By: Michelle Young, Staff Writer
Vancouver-based Fionn released their second record, Everyone’s A Critic, on July 17. The folk-pop duo consists of twin singer-songwriters Alanna and Brianne Finn-Morris who hail from White Rock. Their name is derived from their Irish roots — “Fionn” being the Irish spelling of their last name “Finn.” Everyone’s a Critic features versatile tracks ranging from the upbeat “Modern Medication” to the slower, “Let Me Be A Flowerchild.” The two have been active musicians since the age of 12, performing at local cafes and busking by the White Rock pier and Granville Island throughout their teen years. After the release of singles like “Magazine Face” and their self-titled album Fionn, they’re back with new sounds. The Peak had the opportunity to chat with them about their new album.
The Peak: Over the years, you’ve gone through various genres — from country to folk to pop. Could you tell us about how your sound has evolved and what motivated that?
Brianne: I would say that what really motivated that change is that you feel like you change. We wrote the first album when we were still living at home with our parents and it was our first time recording an album, so we were kind of unsure about what sound we wanted. Going into [Everyone’s A Critic], we were more clear-headed about our direction. Many of the songs were a bit more mature, based on our experience after moving out of our parents’ place and gaining our own independence, so we just wanted to fit into a genre that suited that change. And it’s also, I think, a personal taste change. We’ve both been doing the folk-singer thing for a long time and we wanted to try something different and move into the alternative pop world.
P: There seems to be an ongoing theme surrounding societal expectations on your new EP. What was your inspiration for the album concept?
Alanna: Actually, you know, it’s funny because we wrote the songs individually and we didn’t expect them to all be on one album when we wrote them. But they all clicked together to create this theme. We were kind of basing the whole thing around the idea that everybody’s a critic — obviously because of the title of the album — but the song “Everyone’s A Critic” is a very lighthearted song about being judged at a party. It’s supposed to be kind of funny and not to be taken super seriously. But then, that idea that you were always being judged kind of cascaded through the album.
B: I’m just going to add to that. We’ve been spending a lot of time on social media and it’s something that we’ve noticed about how we behave in the modern-day. We’re always having advertisements thrown in our faces and it’s kind of dangerous with social media because you’re carrying it around in your pocket, all the time. It’s like 24/7, in your face messaging, like “here’s what you should be,” you know? And so we wanted to put that theme into the album. It kind of goes with the “everyone’s a critic” thing as well because we’re constantly criticizing ourselves, like trying to measure ourselves up to this expectation that is not even real.
A: I was talking about “Everyone’s A Critic,” the song, and how it’s supposed to be kind of lighthearted and a little bit silly, but at the same time, I also wrote that about people’s expectations of women, and how they’re a bit different from people’s expectations of men. If you’re at a party and you’re having a little too much fun as a girl, everyone will kind of judge and go “oh she drank too much or she went too crazy.” But if a guy does it, then it’s “Oh, it was hilarious that he drank the entire bottle of wine and fell face first on the floor.” There’s a line in “Everyone’s A Critic”: “if they’re all high all the time, it’s fine you’ll take it” — because, you know, he’s a guy. So that was an underlying theme in that song as well.
P: What did the creative process look like? Were there any songs on the album that were particularly hard or easy to write? How long did it take to put this album together?
B: I would say that a lot of the songs, I think, came quite easily — at least for me. Like, ‘Let Me Be A Flowerchild,’ I wrote that one and it was one of the easiest songs for me to write, like ever. But I think it also kind of varies because usually you need rewrites and stuff, so I think it all depends on the song — each song is kind of its own animal, you know? Some take more time than others. As for the whole album, I think it took about a year to figure out which songs we wanted to record.
A: Also the vibe as well, we were still a little bit unsure about our direction after our first record. I think our label, [604 Records], wanted us to take a little bit of time to kind of figure it out, because we were a little bit all over the place with the vibe on the first album — which I think is OK when I look back on it, because it was all about growing.
B: We worked with Kevvy Maher, who produced [Everyone’s A Critic], and it was basically the three of us the whole time, spending days listening through sounds and trying to figure out what each song needed. It was a longer process but it was really cool.
P: You two place a lot of emphasis on lyrics, and many of your songs have a certain theme or tell a story. Are there any lyrics that stood out to you while writing Everyone’s A Critic?
B: I wonder if I could say a song that [Alanna] wrote, just because, I don’t want to sound conceited, like, “Oh, I love this one that I wrote.” I really like the bridge part of “Everyone’s A Critic”: “I’ll crawl home like a carnivore, if you say anymore, let the concrete know my knees like you know me, ‘cause it’ll pick them apart, tear me up, tear my heart, let the concrete know my knees like you know me.” It paints a picture and I think a really important part of a good lyric is to kind of paint a picture in the mind’s eye.
A: My favourite song on the album is “Let Me Be A Flowerchild,” [which Brianne wrote], especially the second verse: “let me be a flower child, daughter of the sky, she thought all of my thoughts before me, cynical and wise.” I really love that part because it just sounds so ethereal and just makes me picture a beautiful sunset and colours. Sometimes with lyrics I feel like if it can put me in a place, visually, in my mind, then I really like it. I also think it’s kind of cool because it separates you from yourself, like “daughter of the sky.” I don’t want to say it’s an ego-death thing, but maybe a little bit.
P: Do you have any idea of what you’ll be doing with your music in the future? Are there any particular concepts or genres that you want to explore?
A: Yeah, actually, we’re working on our next record right now and it is a lot more pop, a bit more upbeat. We have quite a few more danceable songs, but we still do have some ballads. We’re kind of switching the direction a bit because of everything that’s going on in the world right now. We decided we want to try and write something that, at the end of this whole thing, can just make people happy and dance. And it’s also a way to just bring ourselves out of the anxieties of the COVID-19 era by trying to write about things that make us happy.
B: But at the same time, we don’t want to sacrifice lyrical integrity — we still focus on our lyrics. But they might just be more suited to the pop world.
P: Do you have anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
B: I’ll just say the quote about “everyone’s a critic.” One thing that we really learned in the last few years is to not care what other people think. It’s just what has to happen if you’re going to put yourself out there. It sounds so cliché but don’t care what other people think, because at the end of the day you will never please everybody.