Get familiar with Norwich-based neo-soul/jazz artist and producer, Freya Roy.
After a 5 year hiatus from music, Freya steps back into the spotlight with the forthcoming release of her crowdfunded-debut album AHLKE as well as sharing her new track ‘Midnight Train’.
It has definitely been a long, long journey for Freya whose patiently honed her craft and listening to ‘Midnight Train’ she certainly didn’t waste the intervening time.
The upcoming LP will be released by FCR Music, an independent label Freya founded in 2012. It’s a platform she is using to change the perception and visibility of industry minorities. Freya is also among twenty artists supported by the second round of the MOBOs Help Musicians Fund.
We caught up with Freya Roy to talk about her new single, upcoming album, creative process and more.
Firstly, congratulations on ‘Midnight Train’ absolutely love it! You must be super excited to finally be releasing your debut single? Can you tell us a little bit about the track?
Thank you! It feels really good to finally have a single out, it has been a very long time coming (5 years in fact). I actually wrote Midnight Train a number of years ago and released it on my debut EP in 2012. It was a song that was always coming back to me and people remembered me for it. Since then I took the track down from all online platforms, but I would always continue to play it live. During last summer, I was playing around with my MPC sampler and put together the main beat and then found myself playing Midnight Train over the top. The textures worked really well together, so I wrote some new lyrics and pumped loads of my energy into the production and I am now really pleased with how it has turned out. Although a slightly more contemporary track from the album, I feel like I have chosen the right one to kick things off with. It features Submotion Orchestra’s Simon Beddoe on Flugel Horn – his playing is beautiful and gives the song that extra bit of life! This track and the rest of the album has also been mixed by SubMo’s Dom Howard. I really admire his technique and approach to sound, so it was a pleasure working with him on this.
We’re really excited about ‘AHLKE’ your upcoming album. Can you tell us a bit about your creative process when making the record?
A lot of the material on this album was written during my final year at Leeds College of Music, studying Jazz Composition and Production. I was lucky enough to be tutored by Abstract Orchestra’s musical director, Rob Mitchell, and he gave me the space to really explore the hip-hop and contemporary R&B elements of my sound, whilst maintaining a strong focus on melody and jazz harmony. After graduation, I came back to my favourite tracks from my portfolio and re-worked them on a more contemporary basis, focusing more on the production. During the summer, I also set myself a little 10-day challenge for social media, where I would work on a new idea or re-work previous compositions throughout the day, using a range of loops, samples and FX, and I would post a clip of me performing a clip of this at the end of the day. I developed a lot of the tracks on the album this way and it’s how the new version of ‘Midnight Train’ came about.
The upcoming LP will break a lengthy hiatus from music. What have you been up to in that time and how would you say your sound has developed over that period?
It’s been a while! I have mostly been studying during this time, both at Birmingham Conservatoire (Jazz Guitar) and Leeds College of Music (Jazz and Production). Throughout this, I felt that my sound was developing constantly and it didn’t seem appropriate to stick out a track that I wasn’t fully committed to. I felt that there was still more I could do to everything I made but I needed the time to experiment and develop my writing. Thankfully being in the college-bubble enabled me to safely create and do just that. I decided to take down all my previous releases and start afresh as an artist. I have definitely refined the Neo Soul and Jazz elements in my sound, with melody at the forefront of my writing and jazz harmony as the backbone. During the beginning of this journey, I did, however, experience trauma to my wrist and had to take time out from studying, playing and everything in between. So for a good few years, I pretty much went silent on the music front and people thought I had given up on the idea. I am back on track now, but unfortunately, I have had to take a step away from the physical intensities of jazz guitar training, putting my energy into other creative spots such my production and my label, FCR Music. It’s not until now that I have found a balance between all of these things, whilst still feeling creatively fulfilled, enabling myself to move towards getting this whole album project off the ground – something I didn’t think would be possible a few years ago. I really do think this whole process has been nurturing and has played a huge role in how my sound has developed as an artist. Always a silver lining!
How would you describe your sound to someone who had never heard your music before?
I would say a cocktail of Neo Soul and Jazz, with strong elements of hip-hop and R&B.
Can you tell us about FCR Music and what’s in the pipeline for the label this year?
I set up FCR Music for my debut EP release back in 2012. Originally I just used the label as a point of management for myself as an artist, but since then I’ve seen the opportunity to grow it into new things. All of my new music this year is dropping under FCR Music, as well as the music video for my second single. I am slowly trying to shape the brand and build a community, focusing on women and the LGBTQ community. During my hiatus and recovery from my wrist injury, I created a documentary for International Women’s Day 2018 with independent filmmaker, Emile Scott Burgoyne, entitled ‘FCR Music Presents: Women & The Creative Industry’. This is being released on social platforms on International Women’s day 2019 (March 8th) so keep your eyes peeled! The project is a compilation of filmed interviews with 8 both emerging and established female and male creatives, all of whom are at different points in their careers. With each artist we asked the same set of questions, discussing gender roles and representation in the creative industries and why we should champion the work of women artists. I have always been a minority throughout my studies and career, whether that be in jazz, production, or in a gig setting. I think this has affected my creative output as a creator in all sorts of ways, so for obvious reasons I wanted to discuss the topic with other artists and hear about their views and experiences. We got some great people on board, such as Marie Dahlstrom, Carmody and Scott Quinn. It was an invaluable experience being able to chat to everyone involved, and what’s more, we filmed the interviews in everyone’s home or creative space, so that was special. I learned a lot and we were able to create an insightful short film that I hope many people are able to take something positive from. The plan is make more of these shorts focusing on industry minorities, and I will be releasing small outtake clips from ‘Women & The Creative Industry’ over the coming months on FCR Music social platforms.
Who are you currently enjoying listening to?
At the moment I am loving Cleo Sol; ELIZA, Noname and Reginald Omas Mamode IV. Jill Scott will always be my go-to on a rainy day.
Do you have any live shows coming up that you can tell us about?
From the beginning of March, I begin my run of gigs, as both solo and with my band, to support the release of my new music. My UK tour for the album officially begins at the end of April, consisting of dates in Suffolk; Leeds, Manchester and Sheffield, with my main headline show in London on 23rd May at Servant Jazz Quarters. This is probably my biggest gig to date – stay tuned for tickets!
Tell us something interesting about yourself?
I am proud to be born to a German mother. I hope to spend some time living in Berlin in the near future, as well as in the northern parts of the country. My album is also named after my German grandmother, Ahlke.
Any last words to the Twistedsoul community?
I am excited to show you all what’s new! Please stay tuned on socials for everything happening over the next few months – I think it’s going to be really fun. X
Thanks so much for speaking with us!