2014 Artist Survey: Orenda Fink | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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2014 Artist Survey: Orenda Fink

Fink on Her First Concert, Childhood Celebrity Crush, "Weird Al," and Which Golden Girls Character She's Most Like

Jan 21, 2015 Artist Surveys 2014
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For Under the Radar’s 12th annual Artist Survey we emailed some of our favorite artists a few questions relating to 2014. We asked them about their favorite albums of the year and their thoughts on various notable 2014 news stories involving either the music industry or world events, as well as some quirkier personal questions.

Check out our Best of 2014 print and digital issues for answers from alt-J, Camera Obscura, Chromeo, The Dears, Death From Above 1979, Deerhoof, The Drums, The Flaming Lips, Glass Animals, Hookworms, Sondre Lerche, of Montreal, Ought, Owen Pallett, The Rosebuds, Strand of Oaks, Teleman, Sharon Van Etten, The War on Drugs, Warpaint, Woman’s Hour, Wye Oak, Zola Jesus, and others.

Here are some answers from Orenda Fink.

Top 10 Albums of 2014

I don’t really listen to that much current music. I don’t know if that’s good or bad….

What was the highlight of 2014 for either you personally or for the band?

The highlight of 2014 for me was releasing my new record, Blue Dream-and surprisingly, the interviews that followed. They really gave me a chance to explore my thoughts about the work and articulate them to give rise to some pretty heavy dialogue. This is the first record of mine that I have felt that way about.

What was the low point of 2014 for you?

The low point has consistently been witnessing the chaos and disillusionment that people in the world are feeling about the current state of affairs.

What are your hopes and plans for 2015?

I’m starting 2015 with a solo European tour that I am very excited about. After that, maybe SXSW and then I’ll be working to finish a new O+S record with Cedric LeMoyne. Outside of that, I’m hoping to take a little time off to read, write, visit my psychic and my therapist and spend time at home with my husband and dog! And also maybe a visit to somewhere tropical during the long Omaha winter.

U2’s new album was downloaded for free into millions of users’ iTunes accounts without their permission. Was it a wonderful gift to music fans or an invasive action that devalues music? Also, which artist, other than you, deserves to have their album automatically downloaded to half a billion people more than U2?

It was either of those things, depending on if you wanted the record or not. But even if you did, the implications are frightening to me. Where does it end? It’s taking choice and free will out of the equation and it sets a terrible precedent for every other band (or company) out there. It just feels like it’s reducing music to spam, and that’s not where we want to be.

Did you take part in the ice bucket challenge? If not, why not? Grimes declined due to animal testing issues, was the grief she got for that deserved?

I did not, but mostly because I found it annoying after I saw a hundred of them.

The shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri opened up a new national dialogue on police shootings and racism in America. Do you think anything will actually change because of it?

I would like to think it would, but we Americans have very short attention spans.

What’s your craziest theory for what happened to the missing Malaysian Air flight?

See: Lost.

Mark Kozelek was criticized in 2014 for insulting his audience (calling them “hillbillies” for talking during his set) and for making fun of The War on Drugs when their sound bled over to the stage he was playing. What responsibility do performers have to be respectful of their audiences and fellow bands?

I try to always be respectful of people when I am onstage. But I have to admit, I enjoy a crazy breakdown rant every once in a while. We’re all human, after all.

“Weird Al” Yankovic was back in a big way this year. If he were to lampoon any one of your songs, which one would you want it to be? What would the “Weird Al” version’s lyrics be about?

Maybe he could do Azure Ray’s “Rise” and it could be about not wanting to tithe because you are broke. (“Hey, hey, look I’m broke and drunk/Don’t ask me to tithe….”) I don’t know, haha!

Which common criticism of your music do you most agree with?

That it’s extremely mellow and/or sad. Some people don’t like that, but I can’t disagree with them!

What’s the most uplifting or heartwarming fan interaction you’ve ever had?

I had a woman hug me, sobbing, at the merch booth on this last tour after our Chapel Hill show. It wasn’t uplifting per se, but it did remind me of the power of music and words. I knew she was crying because the music had touched her in some way, and moments like those inspire me to keep doing what I’m doing.

What’s the topic no one asks you about in interviews that you wish they would? Conversely, if you could get journalists to stop asking you one question, which would it be?

I’ve had a good run with journalists with Blue Dream, so I don’t really have any current complaints or pet peeve questions.

Who from your youth (such as a former bully, an unrequited love) do you most hope pays attention to the fact that you’re now a successful musician?

There was this one guy in high school that I was totally in love with who dumped me pretty hard. I won’t name names, but I have done some stalking on Facebook and I’m pretty happy with the hand fate dealt me.

Which musician or celebrity did you most have a crush on as a child or teenager?

I loved Billy Idol when I was a child. I even had his name painted on my face at a carnival one Halloween.

Which subject do you wish you paid more attention to in school?


What was your first concert experience like (who did you see and who did you go with)?

I went to see R.E.M. with The Indigo Girls on the Green tour with my father and sister. It was an amazing first concert.

In 2024, as part of the Mars One program, four people might be sent to Mars with no hope of ever returning to Earth. Are they completely crazy or brave? Would you ever consider such a thing?

What?! Hide this information from my husband!

Which Golden Girls character are you most like?

Probably Sophia.

What advice would you give to a musician who is writing and recording a follow-up to a critically acclaimed and successful album in terms of dealing with the pressure and delivering an album that meets expectations?

Take your time. Don’t rush it. Wait, no, you had better get something out quickly to capitalize on the momentum. Wait, no, it’s better to ride the initial success as long as possible. Wait, no…. *sigh*

What was your most disastrous haircut experience?

I accidentally dyed my hair puke green once. It did not look good.

After years of hard work, Future Islands finally broke through to a larger audience in 2014 thanks to a much praised Letterman performance. Which other long-running lesser-known band would you also like to see garner similar surprise success?

All of my friends!

When you can’t sleep, what worry is most likely to be keeping you up at night?

Anything, everything. That’s why I have a noise machine to lull me to sleep.

Which unique location on Earth would you most like to perform in (for examples, the top of the Eiffel Tower or at the North Pole)?

I would love to play a show at the Hotel Oloffson in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti. Easter Island would be a cool place for a show, too.

What out-of-date technology do you most miss?


In 2014, what was the best movie you saw, book you read, comic book you read, video game you played, and/or TV show you watched?

I loved Jodorowsky’s Dune and Only Lovers Left Alive. Two books I really appreciated were Psychomagic by Alejandro Jodorowsky and Your Owner’s Manual by Burt Hotchkiss. The Leftovers and The Killing were awesome shows I watched this year too.



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