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June 13, 2007 | Author: Greg Phillips

Fiona-Def-FX-pic-154x200From 90’s electro-grunge rock, to the spellbinding world of witchcraft, Fiona Horne has come full circle and merged both of her passions in a brand new album called ‘Witch Web’. Fiona spoke to Greg Phillips about the new project from her home in LA where she has resided for the last six years.

The world is littered with tales of talented, creative performers, who for one reason or another had to turn their back on music making, despite loving it passionately. Oddly enough, Fiona Horne gave it up for witchcraft. It wasn’t that she’d spied a better paying gig in the weekend classifieds working as a sorcerer’s apprentice. Witchcraft was a spiritual path Fiona had been following for most of her life, even while singing out front of 90s  electro-grunge rock band Def FX. After the band had broken up in 1997, Horne realised that she had accrued enough knowledge on the subject and fielded enough queries from inquisitive minds to feel the urge to write a book about it. The result was 1998’s ‘Witch, A Personal Journey’. Fiona has since released another seven wiccan themed books, set up base in LA and made quite the career out of her niche. Her role as celebrity witch has lead to her own radio show in America, numerous film and television appearances including the popular US talk program, The Tyra Banks Show and guest speaking appearances at respected universities and colleges.

Fiona describes the ‘letting go’ of her music career as one of the most traumatic times in her life. “When the band ended,  it was like a child I’d given birth to and raised for seven years was murdered,” she recalls. “It was so brutal and distressing. I tried to do a bit of music after, I did an acoustic thing and a little bit of music over here in America. The music just never gained momentum. The other stuff started to happen for me and I just thought OK, I’ve got to let it go with love. And what does it do? As soon as I let it go it bounces right back into my face.”

Bounces back indeed. With the release of ‘Witch Web’, her first ever solo disc, music has rediscovered Fiona Horne.  It’s a concept album featuring rituals and ideas associated with witchcraft backed by a soundtrack Fiona co-wrote with musical collaborator Paul Searles.
“It’s something that I have wanted to do for a while,” said Horne in explanation of the project. ” It’s a concept album pertaining to my witchy type practices I guess. Often I would sing if I was doing a private or public ritual with friends or fellow coven members. I would sing acappella to certain parts of the ritual that I thought could benefit from singing. People would ask if they could get it, whether I had recorded it. It started out out as an instructional CD based on different rituals and ideas associated with witchcraft but I ended up writing a couple of regular type songs that we didn’t expect to do, but it just happened. Paul and I had quite a prolific creative relationship and had a lot of fun with it. The record company thought that not only would witches like it, but non witches too. ”

Much of the material appearing on ‘Witch Web’ is ambient beat based, featuring dramatic reverberated piano chords, ethereal synth licks and grungey distorted bass lines (in a nod to her Def FX past) with Fiona vocalising her spells in a whisper-like fashion over the top of it all. After testing quite a few microphones, Horne opted for a three hundred dollar “Chinese cheapo” mike to get the vocal results she was looking for. In fact what surprised Fiona more than anything about recording her new album was the fantastic result they achieved on an independent budget, as opposed to the expensive studio budgets she experienced with a major label in the past. ‘Witch Web’ was written over a five week period via emailed MP3 files sent between LA and Sydney, recorded over 3 weeks back in Australia, and all mixed on a Mac computer, with the whole recording process being relaxed and organic.
“At one stage Paul had a condensor microphone outside his window when there was a rain storm,” said Horne. “It reminded me of the time with Def FX when we had lost our record deal with EMI. We were making an independent album (which achieved an ARIA nomination) half way through our careers. We converted a farm house in Byron Bay into a studio. We went walking through the mountains in the morning and recorded sounds of nature and in many ways, Paul and I embraced those principals too. The luxury of this one is that it was a concept album, we didn’t have to write singles or didn’t feel pressured that something had to be played on the radio. The important thing that I have come to understand when it comes to any act of creativity whether writing a book or recording an album, is that it is not about the time you spend on it but the love you put into it.”

Fiona was due to tour Australia earlier in the year, however dates conflicted heavily with her US television schedule. To avoid any possible legal hassles, regrettably she had to postpone. When she does arrive, she is keen to fill the stage with live guitars, keyboards, percussion and is also considering bringing her friend Kamala a fire dancing performance artist to add some exotic zest. The album is out now on the Rajon label, which also distributes the Ministry of Sound and Cafe Del Mar catalogues, so expect some remixes from ‘Witch Web’ soon too. or

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