"I love music, especially the magic in writing music. I grab onto my high voltage moments, whatever they are, and the heavenly Mix Master from the Universe transforms this to a song that hopefully sings to others."
Peggy Finston came to music late, discovered even later that it was not a hobby, a luxury or anything else superfluous. Her music is journaling and serves as intention-setter, prayers, and goodbyes. Few events can touch as swiftly and deeply as a song that grasps and also enriches our being alive.
Peggy said her music is meant to reflect our struggle to discover who we are, if we incrementally can put aside the script of who we think we should be. Songs can remind us we are so much more than what we see in the mirror and what we write on our resumes.
What Musical Genre Do You Feel Best Describes Your Music And How Would You Describe Your Sound?
I hear my music as “Country-Soul.” “Country” because that music is unpretentious and about Heart. That’s what I aim for with my own songs. I added “Soul,” as in spiritual, because when we sing about heart, we sometimes mean what’s divine within us, not the more usual romance. This Soul, our Souls have lost credibility in current music and culture.
My music is meant to invite listeners and, engage them in the story, lament or yearning. The sounds are harmonic, pleasing, intended to resemble the 60’s music, a time when we were more hopeful about making a better world.
How Did You Get Your Name? Is There A Story?
Peggy Finston is my real name, which does have a story, if you believe coincidences may be from a greater design. Most of my life, I’ve not been fond of my name, Peggy. Story goes, my parents batted around Peggy or Melody. Peggy is a nickname for Margaret and growing up, I had trouble convincing others that that was my real name. I don’t know where they got the Melody name from. Neither are Jewish, which I am. Two years ago, a friend challenged me to pick a Hebrew name, which I did from a long list she showed me, “Shira.” I liked the sound, looked up the meaning. Shira means song.
What Are or Have Been Your Musical Influences?
I love songwriters who takes risks, challenge listeners to dig more deeply into issues. Today’s events are tomorrow’s history and are our arena for raising or degrading ourselves and humanity. Songs of social commentary have always stirred and inspired me. Leonard Cohen had amazing to scary lyrics about the world we are creating through our choices. Bob Dylan, Nina Simone, Tracy Chapman, the Beatles, Neil Young, Dave McGraw and Mandy Fer and others have set the bar for me to sing what I see and hopefully no less. Also, I so admire those who can address life with humor and/or lightheartedness that actually elevates my mood, like Cheryl Wheeler and Laura Nyro (deceased).
What Are You Working On Now? Any Future Collaborations We Can Look Forward To?
I have recorded most of my songs on guitar because that’s what I can carry to a show. But I compose on the piano. Some songs should stay with the white keys. In the coming months, I will be recording my older songs on the piano. Guy Daniel, from City Lights Recording, NJ, will be working with me, the way we did on “My Soul UnCertain.” I write and perform the songs and he records and arranges. It’s a real joy to work with someone who resonates with my music.
What Is Your Ultimate Goal In The Music Industry? What Is Your Plan Of Action?
Music can be powerful, arouse the best in us. But we live now a lot of discouragement, and the music reflects that.
In looking back, the songs that have “come” to me are often to strengthen my will and hope during faltering times. My “Ultimate Goal” is 1.keep on writing music that could be helpful to others. We all can use to become more conscious of our choices and chances to shape our lives. 2. Getting my music heard.
My “Plan of Action” is evolving, as I realize I need to identify my audience, those who are open to exploring where they are going and why. College is when young adults do this. That’s why I was drawn to the College Underground Network. I hope to find other niche places.
What Is Your Favorite Track To Perform Live and Why?
My favorite is “When My Heart Shuts Down.” When I sing it, I relive what I felt when I wrote it, during a 20 hour car ride home with Charlie, my dog who died this year. I’m a psychiatrist and Charlie and I had spent the past 3 weeks in Norfolk, Nebraska. I was doing vacation coverage for the inpatient unit and was deeply touched by the staff, patients, and community. These folks lived together for generations, shared an intimacy of histories that has been unknown to me. This community felt like a warm fuzzy time warp of America century ago and the way life should be.
The song came to me while driving the darkening, Colorado mountain roads with my dog. I feel it’s harder in some ways to keep one’s heart open in more anonymous communities. Yet we must, for our own survival.
What Has Been The Biggest Challenge In Your Career Thus far?
That’s easy. My psychiatry (day job) and 20 years of fibromyalgia leave me little energy to put my ideas into action about songs and promotion. Yet I do move forward. Perhaps the lack of energy makes me more efficient when I do get the chance at the piano or guitar. Small steps in blips of time add up.
What’s Your Typical Songwriting Process?
Usually a song starts with an idea or feeling that either moves or disturbs me, at the periphery of awareness. As I wake up to its presence, my mind will make connections with other events, images, etc. that resonate with whatever this is. I write down these things on whatever paper is handy, leave in a box or folder. If this private intrusion continues, I carry the scraps with me and a recorder (I phone). Without recording or writing it down, I loose whatever came to me. (Often, I will either not have the time or creative flow to carry this further. The notes go into the box). But if this continues, the song will nag at me to be finished. By then I have ideas for the music and words and they seem to evolve together as I sit at the piano or guitar.
How Has Social Media Influenced Your Career As An Artist?
Social Media has encouraged me to create my own iMovies to songs and quirky photography that would enhance the song. It helps that I enjoy the creativity in doing this. The conversations with other musicians have expanded both my musical works and knowledge of the industry. In the near future, I plan to implement more meaningful connection with fans.
What Are Some Tracks and Artists Currently On Your Playlist?
I love Annie Lennox’s “Don’t Let it Bring you Down,” which gave me a new meaning To the Neil Young song; Many Leonard Cohen’s songs, including my favorite, “Boogie Street,” which leaves me in a cloud of awe; Gnarles-Barkley’s “Crazy” and “Who’s Gonna Save My Soul,” and Robbie Robertson’s “They Outlawed the Ghost Dance.”
What Did You Do Before You Started Making Music?
I am a psychiatrist and acupuncturist and continue with my day job.
Any Advice For Young People (Men or Women) That Want To Succeed In The Music World?
There’s a lot of advice about what sells and is supposed to direct you about what you should write. I think it’s a mistake to take this too literally. There’s a long lead time in songwriting before other people listen. Make sure whatever you write you are passionate about so you can stay with it. For myself that translates into what has personally impacted me that also effects others.
What Would You Change In The Music Industry If You Were A Top Music Executive?
Music is all about message, in the actual music, lyrics and how they are mixed and arranged. The independent films and music are the voices we usually don’t hear. In the meantime, the industry looks to “Me-Too” music to secure the bottom line. It’s not a quality issue, but what’s perceived as currently popular and therefore will sell.
But while Me-Too music may sell, it crowds out those with other messages. Ultimately, I believe the audience gets burned out in hearing mostly the same themes and styles. That’s happened with movie blockbuster sequels. We need variety to keep us engaged. There are few artists like Leonard Cohen. His songs were profound, but all different experiences.
How Do You Feel About Originality?
Originality, reaching into yourself for your own voice or view is an essential part of the creative process. One could say we are as original as our vision. We are all different and so is our experience of life and so we should be different in how we communicate that to others. There are many ways to be original in music, whether you are writing it, interpreting someone else’s works, and even promoting it.
Is There Anything Else We Should Know About You Or That You Would Like to Add?
Music can have a profound effect on others. That is why sound healing works, and also why some sounds are destructive to our mind and brain. I believe we in the music industry have a duty to see that our works are, at the very least, not destructive to others and even better, might help make the world a better place. This may sound naive and idealistic to some. But we are living now with the consequences of ignoring profitable, but indiscriminate media promotion. Our children and grandchildren are the ones who will suffer. They already are.
Peggy's Websites and Social Media Pages:
Hear songs jango http://www. jan go. com/music/Peggy+Finston
Amazon (digital music) https://music.amazon.com/search/Pqgy+Finston
CDBaby music store: http://store.cdbaby.com/ArtisuPeggyFinston