She is the founding member of the Be Good Tanyas, she makes her own costumes, she writes her songs, she paints, she makes ceramic.
Canadian singer/songwriter Frazey Ford is a true renaissance woman. Being creative, and being tapped in to the creative flow, is crucial for Ford, who admits she still finds songwriting ‘mysterious and challenging’.
‘I do a lot of other things, such as pottery and painting; I think when you do something as a job it’s good to create for the joy of creating so you can bring that joy back into your writing. I have been writing a lot lately, and in a kind of different way.’
Ford believes that the most crucial period of songwriting is the period before the writing begins.
‘You have to go through a period of just feeling things. Not even articulating them. Then later there is something more direct and accessible and the ideas may seem to be flowing out really quickly, like something has been unleashed.’ But the writing starts Ford believes before you even start.
‘I almost never plan out what I am going to write.
‘Part of the process is that I jam feely and I let stuff flow. Whatever feels strong I write about and that theme can be informed by lots of different things at once. I often don’t decide what a song is about. I guess it is like processing emotions. I never specifically choose to go and write about anything in particular.’
That’s why Ford believes political songs are so hard to write.
‘Politics is mental in the mind and music is very emotional and in the body.But I guess everything is more political in a way. Some of the songs on my last album were. They were about abuse. I think when you are writing you are dealing with feelings and it can be a similar feeling as the listener; you don’t have to relate exactly. When you write about betrayal it can be any type of betrayal; betrayal is betrayal.’
A big part of the process for Ford is about being able to select the songs to keep and those to leave behind.
‘I think artists are people who just keep trying,’ she says. ‘For every good song you have five songs that aren’t very good. The artists who seem good at it are better at selecting those that aren’t terrible!’
At the time of speaking to Ford she is getting ready to come to Australia. She’s still making the clothes she intends to wear onstage here.
‘Before a tour I like to make some clothes,’ she says. We’re on FaceTime so she points: ‘Over there is a dress I am working on. I found that when I got off the road last year, I spent six months designing clothes and making them. The way you problem-solve designing is similar to how you problem-solve writing music. It helps free me up. I have to survive; the art I make has to be good. I am a single mum; I switch to these other things to remember to be responsive. After a big project, I stop playing music for six months. Even the idea of yourself as anything is a box; it isn’t really true. I love to be around musicians who are just learning how to play and write because their enthusiasm reminds me of why I started and how to stay engaged.’
Frazey Ford is one of the international headline acts travelling to Mullum Music Festival this weekend.
For tickets and program information go to