« x »

FIONA HORNE Witch of the West

Music lovers of the 90s will instantly recognise her as the lead singer from electro-rock group Def F
X who had hits with their tracks Psychoactive Summer and I’ll Be Your Majick. Since then Fiona Horne has had a rich and interesting life as a published author, humanitarian aid worker, practising Witch, trained yoga instructor, commercial pilot and of course musician.

Horne was born in Sydney and cut her teeth in the Adelaide and Sydney band scenes in the late 80s and 90s before enjoying national recognition with Def FX. She has travelled the globe and has called Los Angeles and the Caribbean home. Now, she finds herself residing in our majestic South West with a killer new rock outfit who we are proud to call local. Her band, Seawitch, will be playing at Scarborough Beach this Saturday, October 30 (Halloween’s Eve) for WESTERN WASTELANDS, hosted by Livid Skate Cafe with Giant Dwarf, The Ivory Lies, Mage, Vulgarite, Unicorn and Misfires. Seawitch will then cast their spell on the Milk Bar, Inglewood, on Sunday, October 31 for HELLOWEEN – with Beltane Fire, Art of Dysfunction and Skygazer. ANTHONY JACKSON caught up with Fiona Horne to talk everything sea-witchy for this Halloween.

The last time you popped up on my radar, you were flying planes on a tropical island. Being an aviation enthusiast I’d love to know more about your flying history, but we should probably stick to the music! A lot has happened since then, how did you end up in our South West and how did Seawitch emerge to life?

Well, I have to talk planes and say in March last year I had accepted a job in California flying a Cessna Caravan for the summer to build some turbine time after flying twin pistons for a couple of years in the Caribbean. But then COVID hit and the airline was grounded the day I was meant to start work.  Shortly after that, I reconnected with an old boyfriend from 30 years ago, Spiff Hopkins (The Hellmenn) through social media and he convinced me to join him in Australia as the world got crazier.

I got on a repatriation flight out of LA in June, did two weeks iso in a Melbourne hotel as Spiff drove across the country in his Troopie to pick me up and bring me back to his home in the South West. We did two more weeks of iso and wrote a song a day together, and that became Seawitch! As soon as we were out of iso, Spiff called in his good musical mate, bass player, Brad Miller (M16’s) and ultimately we scored local drummer Matt Hamilton…we call him our ‘Secret Weapon’ because he’s known locally as a chef…for the line up we have today and we jammed at Spiff’s home studio twice a week before starting to gig in June this year.

It seems like there are more and more cool venues popping up down south and in Perth, which is awesome! What have been some of your most memorable shows here in WA with Seawitch?

We really loved Hidden Treasures in Freo this year – 22nd July!  We played at the Buffalo Club and the place was packed with a line down the street… amazing, diverse crowd going off… it was hot, sweaty, loud and felt like nothing was wrong in the world! Such a positive vibe! We also really loved playing the Witches Ball at The Rechabite. It was an epic event, with a totally magical crowd. We filmed a live video there, which will be coming out with our album next year. Down south we have played venues as varied as the Dunsie Skate Park, Clancy’s, the Dunsie Tav, Settlers Tav and The River in Margs. I love being able to say that there are so many great local venues within a 40 minute radius.. We have such a healthy live music scene!

Living in the age of COVID, it feels like we are in our own bubble here in WA. While COVID has devastated the music industry, it feels like things are slowly coming back to life here in WA and this could be a great chance for our local bands to emerge and fill the gap left from the lack of international and national touring artists. What has your experience been like as a performing musician in the current COVID climate?

I think you nail it when you say how local bands have been able to emerge and fill the gap and residents of WA are realising we have incredible talent right here in our backyard. Launching a band during a pandemic could sound like a disaster, but it’s actually been a blessing for all the reasons you mention. But to address the fact we couldn’t tour outside of WA, when we released our debut four track EP in June on vinyl we also started dropping a digital single a month with video to share Seawitch with the rest of Oz and the world and hopefully cheer up people in lockdown.

All four videos are out now and feature the beauty of the South West, we played our vintage gear set up at Wyadup Rocks and on Mt Duckworth. There are sublime scenic shots. I applied for a government grant and it was approved so we were able to make this dream to share our music and performance outside WA real. You can see them on our YouTube channel and our EP is streaming on Spotify, iTunes, Deezer etc now through The Manick Label.

You are proud to call yourself a Witch and are very open about living a ‘magickal life’ (sic.) What is it about the philosophy that drew you to it? Is there a Witches ideology that we can all learn from?

I’ve practised Witchcraft for decades and written 14 books on the subject now, plus released my own Oracle deck! What drew me to Witchcraft all those years ago was its reverence for nature/Mother Earth, and the foundations it provided for living a creative expansive life, or a ‘magickal life’ as I often describe in my books.

There are more Witches now on this planet than ever and it’s exciting to see the generational impact my books have had. I love meeting other witches and hearing their stories, sharing experiences and celebrating each other. There is a wonderful magickal community in the South West, and it certainly is one of the most beautiful natural places in the world to practice our Craft.

The Witches ideology of honouring nature as sacred and treading lightly on our beloved Mother Earth, is a good touchstone for anyone and I also think the Witches Laws are positive guideposts for anyone to conduct themselves powerfully, but also thoughtfully and responsibly as they live an exciting life.

Firstly, do what you want but don’t hurt anyone, secondly, do what you want but don’t interfere with another’s free will, and thirdly, as you send out, so returns, threefold.

Most people are not too familiar with your work as a humanitarian aid worker. Can you tell us about your work and history in this field?

I was driven to get my pilot certificate to provide humanitarian aid. My goal was to work with grassroots organisations and in 2017 I had the opportunity to put together two aid missions to Haiti in the wake of 2016’s Hurricane Matthew that decimated the southern shoreline and particularly the island of Île-à-Vache. I worked with the Good Samaritan Foundation of Haiti and raised money through Go Fund Me, organised donated planes, did all the paperwork and co-piloted the missions, flying in 300 laying chicks, 100 pounds of long bean seeds, an agronomist, beekeeper, tools and more.

Four years later those hens are still laying eggs that feed over 500 school children daily now. The seeds are able to grow a 20 foot vine yielding 100 pounds of beans annually from a single cup of soil, and healthy soil is a very rare commodity in Haiti. Later that same year my own island, St Thomas, was decimated by two Cat 5 hurricanes and I became a recipient of aid for a short time. Then I started flying the inter-island newspaper run to get news to the people. We had no power and little internet or phone service for 121 days.

Congratulations on your nine years sober. I believe from my own experiences that alcohol is a major contributor to significant drops in mental health. How has being sober affected your life?

Thank you, I’m blessed to be in a program that works if you work it, a day at a time – I really can’t take any personal credit! And I agree, sobriety offers an optimal environment for positive mental health. I’m so grateful for all the gifts of sobriety, there are so many more hours in the day to enjoy and do cool creative things, you feel things more deeply, and can live more mindfully and present in the moment. You can be more useful in the world and more fulfilled.

What I’ve gained in sobriety is worth so much more than what I gave up. I personally think that I have written my best songs sober, I used to think I needed wine as my muse! But Spiff and I both are sober and all of Seawitch’s songs are fuelled by pure inspiration and a love of heavy music, magick and riffs!

I’m sorry to hear you and your puppy were injured in a recent dog attack. I hope that you are both okay. I saw that your hand was damaged in the attack, has this affected your ability to perform or play guitar?

I lost half my little finger of my right hand protecting Zari the dingo, who I live with and love very much. The other dog burst into our property and attacked her and I grabbed Zari and got her away from the dog. Then realised after I had lost my finger with lacerations to my middle and ring finger. I am very lucky it wasn’t worse and that it wasn’t my chord hand, and Zari’s injuries are healing well. But it has been incredibly traumatic. We cancelled our Prince of Wales Bunbury EP launch and I also cancelled another personal appearance.

It was 12 days ago now. I’m in pain but I am going to play guitar this weekend for the Halloween shows, it will be bandaged up with my index and thumb left out to hold the pick. Fuck it! I can’t let this take away more than it already has. Seawitch will rock this weekend! I just won’t be throwing the guitar around like I usually do! I was supposed to fire dance too, but I won’t be able to do that. I am grateful to be able to do anything after what’s just happened. I hope everyone will come down and share in the healing energy of music with us.

The show this weekend looks like it’s going to be a hoot! Will you be making the most of the Halloween festivities? What can we expect from the Seawitch set?

We will be playing a heavy set featuring our debut EP, which we’re stoked has just cracked 1000+ Spotify streams, and tracks from our upcoming album. All the Seawitch lyrics I write are from my Witches Book of Shadows, a record of my magickal work. So there are spells and conjurings, the perfect music to listen to on Halloween!

And even though I am already a Witch and don’t really have to dress up for Halloween, I will be! Real Southern Hemisphere Witches know at this time we are actually celebrating Beltane, our fertility festival, but we enjoy the commercial holiday of Halloween regardless. A Witch loves to get dressed up as much as anyone! We are encouraging everyone to get into the Halloween vibe and show up in their wicked best!

Lastly, who are your favourite WA bands to listen to and to play with at the moment?

I really love everything by Abbe May, she is such a gifted songwriter, she blows my mind. I’m like, ‘How does she come up with this?!’ So clever. I also love Dan Howls Band, grungy heavy rock blues, so dope live and I am also a huge fan of Mage and Giant Dwarf, local stoner rock riff-laden bands. I’m lucky I get to gig with them and I can just be a fan too!  

I’m really excited to play with Unicorn this weekend too, they were supposed to join us at the cancelled Bunbury show, so I’m dying to see them this weekend. And I also have to add that I really love the amazing female talent of the South West. I volunteer at Radio Margaret River, hosting a monthly show called SISTARS, where I get to celebrate the very best of the South West’s creative women in music and the arts. I get to interview and play amazing up and coming artists like, Rebecca Coe, Keira Jas, Elizabeth Corrigan…these girls are performing original music that adds luscious flavour and depth to the scene down here.

Thanks so much for talking to us. We can’t wait to see Seawitch this weekend!

Thank you Anthony, look forward to seeing you!

« x »