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Well, technically, she was about 8,200 feet above sea level upon the Mauna Loa volcano in Hawaii, participating in HI-SEAS, a Mars-like space simulation experience. It’s not entirely out of left-field for the musician who, by day, is a science communicator, making a living by taking complex scientific topics like space and nature conservation, and translating them into meaningful and more attainable concepts for people of all walks of life.
For someone who revels in astronomical mysteries, a Mars simulation – which Foxanne described as “insane” and “totally wild” – may just be the perfect way to gear up for the release of an album undeniably inspired by the cosmos.▼ Article continues below ▼
“I’m always trying to figure out how my music and my space science work fit together,” she says. “There have been times where I’m like, ‘Well, I should just sit down and write a song about quasars or something. You know, make it happen!’”
It wouldn’t be much of a stretch, considering her latest video for “Opportunity,” the fourth track off of upcoming It’s real (I knew it), was inspired by NASA’s Opportunity Mars rover. The song, a heartbreaking and surprisingly relatable tune humanizing the robot that lost contact with Earth in 2018 after a massive dust storm on the red planet, is a prime example of how science bleeds its way into Foxanne’s art.
It’s not the only space-inspired piece on the record, either. Listeners will catch a galactic tone right from the album’s lift-off, through to its twinkly outro.
“When I write about space in my music – or when music finds its way into my space world, which it does – I try to let that happen naturally,” Foxanne says.
Not every track is an overt ode to the universe, but every track certainly reflects Foxanne’s ability to detangle convoluted and arduous ideas for the masses. It’s real (I knew it) brings painfully human and empathetic melodies down to earth through rich vocals that are sweet and gentle as often as they are shrieking and authoritative.
She loves a good buildup, with tracks like “Let It Ache” and “Love You Forever” displaying the full range of her voice. And while fans will recognize a few EP tracks that have been rerecorded and remastered for the album, they’ll also enjoy some surprises, including “Sea Blue,” an ethereal tune Foxanne had only played live until recording it for the first time.
These days, it can seem life on Earth is too painful to swallow, too devastating to fully grasp. On It’s real (I knew it), Foxanne has found a way to convey what it means to be human without diluting the truth.
Now, after about two years of working on the album, Foxanne is ready to release that sound into the world. Having begun recording last year, she says she lucked out by finishing up in the studio just before the pandemic lockdowns hit. Finalizing the album was another matter, though.
“In terms of mixing, mastering, all of that, I couldn’t drive down to the studio and hear it and have a conversation with everyone,” she says. “It was, ‘Let’s play this big game of email and telephone to figure out what page everyone is on, and make sure that it’s sounding like I want it to sound like.’ It was definitely a little more complicated than usual.”
Like so many other musicians releasing new music during this time, Foxanne is also working through how to promote a record without the ability to tour. In the meantime, social media platforms like Instagram are proving to be valuable tools for artists hoping to connect with listeners and actually perform live the music they release.
“With the pandemic, having those platforms has really changed why we continue to have them and what we use them for,” she says. “It’s dramatically different than it was last year.”
Foxanne admits she’s not the most fluent social media poster out there, but Instagram, she says, allows her to navigate a portal to perform, share music and post videos with ease. Her followers will probably get to see and hear new music not only from It’s real (I knew it), but also from her next record, which Foxanne is already working on after a short break from songwriting. She’s been learning Ableton and Logic to record some demos in her home studio, made complete with a guitar and mini keyboard, but using her phone to record voice notes is typically the first step in songwriting – a process, she says, that she can’t necessarily turn off.
“I already can’t wait to release the next music that I haven’t recorded yet,” she says.
Luckily, pandemic lockdowns haven’t affected Foxanne’s homegrown creative process much. And with live music still on hold, she’ll have plenty of time to write or connect with fans online to promote her first full-length. Foxanne has a background in public health, in fact, so while she says she misses performing, she’s “rolling with the punches” in support of keeping people safe and out of music venues.
That’s not to say she won’t jump back on stage the minute live music returns, however. Foxanne’s vocals are the kind that need to be experienced in-person to retain the full emotional power of her sound (whether people like the new record or not, Foxanne says she simply wants people to “feel things, whatever those feelings may be,” from her music).
Just before the pandemic hit, she began adding “Love You Forever” to her setlist. It’s the song she says she’s most excited to perform again once Earth returns to some semblance of normalcy.
“What I wouldn’t give to be on a crappy stage and in a smelly bar, just performing my music.”
All photos by Diana Whitcroft