Welcome to IMAAI, Brea Fouriner! You have a new album out – congratulations. We love the music we have heard so far – tell us more about how you decided the track list?
Thank you so much for having me! As a teenager, I was obsessed with rock operas like American Idiot and Ziggy Stardust. It is so exciting to finally have a concept album of my own, and that is Manic Pixie Dream Girl! A good bunch of the songs on the record were written during my first years as a young, femme artist in New York City. As I came into myself, I saw the potential for a story within these songs. I bridged the tracks together to create a more cohesive main character, setting, and journey for her. My number one requirement for each track was that it must fall in line with the message of the record, which is calling out and breaking free from the male gaze through unapologetic femininity. I am over the moon with each of the songs we ended up with and can honestly say I have never been more proud of my work. Still, I can’t wait for everyone to hear the songs that didn’t quite make the cut this time on a future record.
You bring a unique perspective to your music as a talented singer and songwriter. How do your experiences in life influence your songwriting and the way you approach writing your songs?
When I first began writing songs in high school, I took my academics very seriously. I had quite literally no free time and my every waking moment was dedicated to growing as a student, musician, and performer. I ended up graduating as Valedictorian of my high school, and while I’m proud of this accomplishment, the memory brings up mixed feelings for I can’t help but let it remind me of the fun I missed out on when I was young. When I moved to New York, I swore to myself that for the sake of my songwriting, I would find a better balance. The best part about being a writer is it’s a skill that will quite literally always get better the older you grow and the more life you live. As a person who has always struggled with anxiety, it was a challenge for me to let my guard down and accept that if I’m truly experiencing life to the fullest, there are many times where I will get hurt. But how are you supposed to have anything to write about if you aren’t taking risks?
Moving to New York came with my first visceral encounters with the complexities of being a woman in the world. From daily catcalls and street harassment to my first experiences dating, my life suddenly revolved around the way men perceived me. This led to much heartache and frustration as I felt like my kindness and authenticity were constantly taken advantage of, but it gave my music a purpose. To me, there is no more cathartic way to process a feeling than through writing a song. And my only hope as a songwriter is that I can help my listeners process their feelings, too.
What can you tell us about the creative process? How did this album come to life, and were there any key members in making this project come to fruition?
While in college at the Clive Davis Institute, I began collaborating with film students on film scores and music videos. Through this, I met my best friend and creative partner Karol Nowak III, and we watched a ton of movies together. I became obsessed with the Manic Pixie Dream Girl archetype–the free-spirited, shallow husk of a character in what feels like every romantic comedy whose sole purpose is giving the Male Protagonist a sense of adventure. I realized that I had experienced this same commodification time and time again in real life. I knew that the Manic Pixie’s story was my own, and it was time to write it.
Karol was a key player in helping me get to the heart of this story. Not only was he a consultant on Manic Pixie Dream Girl! the album, but we have also written a stage show and feature length musical film of the same name together.
I was introduced by my professor JD Samson to the person who would become the producer of the album, Barb Morrison. When I first emailed Barb, I was so prepared to be turned down. They’ve worked with some of my favorite bands of all time, like Blondie and Franz Ferdinand, and I couldn’t imagine what it would take to convince them to jump onto such a massive body of work with a very unique sound. Yet Barb and I hit it off creatively in an instant, and when they emailed me back, writing that this project was “dangerous and beautiful,” I knew they understood the exact flavor of feminine rage I was going for.
Lastly, I cannot thank my band enough for giving this album their emotional all. Sophia Bondi, Noah Rosner, and Ben Shanblatt are three of the most talented people I know, and I trust them with my songs more than anyone in the world. Building these tracks from the ground up together was the most rewarding experience of my life so far, and I am just so thrilled that everyone will finally get to hear what we made.
For anyone that hasn’t listened to your music – how would you describe this album and what do you hope listeners hear?
My bass player Noah always describes us as “if Paramore were around in the ’80s.” One time after a set at The Bitter End, another musician said our sound was “Joni Mitchell lyricism meets Joan Jett attitude.” I’ve always been told that my music wasn’t quite right for any category. Pop musicians seemed to believe my work was experimental while to the more niche musical communities I might as well have been Taylor Swift. Ultimately I am somewhere in between, and I have fully embraced that on this album. It is a feminine, pop-punk and genre bending journey of self-discovery and, just like the Manic Pixie Dream Girl herself, it is unapologetically unique. I hope it is something listeners, especially young femme people, can hear themselves in: the pain and joy of unconditional authenticity.
Thank you so much for your time today. Where can we find the album and keep up with all you are doing?
As of February 9th, Manic Pixie Dream Girl! by Brea Fournier & the Dream Ballet is available on all streaming platforms! Follow me on Instagram and TikTok @breafournier. For updates on the future of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl, follow @manicpixiedreamgirlproject. If the album resonated with you or you just wanna chat, message me! My DMs are always open. Check out my website, www.breafournier.com for show dates in NYC and beyond. I can’t wait to meet all of you manic pixies!
End of Interview