FIONA SOE PAING/Aberdeenshire/Off-world electronica
If you like _ and _ then you’ll like Fiona Soe Paing. Fill in the blanks.
When I first saw this question, my immediate reaction was to put a cheeky answer and say something like ‘pina coladas’ and ‘getting caught in the rain’ but that would have given the totally wrong impression, as my music is pretty much light years away from middle-of-the-road singalong party music. But if you wanted a straight answer, I reckon the closest would probably be Bjork and Portishead.
How would you describe your music?
Someone once told me it was ‘music to slit your wrists by’…but I wouldn’t go that far! It’s definitely downbeat though. A couple of favourite catch-phrases are ‘alien lullabies’ and ‘skeletal, off-world electronica’ which wraps it up pretty neatly I reckon – skeletal, as it’s quite minimal, alien, or off-world, as a few people have said it’s like the sounds of a distant planet trying to make contact with earth! Lullabies, because although the sounds can be quite jarring and harsh, the overall feel is very dreamy. And it’s all electronic, apart from my voice – all the sounds I use are soft synths in Logic on my laptop.
In a music scene where guitars usually rule the roost, how hard have you found it to make an impact in Scotland?
Well, I think what I do is so removed from any ‘scene’ it would be pretty pointless to even start to walk out onto the same playing field! I knew I had to do something really different with the live performances – as my music is quite down-tempo and cinematic, it needed more of a cinema or theatre type experience so I developed an audio-visual performance with an animation artist. We project our music videos on a big screen, and I sing live vocals along to my electronic sound-track. Posh karaoke, if you like! As far as making an impact…the show has been really well received in film and live audio-visual set-ups – the last show I did was at The Arches in Glasgow, for ‘Focus Left’, their new night for film and live performance, and I’ve been invited back to do something else next year, so I think people are starting to take notice…
How much of your Burmese roots come through in your music?
I am not aware of that at all, as I was never exposed to any Burmese music or culture when I was growing up in Aberdeen…but I realised one of my songs does sound a bit like a North East bothy ballad played by an Asian ghost band!
You’re based in Aberdeenshire. Do you feel a little alienated from the Scottish music scene?
I live in Turriff, a small town about an hour’s drive north west of Aberdeen. I’ve only been back living in Aberdeenshire for a year – I was living in New Zealand for a couple of years, and in London and Brighton for ages before that…and I left Aberdeen when I was quite young…so I have never felt part of the ‘Scottish Music Scene’. Since I’ve been back, I have really liked what I’ve heard of North Atlantic Oscillation and Conquering Animal Sound so far – although I am not bothered about being in a ‘scene’. It would be really good to have some more performance opportunities closer to home, or to be able to get more easily involved in some interesting projects now I am back here…I love it though, it’s great to have the peace and quiet and few distractions.
One of your tracks was heralded by Vic Galloway as a ‘future national anthem’. Could you see sportsmen coming out on the pitch to your song one day?
Hahaha! That song is sooo sad and mournful! The kind of thing you would only sing along to in a ‘lighters in the air’ anthemic way if you were very, very drunk and very, very maudlin. I can only imagine maybe The Dons shuffling off at Pittodrie, sobbing their hearts out at their next nine-nil defeat!