Princess Freesia is a singer/songwriter
Introduce yourself and tell us where you are from?
Hello lovelighters! I’m Princess Freesia and I originally hail from Australia, but had the blessed opporTUNEity to come and live in the UK (or “UKingdom” as I like to call it) on a permanent basis as I am also a Latvian and thus entitled to EU status. It’s such a pleasure to be here! :)
When did you start making music and realize that you wanted to be a singer?
Wow… to be honest, I had originally wanted to be a comedic actor, ala slapstick in the theatre arena, HA! I stumbled into music quite by accident via an old boyfriend in high school who had heard me singing in the school choirs and musicals (I played Nancy in Oliver) and asked me if I could try penning some lyrics and then laying some vocals down to one of his tunes.
I’ve always loved words and poetry so that crossed over into writing music very efficiently, but I also had a fervent fever for the stellarsonic music styles, the “transporting” kind of vibes, whether it be a downtempo or an uptempo…
So began a lifelong obsession with Soul, Disco, Jazz-Funk and Rare Groove which I truly embraced when I was about 13 via blogspots and those $2 tape compilations I’d stumble upon in the second-hand and discount stores; artists like EWF, Barry White, the 70s/early 80s Michael Jackson/Jackson 5 stuff, Brenda Russell, Leon Ware… and whatever I could tape off the lesser-known radio stations that broadcast the soulful flavours.
It was through my growing dedication and fascination with these soulfully-infused artists of the 70s and 80s in particular that I developed my sense of song and indeed invented my creative persona, the flamboyant “Freesian” (ha, do I sound RIGHT up my own arse yet?? ), and with the added push of my then boyfriend and the compliments I received that led to me studying at university for 4 years In Australia on the Gold Coast doing a “Bachelor Of Popular Music” degree in which I undertook skills such as music programming that led to me creating and producing my own music (witnessed on both “The HOXXXY Demos” and “The Rainbow Ride” albums I produced for myself). I even wrote a thesis in my Honours year on the Rare Groove, haha!
The Lapdancer “Babylon”
I guess songs and the expression and freedom they bring led me to want to express that passion vocally as well as musically. Although I was a reluctant lead vocalist for a while and have always preferred doing background, I also had a lot of emotions and visions to express, and sometimes I guess these things have a way of choosing you and urging you to be the star of the show; whether you’re shy or not, haha! ;)
How would you describe the music that you make? I know it’s hard to compare yourself to other artists and styles, but what kind of vibe is your music on?
In a word (or two)… it’s STELLARSONIC, haha! One of my Freesian words there, meaning a song or style of music that is transporting on some level, that has a cosmicity about it, a freedom of expression that’s out of this world and that doesn’t conform…I like the rebellious :)
I refer to a lot of my “retroriffic” teachers from those eras of music I so cherish as having a “stellarsonic” style, ha.
For me, it’s all about the energy of the music in terms of what streams from my heart centre; it’s not a technical process for me at all, because when I create, I have NO IDEA what I’m creating most of the time, it’s like I go into a channelling trance or something sexy like that… I couldn’t even tell you which chords I’m creating because I flunked music theory many times over both my high school AND university years, HA!
But I think a lot of musicians are this way… they find their feet in the groove, in the pocket of the sound, the mix, the flavour, the lyrical expression, the rhythmical flow. For me, it’s all about heart – and it has to be to be able to express the energy behind the music I wish to share. It’s what I love about all those old school artists like Phyllis Hyman, Leon Ware, Marvin Gaye, Marlena Shaw, Sylvia St James… to name but a few!
What do you enjoy the most about the whole process of recording and writing music? Is there something that you absolutely love and is there anything that maybe you don’t like doing as much?
Oh my stars, making music from start to finish is enjoyable thru’n’thru, headnod to toetap! Mind you, if I had to pick as aspect of the process that is quite arduous… it would have to be the recording process, arrrrgghhh, ha.
I usually record myself (in SoulP’s studio facilities these days), and because I like to be in control and in complete solitude when I do it, it tends to make it an oft long and drawn out session which, if I allowed an engineer to accommodate the hands on technical aspects and thus freeing me up to concentrate on the creative/vocal aspect, would be more of a breezy experience.
Princess Freesia – Stellar Sight
Don’t get me wrong, for I would LOVE to be able to just let someone else take care of the fidgety technical side of recording, but truth be told, I just don’t feel at my optimum if I do, and I don’t get the best results either if I do. I have a strong tendency to feel quite uncomfortable with people watching me and analysing and listening in whilst I’m flowing it onto tape (must be my shy side coming out again!).
It kind of feels like an intrusion for me and I end up worrying about what they might think of it which hinders my enjoyment of the process. So, I learned how to record myself well enough to a standard that is releasable and workable for the post-production process (enter SoulP and his magical eargasmics, haha!). I guess everyone has their own creative processes, and whilst this can be a pain in the tits at times, I probably wouldn’t have it any other way ;)
What have been the highlights of your career so far?
Damn… I think one of the peak moments for me was when I performed (or rather, PURRRRRformed!) with Leon Ware as one of his backing vocalists (alongside Jono McNeil and Katie Leone, both utterly HOXXXY singers and artists in their own right) at one of the Giants Of Rare Groove show back at the beginning on 2011 at the O2 Arena. When Soulpersona asked me if I’d like to be on the bill with the Digisoul Band (who were backing Leon as well as Sheree Brown, The Valentine Brothers and Jean Carne who I also got to sing bvs for) as part of the backline, I had to bloody pinch myself.
Leon (and the other headliners) had always been people I looked up to, admired, respected for years…and here I was about to be an integral part of their performances, CHRIST!!!! An absolute honour and a privilege…
I even got to sing a few solo lines during “Why I Came To California”! Obviously there are highlights all over the stellarsonic shop though, and having the chance to even work with Soulpersona has been THE single most important part of my career development.
He took me under his wing at a crucial time and provided me the support, encouragement and belief to realise and achieve my dreams. He AND his brother, Tukka (an AWEgasmic graphic designer and who does all the Digisoul artwork and album designs), were the marching boys for me to get my Freesia butt into Action Jackson stations on this journey, and for this I am entirely and forever grateful :)
Come Live With Me, (Backing Vocalist For Leon Ware in London)
What feedback from the media have you had?
I don’t think I’ve ever read an honestly bad review, so things have been going pretty damn smoothly I reckon! Mind you, not everyone is going to dig your work, so you always have to be prepared for a gut-wrenching session in which you question and rip apart every iota of criticism (from others, but mostly from your own self-criticisms that never seem to go away) and wail into your pillow for a lengthy session of sever self-obsessiveness and self-indulgence prima donnaesque delights (I’m kidding, haha) ;)
I used to be quite sensitive about criticisms as I had to undergo a “peer panel assessment” process during my university years when our musical portfolios were marked by x number of people in different groups that were assigned to mark your work, and often I’d be met with confused comments and misunderstandings about the genres I was representing (i.e. soul, jazz-funk, disco, downright FREESIAN THEY DIDN’T KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH OUTSIDE OF THE BOXES, haha etc), so because of the oft harsh feedback, I’d begin to believe I wasn’t good enough and would then question everything I did.
It wasn’t until I received feedback from the other side of the world via the internet (BLESS THE NET!) from real soul music fans that I started receiving the sort of praise I never thought was possible, because I didn’t believe in myself, ha! SoulP was the very first to reach out, and one of my heros too, Mister Atjazz, who said to me that he was feeling my stuff and that we should “swap beats sometime!”, haha.
After that, I began writing, programming, singing and recording a heck of a lot more, and started to get heard on internet radio stations (mostly UK and EU based) which led to a growing platform for me to reach a broader range of new fans.
I am extremely grateful for the media coverage I’ve had, because it’s given me the reach and the scope to gauge how well I’m doing out there, and duly inspires me to push on when I feel I haven’t the strength or energy to continue. Being an indie artist is tough work all the way, but when you get a glowing review or excitement or buzz surrounding your creativity via the media platforms out there, you start to pick your shix back up again and persevere :)
Let’s talk about your latest project, Who dealt with the production?
Well, there have been TWO in fact! The first was the “Fateful Attraction” EP, released by an Atlanta-based label named R&B Moguls, a commissioned work which was produced by Soulpersona and written and performed by me; the second was our (mine and Soulpersona’s) first LP release under our new name “Soulperfreesia” and hence entitled “Amalgamation”, which was also produced by SoulP and written and performed by me, but released on the UK-based Emu distribution label.
Soulperfreesia “Underwater Love” (Spontaneous Edit)
Both were born last year and at times, we worked on each alongside each other for some months towards the end of 2013, however both projects stand in their own right as separate entities as the Fateful Attraction EP is much more of an old school r&b soul based sound, whereas Amalgamation is more of a retroriffic 80s soul pop sort of flavour.
Each have their merits, depending on what you like to hear in a song… but both share a sense of emotional purpose in the sense that I had a very difficult year last year as I was in Australia again due to my visa running out for residing in the UK (I’d come over here at the end of 2010 and was allowed to stay until the end of October 2012), and so was forced to go back home after having made some of the most empowering and beautiful connections with people and the industry and the creative culture over here.
I went back to Australia quite broken, and because of the financial struggle, I had to return to my parent’s house that I grew up in and quietly live in a small town biding my time, and away from the place that I’d left broken hearted, the place where I’d begun to find myself not just as a person, but as an artist as well.
I took it pretty hard and suffered quite a lot the entire year long, but out of it eventually came a plethora of songs and ideas that fuelled my drive to return to the UK (which I managed in early December after having been gone for a year and a month, PHEW!) and to my “Soul Family” for the next chapter.
God, sorry for the elongated sob story there, but that’s how a lot of us (most of us) get through the hard times though isn’t it… you pour it into a song, or a painting, or a… ummm, cake! Haha. Regardless of how difficult it was at times to pull myself together, it was ultimately the music that salvaged by soul parts back together and ushered me into a new era of “Freesh”ness ;)
Do you think that radio is still important now in the digital age?
I think any and every medium is important if it’s a place where your music can be heard and appreciated! Admittedly I used to listen to the radio much more than I do presently, but I guess it’s a matter of where you are the most, which mediums are more available to and convenient for you where you are. If I was working in a garage, I’m sure I’d be 110% hooked into the FM freQUINCY (jones, ala quincy jones?!? Bad pun? Yeah…) and that’s where I’d be digging most of my tunes from.
But if I was home-based or office-based, I’d be reliant on streaming music mediums such as internet radio and podcasts, soundcloud, mixcloud, etc… I guess the form is irrelevant, because the form will no doubt be useful in many different places of the world where radio technology is still huge and that haven’t been entirely modernised as yet, which I find charming and retroriffic ;) What’s important is that the music is being heard and absorbed :)
Do you think the internet helps or hinders independent artists?
It’s a double-edged sword isn’t it… can’t live with the piracy, can’t live without the promotion! No one gets out scott free in this industry anymore, whether it be book authors, movie makers or musicians… everyone is ripping your work from some torrent site if given half the chance, haha.
Personally, I can’t rely on record sales because I know that at this stage, my reach isn’t wide enough to affect a more generous income revenue from my album/song sales, so I try not to worry so much about seeing my work pop up on these free sites. What I do try to remind myself of when I get down about it is that if someone wants to buy your music because they like it, connect with it and more importantly (especially for independent artist), BELIEVE in the work and want to encourage more output, they WILL pay for it, which is so lovely and so very refreshing and inspiring to know.
Us indies are relying on our physical resources (ie. whatever monetary avenues we have) as much as our artistic, emotional, creative sources to put out our music, so any income that we can generate via record sales DOES help us to create more.
It’s difficult to release CDs these days though as to be honest, the money earned from sales isn’t enough to print, press and distribute hundreds of thousands of physical CD copies… not unless you have a label and physical distribution to help out with the associated costs.
Freesia (Joey Negro Cookie Dough Mix):
Independents do it all by themselves, but by the time you’ve fed yourself, clothed yourself and paid your rent and bills, you ain’t got SHIX left over, so it’s always better to do a digital release and put any extra pennies towards better software or studio equipment if you can.
Or towards the design of the album cover, you know, the all-important peripherals of making an album. Getting back to the question though (haha), I think everything has it’s place, and without the internet, I wouldn’t even have ever connected with Soulpersona and wouldn’t even HAVE a career! So I guess there’s your answer ;) Christ, am I winking at the end of every question?!?! Forgive me, I’m a Princessly PERVERT! :P
Let’s talk image and branding for a minute. Some artists spend lots of money on artwork and other acts aren’t that interested. How important is image, artwork and branding to you?
PARAMOUNT, haha! So much so as my/our budget can accommodate for it, that is :) For my own visual appearance, I guess i just allow my personality as Freesia to shine through on stage and in photos with my choice of outfit, movement, words and attitude, which makes the development of an image always exciting, fun, and demonstrative of the music you are expressing as you express your artistic flair.
But in terms of artwork and branding on a musical level, there is more to consider. As you know, I work predominantly with SoulP, and we can and do pool our resources, contacts, and finances towards creating the dream and the vision we share, but we ain’t exactly rich chickens so we do have to sacrifice on some things;
For instance, we’ve made a lot of lofi NO budget music videos that we’ve posted to youtube of several songs we’ve done such as “You Did It Again”, and a humourous parody one entitled “It’s A Gas!”, and I guess you can get away with some things if you’re approaching it from a light-hearted place and don’t take that component of the work too seriously.
“You Did It Again” By Soulpersona & Princess Freesia
After all, for us, we are musicians, and we are going to focus on the SOUND first and foremost. After this, we must consider how the sound is represented visually, and for me and indeed for SoulP, this is an inescapable reality. If you can’t deliver on the visual for whatever valid reason you may have, you have to hope that when you don’t have the budget for the scope of what you want to achieve on a visual and branding level, you live on the hope that the music will speak for itself, and in time with the right opportunities, be allowed to go to the next level.
I think however that a strong and striking visual face for the musical body IS crucial in drawing interest, new fans, and have a greater sales impact whilst providing new opportunities to the artist, for if the visual makes the listener/reader/observer salivate on some level and be curious enough to click on the link and explore the creativity on offer, the higher you’ve upped your chances of becoming more widely known and appreciated :)
Do you enjoy playing live? Have you done many gigs and what kind of artists have you supported or played alongside?
OOH, LIVE LOVELIGHTS! Oh man, performing live is a whole other ball game innit! Truth be told, my live experiences have been few and far between for the past couple of years as I’ve been entirely fixated on recording and developing a sound with Soulpersona, and because we have some truly talented cats we wish to perform our material with live (namely our Digisoul Band boys such as Carl Hudson, Nick Van Gelder, Terry Lewis and Andy Tolman), we’ve wanted to wait until we can have those players all together to put on the best show possible! But we’re working on it – you WILL see us live this year, I assure you ;)
I’ve been lucky enough to do bvs for a number of HOXXXY artists, so to name a few highlights from the Rare Groove vaults – Leon Ware, Sheree Brown, Jean Carne, The Valentine Brothers, Shirley Jones (from The Jones Girls), one of my dear friends and mentors, the incredible Jocelyn Brown, Roy Ayers (another HOXXXY hero of mine!), and one of the sweetest was Ben E King who was one of the nicest, most endearing and humblest people I’ve ever known! Bless them all for t
What was the last album you bought and apart from Soul/R&B what other genres of music do you listen to?
The last album I bought, hmmm… was… damn, you know what? I haven’t exactly bought a full album for a long bloody while!!!! I tend to buy one or two songs from artists here and there these days, because I tend to gravitate more strongly towards the older artists of the 70s and 80s, and I already have a large chunk of that material (and there ain’t no more of it being made now that those eras are gone, ha). so I might have to pick you a song or two that I’ve recently purrchased… Leon Ware’s “Step By Step” (Extended Version), and Elkie Brooks’ track “Learn To Love”. I’m a diverse bunny ;) heir respective talent and performance prowess :)
SOULPERSONA (Ft. Princess Freesia) – ULTRA SUPER L♥VE
What plans have you got for the future?
To travel far and wide but make the UKingdom my home base and soul fort to spring new lifeforms from, spreading lovelight and HOXXXbeams to all who wish to receive them!
To purrform live, to record endless streams of soulfully infused stellarsonics of my own making and in collaboration with my fellow fronds, to continually be inspired by the goodness of the people surrounding me who inspire, elevate, uplift, and love with no limits… to be free, and be the FREEsian I am here on this good earth to be. Let’s have a HOXXXY one!
Would like to send any shout outs to anybody
Love to my precious soul families far and wide… they know who they are. Big love to my family back in Australia who I love, miss, and cherish in my heart every single daytona… lots and LOTS of love to my fellow indie artists (never give up, you’re ALL worthy and are ALL the absolute HOXXX at sharing YOU!), and to you for asking me to do this lovely interview. Bless you for enduring my self-indulgent wordsmitheries and elaborate paragraphings, haha! ;) x
CLICK PHOTO TO BUY R&B Moguls “Fateful Attraction“
CLICK PHOTO TO BUY Soulperfreesia “Amalgamation“
Thanks to Soulpersona Recordings