To celebrate eclectic violinist Daisy Jopling’s new album “Awakening,” we sat down with her to talk about her life, music, and inspirations.
THE YOUNG FOLKS: In your own words, tell us about your new album Awakening.
Daisy Jopling: It is definitely the culmination of my musical journey so far. Which one may say about any album. But for me, writing my own original music, which I’ve been thinking about doing for about 20 years, is just amazing.
TYF: Well, congratulations!
Jopling: Thank you!
TYF: Now, you draw from a number of very different musical influences. What are some of the ones that inspired you the most in the making of Awakening?
Jopling: So, I was brought up in a pretty sheltered—but beautiful!—countryside in England. But, we only had classical music. And that definitely is where the whole of my musical roots come from. But when I was 17 years old and I left my countryside home to go to London to study music, suddenly I heard all kinds of new types of it! And from that moment until now, some of what’s been most influential to me are different types of world music. I fell very quickly in love with African music and the first song on the album, Primordial, originated with the idea of a string orchestra on top of African drums. And then, the next song Plastic Day, has elements from Irish folk music. Throughout the album there are different types of world music: Latin, reggae, Brazilian, and Cuban, and Serbian folk music! The song Beat on a String originated from me listening to Serbian folk music. And now, finally, after living in America for ten years, I’ve really heard for the first time pop music, country music, and rock music. The last song, Country Home, has a mixture of country, gospel, and classical. And there’s definitely a pop influence, especially in the song Prayer.
TYF: You also dipped your toes into hip-hop with the song World Citizen. What was that like?
Jopling: Yes…yes…the lyrics and title of World Citizen came from this idea that me and the guy who wrote it, Michael Feigenbaum, a great musical collaborator and friend, had. See, we both chose to live in a different country than the one we were born in, and we both really feel that the world is so close now. We’re all one, we’re all truly citizens of the world. So, Michael brought the hip-hop element to it, and working with him has been amazing! I just love this combination of the violin—which to me feels a bit more refined and comes from a more strict musical tradition—and hip-hop which is based on creating in the moment. Doing it was so exciting. I love it!
TYF: Do you think you might do more hip-hop collaborations in the future?
Jopling: Why not? I’m so open, I just have to wait until I have that incredible excitement that inspires me again! It’s such a blessing. I’ve been a professional musician for over thirty years and I get to play what I want while touring all over the world. The future is totally in my hands! Let’s see what it brings!
TYF: In the title track, Awakening, I more vividly remember the interplay between the piano and flute than I do your violin. But that seemed representative of the whole album. There’s a greater emphasis on the ensemble than your other albums Key to the Classics and The Healer Within. Was that a conscious decision going into it? Trying to give more room for the other musicians?
Jopling: You know, it did not happen consciously. It just happened! As I worked on the music, it was more that the collaborations brought out such wonderful things in the songs I had made. I allowed myself to be a part of it more than just the central, outstanding voice.
TYF: Were there any songs that surprised you as they came together?
Jopling: Ab-so-lutely! Indian Jesus was a big one. Michael Feigenbaum came up with the rhythm and structure which was originally very hip-hop based. But we ended up touring the piece a lot with my band without Michael, and it took on this new Latin feel. And in the end I fell in love with that rhythm and kept it. What’s more, Michael didn’t even end up staying on the track! Things just take their own course!
TYF: Are there any other art forms than music that you find give you inspiration?
Jopling: Totally!! I am feeling so blessed now in that in my youth I painted and I drew as much as I played the violin. And there was a certain time—I think I was 13 or 14—when I had to choose in school whether to take the art classes or the music classes. I chose music. And that took over my life. But these days, in my shows I work with lighting designers, projectionists, and other artists to help bring the visual visions I see when I create my music to life. So my shows now have a visual aspect.
TYF: One last question: what do you hope people take away from Awakening?
Jopling: Number one: you don’t have to be kept in a box. You can be limitless in what you love and how you express yourself. And number two: the joy and uplift that I feel when I write and play music. I want it to be an inspiration, in a joyful way.
TYF: Well, this album certainly opened a lot of boxes for me. And I want to thank you very much for making it and spending some time with me today.
Jopling: I’m thrilled! And, you know, just as a final point, there’s a kind of saying that I’ve incorporated into my shows and feels relevant for me to say to you right now: in our greatest darkness is our potential for our greatest light. Take the second song, Plastic Day. It’s a lament. But out of it, so much joy and hope can come. And I feel that’s very relevant for my life and where we’re at right now in the world. There’s no light without darkness.