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Fair Fjola’s Road to Somewhere
By EA Poorman
Fort Wayne Reader
It's not easy being green. Just ask Kermit. You know what else isn't easy? Being an indie folk family band from the Midwest.
Sure Chicago, St. Louis, Cleveland, and Cincinnati are in the Midwest. But so are Rockford, Black Jack, Brown, and Findlay. Another Midwestern town that can be added to the list of obscure stops on the road map to somewhere else is Warsaw, Indiana. The Lake City. The orthopedic capital of the world. This 'little big' town is the home of the 2012 Battle of the Band winners Fair Fjola. They create a mix of Rusted Roots meets The Givers with a pinch of Partridge Family thrown in for good measure. There's also plenty of songwriting talent and pop finesse in there that could easily purchase these Midwest sons and daughters a ticket to major success. I had the opportunity to ask Sebastian Coria -lead singer and rhythm guitarist for Fair Fjola- some questions about the band before the holiday sabbatical.
"Fair Fjola was formed early fall of 2009. Sam Gillis (drummer) and Eileen Gillis (piano/ vocals) had started playing together on a few original tunes. I had recently moved home from Louisiana and started writing a song called "Settle." Sam Gillis came downstairs where I was playing and started playing harmonica. Eileen, Veronica, and Samuel Coria came downstairs soon after and within a matter of hours we finished "Settle" and began writing "Indian Summer". A couple of weeks later Tyler Reinholt (lead guitar) heard the music, wanted to record it, and joined the band. The group came together naturally and seemingly on it's own. Maybe the fact that me, Samy, Eileen, and Veronica are all siblings and all lived under the same roof for that brief few months during the bands conception. Since 2009 Fair Fjola has continued to call Warsaw IN, home." Sounds too good to be true, doesn't it? Do bands come together that naturally in real life? What about the drama? The fights? Cymbals being flung at heads? Wait. I'm thinking of the Davies' brothers. Sorry.
Is "indie folk" the right way to describe Fair Fjola's organic, rootsy sound? "I think the description that I have liked the best thus far came from a friend in Louisville, who called it post-Americana,” says Coria. “I think with the acoustic instrumentation, the vocal harmonies, and electronic undertones, that is the closest I can come to describing our sound. The band definitely pulls influence from classic rock artists, folk artists, and old country western."
I always have to ask an artist about the process, how what they call their 'art' is formed. It's great hearing all the funny stories about not showering or eating for weeks on the road. And the drunken shows where things were broken and what not. But if it weren't for what is embedded on that shiny disc or that file on your computer, we wouldn't even be talking. So how was the process of recording Fair Fjola's No One Gets Any? "The album was produced in Chicago, IL with producer Brian Deck, and mastered in New York, New York with mastering engineer Greg Calbi. Every song on the album is a collaborative effort and really doesn't take form till the whole band is together."
If you've never seen a Fair Fjola show, it's something to behold. "We strive to make our live show outshine our album every time we play,” Coria says. “I believe Steve Henn called our live show in Whatzup a "revival". So, I suppose that is our overall goal every show; To share how our passion and love of music with every person in the crowd." A revival. Told you it was something to behold. Where do these revivals take place?
"Primarily we have played Northern Indiana (with the exceptions of Indy, Bloomington, and Chicago). That is until recently, we did a week tour with a band called Ducky and the Vintage. We started on the east coast and worked our way back into the Midwest. "
A Midwest band making their way in the Midwest. A sound that resembles a revival. Being reborn through music; and making it all the more poignant and significant is that this band is a family. In the metaphoric and literal sense. Their years growing up together created a bond no other group of musicians could ever emulate. Fair Fjola have proven that geography plays very little in the scheme of things, at least when it comes to the creativity and the drive needed to "make it". "The only affect living in Warsaw has had on the band is that we were free to create what ever sound we wanted, because there really hasn't been much of scene here for a while. I am starting to notice an emergence of young talented artists and musicians in the area. Hopefully that scene continues to grow."
Fair Fjola are a band and a family. They create a sound that is loose, free, and exuberant. Joyful and upbeat could be thrown in there as well. But what I've taken away most by having the opportunity to talk with Sebastian is that this band of Midwest raconteurs aren't letting anything go to their head. They're enjoying the journey as it unfolds in front of them. As fans it's been a pretty damn good ride for us as well.
2012 was a great year for Fair Fjola. 2013 is looking good as well. Keep up to date with Fair Fjola at www.fairfjola.com and www.facebook.com/fairfjola.