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  • Writer's pictureSammie Stewart

Interview with Rändi Fay

Where did the inspiration for "Intuition" come from?

This is a little bit of a twofold, roundabout story, but it shows how your muse can be insistent and work her way through your own barricades.

Part 1:

I am a throwback, and I love concept albums, and I miss concept albums. When “Hamilton” the musical was blowing up, I LOVED it- for many reasons. It is basically one long concept album with contemporary ideas and themes being presented in more complex theatrical settings. A lot of what I write was being classified as too “music theater” for the contemporary music scene, and I found this response very refreshing and self-reinforcing. So in 2017, I brought up the idea of writing a concept album to my producer and co-writer Aaron Zinsmeister, and he was all over it!

Part 2:

We scrambled a little for content, for an idea, thinking perhaps we would take some mythological legend and work with that. But I also had a handful of half-written songs sitting on my computer- "Serenity," "Uncaged," "Lone Wolf" and "Mystified"- that I didn’t really consider much of anything. Looking at them together, it suddenly struck me that I already had a decent start on a work that could chronicle the emotional journey we experience as we struggle with our own duality and identity and disconnection. I am a Gemini, and have that kind of crazy banter going on in my head all of the time! So the inspiration sort of snuck up on me from within, and together we fleshed out this contemporary love story that takes us from emotional insecurity and isolation to full commitment and enduring love. Before this horrendous COVID physical isolation we human beings were already emotionally isolating ourselves while being bombarded with all sorts of quick but unsatisfying fixes for loneliness. It takes a lot of steps (chronicled in the eleven songs) to believe that we have inner guidance that is valuable, that who we are is ok simply as we are, and that connection with another human being can be as critical as breathing.

How and when did you know you wanted to pursue a career in music?

Not as long an answer, but again something that snuck up on me- I always loved to sing and play piano, and was one of those kooky kids dancing round with my head in the clouds. But I grew up in a time when you went to college for a job. And honestly, I couldn’t have chosen a better one! I became a veterinarian! But in the 2000’s a series of right hand injuries forced early retirement. In short, I started volunteering in choral settings and behind-the-scenes for music related non-profits. I worked with MANY incredibly talented, ambitious and generous people who taught me, mentored me and inspired me to eventually become the solo artist and songwriter that I am today.

What does the rest of 2020 look like for you musically?

I have NO idea- I am among all musicians who have had their live performances cut off for now. So much depends on the progress with COVID. And honestly, once we get released from stay-at-home orders, all I am concerned about is holding my three-month-old granddaughter whom I haven’t been able to touch, hugging my kids and grandkids, having a conversation and a glass of wine with dear family and friends face to face rather than through a computer monitor! I am pretty lonely right now!!

Music is a critical vehicle of expression and I will continue to create music too. During our quarantine I have been writing and also re-acquainting myself with playing the piano. The hand injuries that took me out of veterinary medicine also took me away from piano. I am super digging working on those skills, and making remedial attempts at accompanying myself! I hope that will bring additional facility to my writing as well! As far as live performances go, I am cast as Donna in a reprise of “Mamma Mia” which was scheduled for this summer but is now up in the air. And also, I am always trying to figure out ways to bring “Intuition” to the stage.

How has COVID-19 affected you as an artist?

I have found my inability to accompany myself proficiently impedes my ability to share myself musically during the COVID-19 quarantine. So many musicians are hanging out at their keyboards or with their guitars doing live streams to inspire and entertain, while it takes me a gazillion takes into the wee hours of the night to get one decent run on a selfie video of my playing and singing a single song. I have historically had a dynamite instrumentalist at my side and have been spoiled by my collaborations. I think of Beethoven, hearing music in his head but not with his ears. How did he overcome that? There is a huge disconnect between my fingers and my brain! While playing I am so focused on what my hands are doing that singing becomes a poorly rendered afterthought. This is a handicap in writing as well because the music in my head becomes diluted as I transfer it through thick and clumsy fingers onto the keys. Thank God I can do creative midi work! But it is slow, and not really spontaneous. People who are proficient in an instrument may not appreciate how dire this shortcoming is. You simply can’t “just do it” and do it in any way that feels authentic. So I am taking this time to re-wire my piano playing. I will never be a piano virtuoso or have skills anywhere near those I have had accompany me. And I will ALWAYS cherish my collaborations- past and future! I will just hopefully become a little more self-sufficient.

What's the proudest moment you've had as an artist?

The release of “Intuition.” Our album is very different, but reviews have called it “breathtaking” and “genius.” I feel very proud to have worked with Aaron, bravely conjuring up this new, epic sound. We could have watered it down, but we didn’t. It is complicated, involved, enchanting, dynamic, rangy and different- just about everything the contemporary popular music scene is not right now. But it is from our hearts, and I wouldn’t change a thing. I hope that listeners find its sound, content and connection inspiring, meaningful and catchy!

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