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What inspired you to first start making music? And how did you come to be in your current incarnation? Or if you prefer, a brief bio about you.

As Lady Gaga says “Baby, I was Born This Way”! 😊 As long as I can remember I have been making music and performing it. I wrote my very first song when I was 6 years old on an antique accordion that I found in the atttic of my family home in Dayton, Ohio. It was called “Goodbye, Darlin’ “ and was basically a country song, probably because that was the majority of the music that my parents played on the radio. Very early on I had a strong vision of becoming a recording artist and singing on television. That vision has been with me my entire life, and I would go so far as to say that I serve it everyday. (And am grateful to have achieved it).

I suppose I took somewhat of a circuitous route when I decided to attend music school and study classical singing after playing in acoustic duos and rock bands in Philadelphia throughout High School and undergrad. My earliest inspirations were Grace Slick and the Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin, The Doors, Jimi Hendrix, Joni Mitchell, and most importantly, Kate Bush. But, after being “responsible” and getting a college degree in Engineering, I threw that all away and fled to the West Coast to San Francisco to attend music school. There, I immersed myself in the classical music world, which was fascinating and challenging, and I ultimately ended up performing as an Opera soloist at companies throughout the United States, such as the San Francisco and New York City Operas and the San Francisco Symphony, as well as founding my acapella group, Screaming Divas.

It was after I had the opportunity to sing Fricka in the Wagner Ring Cycle that I realized I had achieved the goals I had set out to achieve in my classical singing career. It then became time to finally scratch the itch that had followed me all these years and write, record, and produce my own original music that I had always wanted to do. And, by then, I had the great privilege of being able to buy a beautiful 1922 bungalow in which I could build my own recording studio; another realization of a lifelong dream!

Up to now this all sounds like sunshine and sunflowers, but woven through this tapestry was a lot of pain and loss and grief surrounding the death of my fiance Keith Keller, who had been a record producer in New Orleans. I met him when I was performing there with Screaming Divas, and it was a meeting that changed my life on so many profound levels. I often think of writing a screenplay about it.

Provide us with some info about your latest release…

Ever since I was a teenager, I’ve been drawn to mysticism, magic, and anything that creates an atmosphere. So, when I came across artists like Kate Bush and Peter Gabriel and Dead Can Dance, along with others, I was so drawn in by their sounds and atmosphere, that they would completely take me to another world.

More than anything, I wanted to be that type of recording artist; one who wrote and recorded music like this so that I could do for my fans what these artists did for me.

So, just a few years ago, after my fiance died, and after I picked up the pieces of my shattered life and built my recording studio…I dove in. It took me 3 years to create and lay in all of the parts, but what an incredible 3 years it was!

When I first sat down to begin writing Dream Dance, I didn’t know that it would become a sort of hero’s journey, concept album. As a matter of fact, even though I had done a lot of studio session work singing for film scores, commercials, television shows, and other bands, I still wasn’t a hundred percent clear as to what my particular artistic voice would be. I had an inkling, a feeling, and vision, but you never know until you sit down to work and actually produce something what it will end up being.

Ultimately, my music can be described as Ethereal Folktronica / Baroque Pop with a hint of World and Avant-garde. Complex, but approachable, with a strong emphasis on female vocals and eclectic textures.

I think it’s best experienced in the context of the entire album. Different fans have messaged me multiple times about how it takes them into another world when they listen, which in fact was my intention! Nothing has given me greater joy than to hear from my fans the effect my music has had on them.

Which ones would you consider your main influences both music-wise & non-music-wise?

Well, let me just start by saying what an extraordinary discovery process I went through in the creation of this album! My Inspirations for it were Dead Can Dance, Kate Bush, Brian Eno, Peter Gabriel, MS MR, Enigma, Neko Case, Bjork, Verdi, and a host of other Impressions, books, and movies. I learned to trust my writing process as being all my own, rather than it being some prescribed idea of what I think it should be. And, I had some fantastic collaborators: Gentry Bronson wrote me absolutely gorgeous lyrics for four of the songs, and Ray Schaeffer provided his masterful bass and mixing prowess. He and I spent hours in the studio after I laid in and produced all of the tracks, getting exactly the right balance that I was hearing in my mind’s ear. I could not have completed this project without Ray’s impeccable skill as a mixing engineer and talent as a bass player.

The influences outside of music that impacted this CD are wide and varied and eclectic. For instance, I had been reading this incredible book “COLOR” by Victoria Finlay, which is a perspective and travelogue about the origins of color. I was drawn to the book because of my own painting, and my discovery that the master painters I so admired used to make their own paints. (Versus me, who just buys them!)

The very first chapter of the book is about the color Ochre, and the Aborigines. I became consumed with reading her story of how much the Aboriginal art focuses on depicting their Dream Time.

Something within me whirred and snapped into place, making my own connection of how our Dream Time, our lives, are just one big, complex, mating dance of procreation and creation. Most people express their creative impulse in the world through children, and work, and building empires. Artists express our creative impulse in the world with our art, which becomes our children, and our empires.

“It is one big dance” I said to myself. ” . . . A Dream Dance”.

And so was born the song and the album title. The melody came immediately, in a flash. I then set to work recording and laying in the percussive elements, focusing on sounds that would evoke a primal sense; Bodhran drums, scratching sounds (which in my imagination were the sounds of the Aborigines scratching and drawing in the dirt), floor Toms, kick drums, and cymbals.

The long, sustained string lines over the earthy percussion were inspired by my love for Dead Can Dance, and how their music seems to call up ancestral memories held deep within our DNA. For this song is all about ancestry; Time, Life and Creation.

Then I wove in the banshee and operatic cries, which were to me the sounds of the land and human spirits that echo in the winds, down through Time. . . Like the echoes that we all are, performing in our grand Dream Dance that is our Life.

I currently have a video out for the song Dream Dance on my VEVO and Nymphya YouTube channels. And I am extremely proud of it. We shot this video in two phases: the first shoot was at an abandoned silk mill in my hometown… A gorgeous, majestic brick building from the turn of the century. (I find something moving and beautiful in the decay of abandoned buildings and ruins). And this building spoke to me very clearly as a poignant representation of the creations that humans build. The second phase was about 6 months later in Ireland. We traveled to the ancient sites and shot video on a number of them, again bringing in this idea of the timeless drive for us to build and leave our mark. Consequently, the visuals in this video are (if I may so) stunning! We shot at Skellig Michael, the monastery island off the Southwest coast of Ireland, which was settled in 500 BC by monks, and which was featured in the recent Star Wars film as the refuge for Luke Skywalker. We shot at the Uragh Stone Circle on the Beara Peninsula, and at the Aughnacliffe Dolmen, which we happened to stumble upon. Just being in each of these ancient sites was a peak life experience.

In what way does your sound differ from the rest genre-related artists/bands and why should we listen to your music? In other words, how would you describe your sound?

I would say the primary differences are my musical sensibilities and my voice. When I first presented some of these tracks to listeners to discern my market and my genre, the consistent response was “Wow, I’ve never heard anything like it… but the closest influence I could hear is something similar to Kate Bush”. The music itself is very eclectic, with a tonal fabric that has unexpected juxtapositions. To me, it is a delight for my ear to experience something that I haven’t quite heard before; like tasting something delicious that you’ve never eaten. When I hear music that is predictable and obvious, I lose interest pretty quickly unless there is something outstanding that transcends its mundanity. Yet at the same time, when I hear music that tries too hard to be avant-garde or unpredictable, I also lose interest because the form is just not substantial enough. So what you get from listening to Nymphya music is a unique alt-pop point of view, arranged in such a way as to keep your ear hooked, waiting to be entranced and titillated, but yet still in an approachable way.

And, since my voice is my primary instrument, you will also find a very broad vocal palate in my music. One review mentioned something about my voice containing three or four singers; I actually loved that, because I also get weary of a vocal style that is uniformly one color throughout. I had consciously set out to create a vocal identity that was appropriate for each song and what it demanded, calling upon every inch of my vocal instrument: from operatic high notes, to high belt chest notes, to soft mixed voice tones, to earthy soulful wails. And tons of vocal layers!

So, in the end, I would describe my music as Artful pop with Baroque, World, and Classical elements. The technical genre terminology is Baroque-Pop or Folktronica or Art-Pop. And I put the word Ethereal in front of it because the themes and the music itself connects listeners to an inner landscape.

Ultimately, my music can be described as Ethereal Folktronica / Baroque Pop with a hint of World and Avant-garde. Complex, but approachable, with a strong emphasis on female vocals and eclectic textures.

Please name your 3 desert islands albums, movies & books…

WOW! Only 3? OK…( Is it cheating to pick a double album?) My 3 Albums would be (paring this down is excruciating): Kate Bush “Before the Dawn”, Miles Davis “Kind of Blue”, and The Chicago Symphony’s “Beethoven 6” conducted by Fritz Reiner. I ended up with these three considering the reality that I would have to live for the rest of my life with only this music to listen to.

For the movies, I would say “Shawshank Redemption”, “Dr. Strange”, and “West Side Story”. Hmmm… this category was much easier than the album category.

And, my 3 books… argh! Next to impossible, but: Franz Bardon’s “Initiation Into Hermetics”, Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland” and my gorgeous, giant coffee table book “Van Gogh” by Ingo Walther. (I realized I would need to have a picture book of some sort to last me on my island).

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Do you prefer studio or performing live and why?

This is an interesting question, because it depends on the situation whether I prefer one over the other. I have had extraordinarily exciting and rewarding experiences in both settings.
The thing about live performance that is so electric is how you are walking this fine edge of demonstrating your abilities and exposing your vulnerabilities all at the same time. And then you couple that with the visceral connection between you as the performer and each and every audience member and band member. It is a give-and-take of energy that you are feeding back and forth to each other that can be very addictive, and can also make you naturally high. On the flip side, performing live can also be vexing when you are dealing with production issues that get in your way of being able to drop into the zone and really perform at your utmost. And yet at the same time, those issues can sometimes propel you into new heights out of having to innovate on the fly.
The number one distinction to me between performing live and working in the studio is this idea of “perfection”. As a recovering perfectionist, 😊, I shudder sometimes at what happens live, and thrive in the studio environment when I get to indulge my perfectionist tendencies. It’s one of the reasons why I prefer working in my own studio over going to others’ commercial studios. Because I can literally spend 10 hours working on a vocal track without having to concern myself with budgetary constraints.
I also absolutely adore the ability to, in my studio, experiment with ideas, layering textures over each other that I stumble upon and fiddling with them until they work, like a sound collage, almost. That is when I have the most transcendent experiences in the recording studio: making those unexpected discoveries that I would have never created without the luxury of experimentation.
So, I can’t say that I prefer one over the other, but I can say that if I had to do without one it would be performing live. Because the studio is my spiritual home.

Is there any funny/unique story you would like to share with us, always in relation to your music ‘career’?

There are sooooo many tales of varying degrees of strangeness, or charm or whatnot. When I was performing with my acapella group Screaming Divas, we did a massive variety of gigs, from opening for Todd Rundgren at the Fillmore in San Francisco to playing dive bars off alleyways. Once when we were on the road together we were driving in the middle of the night in a RAV4 during a thick and heavy snowstorm. The RAV4 stalled out and Lilli, who was driving, and feeling rather flustered, couldn’t get it to start again. She started freaking out. Then we all started freaking out, each in their own way. My usual freak-out mode is to immediately start strategizing on how to solve the problem. The five of us spent the next solid 10 minutes discussing what the heck we were going to do being stuck in the middle of nowhere on a remote snow-covered mountain pass. Then someone noticed that the RAV4 was not in Park. Lilli put it in Park, and tried to start it again. And lo and behold, it started up just fine! So then we spent the next 10 minutes laughing our fool heads off gleefully as we rolled down the road. It’s moments like that that really solidify you as a band. We also had the opportunity to perform for First Lady Hillary Clinton at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco. They had a full Secret Service team and their dogs do a sweep of the dressing rooms, for which we all had to evacuate until they had done their clearance. When we returned to our dressing room, a couple of us had had our wallets stolen out of our purses! Whaaat? That was very strange. And then there was the booking agent / music manager who was interviewing us and at one point said: “It’s great that you gals know all about that A minor stuff”.

Is there any funny-unique story you would like to share with us, always in relation to your music ‘career’?

There are sooooo many tales of varying degrees of strangeness, or charm or whatnot. When I was performing with my acapella group Screaming Divas, we did a massive variety of gigs, from opening for Todd Rundgren at the Fillmore in San Francisco to playing dive bars off alleyways. Once when we were on the road together we were driving in the middle of the night in a RAV4 during a thick and heavy snowstorm. The RAV4 stalled out and Lilli, who was driving, and feeling rather flustered, couldn’t get it to start again. She started freaking out. Then we all started freaking out, each in their own way. My usual freak-out mode is to immediately start strategizing on how to solve the problem. The five of us spent the next solid 10 minutes discussing what the heck we were going to do being stuck in the middle of nowhere on a remote snow-covered mountain pass. Then someone noticed that the RAV4 was not in Park. Lilli put it in Park, and tried to start it again. And lo and behold, it started up just fine! So then we spent the next 10 minutes laughing our fool heads off gleefully as we rolled down the road. It’s moments like that that really solidify you as a band. We also had the opportunity to perform for First Lady Hillary Clinton at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco. They had a full Secret Service team and their dogs do a sweep of the dressing rooms, for which we all had to evacuate until they had done their clearance. When we returned to our dressing room, a couple of us had had our wallets stolen out of our purses! Whaaat? That was very strange. And then there was the booking agent / music manager who was interviewing us and at one point said: “It’s great that you gals know all about that A minor stuff”.

Which track of your own would you point out as the most unique and why?

Oh boy, these questions are really making me exercise my decision-making skills. 😊 I vacillate between the title track of Dream Dance and the final track called Spiral… I guess I will settle on Spiral. It’s probably the most avant-garde of the tracks on the album, and was musically inspired by long, golden, magical afternoons painting in my garden while listening to Brian Eno, and thematically inspired by the spiral symbol, which was given to me in a meditation a few years prior, and which I subsequently discovered is an ancient and universal symbol for spiritual evolution. I was so deeply moved when I learned that the spiral was such a powerful symbol that has literally been used by humans for thousands of years. You can find carved spirals on 5000 year old standing stones and burial cairns. The song Spiral is a slowly unfolding and minimalist Brian Eno-esque 6 minute piece that acts as a form of life review for the album you just listened to, as well as a portal that spirals you up and out of the experience. Whenever I hear it at the end of the album, it just feels so right as a completion, and as a piece that serves the architecture of the rest of the entire piece.

Would you like to share with our readers your future plans?

Oh my, there are so many things to do! Most immediately I am working on a single release called “Song of Sirens”, which is a co-production with an Australian Chillwave artist named Lacunae Glow. She and I have been collaborating on this song for about 6 months, sending files back and forth via the Internet and working in our studios. We literally just met this past week in a Zoom conference, and hit it off so splendidly that we spent 2 hours talking. We’re doing a special event around this release and offering it in a specific and limited way, which will tie into some new merchandise I will be offering soon for my fans. I am really looking at the possibility of playing some Australian dates in 2019, and I am beginning work on my next album, which is called “Through the Looking Glass”, and is all about our reflections in the inner and outer world and how we navigate those.

Free question!!! (Ask yourself a question) you wish to answer and haven’t been given the opportunity…

What type of person loves your music?

Well, let me start by saying I absolutely adore my fans. I am finding that they are the type of people who are interested in thought-provoking lyrics, and unusual and somewhat challenging, but beautiful, music. They vibe with the mysterious and magical, Nature, and the Bohemian. A lot of them are artists, themselves. And, I’m really looking forward to the day when we can all be in the same room, brought together by our shared love of this magnificent art form called Music.

Curated by: Christos Doukakis

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