It’s been seven years since singer-songwriter Felecia Ford released her first solo record Kissing Booth, and in that time, she’s been writing constantly. Ford comes back swinging this week with Ocean of Love, the culmination of life, love, lessons and hope. You’ll find Ford performing a number of shows this week with her new band Mega Muse, so it’s obviously time for an interview.
SFR: It’s been a minute since you put out a record. Why is now the right time?
Felecia Ford: I’ve been working on this album since before the COVID lockdown. I had several songs already recorded, then we took the year off and finished it up right before I moved to Mexico. By that time it was a goal—I just wanted to get it completely done so I didn’t leave it behind. I just feel it’s the time for me. [My daughter] Bella graduated from New Mexico School for the Arts; my kids are both out of the house now, and I felt it’s time to continue my career. I never stopped doing music, I never stopped writing music, and this is my time to step out and do what I’m meant to do.
Do these songs represent any particular period of time?
The first one was written back 2015. But really it’s just from the period from when I finished Kissing Booth until now. I got a huge surge during COVID, and I ended up finishing four or five of the songs, and I’ve got even more songs I didn’t release on the album that are moving toward a different sound that I didn’t want to release on this album.
When you mention how different sounds fit, this record has a song like “You’re the One,” which has a darker, sadder sound than the others. Is this record like therapy?
I think every album for every artist is like therapy, whether they want to admit it or not. It’s like your inner, higher self giving you advice. I think the reason that song started out sad is that I based it off a poem I’d written about what it’s like to connect with the sunrise and sunset. In Santa Fe, the sky bursts into colors every day, and I wrote it like a love song to the sky. It’s funny you should say it seems a little sad, because the first words were “I miss you,” and “You’re magic.” During that time, [my son] Quannah was graduating high school, and I sat down at the piano and sang “I miss you and you’re magic,” and that stuck with me. I like to have double meaning, so it also has a love song meaning, because I fell in love hard and heavy the last six years. I’m at the point now where I can write a love song. Even if it sounds sad, it’s because I’m trying to express to a lover, family, friends, people out there in the world who don’t realize how beautiful they are—they are.
I’m getting obvious rock and R&B feels, but also a kind of -gospel-meets-musical theatricality here. Is that intentional?
It’s not intentional, but I feel like every songwriter in the world brings to the table what they’ve experienced. I definitely have a background in gospel. For sure. I was going for something that could bring theatrics to the stage. The horns, the violins, everybody putting their all into each song. Yeah, there could be some gospel and musicals in there. I did do musicals back in the day.
Speaking of the band, I assume it’s a cavalcade of notable Santa Feans?
Absolutely. Matt McClinton was the producer of the album, he’s the co-writer of three of the tunes, I think my best tunes, and he also is my musical director now—and he is working for me, out of love. He’s pretty special, and he really believes in this project and has been an integral part of my feeling confident. I’ve got Justin Lindsey, who’ll probably play guitar with me the rest of my life. There’s Dave Turner, who has a band out of Albuquerque called Nothing But Groove, and he’s the other guitar player. Karina Wilson on strings. Randy Sanchez from Nosotros. A lot of great musicians, and others who will join me onstage soon.
Tell us about the writing process. When you write is it, like, you quietly strumming a guitar in your bedroom?
It’s me with a piano. I’m always sitting at a piano whenever I’m coming up with the music portion, but not when I’m coming up with the lyrics. Sometimes I have the lyrics or melody and I’ll sit down and figure out what chords I’m using. Sometimes I sit down and just come up with the whole song. I’ve got probably 20 notebooks full of poetry and one-liners and ideas, and I’ll sometimes take one line from this, two lines from that, and ditch the whole rest of the poem for that one line I need, the one that starts the whole song. Sometimes it comes to me all at once. Sometimes it comes to me over time.
Felecia Ford and Mega Muse
6 pm Sunday, July 11. $20. Frogville Studios, 111 Calle Nopal, (505) 982-4001
7 pm Monday, July 12. Free. Santa Fe Plaza, 100 Old Santa Fe Trail
8 pm Friday, July 16. $20. Tumbleroot Brewery & Distillery, 2791 Agua Fría St., (505) 393-5135