in New South Wales Australia, keyboardist and virtuoso pianist
Joy Hawkins is making music fans happy with her prolific CD output
on the Little Hartley Music label. Case in point is Fionas 2012
instrumental music CD Sensual Journeys. A modern
music masterpiece filled with the sounds of Celtic, New Age, World
Music and jazz influences, the 11 track Sensual Journeys is
a fitting showcase for Fionas subtle, yet magical piano work
colored with her occasional lead and background vocals as well. Interestingly,
the CD was partly recorded at the Imaginary Road studios of New Age
maestro Will Ackerman. With its magical, sublime instrumental
piano-based soundscapes, Sensual Journeys would fit right in
on Ackermans famous Windham Hill Records. Spotlighting Fionas
deeply impressionistic piano based sounds, Sensual Journeys features
some intriguing musical assistance from Will Ackerman (acoustic guitars),
Charlie Bisharat (strings), Philip Auberg (orchestral
arrangements, keyboards), Jeff Oster (flugelhorn), Tony
Levin (bass) and Marc Shulman (guitars), with other players
assisting. The music on Sensual Journeys is dedicated To
all our mothers, past, present and our shared mother...earth,
while the CD booklet features stellar artwork, track by track credits
and full discography. An accomplished composer, pianist and vocalist,
Fiona Joy Hawkins has a number of other New Age music releases to
her credit including a 2011 Christmas music CD entitled Christmas
Joy (2011), Blue Dream (2008), as well
as a 2011 instrumental live CD entitled Fiona Joy Hawkins And
The Blue Dream Ensemble - Live At The Q. If youre
feeling stressed or mentally burned out, give a listen to the sublime
instrumental music of Fiona Joy Hawkins and get a new perspective
on life. www.FionaJoyHawkins.com.au
mwe3.com presents an interview with
FIONA JOY HAWKINS
mwe3: Where did you grow up and where do you live now? What was
your early musical training like and how did you become introduced
JOY HAWKINS: I grew up in rural Australia
(NSW) with very young parents who fortunately had enough money to
pay for me to learn the piano, some violin, some guitar, and a little
drama. I must have sent them broke, my mother was 17 and my father
was 19 when I was born. My grandmother moved in to look after me and
she bought a very old German iron frame piano with her. I started
lessons at age 8 and fell in love from the very first touch of the
mwe3: When did you start recording music and how has your approach
to writing and recording evolved since you started? Do you practice
every day and before recording, how does the writing process start?
FIONA JOY HAWKINS: I
didnt go into the recording studio till I was 38 years old,
but I was a prolific writer since the age of 8. There are a million
reasons and theories but the catalyst was my mother saying If
you dont do something with your music you will have wasted your
whole life. I hoped to god that I was good enough and deep down
believed thats why Im here on the planet, that music is
the sum of me, a gift given to share. Finally I did it. With great
trepidation, I booked a half day at a studio. Nine albums, many awards
and 10 years later Im writing this interview. Its been a wonderful
journey and lucky for me, it continues.
Practice is an odd thing, you spend your student years studying and
practicing regularly, then you turn professional and you rarely do
any practice at all. Im always playing (different to practice)
as in writing or improvising but scales are thing I can barely
The writing process begins with a concept, a story, an emotion, a
place or even politically inspired subject matter. Its like synchronicity,
you see it one way and translate it as a piece of music. To me its
logical, I just have to hope that other people can see and hear my
subject matter in the music. I think of myself as a story-teller,
when there are no words, music takes over.
mwe3: On the 2012 CD release of Sensual Journeys you
work with producer Will Ackerman. How did you meet Will Ackerman and
what has it been like working with him? What does Will bring to the
recording process and how about other producers working with you on
the Sensual Journeys CD? What do you look for in a producer
and how does that affect your sound?
FIONA JOY HAWKINS: Collaboration
is important, and a main ingredient to the success of many achievements
in life. I had emailed Will three times and received no answer. Then
I read that he said there were three million George Winston wannabees
in the world and every one of them emailed him. So I figured I was
one of them and gave up. Then I was a finalist in the New Age Reporter
Best Piano Album finals along with George Winston. I won.
I was shocked. My album was done on a keyboard. Then I received an
email from Will Ackerman saying come over and see how you go on the
Steinway. It was an invitation to record at Imaginary Road Studios.
Will has a way of finding the magic moment, I have learned so much
about the art of recording from Will, he has an amazing talent. Corin
Nelson also produced a number of the tracks on the album (and engineered
all of them). Corins talent is to have one of the finest creative
ears and abilities to edit on the planet. One track was from LIVE
At The Q, produced by Rebecca Daniel (co-produced Andy Busuttil),
and they are Aussies who also play in my Blue Dream Ensemble, and
just happen to be musically brilliant in a million directions also.
You never do these things on your own. I wouldnt have got this
far without all these people. Having said that, Im very picky
and choosy about who I work with, because brilliant people are hard
to find. When you find them, you are blessed.
terms of varying the sound, there are so many options and alternatives
in the recording process, the main thing for me is working with people
who share the vision and understand my project. The sound at Imaginary
Road studios is very different for example to that of the Stuart and
Sons showroom where I recorded half of the albums piano
tracks. The variations are wonderful because you can hear the two
distinct piano sounds, Steinway and Stuart & Sons. Two very different
pianos and two very different spaces. I love both and each suits the
music produced there. To have an album that combines sounds, producers
and studios that is still cohesive requires the constant
to be the level of perfection. Yes, we are all perfectionists! LOL
mwe3: When did you write and record the Sensual Journeys
album? Were there many logistical problems in getting so many
musicians together during the sessions and how many recording studios
did you use during the making of the Sensual Journeys album?
Any favorite moments during the making of the album?
JOY HAWKINS: The album has been recorded
across a number of years, three countries, 9 studios and 22 musicians.
The constant is that I did all my pre-production on the same piano!
There are too many wonderful moments and the funniest ones I cant
repeat, but for me the great revelation was to sing on my own albums.
I have always performed my own tracks live, but with Sensual Journeys
I recorded my own vocals on many of the tracks.
My all time favorite moment was having Luka Bloom yousendit
a part in for Contemplating from Ireland, stating he just
wanted to sing on my track cause he could hear the part.
did I feel privileged. He had seen a pre-production youtube
clip for the track and jumped right in with the offer. How cool is
mwe3: Can you say something about the other players you work
with in Australia including your collaborations with the group Blue
Dream and singer Trysette too? Whats the music scene like in
Australia for your music, and music in general, in your opinion in
2012? Whats your impression on bringing your music to other
continents far and wide?
FIONA JOY HAWKINS: Australia
has soooooo many talented people. The Blue Dream Ensemble are amazing
and I have the youtube clip to prove it! We are planning to release
a feature length DVD of Live At The Q next year.
Touring with Trysette has been a highlight of my career, the combination
has worked well for us and being completely different in terms of
genre makes our show appealing to a wider audience. Maybe there is
something in the water over here, but Australia has more talent than
population to support it.
2013 is looking great for touring, as many of the venues we played
in 2012 have invited us back next year. I would love to play all over
the world, but time prohibits and so do children, running a record
label and writing and recording music
all these things make
touring full-time an impossibility. Im trying to keep it all
in balance and will tour 3 to 4 months a year.
mwe3: What pianos and keyboard do you prefer to play and perform
on the new Sensual Journeys CD? Do you do any endorsements
and do you follow all the news in the gear world and do you play any
JOY HAWKINS: I dont like playing
keyboards. If you need to do a festival without a piano and can use
the keyboard as a layer only then its fine, but for solo piano, it
just doesnt work.
I love the Stuart and Sons piano and both Trysette and I also have
a penchant for Yamaha (every one we played on tour was very good).
I dont have any endorsements
yet! I have to believe in
what I spruke or I couldnt do it. I would love to be a Yamaha
mwe3: How about your biggest musical influences and what genres
of music interest you the most? Can you give a couple examples of
some of the musicians and albums helped shaped your interest and directions
FIONA JOY HAWKINS:
I started listening to Ravels Bolero very early and lay
in front of the speakers for hours deconstructing the layers and the
build. I was only 8 years old and it left a lasting impression on
me. Then Prokofievs Peter And The Wolf and after that I moved
onto a love affair with Andrew Lloyd Webbers music. Clearly
I was interesting in contemporary but melodic composition.
Then came Michael Nymans The Piano and have always said
that if there is a stage production of this movie I would love the
My other favorite was George Winston, Im still his biggest fan.
In my spare time, I chose to listen mostly to folk music, which has
nothing to do with the music I write and comes as a welcome break
and breath of fresh air to my ears. I love Janis Ian, Dido, Luka Bloom
and similar artists. I cant write lyrics and so I appreciate
listening to them.
mwe3: What are some of your other interests outside the music
world and what do you like best about where you live now?
FIONA JOY HAWKINS: I
love the weather here. I moved from a very cold area to a more temperate
climate, it was a smart move! I love good food, good wine, good company
and I stay fairly quiet when Im not working. Im not quite
a hermit, but close! My favorite day is spent on the lounge in my
PJs with my laptop (working) with coffee in hand and
the odd trip downstairs to the piano. I would need my black cat Sabrina
to make it a perfect day. Im probably quite boring to most people,
but my career is so full of people and places and excitement that
my free time is best spent doing as little as possible.
How about your plans moving forward regarding writing new music, future
recording and releases and also your live performances coming in 2013?
What was your recent tour of the U.S. like?
FIONA JOY HAWKINS: I
LOVE the US. The tour was fantastic and I loved every minute of it.
The downside was that my husband was back at home and of course I
missed him and got home-sick.
Next year Im releasing 600 Years In Moment, an album
about ancient world instruments with an Australian made contemporary
piano. Later in the year Ill release the LIVE at the Q DVD.
Im also hoping to move sideways a little into film. Ill
also keep up the touring for 3-4 months of the year.
Keeping things in balance is key to being successful and sane at the
Thanks to Fiona Joy Hawkins @ www.FionaJoyHawkins.com.au