Singer Sarah Fimm on Working With A Perfect Circle's Josh Freese
With the music industry being in the sad state that it's in, more and more artists are going the DIY route. Instead of waiting for clueless A&R reps to find her, Woodstock, New York-based singer-songwriter Sarah Fimm took fate into her own hands.
Fimm recently released 'Near Infinite Possibility,' her seventh (!) album and it contains a haunting mix of melancholic melodies and dark overtones that wouldn't sound out of place in between Evanescence and A Perfect Circle on a live bill. Speaking of APC, drummer Josh Freese features heavily on the record.
Noisecreep caught up with Fimm and asked her about being in an independent artist, how she hooked up with Freese and her new video for 'Everything Becomes Whole.'
Tell us about Woodstock. We recently interviewed Joey Eppard of the band 3 and he described the music scene there, but we wanted your take on it. It's got an obviously rich musical history.
Yes, Joey is a good man. The word 'rich' does not begin to do justice. Within the past six months alone, in a 30-mile radius, I've been able to see Jorma Kaukonen, Laurie Anderson, Steven Stills, David Bromberg, Happy Traum, Levon Helm, Bela Fleck, Natalie Merchant, Lucky Peterson, Tony Levin, and Adrian Belew. That's off the top of my head.
My friend David Baron, who produced the last few records, we often talk about it on wood porches. Dave always says, 'what do you think it is?' and I say, "I think it's something in the stone." It pretty much ends there. No one knows really. One thing is clear; the concentration of legendary talent in such a small place is a priceless gift.
You've released seven independent albums to date, yet you've gotten some of your songs placed in television shows and have received press in places like Rolling Stone. What advice can you give other artists who are going the indie route?
Be brave. Be kind. Listen carefully to every person who is talking to you. Look in people's eyes. Don't ever forget the people who love and support your work. Remember that no one is owed anything and keep love in your heart. If you get lost, come and find me.
You have Josh Freese playing on 'Near Infinite Possibility' and there's a definite A Perfect Circle influence on some of your material. What about them drew you to their music? How did you hook up with Josh?
Well it's a strange thing the way life works. I was backstage at the Pavilion in NJ by chance, with my friend Peter. Bauhaus and Nine Inch Nails were playing the show together. Generally I go outside wherever the greenest grass is and try to steer clear of cement dungeons that might possibly be laced with unforeseen obstacles.
There was a green hill with mostly grass a few pieces of broken glass and various bits around. There was a single picnic table where a woman was resting. I stood up and turned around at the bottom of the hill, and this blonde beautiful 5 year old boy came tumbling down at full speed and landed right on my chest. Boom! He said, 'Hellooooo'. So I said 'Helloooo there.' 'What's your name?' This turned out to be Josh's son, but I did not learn this until much later.
The boy seemed to be very interested in making a complete survey of the entire grounds and I could tell the lovely lady watching him was exhausted. We roamed around the pavilion putting violets into electrical sockets and other places that were the least dangerous for a hyperactive determined drummer's child to be. We left a trail of violets through the cement corridors leading all the way up to the stage. I thought this would be the perfect way to discover identity of his father, (which I still did not know) and to leave a trail for him to find us.
With the help of a Mr. Murphy, the violets, some dark guitarist calling me a hippie, it all came together beautifully, and Josh came bounding down the hallway with a black moustache on his face designed purely from electrical tape. Turned out Josh had to take the stage, so I ended up hanging out a bit more with my young friend, and we played again outside with Trent's dog Josie. Josh rocked hard and I could hear it from the hill. It was unforgettable.
We happened to be recording at the same time all this happened. So once I was home, David said, 'Who would you want to play drums on this record out of everyone in the whole world?' I said, 'Josh Freese'. David said, 'Just call him'. So I called him. I was really shy and shocked when he said he would come to play, but it led to one of the most memorable musical experiences of my life. When Josh showed up in the city on a plane straight from LA, I said, 'Josh, it is such a pleasure, what can I get for you'? He said with a big smile, 'It's cool I had 3 dogs and a Coca Cola! I'm ready to rock.' We did ten songs that day that he had never heard before. That's a musician.
What kind of music did you identify with the most when you were growing up?
I think I identify with some strange amalgamation of music. There is no specific type. From my mother came a lot of classical influence, and the music of the '60s and '70s, (Janis Joplin, Dylan) but through my older brother, I was deeply immersed in metal and rock (Alice in Chains, Metallica). My father always had Leonard Cohen, and Grace Slick playing when I was little along with a number of odd stand-up comedy records and Tom Lehrer. This explains my completely perverse sense of humor for which I still hold my father accountable on a regular basis.
I had a secret love affair with the music of Joey Ramone, Lisa Gerrard, Chris Cornell, etc. Essentially, I am a mess but can identify with almost anything as a result of the exposure I had to several kinds of music. I am grateful for that.
Tell us about your new video, 'Everything Becomes Whole.'
The video was inspired by the real stories of human trafficking victims. It is a musical short film directed by Erik Montovano. Erik and I have now worked together on several projects, and I think we have a healthy rapport. We build teams of talented people and try to get things done. I deeply admire his work and could not speak more highly of him. The crew could not have been better. It was a very small group of very dedicated brilliant people.
We spent days gathering authentic, creepy, broken dolls and other props from all over. I remember how hard it was to locate older dolls specifically made from porcelain. One thing I love about working with Erik is that every detail matters to him. We wanted it to feel as real as possible. I will never forget watching them drag a bathtub into the river while I was trying to unfreeze a dead crow. You just don't forget these things.
Much of the inside footage was filmed inside the infamous Bearsville Theater. A few hours after we had just arrived, a tornado slammed into the theater on our first day, lightning hit us several times, punched holes in the roof, and knocked out the power. I recall seeing a large heavy door sucked open as water was raining down on our rented equipment, and an enormous tree trunk seemed to glide by just outside the door. Somehow, we accomplished the goal despite these challenges. I do not know how, but it was remarkable. I remember after the storm let up, we went right outside. There were fallen trees, rocks, pieces of wood, and debris everywhere. Just as we were talking about whether or not we were going to be able to get power back to continue the shoot, an enormous Turkey Vulture perched on the tree high above with its wings spread wide. The sun returned. Erik looked at me and smiled. The whole experience was timeless. I'm lucky. I'm looking forward to its continued presence in the world.
We have been working with a life-saving organization called IJM (International Justice Mission) who have truly broken ground on rescuing trafficked women and children from forced prostitution and slavery. These women then have the choice to become advocates and try to free other women. I have been inspired by these people's actions beyond words. We will use artistic creation and social media as a conduit to get young people activated by sharing ideas, content, images, words, photography, and of course music. They will also be able to go to a landing site and download unreleased content, information about rescued survivors, music videos, inspiring words, etc. If anyone is interested in being a part of the effort, either through sharing information through social media, creating new art, building remixes, please get in touch at my Facebook page. We need all the help we can get to be a voice for these women who simply do not have one. I honestly believe that what changes the world more than any other force on Earth, is music and art.