When talking about the violin, especially here in Atlantic Canada, visions of kitchen parties and the sounds of Celtic music are the likely culprits to fill your head. And for the record, Celtic and bluegrass music was instilled in Toronto-based Jaron Freeman-Fox’s DNA from the time that he picked up the violin.
Conventional perceptions of the violin be damned however, Freeman-Fox is looking to dispel any and all preconceived notions of what the violin’s role in music can and should be.
His music has been described as “Tom Waits and the Mahavishnu Orchestra on a klezmer bender”. It is that lack of a specific musical definition that is a recurring theme throughout the 13 songs heard on Jaron Freeman-Fox and The Opposite Of Everything, his most recent record. Released this past March, Freeman-Fox’s violin is, naturally, front and centre throughout the record. And with distinct influences of jazz and Indian music running throughout his songs as well.
Growing up, Freeman-Fox tells The Times & Transcript he listened to everything from classical music such as Stravinsky and Nigel Kennedy to Metallica, Radiohead and Sloan. It seems only fitting then that the musician would bringing such a diverse range of influences to his own music.
“I suppose that I was always intent on doing things my own way,” Freeman-Fox says, referring to straying from the traditional framework of the violin and classical music in general. “When I was living in India, studying South Indian Classical music, all that I did was play, practice and listen to that music for practically the entire time I was there. Once I had returned to Canada, it became obvious to me that I had to combine this music I loved with the music that I had grown up playing.”
Some classical music fans and musicians are known for their staunch refusal to accept music that colours outside of the traditional classical lines. Despite this, Freeman-Fox shares that the reception given to his unique takes on the violin, jazz, classical and Indian music has largely been a warm one.
“I have always found that classical music fans have been incredibly enthusiastic about our music. When I was performing in David Woodhead’s band, we would occasionally have half od the violin section from the Toronto Symphony Orchestra at our weekly shows at [Toronto venue] the Tranzac. That kept me on my toes however they were a consistent positive presence to have around as well.”
Freeman-Fox says that recording of his group’s latest record was an incredible learning experience for all involved. Rather than following the traditional route of going into the studio and then promoting the record’s release, the group had recorded many of the songs only to go back to re-record them after having played the material live.
“We first recorded a lot of the songs in 2010 and then toured them for a year. The songs grew so much with the music on the road, we decided that we needed to start the album from scratch in 2011. The songs were then further refined on the road that summer so much that we couldn’t help but start the record from scratch one more time,” he says.
“It certainly wasn’t the most cost-effective way of making a record but it reinforced the feeling that if we were going to make a record, we might as well do it right.”
Article published in the June 28, 2013 edition of the Times & Transcript