Eerie Yet Beautiful: Fiona Dickinson's Music On Film, Collaborations

Oct 9, 2014

Credit courtesy of Fiona Dickinson

Singer/songwriter and cellist Fiona Dickinson says she spent her childhood as a "military brat"—living in countries like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Scotland, and her parents’ home in England. In her music, you can hear influences of classical and folk strung together with haunting vocals.

Dickinson will be playing at Louie's Trophy House Grill in Kalamazoo Friday night along with Rae Fitzgerald and Kaitlin Rose.

Beauty and Imperfection

Dickinson says she doesn't like any of her music to be too pristine or too beautiful. She often mixes the beauty in cellos, violins, and soft, cooing vocals with reverb guitar pedals and maybe let her voice crack once in a while.

"It's powerful then and the beautiful parts feel more beautiful next to something that's a bit scary," says Dickinson.

Film Scores

Dickinson composed the score for the to-be-release independent film Burst Theory produced by Grand Rapids filmmaker Zac Page. It's a psychological thriller about scientists making a bird flu vaccine. Dickinson says Page wanted an eerie sound with unique vocals and percussive instrumentals. 

"You have to be a very empathetic person to really get in the heads of these characters and understand what's actually happening in the scene. And then try and find a way to make a very simple sound that's not too distracting, but it's enough to clarify what is happening," says Dickinson. "Because there's a lot of scenes sometimes where there isn't much dialogue but you just have to feel what's happening."

Dickinson is also working on another score for a film with the working title Bitten Lips by Brooklyn filmmaker Tyler Rubenfeld. 

Collaboration and Procrastination

Dickinson has collaborated with countless musicians in Kalamazoo, mostly with members of Double Phelix recording studio. She says while collaborating allows her to take her mind off her next album, it also helps her to break out of her comfort zone. For example, Dickinson says for a local noise band, she was asked to scream while inhaling into a bathroom sink while that sound was recorded into effects pedals. Dickison says it's an odd request, but she feels she gains a lot from working with the musicians at Double Phelix--even if they're not in her genre.

"But I'm adapting and I'm learning when I'm playing with them," says Dickinson.