Alison Sudol is a Seattle, WA-born, Los Angeles, CA-based singer/songwriter and actor. Performing under the moniker A Fine Frenzy, Sudol released three full-length albums, a live album and 4EPs, which she toured extensively across the US, Canada, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, Austria and Portugal to support. And as a result, Sudol has seen commercial success both in the States and elsewhere: her A Fine Frenzy debut single “Almost Lover” peaked at #25 on Billboard’s Heatseeker Chart and she was chosen as a VH1 “You Oughta Know” artist. Adding to a growing international profile, One Cell in the Sea sold over 300,000 copies globally; in fact, when the album was released in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Poland, the album peaked within the top 30 in all of those countries — with “Almost Lover” reaching #8 on the German charts, #10 on the Swiss charts, and #5 on the Austrian charts.
As an actress, Sudol is equally acclaimed and has appeared on the first season of the hit TV series Transparent and was the lead in USA Network’s Dig. She’ll also be reprising her role of Queenie in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, the sequel to the successful Harry Potter prequel Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
Sudol’s recently released EP Moon is the first batch of recorded output under her own name, and was produced by Ali Chant, who has worked with Perfume Genius and PJ Harvey and features Portishead’s Clive Deamer and Adrian Utley and PJ Harvey’s John Parish. As Sudol says in a lengthy and detailed statement in press notes:
“Ali Chant and I made this record in freezing basements and attics, at kitchen tables, and at Peter Gabriel’s sprawling studio near Bath. We mixed it once, then dismantled it and recorded almost all of it from the ground up. It took us a year and a half. Ali C managed to build an entire studio in that time, and we finished it there. We caught days between me filming Fantastic Beasts and him recording other projects. There were many early morning trains and more than a few irritating head colds. Bristol is brutal in midwinter. I drank too much shitty sherry in dingy hotel rooms. Did you know that Bristol is famous for its sherry? I’d like to never smell it again. My marriage had just fallen apart and most of the rest of my life was tumbling down with it. I was ripped wide open, ferocious, liberated and devastated, grieving and writing as if my life depended on it. And in a way, it did.
Ali and I made the foundation of the record together, experimenting with synths and sounds, guitars and pianos, drums and funky, half-working old machines. Later, he brought in friends from around town- Adrian Utley, Clive Deamer and John Parish, each a legend in their own right, as well as a host of other exceptionally talented local musicians, who brought color and life into the songs in wonderful and unexpected ways. We explored, and everyone was open to trying things, taking risks. It was a process of discovery, building and rebuilding, but ultimately, we came to something we both felt genuinely proud of.
When it came time to think about how to put it into the world, I suddenly got very afraid that what we had so painstakingly built by hand would be crushed in the machine of the music business. Being on a major label had given my career an incredible start but had ultimately become a very unhealthy place for me, creatively and personally. I couldn’t face going back into that kind of environment. That world has become increasingly concerned with putting things into boxes, and I’ve never met a box that I could fit into. And believe me, I’ve tried. That led me and my longtime manager and very dear friend, Adrienne Butcher, along with some of our closest, smartest friends to create a company of our own, where we could release music the way we wanted to, with our hands and hearts involved in every stage. We want to create a path for releasing music that takes mental health and wellness into consideration, and to tread as lightly on the planet as we can in the process. It’s called Hearth, and we look forward to welcoming you there.
I am excited with my whole heart to bring this music to you.
Somewhere between an ending and a beginning, between the darkness and the stars, there was always the moon.”
The EP’s latest single, is the atmospheric EP title track “Moon,” which features Sudol’s ethereal vocals paired with an arrangement consisting of shimmering synths, twinkling keys and a moody yet cinematic string arrangement — and as a result, the track manages to evoke a half-remembered dream; but the song is underpinned by a quietly aching sadness just out of reach. Interestingly, the recently released, Sudol self-directed video was filmed in Vancouver and California and stars Sudol as an astronaut exploring the world with awe and curiosity — with the video becoming increasingly surreal, as she explores civilization, walks through an aquarium before ending up at a gathering in which kind women change her from her space gear to a dress, and hand her a baby and comfort her. And while being a quiet yet boldly feminist fever dream, the video has a lonely ache at its core, as its protagonist is essentially a stranger in an equally strange place.