A Fine Frenzy
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A Fine Frenzy


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"In House With A Fine Frenzy: Singer Alison Sudol Goes All-Natural on 'Pines'"

A Fine Frenzy sounds like a punk band gone rogue, but giggling Alison Sudol, who took the name from a verse in "A Midsummer Night's Dream," is anything but a delinquent. The LA-based songwriter has been releasing records under the moniker since 2007, but her dream was always to be a writer, not a singer. So in conjunction with her third record, Pines, Alison decided to release a book. Both projects share an emphasis on nature, hope, and joy.

"I wanted to be a writer when I was a kid, and it's like this weird thing where there was such a joy to it for me. It was so easy that I was like 'There's no way I can make career out of this, it's too fun.' So I went into singing," Sudol tells Spinner. "I'm shy, so singing is the most terrifying thing for me. But it moves things. So that's why I ended up going into that. But then getting to do this book was wonderful because it was like pairing something that I love doing so much with my passion, the thing that opens every door for me in life, which is music."

Sudol decided to change her whole approach for this album. She changed her songwriting style and subject matter and even dyed the curtain of red hair she adopted as part of the A Fine Frenzy's persona, to blonde. Pines is all about going natural.

"I needed to just change everything, I needed this to be a clean slate," the "Almost Lover" singer says, while adding that many of fans didn't respond well to her shedding the red-haired siren look.

"I've gotten mixed reactions. Sometimes people forget you are a human. People have said 'Your hair sucks! I liked you better with red hair!' Which is hard for me because I'm naturally a blonde. For a long time red hair is something that I hid behind. It was like a security blanket, it was the thing that I felt was unique. But it was getting to the point where it was being identified with my personality and my ethos. I just wanted to try being me for a minute."

In embracing her natural self, Sudol also worked to make art that wasn't strictly about the sad demise of relationships. Her initial album One Cell in the Sea and the follow-up Bomb in a Birdcage both deal heavily in relationships and love that often go wrong.

"I didn't just want to be the heartbroken girl anymore. I don't mean that only in the musical sense, just in life. I was just like 'Stop the pattern! There's other things to life than just getting your heart smushed and bashed.' I needed to change my life on so many levels. I needed to learn how to be happy. I needed to learn how to engage with people. I got signed quite early and I had been really sheltered and very shy. So I didn't develop in certain areas of my life. I didn't have that many friendships, I lived a lot in my imagination and not so much in the real world."

Pines manages to combine the real world with the world of imagination in a very tangible way. The songs focus almost entirely on natural elements like forests, seas and mountains. Sudol says the record was inspired by a number of beautiful, natural spaces like the California Redwoods and Washington's Olympic Rainforest.

"When I'm in a forest I'm like 'Ahh forest!' But then I think about the sea and I think 'oh but I want that!' If somehow there was the ocean in a forest and then a mountain inside of that, under the water [laughs]. Each type of landscape, even a prairie, rolling hills, it all brings about a different emotion and so I think I'm just happiest when I'm somewhere beautiful," Sudol explained.

Through these spaces she hopes to convey a larger message about going through hard times and self-discovery. Both the album and the book tackle transformations that Sudol has recently dealt with.

"If the album was a fable I suppose the moral is that when life seems at its darkest and it's at its lowest point, that's the time when you have the gift of regeneration. If you're brave and willing to try you can do anything that you put your mind and heart and spirit into."

The book has the same sort of lesson embedded in it, an attempt to see the brightness in a world that can seem very dark, Alison's attempt to instill magic and faith in the hearts of kids and adults alike.

"If you're going through a difficult or transitional time the hardest part is right before you go to bed. That's the loneliest and the darkest part. So I wanted to make something that would just make people feel good. There's also a children's book aspect to it, but something that a parent would like to read too, and they would probably get different things out than their child would. But the point was to let kids feel like the world is magical, because we need that as kids. Kids need as much imagination and faith and hope as they can get."

The album and the book Pines are both available today (Oct. 9) buy them here or those on a limited budget can get the single "Now Is the Start" right here. - Spinner Canada

"A Fine Frenzy gets natural on new album, tour"

Alison Sudol of A Fine Frenzy doesn't believe she makes a good pop star.

"You won't find me out in a club. I'm a bit unruly, in my own way," says Sudol, 27. "I won't do the same thing over and over again. I do love to dance, and that's fun, but I will never stop writing my quiet, sensitive songs."

In spite of her better judgment, she almost became one. "Almost Lover," an emotionally devastated piano ballad from "One Cell in the Sea," her 2007 debut, became a surprise hit in Eastern Europe. "Bomb in a Birdcage," the follow-up album, contained at least two songs — the slow-burning breakup number "Happier" and the sultry "Electric Twist" — that, in a world just a few degrees smarter than our own, would have been chart-toppers.

On "Pines," her third album as A Fine Frenzy (the name, a reference to Shakespeare, is, like much of Sudol's project, pulled from literature), she's leaving nothing to chance. The ambitious new set has nothing on it resembling contemporary pop. Many of these ethereal compositions float well past the five minute mark. Some songs don't bother with choruses at all; instead they drift, swell, and surge like water pulled by tidal forces. Tracks have lengthy, near-ambient intros and outros, and Sudol, the possessor of one of the most radiant voices in pop, sings much of the album in a reverent near-whisper.

"I've stopped worrying," says Sudol, who will perform at Best Buy Theatre in Manhattan on Monday night, about her prospects for commercial success. "There's a certain amount of pressure that you get from being a popular artist, and I think in the past I put a lot of pressure on myself, too. But I always knew that writing hits wasn't really my strong suit.

"This was the first time in my life when I didn't limit myself. I went into territory that scared me a whole lot. I really took my time with 'Pines.' I wanted to believe, and think, and concentrate, and craft, and make sure I knew what I wanted to say."

She's also reinforcing her message in other mediums. Sudol has written a book and made a short film based on the story of "Pines." The fable, which Sudol developed before she wrote any of the music for the album, follows a pine tree that is granted the gift (or curse) of volition and mobility. The wandering pine character affords the Seattle-born singer-songwriter the opportunity to foreground her environmentalism and love for the natural world. And while nothing on "Pines" is as overtly confessional as "Almost Lover," Sudol insists that this set is, in its misty way, an allegorical autobiography.

"This is definitely my most personal album," says Sudol. "'Pines' allowed me to go into other areas of my life that I hadn't sung about on my other albums — not just romantic heartbreak, but feelings of isolation, and looking for somewhere to belong."

Sudol is aware that a moody concept album about an animate tree is a tricky sell in 2012, especially since downloadable MP3s have made listeners less inclined to listen for long stretches. Still, she believes that if her fans are willing to put the time in, they'll find "Pines" rewarding. And she doesn't mind thumbing her nose at conventional wisdom.

"I do have faith in people in a way that a lot of people say you shouldn't have faith in people," says Sudol, who is a fine pianist as well as an electrifying singer. "Listening to whole albums is just one part of it. I have faith in people's hearts and people's loyalty.
"I know this is a record that you have to give time. It's not instantaneous. You have to sit and listen, close your eyes and stop for a minute. Also, I know it might make people feel things that they're uncomfortable feeling, because it goes into tricky territory."

Those accustomed to fantasy literature, however, should be on firm footing. Sudol has always been vocal about her admiration of children's classics, and many of her songs have echoed the themes — and channeled some of the magic — of those books. She doesn't return much to those stories these days, because she's reluctant to dispel the feeling she associates with her favorites. But she admits that she recently re-read C.S. Lewis' "The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe," and found herself captivated all over again.

"I went back to C.S. Lewis really hesitantly," says Sudol, "and sure enough, midway through, I was taken away. Like Tolkien, it's a whole world he created.

"That's what I've always wanted to do." - The Times New Jersey

"“Lunch with Lea” Ustream with Alison Sudol of A Fine Frenzy"

We’ll have a very special Lunch with Lea this week on Wednesday, September 26th at 10:30am PT/1:30pm ET!

Lea will be joined by Alison Sudol of A Fine Frenzy! She will be talking about all her really cool upcoming projects: a new book, film and album all based on The Story of Pines. The album and interactive e-book are out October 9th on iTunes – preorder here: http://smarturl.it/AFFpinesPRE

Send questions to info@hellogiggles.com (subject: Lunch with Lea)!

For more info check out http://www.afinefrenzy.com and follow her on Twitter! - Hellogiggles

"Interview with A Fine Frenzy"

October 28th, 2012
Shawn Kellner

Interview with A Fine Frenzy

By: Chicago Music Magazine Editor In Chief Shawn Kellner

Edited by: Rebecca Knezevich

Shawn Kellner(CMM): Hi Alison, Thanks for taking time out of your schedule to talk to us today, Can you tell us a little bit about Half the Sky turning oppression into opportunity for women worldwide?

Alison (AFF): Well, yeah, I’m a very privileged woman, I’ve never been in a situation where I was compromised in terms of my health or well-being – I’ve never experienced any sort of hazard to my safety, I’ve never felt like my environment was hostile to me. And yet so many women, on a daily basis, are faced with that as their reality, and people don’t really want to talk about it because it’s so upsetting, and it seems like there’s nothing that could be done. So Half the Sky is shining a light on this and helping women. I think as a woman, and just as a human being who has empathy for other people, I’m honored to be a part of it.

CMM: How did you get involved with the 30 Songs in 30 Days idea?

AFF: They sent me information, and of course I was touched and I wanted to help. It seemed like the least I could do, so I made a song for a day.

CMM: Can you tell us a little bit about your songwriting process? Is it individual songs you work on with the endgame of an album, or do you craft everything together?

AFF: Well, I think there are different kinds of songwriting – for example, if I had just finished a record and gotten that out of my system and then I start writing again, there’s a time when I’m just writing to write and get it out of my soul and then I start to be like, “Oh, these songs are starting to come together as a whole, there’s some sort of link here, some sort of narrative.” This record in particular was very different because it was all borne out of a concept, out of an idea that I had about a fable about a pine tree that decides to be uprooted so she can change her life. It’s a very different way of approaching a record, every song was written as a chapter in a story and I was very aware of what I was doing.

CMM: What artists have inspired you vocally?

AFF: Nick Drake, Eva Cassidy, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday,

CMM: What direction do you see your music going in the future? Do you see yourself doing more pop songs or more emotional ballads, or a little mixture of that?

AFF: I’m definitely more of an emotional ballad kind of a girl. I never really think about writing pop songs. If I write something that’s to-be-danced-to, then it’s for dancing, but it’s not necessarily with the object of writing a pop song. I guess it depends on my mood, if I want to dance, if I want to have fun and let go. And sometimes it’s more of a time to be quiet and pensive. That’s the great thing about writing music, is that it’s always leading you toward different places, I never really know where I’m going to end up.

CMM: Do you plan on incorporating more electronic elements into your music?

AFF: Well, Keefus and I – Keefus produced the records, he’s great – he and I have discussed the records a lot beforehand and really it was just using whatever instrumentation fit the song, and that created the right atmosphere, the right mood. So sometimes it’s all just totally organic textures, sometimes it’s sort of strange, otherworldly ones, sometimes it’s more synth-y. It’s just whatever can achieve the desired effect.

CMM: You’ve been through the Midwest a couple times – how is plyaing the Midwest and cities like Chicago different from playing the East coast or the West coast?

AFF: I think the differences are really subtle and it’s hard to – every city and also every city on a different night, with a different mix we use and a different crowd, you can play to the same city and the next night it’ll be completely different. I think people in the Midwest are just incredibly sweet and helpful – it’s just a particular Midwestern way.

CMM: In 2009 you recorded a live album at the House of Blues in Chicago, and you could record a live album pretty much anywhere in the world that you want because you go to all these places and you have the support of your label. Why choose the House of Blues Chicago, how did that come about?

AFF: Well, the venue’s amazing, that particular House of Blues is incredible. I don’t really remember, that was so long ago! I remember being really happy to be there. I can’t really remember the circumstances, I can barely remember last week at the moment.

CMM: Are you excited to be going on tour with Josh Radin?

AFF: Yes, it’s going to be fun. The venues are beautiful. He and I have talked a bit over e-mail and text message and he’s really, really nice.

CMM: So the new album Pines just came out October 9th and is available everywhere. Do you have a favorite song on it? I know you guys spend so much time working on this music and cr - Chicago Music Magazine

"Beauty In A Fine Frenzy"

Being a brilliant musician is a glory in itself, but being a brilliant, beautiful and eco-conscious musician would simply equal Alison Sudol.

Better known by her Shakespeare-inspired band name, A Fine Frenzy, Alison first garnered the attention of the masses in 2007 with her breakout hit "Almost Lover" off her first album One Cell in the Sea, which reached the top of the charts across the globe, including the United States.

Now, on the heels of her third album, Alison is finding her space in the music industry amongst some of the biggest names in alternative music.

GlobalGrind had the absolute pleasure of getting a visit from the soft-spoken beauty for a one-on-one interview with a big fan, our editor-in-chief Michael Skolnik.

The pair spoke about everything from her musical inspiration, to her opinion on Frank Ocean revealing his sexuality to the world.

Check out the exclusive interview in the video above.

- Global Grind

"A Fine Frenzy’s Alison Sudol Discusses ‘The Story Of Pines’ Short Film: Watch"

Tying in with her upcoming third LP Pines (out October 9), A Fine Frenzy‘s Alison Sudol co-wrote the 12-minute animated short film The Story Of Pines, which premieres today (October 2) on TakePart TV. The short tells the story of a tree named Pine and a bird named Bird, and the adventure they take part in while in search of a new forest home after their original one has been laid to waste.

Sudol discusses the inspiration behind The Story Of Pines in the interview clip you see above. “This whole sort of fable kind of came together all at once,” she says. “I had wanted to make something cohesive for awhile. When I realized it would be a book I thought, goodness, but it would be so wonderful as a film, too. It all came together at the same time.”

It’s clearly been a labor of love for Alison, who first described the project to her new friend David Archuleta in their adorable meet-up two years ago. Now, in connection the themes of Alison’s new album and film — the vitality of the natural world — TakePart has created the Social Action Campaign, where the first 10,000 people to text PINES to 77177 (through October 16) will have a tree planted in their name.

Preorder the songs in the film from the album Pines now on iTunes. - Idolator

"Album Review: A Fine Frenzy – Pines"

Alison Sudol, A Fine Frenzy‘s driving creative force, has a Tumblr. The online blog is filled with Mary Oliver poems, adorable animals that pretty much always require an, “Aww”, and photos of lush forests filled with–as you might have guessed–pines. It’s an incredibly appropriate accompaniment to this 13-track album, recorded during a rainy week before Christmas in Los Angeles.

Pines is a double-edged walk through the woods, with parts of the record playing with forest-inspired imagery while the other fragments draw on the literal meaning of what it means to pine. The former is captured beautifully in the record’s second track, “Winds of Wander”, which begins with birds chirping and a lazy pluck of the guitar as Sudol’s beautifully delicate voice creeps in (“Drown in the drowsy afternoon/In the green grass, the yellow flowers bloom”).

Pines dances between Sudol’s ballad-heavy debut, One Cell in the Sea (“Sad Sea Song”), and her more dance-ready sophomore effort, Bomb in a Birdcage (“Sailing Song”), and Sudol’s subject matter has shifted further from pining for a man and closer to self reflection and possible happiness. Single “Now Is the Start” brings her transformation full circle with both poppy and slow moments as she sings, “Hey, do you hear, do you hear that sound?/ It’s the sound of the lost gone found/ It’s the sound of the mute gone loud/ It’s the sound of the new start.” It’s the sound of growing up. - Consequence of Sound


Pines - 2012
Noted tracks:
Now Is The Start
It's Alive

Bomb In A Bird Cage - 2009
Noted tracks:
Electric Twist
What I Wouldn't Do

One Cell In The Sea - 2008
Noted tracks:
Almost Lover



A Fine Frenzy is the enchanting musical world of Alison Sudol. And her sprawlingly ambitious new album PINES reaches for the stars. It is nothing less than the story of our age: an elegy for a planet on the brink of catastrophe. Our planet.

A magic-realist allegory about the enduring beauty and awesome power of nature, PINES is a wildly diverse musical adventure ¬ and a cautionary tale for the 21st century. “It began life as a children's story,” says Sudol. “Then I thought it would be an album of lullabies. But once I'd started writing, it just kept on growing.”

In time, it grew into the story of nature's fight for survival against the destructive encroachment of mankind. But because Sudol is an artist filled with optimism and compassion, it's filled not with gloom and doom, but with hope for a better future.

"The record begins in a time of endings, where everything good seems to be lost forever," says Sudol, "and then one day, something changes, bringing a flicker of hope to that dark place, and from that hope comes a chance to begin again... to choose a life instead of having it chosen for you."

Recorded over a week of torrential rainstorms in Los Angeles just before Christmas, PINES takes the listener on a voyage of discovery that at once celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and the indestructible power of nature.

"It's about facing your fears and going through all the highs and lows, and wonders and delights and tragedies that come with learning how to live your life,” adds Sudol. “And finally finding where you belong.”

The singer-songwriter and passionate environmental campaigner, whose 2007 debut album ONE CELL IN THE SEA spawned the breakthrough hit 'Almost Lover', began work on PINES after undergoing a crisis of confidence after completing her 2009 collection BOMB IN A BIRDCAGE.

“I had lost my way,” admits Sudol, 27. “I was disillusioned, I was suffering from writer's block... life block. Everything was distant and hazy. I knew I had a capacity to feel joy and wonder, and that life had definitely felt like an adventure once, but that feeling had gone. I couldn't feel much of anything anymore. I was pining for something I felt I once had, or perhaps just the idea of it... this record was an effort to reclaim that feeling, instead of just mourning its loss.”

The process began when a close friend fell pregnant, prompting Sudol to reassess her life, and the world in which her friend's child would be born. “I thought back to my early childhood in Seattle, where we were surrounded by nature, and of moving at the age of five to Los Angeles, which had no trees and was quite urban and scary to a child from the Pacific North West.

“I retreated at a young age into reading books because they contained so much beauty; so many beautiful places that you could travel to in you mind. For many years I relied on my imagination to be more magical than life because the real world seemed like a disappointing place to live.”

Retreating more literally to the Cascade Mountains in Washington state two years ago, Sudol once again began to dream, surrounded by the vastness of nature. "It was hugely inspiring. I absorbed as much of it as I could and then put that into the songs when I got home." She found further inspiration in the awe-inspiring redwood forests of Northern California. "When you're really deep in the sequoias, it's like being in a cathedral. It's so quiet, and the trees are so ancient. I could feel things stirring deep in my heart, so much so that it was almost overpowering at times. I was so happy there, truly happy, for the first time in what felt like ages."

And so was born a single song, 'Avalanches,’ about a solitary pine tree atop a mountain peak: the last survivor of a once vibrant and verdant forest, sadly surveying the destruction of the forest below ¬ until one day, a bird alights upon its branches. This would be the first stepping stone in what became PINES.

Epic in scope and sound, PINES was recorded with a dizzying cast of musical accomplices collected by Sudol's chosen producer, Keefus Green, whose credits as a musician range from rappers Dr. Dre and Ice Cube to bluegrass superstar Alison Krauss, jazz diva Cassandra Wilson, and punk legend Iggy Pop.

"Keefus is the kindest person in the world, soft spoken and humble, and he brings out the best in people, but his mind is also a musical carnival. Some of the things that came out of it made me laugh - they were so wonderful and unexpected. We had a lot of fun."

To inspire the musicians, who included longtime A Fine Frenzy collaborator Omar Cowan (guitar) and acclaimed producer-musicians Jon Brion (guitar, synth, pump organ) and Jonathan Wilson (drums, percussion, ukulele), Sudol decorated the historic Capitol Records studio in Hollywood with boughs of pine, film slides of national parks, and fairy lights. She meticulously explained her vision for every song - “I told them about the natural environmen