Fen Swale, Musician: “I Can Crawl Inside of the Notes and Be Held.”

Artist name: Fen Swale (Kayde fen Deardorff)


Featured Work 1: Circles and a Starry Sky

Fen Swale casts a spell that can send you inward and make you crave the company of trees, when she sings

“Take me to the dark woods. Leave me there (leave me there, leave me there) to realize how much I need to change.”

Her heartfelt work is natural; her beautiful voice leads you around unexpected turns of sound, keeping you engaged as she guides you.  Her songs are unique and also share a familiar if forgotten slower, introspective pace of life punctuated by organic storms and rhythms.
Featured Work 2: I thought we would last

fs1 - Copy

5 Questions for the Musical Artist:

1. What is music to you?

“Music is a powerful and healing refuge. I can crawl inside of the notes and be held. It ignites something in me that is indescribable, a language all on it’s own. Inviting me to express what I am too shy to say with just words, music enables me to share what is at my core and to invite others into the places that I create.
When I was really young it was just a creative exercise; practicing for lessons to get something perfect and playing around to explore sound possibilities. After my mother died, writing music also became a transformative and healing way to express my grief.”

2. What did you make in the past, and why?

“When I was a child I wrote songs for voice and piano separately and in secret. Sometimes I would share these with my friends, teaching them the songs and melodies. After my mother died, I began to combine voice and piano, often in rhythmic and repetitive soundscapes.
In 2007 I began Violas Heartfull, a project brought to life while I was living in Floyd, Va with the support of fellow artists and musicians. Violas Heartfull was raw and angry, yet playful. I released a concept album that explored my relationship with my mother and her death, relationships with men, and memories from childhood. I called it “Reappear Childclouds” referring to wild, unfiltered emotional clouds that could show up all of a sudden and cover everything with intensity.”

3. What are you making now, and why?

“The music I am making now might be more intimate than ever before because it is more minimal. I chose the name Fen Swale which means “watery piece of land” because of my strong connection with nature. I love to create atmosphere and spaces like I find in the forest; a screeching hawk sending one note echoing into a vast sky.
In Fen Swale, I share the wilderness to which I have always belonged. It is a place less human, full of light and dark simultaneously and death and beauty in layers. It is a place of strength and healing. Also, it is evolving in every moment, so I’m not yet sure what it is.”

4. What are your hopes for the future?

“To continue to be courageous and real. To let my creative life flow and evolve. And to collaborate with other artists, especially to work toward social justice and environmental stewardship.”

(5. Do you want to add anything? no)

Artist Supplied Background:

Kayde fen Deardorff is a singer, composer, and multi-instrumentalist whose music is experimental, emotionally raw, and inspired by nature. Raised in the Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia, Kayde started piano lessons on her grandfather’s organ when she was six. She saved money from raising puppies and cattle to buy her first piano at age twelve, and began expressively pounding on said piano, creating compositions inspired by her time alone in the forest.

After almost a decade as Violas Heartfull, Kayde began using the moniker Fen Swale in 2014. I am a Bird, her first release as Fen Swale, is a reflective and magical narrative of personal transformation with rich imagery from the wilderness. She has been a core member of other Virginia bands including The Disappearers Collective and The Rung and Spoke. She is also on Facebook.


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5 Questions for the Artist, © Julia Travers

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