AF: What affect do you think growing up in the south has had on your music? Do you feel as though it is a strong presence in your songs?
OF: Yeah, I think that growing up in the south definitely had an effect on my music, it’s not an obvious literal musical influence, but it’s not just in sensibilities. I tend to think that the south is kind of romantic. I mean people take issues and they kind of get blown up into these kind of archetypal situations of epic proportions (laughs). At least in the deep south where I come from, and I think I get that flair for the dramatics probably, from the south. But also…you know I think there’s just something about the heat and the humidity there. It kind of holds people, holds emotions in; kind of pulls them together until they’re almost visible, tangible things outside of your own body. You know, like you can…almost have an experience with them. Like ghosts I guess, they’re almost like spirits; and I feel like that’s something from the south that seeps into my work. It’s kind of that true connection with things that could leave you, but they don’t.

AF: Tell us about your upcoming album Blue Dream. What was the creative process like for you, and what are you most looking forward to?
OF: Well the creative process for Blue Dream…I mean it kind of feels like a dream in a way because I started writing it after my dog died. Which doesn’t seem like probably a huge deal for a lot of people, but I had him for 16 years, and we had an extremely codependent relationship with each other (laughs). I mean I took this dog all over the world. So it was really really painful when I lost him. But outside of that, I had this deeper emptiness when he left that was kind of like…in a way, an existential crisis where I realized I didn’t have a framework of how to deal with death. You know, whether it be a dog, or my husband, or my friends, or myself, and it kind of left me reeling for the better part of the year, until I started doing this dream analysis through psychotherapy and during that time I just was having an insane amount of dreams, every single night, and they were all about death. And my dog was in a lot of them, but not all of them. And this went on for about six months, and I felt like I was having the answers or something close to the answers said to me, through my dreams; in a way that I could never have imagined. You know, because in my conscious waking life, I felt despondent and kind of nihilistic about everything at that point. But in my dreams there were different stories unfolding that pointed away from that. It was a powerful time for me and that was when I started writing this record. It’s not necessarily a concept record; it’s not a record about death, or not a record about a dog, or anything like that but these are the things that were happening in my life while I was writing this record. I was just writing and writing and one day I realized at the end of it that I was standing outside of the tunnel looking in, instead of in the darkness and thinking “I think I’m out of the tunnel. And I think I have correctors.”(laughs) So that was kind of what the process was. I think the creative process was going on in my dreams and the writing was just something I did outside of that.

AF: In what ways would you say that this album is different from your last two solo projects?
OF: Some people might chuckle at this, just because of the nature of my writing; but I do feel like this record is more deeply personal than the other two solo records, just because of where I was when I wrote it. You know, when I wrote the other records I wanted to break away from singing about love and love lost which was a big theme of Azure Ray ‘s because I was happily married and I just didn’t really feel those emotions, so I was looking for outside influences with Invisible ones and Ask the Night, you know Invisible ones was heavily influenced by my travels to Haiti, and Ask the Night was kind of like an exploration of southern Gothic folklore if you will, so even though those records related to me in a personal way, they weren’t deeply personal like this record is. This is the first time that I feel like I’ve felt this kind of intense heartbreak of a different nature, but that I had felt during that Azure Ray work.

AF: What is your favorite song on the album?
OF: Hmm that’s a tough one, I mean it’s hard to say because I feel like they do kind of represent different stages of that year, so there’s ones that are more redeeming, and something that are just in the darkness. And so, it’s kind of a journey for me. It’s hard to pick one or the other, but I guess I’d say either “Holy Holy” or “Poor little bear.”

AF: My favorite is definitely “You Can Be Loved” — it’s just so beautiful.
OF: Aww thank you!

AF: So I know that in the past some of your solo music was inspired by Haitian Folk music, is this also the case with your new album?
OF: You know, someone else asked me this question. I’d say probably not consciously, but when I kinda look back at some of the backing vocals, and the treatment for “This Is Part of Something Greater” it kind of has…what I hear as plaintive cries and traditional voodoo folk music. You know, I love the way the women sing and they just belt out these plaintive cries kind of in unison so I think maybe inadvertently I just hear that sometimes in my head as the backing part, without even meaning to. It’s what my ear wants to hear as part of the piece. So I think there could be some unconscious influences in there for sure (laughs).

AF: I feel like many people search for the meaning of life, but very rarely do you hear about someone searching for the meaning of death. So on your journey what did you find, in searching for the meaning of death?
OF: It’s interesting, because I feel like that’s such a good observation, but you know they’re so closely connected, but it’s just that death is scary. It’s horrifying, and that’s why you don’t search for the meaning of death because you don’t wanna think about it. You just wanna think about life, because that’s what’s in front of you, and death is this terrible thing at the end that’s unavoidable but you have to literally deny it in order to live a full life. So it’s really tricky to go down the rabbit hole for the meaning of death, and it was a weird place that I was in but I guess I feel that exploring the meaning of death can help you live your life. Through my dreams I found that I have less of a fear of death, or less of a fear of losing because I don’t feel like anyone can really know what the meaning of life or death is, but I think that through some real searching you can find out what it isn’t. If that makes sense. And I feel like what I do know now is that there is some kind of life after death. What it is? I’m not sure. But I feel like that’s what’s been told to me through my dreams and I think they’re just as good a source as anyone else in the world that tries to tell you what they think, because it’s a direct source from you; your wisdom that you can’t access in the conscious realm.

AF: I read somewhere that you feel very strongly about the idea of human beings healing, through finding their “Interior God.” Could you elaborate on this concept? I’d love to hear more about it.
OF: That is actually a quote from Alejando Jodorowsky. He’s a filmmaker, a writer; he’s made the movies El Topo and Santa Sangre and Holy Mountain. He’s an amazing experimental art film director. He’s also written a lot about spirituality, and magic and art and how they connect. So that quote is a direct quote from him that I just felt like really summed up the work that I had done, the dream work; and the journey I had gone on which is that your Interior God is basically just a way to tap into the source of something that is beyond your conscious mind because our conscious mind only drives about 10% of our actions, our thoughts, our feelings. There’s this whole other welt of something, we don’t understand what it is that is really driving the ship. And I think in that there are some archetypal truths about life and death and humanity and if you can tap into that, that’s your “Interior God.” That’s what anyone who’s ever created any religion has done. Or any kind of spiritual philosophy, I feel like is basically just people tapping into their “Interior God” and trying to essentially translate what their hearing. So I guess that’s why I feel like if you can find that within yourself it’s gonna be the purest source of information. Cause everyone can tap into it. You don’t have to have someone tell you what it is. Not to say that it’s not good to listen to a certain type of religious or spiritual background, but I think that it can work in conjunction to find like a more truthful version of life and death when you listen to your own self. And that to me is your “Interior God.” It’s the collective unconscious, it’s your personal conscious, and it’s tied into everyone that has ever lived.

AF: How have you progressed as a song writer? What are some important lessons that you have learned along the way?
OF: You know, it’s weird when you do this for a very long time, because I feel like you go in cycles that are kind of prolific, and have quality, and a lot of it has to do with inspiration I think, but also there’s an element of craft to it. That I… In previous years sometimes I kind of just scratched the craft element and just went on pure inspiration. So I feel like even though this record is darker than a lot of my other stuff, it’s “poppier” in a way. I kind of like revisited the craft of writing a song. Like the pop structure and I think that’s easy sometimes when you have heady, heavy subject matter. It’s more digestible if you can deliver that in a way that is beautiful and pleasing to the ear, so I guess I learn lessons with every record that I write, but this is where I’m at right now so we’ll see how it plays out.

AF: What are some advantages and disadvantages to being a solo artist as opposed to being in a band?
OF: Well I definitely love collaborating with people. That is where my heart is. But I do think it’s important to release solo records because they are the most self-indulgent type of art. You don’t have to consult with anyone, it’s all about you, but I think like for me, especially on this record; I don’t think it would be fair to another collaborator to even share this material with them. You know, because it is so deeply personal, but I think there is an advantage to having a solo outlet that you can do that, but at the same time I do feel like I am a collaborator at heart, I love working with other people. I feel like mentally it’s really good for an artist because you get to share the creative process, but then you also get to share the heartache, or the celebration, the triumph, all of it. And I think that being a solo artist is a little isolating for me, but I like having the option to do both.

AF: Dead or alive, who would your dream collaboration be with?
OF: Oh Gosh (laughs ). Alive: Dr. John, and Dead: Nina Simone. I actually ran into Dr. John at the Atlanta airport a couple months ago! I got off my gate and he was sitting in the airport wheelchair at the gate that I got off of and I was like: “Oh my God! Dr. John!” And I could tell he was like trying to get help and no one was helping him. So I got up my courage and I walked over and I was like: “Are you Dr. John?” and he was like “Yes.” And then I was like “Do you need help?” And then he was like “Honey, I do need help.” And he said “Would you come stand in that line for me?” And I was like “I would be honored to! (laughs).” So I stood in line for him and I got him help, and he gave me a huge hug and was like “Do you wanna take a picture with me?” And I was like “Yes!” So that’s my weird little Samaritan moment with my biggest idol ever.

AF: You got a picture with him too? That’s so cool! Are there any upcoming shows or live performances that our readers should know about?

OF: Yeah. I’m hopefully doing a tour in September. But we’re still putting that together. So my plan is to do a full length tour but I’m not sure if I’ll be supporting someone or going out on my own so that to be determined. But a tour is being planned, which is something I haven’t done in a while.

Orenda Fink’s album Blue Dream is out on August 19th. Check out her first single off the album, entitled “Ace of Cups,” below.