Fox Owl Crow bringing new sound

By Mary Dennehy

DUBLIN singer and multi-instrumentalist Suzanne McEnaney is the face behind collaborative project, Fox Owl Crow - an eccentric and unique group which is bringing a whole new sound to the table.

Releasing their self-titled album Fox Owl Crow earlier this year, the band is made up of Suzanne and fellow musicians Carol Faherty (vocals/bass), Frieda Freytag (cello/piano) Sebastian Boes (percussion/hammered dulcimer) and Mercedes Trinchero (violin) – who together not only create a harmonic, unique and intriguing sound but put on a captivating live performance with the use of animal masks.

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Full of surprises, the album, which is atmospheric, thought-provoking and addictive, is this month available to download on iTunes and Spotify – and here’s what Suzanne had to say about it.

Fox Owl Crow, where did the name come from?

Well, the name came from the song Fox Owl Crow. When I began playing as a solo artist I adopted the name as I wanted to create space for something bigger.

Forming a band around myself as 'solo artist' just didn't feel right. I toyed with different names for a bit, but Fox Owl Crow just felt like it was the one. It wasn't a grand plan to get a bunch of people to play beside me in animal masks, it just sort of happened.

What’s the inspiration behind the album?

There’s lot of animal references throughout the album, what’s the story with this?
The album is like a map of the last four years of my life.

A culmination of a lot of emotional experiences and revelations. I have always loved animals, they're always within my awareness and very close to my heart so it's only natural that they would appear in the stories and songs.

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How long did it take to write the album?

The songs were all written over the last two to three years. For me, writing them is the easy part, learning how to sing them well is often the biggest challenge for me.

All the parts I write are pretty simple, and very spontaneous, it's either there or it's not there. I believe it's the same for Frieda, I like to think we're listening to our musical intuition.

On Sebastian's part it's often a lot of trial and error exploring all the sounds, and seeing what fits. I think he spends the most time on things!

Because we write separately to each other, it's amazing how when one person leaves space, another will have just the right melody to fill that space. For me, it's been learning to trust that, and not to interfere with the process by over-thinking it.

What comes first the lyrics or the music?

There’s no set format for when the songs arrive. Well, except that I'm always alone and I suppose most often it starts with an emotion, which leads me to a riff or a motif on the main instrument (either piano, guitar, bass or dulcimer), then words form as it goes and I'm just listening carefully to the melody in my head writing it all down before it disappears.

I have so many pages with first drafts of songs and they're word for word written down in one foul swoop. It's my favourite part of the whole experience, welcoming a new song like that.

LIFE Fox Owl Crow CREDIT SandS PHOTOGRAPHY

Once the main structure is down, how do you all gel as a band?

Musically, once the main structure of the song is down, I jump from instrument to instrument recording in the other lines and the harmonies. Once the song is finished and I'm happy with the demo I send it by email to Frieda and Sebastian.

Sebastian usually overdubs his drum ideas and then sends it back again, which I think is my second favourite part of the whole process, hearing the songs grow into something bigger. Then, when Frieda presents her ideas, we're go go go, it's nothing but excitement on my part.

Is there any bands that you feel have influenced your sound?

I suppose in terms of atmosphere, and space that bands like Sigur Ros, Agnes Obel, and Hanne Hukkelberg are big influences. There's such a softness and a vulnerability to their music.

It's like a free pass to just embrace the beauty of it and not overcomplicate things. We all have a lot of classical influences, and a broad range of folk, jazz, popular, world music, alternative, film music… it's all in there somewhere.

Who would your musical idol be and why?

Gosh, I can't even hesitate on that one. For me it's Bjork, without question. As to why? I'd say aside from her sheer talent and ingenuity, it's her courage.

She seems fearless, but I know it's not that simple, it's not so easy to drop your inhibitions like that and to keep challenging what you think you know.

I remember listening to 'Play Dead' on my copy of 'Debut' back in maybe 2005 or so - and realizing that it was a track on her first solo album. I couldn't get my head around that. So, yeah, Bjork.

Fox Owl Crow the album is available from Tower Records or www.foxowlcrow.bandcamp.com, iTunes and Spotify.

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