There aren’t many artists who want to put an album together in different languages, but it’s one of the reasons why Fiona Dawn is even an artist to begin with. Fiona’s work is “equal portions Mandarin and English, Chinese and American,” as described in a recent interview. Her mission as an artist is to bridge the two cultures through her music in a new sound, language mashup and cultural understanding.
Her sound is lush, synth pop, with a flair for soul. Fiona explores different genres while staying true to her pop/rock sensibility. Pair a bit of piano backdrop with heavy distortions and drum beats, and you’ll get something that suits her fancy. A lot of her songs are melodramatic love ballads, like “Somebody’s Man” and “Love Drug”, which explore the conflicts in twisted, bad love. Even “Midas” is alluring in its dream-like eeriness, a song about greed and power. Her voice is described as “acidic R&B vocals” that is paired with her own “deep, cultural discipline, a young intellect, untarnished earnestness and of course, the soul of C-pop in her heart,” in an interview with Christina Twu from the Seattle International Examiner. But check out her Chinese songs too – “In the title track of ‘Tricks of the Trade’, Dawn rides the wave of an otherwise ordinary pop song with pitch-perfect Mandarin enunciation and a bit of controlled grit in her voice that exceeds her 24 years by about six. The song crescendos into an unexpected bridge — an impressive Chinese guzheng string solo by Dawn that is the stunning result of studying with string masters at the Seattle Chinese Orchestra”.
Fiona now has two album works under her belt, all recorded here in Seattle in a collaboration with talented producers and musicians at Electrokitty and Earwig Studios. Over the course of her time in the studio, she now has a newfound philosophy of what music means to her. “Sound to me is like texture. I see color and patterns to it all. And by seeing sound and melodies as layers, eventually it becomes a canvas and tapestry. Then it is music, then it is art.”
She’s not finished yet. Listen to her. You’ll find “Tricks of the Trade” familiar then surprisingly unfamiliar. Her newest works is available on iTunes.