Orenda Fink Interview
TSH: Having previously touched on mysticism and spirituality, this time around a key theme for the new album ‘Blue Dream’ was death. After the unfortunate loss of your dog Wilson was the topic of death a notion you felt compelled to look into further for clarity?
Orenda: I would say death looked into me. I was deeply depressed and feeling uncharacteristically nihilistic. I asked for answers, for understanding - but it was more like a desperate plea. I wasn’t expecting to get any, but then I started having very vivid dreams centred on Wilson. In the beginning, he was always in some kind of mortal danger and at the end of the dream I would triumphantly save him. When I would wake up and realise it was a dream I would be devastated all over again. Then they changed and I began having to make the decision to put him to sleep again and again. He came in all kinds of horrible forms then - sick, dying, mutated, and ancient. But through these dreams I was able to reconcile the guilt I had for having him euthanised, something I thought I would never get over. After that, Wilson still came to me in my dreams, but I began recognising him as dead. I knew he was dead in the dream, yet I was able to spend time with him. I could see him, hold him, and even smell him. I would walk around holding him in my dreams asking people if they could see him. I remember in one dream, I whispered to my father, excitedly, ‘I’m holding a ghost.’ It was fascinating. It was as if he was truly still alive and all I had to do was go to sleep to be with him. Then, the dreams shifted once again, and while Wilson still appeared here and there, they were mostly of a completely different nature. People, dead and alive visited me in them, showed me things, and sent me messages. My therapist specialises in Jungian dream analysis and she theorised that at that point my dreams had begun to take on an archetypal nature, what Jung called ‘Big Dreams.’ I took these dreams to heart and studied each one with her. They not only helped heal my grief, but they changed my ideas on the nature of life and death.
TSH: After a yearlong meditation looking deeply into death, what did you learn about yourself and the connotations of death?
Orenda: I now personally believe that there is some form of life after death, whereas before I had just wanted to believe, but felt no strong personal conviction one way or another. I don’t know what that is exactly - if it is eternal consciousness, if it is the soul, a memory, or something more defined like an alternate dimension or that time works differently than we understand it. The mystery is part of the beauty of it all, I suppose.
TSH: You’ve previously stated that the computer is too distracting so you prefer the pen and paper routine to free you from the world when writing new music. Did you adopt the same approach whilst forming ‘Blue Dream’?
Orenda: Yes, I love my notebooks. They are always scattered throughout the house. And they are fun to look back through years later - like time capsules!
TSH: What was the level of focus like when you were recording ‘Blue Dream’?
Orenda: It was high, I would say. We were trying to accomplish a lot in very little time.
TSH: ‘Blue Dream’ is truly a remarkable and fascinating record. Did the thinking behind the record seem to change over time or was it always the same?
Orenda: Thank you! You know, I didn’t write songs at all after Wilson died and while I was having the dreams. It was after they got too intense and I asked for them to stop that I was finally able to start writing. I just wrote when I felt like it because it was very intense to me. Many of the songs I remember crying while I was writing them. So, I didn’t even know I was writing a record until I realised I had written ten songs and that they were somehow companions to each other. Once I had decided that I had a record, I knew that I wanted it to sound like a dream, and we all stuck with that production-wise.
TSH: In relation to instrumentation did you take on any particular different directions to allow for a more versatile result?
Orenda: I think two sonic pallets that greatly inform the record are the gorgeous swimmy guitars that Ben Brodin played and the pop style drumming that Bill Rieflin laid down. I really love the direction that those creative decisions helped steer it in. Outside of that, my husband Todd helped define sonic beds that pushed it into the dream realm. He probably knows more than anyone what my dreams sound like. He hears about them every day!
TSH: The excellent released song from the album entitled ‘Ace of Cups’ is a beautiful song with great variety. From a compositional sense what were you hoping to seek out with the songs aura/essence?
Orenda: I wanted the song to have energy, but I also wanted to capture that certain resigned feeling you get when you have an epiphany about yourself, but still don’t know if you can change your nature.
TSH: Furthermore, ‘You Are a Mystery’ has beautiful arrangements and guitar work. During the song you sing about ‘a star in the sky’, ‘angel in heaven, divine’, ‘you are a dream that I hold close to me.’ What are the origins of the song itself?
Orenda: The song is about the ones you’ve lost coming to you in dreams. These dreams can be incredibly healing. They certainly were in my case. There is a book called “The Dream Messengers” which really explores this phenomenon.
TSH: ‘Poor Little Bear’ is certainly a song that also stands out with its minimal, reflective and spare feel. What can you tell us about the ideas for the song?
Orenda: I take it back. I actually wrote this song for Wilson right after he died. It was before I had any of the dreams and my heart was completely broken. It was a letter to him, to the void. I stopped writing after that and picked back up about 8 months later.
TSH: Do you feel ‘Blue Dream’ is the most direct project you’ve formed to date?
Orenda: You know, in a way I do. I guess because it is so focused and personal.
TSH: Dreams also play a key factor in your thinking and outlook what kind of impetus do you primarily draw from dreams?
Orenda: I’ve always had a strong connection to my dreams, but the experience of the last two years have really defined to me how important they actually are. I believe that dreams have mystical components - are a deep well of knowledge that comes from your consciousness and from the collective consciousness. No religion has ever resonated with me as Carl Jung’s philosophies. To know that the answers are within you is powerful knowledge.
TSH: You’ve confessed to previously being a bit of a Luddite. Is it refreshing to engage on socials, share features that intrigue you and interact with your followers?
Orenda: Yes, absolutely! I must admit that I don’t ever really have a grasp on what it is I’m trying to do on social media. Sometimes it’s hard to know where to draw the line between something too personal or on the flip side too impersonal. I’m sure everyone grapples with that though.
TSH: What are your overall thoughts on the way humanity is interconnected?
Orenda: Again, I take cues from Carl Jung’s theories, that humanity is connected by a collective consciousness - a deep well of wisdom and experience that spans from the beginning of our species.
TSH: Do you feel there have been certain crucial obstacles to overcome in your development as an individual in the music industry over the last few years?
Orenda: I think my biggest obstacle is always self-doubt. Insecurity can manifest itself in pretty destructive ways if the ego is left unchecked. But I have so many supportive people around me these days; it’s hard to give into any nonsense like that.
TSH: You’ve previously mentioned Wilson was your shadow and it was always hard to leave him to go on tour. How grateful are you to have had such loyalty and love?
Orenda: I’m incredibly grateful to have spent 16 years with him and then another year in dreams! It was almost like he was loyal even in death. He couldn’t leave me until I was okay!
TSH: What kind of features do you feel require you to strike a balance within the music industry?
Orenda: You need to have passion for your art, but at the same time maintain a level head because you do have to deal with business quite a bit. It’s also important to not invest too much in anyone else’s opinion - good or bad! I’m still working on that one.
TSH: Tell us about your belief that we can only be truly healed if we find our ‘interior God’…
Orenda: I took that quote from the amazing Alejandro Jodorowsky. I think your interior God is a source of wisdom and love that is inside everyone of us. You just have to find a way to tap into it. I believe one way is through dreams. There are others. It is a way to find a personal connection with the divine and that is important these days when we are so incredibly busy just trying to keep up with the world.
TSH: Why does the excellent movie ‘Only Lovers Left Alive’ reflect your life alarmingly?
Orenda: That was kind of a joke, but there were some pretty funny similarities. I keep the same hours, was already planning an extended stay in Tangiers, spend long amounts of time away from my beloved husband, am attracted to old objects of beauty, call several different cities home, appreciate the same types of artists… I guess I could go on haha.
TSH: What’s the most gratifying process of being a professional musician?
Orenda: I love what I do, so I could list a lot, but I would say the most gratifying aspect is working with my friends who are amazing artists. It’s very inspiring.
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