Whitehorse jazz singer and songwriter Fawn Fritzen recently returned from Toronto and is ready to get back to business. While in Toronto, Fritzen participated in Coalition Music’s ten-week Artist Entrepreneur program, learning more about business aspects of the musician’s life, as well as finding opportunities to write, perform and record her music.
Fritzen found out about the program when she signed up for Coalition Music’s weekend bootcamp this past January. She says, “It was a really intense weekend because they were trying to take that 10-week program and squeeze it into a weekend. So you can imagine how heavy it is, but also how they can only skim the surface of a lot of things.”
Since she found the bootcamp so rewarding, she and her husband Michael Pealow found a way for her to attend the full program in Toronto, which started in August.
“It teaches emerging artists all the business aspects of being an artist, like social media presence and artist-rights organizations, all the different ones that there are and why there are different ones and what they all cover, insurance that you might need as a musician – all the aspects of the business side of music that musicians don’t want to think about or don’t know about.
“It can be hard to gather all that information on your own, despite the fact that I have a business degree. The business side doesn’t scare me. But it can be kind of opaque to figure out on your own, especially when you’re still trying to write music and promote your shows.”
The program also involved performance coaches and encouraged participants to collaborate artistically. “It was well-rounded, but the focus was on the business side,” she explains. Fritzen also recorded tracks for her upcoming album, Pairings. Begun in Whitehorse, the album will feature several guest musicians who have toured through the Yukon, including George Koller, Reg Schwager and David Restivo. Several tracks were recorded in Toronto.
She took advantage of every opportunity that came her way, joining in with jazz jams, doing an impromptu set at one of Kim Beggs’ shows, performing at the Jazz Bistro with pianist Restivo, and even at a backyard concert. She met up with her co-producer and accompanist, pianist Daniel Janke, who was in Montreal, for a concert at Musideum.
They also performed at a Guess Who tribute concert at Hugh’s Room. “We did American Woman, which was really fun. Daniel picked that one. I said, Really? That’s like the rockiest of all the tunes. Did you really want to do that one? He started with this really long extended blues intro, so nobody knew what was coming until we got into it. And we did No Time, which has some really great harmonies in it.”
Despite Toronto’s reputation as a self-centred and cold-hearted place that people love to hate, Fritzen was able to find a warm, music-loving family of musicians and fans. “It really felt like doing a show at home, all these familiar faces and they were enthusiastic and warm.
“I didn’t expect to feel embraced like that, that there was a community there, especially after spending such a short time, but it really is a welcoming community.”
Fritzen is planning to launch a crowdfunding campaign, to release her next album this spring, and hopes to tour in the summer.