Jan 22nd – Green Bay veterinarian-turned-synth-pop-queen Rändi Fay is no stranger to hard work – her long list of accomplishments proves that – and even as she gears up to release her latest labor of love, an album titled Intuition, she’s not slowing down. Read on to see what Rändi has to say about her newest release, her influences, and a lifetime of loving music!
Hi Rändi, and welcome to Alternative Sound! To start, tell us who you are, where you’re from, and what you do!
Hi! Thank you so much! I am Rändi Fay, a vocalist and songwriter from Green Bay, WI. My “official” salutation is “Dr.” as I am a veterinarian, but I retired early because of a freak series of hand and shoulder injuries in the early 2000’s. Since 2010 I have been songwriting, recording and performing in various roles. I am also a mom, a grandma and an animal lover who’s crazy about her fam-I guess that would be my favorite name: Näni :). I’m a sunset seeker, a nature freak, an aspiring photographer and a lover of quiet times with a book, a good movie or friends.
What made you want to start playing music? Who are some of your major influences?
I am one of those “music has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember.” I grew up in the 60’s, loving the old musicals and standards of the 40’s and 50’s. And then came the British Invasion-I LOVED the classic bands of the 60’s-the Zombies, the Animals, the Beatles, Dusty Springfield, the Moody Blues, etc. It was the best! And then came the beautiful women artists of the 70’s: Linda Ronstadt, Carole King, Karen Carpenter, Carly Simon. I have a ton of nostalgia for the artists that I grew up listening to. My favorite current artists are P!NK, Sia, Lady Gaga and Billie Eilish, all examples of strong emotion and incredibly creative songwriting.
How has living in Green Bay influenced your music? What’s the music scene like?
This is hard for me to answer. There is a very tight music scene in the Green Bay area, and honestly the population here seems to appreciate cover bands over original artist, or singer-songwriter and Americana. So it has been a rough road for me, a relative newcomer who is playing very little of those. There are, however, many extremely talented multi-genre musicians here, many playing under the radar. I have been lucky to do my jazz and cross-genre work with some extraordinarily capable and creative people who have been more than willing to help me stretch my chops and expand my skills.
Being a musician can have it’s ‘ups and downs’ – for you, what’s the most rewarding thing about making music?
The relationships and the connection. When music clicks, the satisfaction is incredible. In the sounds of a song, there can be immediate travel to a time and place that might vary in the specifics among different individuals, but are identical in their emotional impact. Joy, sadness, attraction, insecurity, whatever. When you hit that level of connection with listeners or players, it’s sheer bliss. The same is true for songwriting, when the lyric hits that perfect rhythm, and the melody marries the words to their intention supported by the backdrop of colorful harmonies. When you get chills, it’s multi-sensory communication at its finest.
Is there a moment that you can recall feeling particularly proud of yourself or something you’ve accomplished during your music career? Anything that stood out as something you’ll never forget?
I think it is more of a series of mini-victories. For songwriting, several of my songs have done well in international songwriting contests. The most recent is my Christmas song “Joy Whispered,” which as a finalist, placed in the top five in the UK Songwriting Contest for Best Christmas Song for 2019, and last year our song “Supernatural” won top five in the Adult Contemporary category of the Great American Song Contest. My focus is songwriting, and this feels wonderfully validating as the judges are internationally respected industry professionals! For performing, I blew out of my comfort zone last January and played the role of “Donna” in “Mamma Mia.” I had only had one small role in music theater before. It was incredible! All the feels and electricity of working with others onstage and engaging a willing audience. We sold out the run and had fantastic reviews! We are reprising the show this summer and I cannot wait!
What’s your writing process like? Has it changed at all since you started playing music?
My writing is a mix of magic and sweat. Most songs start with random inspiration-a lyric or hook that pops into my head, or something I hear someone say or read in a book. If that idea digs at me, I will write it down and save it for the sweat part. I am very meticulous in trying to create images, metaphors, unique perspectives and believable dialogue in my lyrics. I spend a lot of time in the craft, creating meter, paying attention to word placement right down to where syllabic accents fall. Yeah, pretty intense and intricate. But I love it!! The biggest change in my songwriting is the number of “tools in my toolkit.” I credit my study at Berklee College of Music’s online extension and also working with great songwriters and producers who have challenged me to become a much more capable and effective songwriter. It is hard work!
Speaking of writing – you have an album coming out soon! Can you tell us about that release?
Our CD “Intuition” is being released 2.20.20. My producer and co-writer Aaron Zinsmeister and I have been working on this for over 2 years! I had wanted to write a rock opera, which in this case is actually a “synth-pop opera” and needed a dynamite orchestrator and producer to help create the work. Aaron and I had been working together since 2016, and he was instrumental in my inspiration with his multi-genre experience and keyboard genius. The 11 songs are loosely woven around a contemporary love story that reflects the emotional journey required to let go of our history and our fears to actually take a chance on love. The passage of time is a secondary theme-it is so easy to waste and so out of our control. We need to sloooooow down and “own” our present. Throughout the CD, Aaron and I experimented with the genre “Symphonic Electronica” and all of the emotional textures it allows. No two songs sound alike, and in fact are very carefully tailored both musically and lyrically to the specific emotion each song is intended to portray.
How does it feel to see your album go from an idea to the full thing, ready to be heard? What was the recording process like?
Oh goodness it is amazing. To have this all come together, to have the story told. As was the recording process. Aaron is a demanding producer, but approaches recording with vision, knowing pretty clearly the performance he is looking for. Whether I could accomplish what he wanted was always an adventure! Haha. We had to redo the vocals on the first song we recorded,“Serenity,” because I was so sick with the flu that I sounded awful! It was my second round of the flu and we had to give it a shot. What a rough winter! In the end we also re-recorded vocals to “Uncaged” and “Mystified” because my vocal skills had improved so much over the time that they needed to be updated to sound more consistent with the more recent recordings.
You also have a music video for the album’s second single ‘Intuition’! What was it like to film the music video? As a musician, was there a learning curve for being on film or was it easy to get used to?
We filmed a video for both our title track “Intuition” and our lead single that was released last October, “Lone Wolf.” I have found I love recording video-this is a HUGE change from my first videos which I saw as painful, necessary evils. I was so uncomfortable on the set, and hated how I looked! I now know more what I want out of the shots, I guess. I am still incredibly self-conscious, but now I can keep those voices at bay somewhat for the sake of the video. I know what I want to give the director so she can represent the emotional arc of the song. I mentally dig into the camera as my audience, and kind of go into a zone, trying to portray all that the song means to me. The fact that there are a ton of takes comforts me, because it increases the odds that there will be shots where I don’t look ridiculous! The magic of film!! Having a well prepared and professional film crew helps a ton, and an incredible lead actor and dancers to work with is the absolute best! The whole experience has become more of a “put on your big girl panties, get over yourself and have a blast” mentality than it first was! I am super lucky to work with great people, and I love the power of our songs!
Watch the music video for ‘Intuition’ below!
I’m sure you’re super excited for the release – what are you most looking forward to about the album releasing?
I can’t wait for people to hear these songs!! They have been hanging out in the shadows for so long!
What’s next for Rändi Fay? Should we expect more music, live shows, or a tour any time soon?
Right now I just want to get this project out. I will be heavily working on promo for the next several months. Thank you so much for this interview! It is really sweet to talk about all of this and it helps to get the word out! As far as writing goes. I already have writing sessions set with songwriters from Green Bay and Sweden ( artist 7000K), and Moscow (artist Rhythmystica), and am evaluating spending some time in Nashville this spring. I am gearing up to reprise the Donna role in “Mamma Mia” this summer. I am hoping to shoot a video for “Jezebel” for release in the fall. And Aaron and I are sorting through some ideas for what is next from his studio. I am also doing some teaching! If you know anyone who wants to learn more about the craft of songwriting, let me know!
Any last words?
PLEASE-if you have the time (there goes that word again), listen to this work in its entirety in the order it was written, like we used to listen to albums :). Every song has a place. And I think every listener will find a different song that reaches out to them. We cover so many emotions-isolation, temptation, frustration, release, infatuation, depression, love, and more. They are powerful and varied.
Thanks so much, Rändi! ❤
Cover Image by Cyclops Girl