Musical Duo Fionn Delivers Classic Folk Sounds With Edgy Lyricism
Tell us your story and how you started making music.
We are Alanna and Brianne Finn-Morris, two singer songwriter sisters from Vancouver (Canada) who happen to share a face. Being twins, we have always been very close, and expressed an interest in music at an early age. Our first performance was for our school’s Christmas concert in fourth grade. We did a choreographed acapella version of “Take a Winter Walk with Me” by Mary Donnelly in matching outfits with matching mushroom haircuts. We remember singing songs like “Somewhere over the Rainbow” from the Wizard of Oz and “Castle on a Cloud” from Les Miserables, telling our parents that we wanted to be singers when we grew up.
Though they were both musicians themselves, the news of our chosen career path probably scared them a bit. They realized when we were 12 however, that we were completely serious about music. We started busking at a place called “Granville Island” and writing songs inspired by our favorite country pop singer (and everybody’s favorite country pop singer in 2010) Taylor Swift. She made songwriting seem like such a “cool” thing, which started the long train of many cheesy songs written in our adolescence, which we only revisit now for laughs. All throughout high school we continued to write songs every day and play gigs on the weekends, finally writing songs that we were actually happy with when we were 17.
What inspires your musical sound?
When we were writing for this record, we were listening to a lot of Florence and the Machine, Hozier, Lorde, Lana Del Rey, along with many other “Alternative” artists. We really like big and epic sounding moody music, so we tried to recreate something like that for the album. We also tried to add a bit of a Celtic flare, in order to honor our half Irish hearts. We wrote everything between the ages of 17-19, the time we entered our ongoing existential crisis.
Lyrically, this is a common theme throughout the record, as is first love and loss, and societal issues. Really our record is about the shattering of our reality and finding out life isn’t the way it was painted by school teachers and Hollywood movies. Women’s rights issues was a huge part of this awakening, as we had never really noticed the subtleties of sexism. We both hate when people try to sweep issues under the rug or turn a blind eye to what is really going on, so we tried to be as honest as we could about our feelings and our views.
Describe your working dynamic. What’s it like to work as sisters?
It has always felt very natural for us to work together, probably since we’re used to sharing and doing absolutely EVERYTHING together. We are very happy to have each other for this musical journey since it can be a little bit of a lonely business. When we need to practice for a show, all we have to do is walk across the hall and knock on each other’s bedroom doors. When we write songs, we will write separately but edit them together. We share a common goal; we want our songs to be the best they can. It would be counterproductive if we candy coated our criticisms; the songs would just never get better. While we are each other’s worst critics, we push each other to constantly improve.
Explain the lyric writing process.
Alanna: The process usually begins for me with a note on my phone with all of the random ideas that come to me throughout the day. I sift through those ideas until I find one that really sticks out to me. I usually build the song around the certain line or idea that I choose. I then write only a verse and chorus, record it, and listen to it later to see if it is actually worth continuing. If I listen to my half song the next day and still like it, I finish it.
Brianne: It always depends on the song. Sometimes I start with some noodling on the guitar, and everything flows easily from there. When I am trying to force a song out of myself, I will sit on my bed with headphones on, listen to songs that inspire me, and write a stream of consciousness (mostly gibberish) on a page in my songbook. After exiting this trancelike state I will go downstairs, make a cup of tea, and come back to my book, sometimes completely forgetting what I wrote. It’s always interesting to come back and pick apart the gibberish, sometimes finding an observation worthy of expanding on.
What is the message behind “Magazine Face”?
“Magazine Face” was written in a time where I (Alanna) was very confused. I was 17, transitioning from being a girl, to a young woman my whole life spent being fed by the media that my worth depended upon my physical appearance. I remember being nine years old, with buck teeth and a mushroom haircut, praying that I would grow up to be beautiful so that I would be able to feel good about myself. Finally when I was 17, and was beginning to be noticed for my appearance, I realized that I truly didn’t feel any better about myself then when I was nine. It was at this time that I started to feel very angry about the messages that had messed with my mind so much, and still mess with the minds of so many vulnerable young women and men.
When you are not working, what can we find you doing?
Alanna : In my free time you can usually find me reading, going for long walks, or going out with friends
Brianne: You’ll find me either in solitude with a cup of tea and a book, or on the weekends at a place called “The Fox” for eighties nights. I happen to be an introvert who loves to dance.
What is the best part about having a twin sister?
Having a twin sister is the equivalent of having a built in life buddy! We always have each other to talk to; always have someone to travel with, and always have someone who will listen. It is hard to ever feel lonely when your twin is always around to bug you! I`d say the best part is having someone who gets excited about all the same things you do. It`s never a dull moment.
Name your musical influences and why they influence your work.
We are constantly listening to music, and there are so many artists that inspire us! We love Hozier, Sinead O`Connor, Lorde, Lana Del Rey, Mitski, Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell, Florence and the Machine, just to name a few! We really appreciate quality lyric writing. That is what will always keep us coming back to a song or artist. We feel all of these artists write great lyrics, combined with strong melodies. We also love songs that are very personal and carry truth and meaning.
What can we expect from you next?
We will be releasing a few singles and videos in the next few months, and we are very excited to say that we will be releasing our first record in the fall!
ContributorIrais Urias is a multimedia journalism student at The University of Texas at El Paso. She has a strong interest in travel and street photography and hopes to enhance her skills around the world after graduation. When she is not working you can find her at the gym or practicing yoga.