Dana Fuchs: Blending Family, Meditation, and Music

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As seen in
Guitar Girl Magazine Issue 22 – Winter 2022

Dana Fuchs is a force to be reckoned with across all facets of her life. As a singer, she seamlessly blends blues and rock, a skill that she deftly matches with her soulful guitar playing. On top of all that, she is able to integrate other facets of her life into her music career. In 2019, Dana recorded a children’s album, Mind the Music, which evokes her experience with Buddhist meditation.

On her most recent project, the blues-rock album Borrowed Time, Fuchs brought yet another large facet of her life into her music: her children. Borrowed Time was recorded with Dana’s children in the studio, who she was also able to bring on tour with her this past year. In her interview, Fuchs tells us about the inspiration, writing, and recording process for Borrowed Time, discusses Mind the Music, and reflects on her career so far.

Your newest album, Borrowed Time, is wonderful. This is your first album since your 2019 children’s album, Mind the Music. What was it like coming back to your usual genre after writing a children’s album?  

Thank you! As a Buddhist meditation practitioner and teacher of over 15 years, Mind the Music was a specific project that started as a collaboration with a friend and longtime Buddhist meditation practitioner, Mark Hermann, and my husband, Kevin Mackall, to bring mindfulness and the foundation of meditation practice to children through music and movement.

We wrote and recorded the album and were holding weekly classes and performing at schools, museums, birthday parties, and private events up until the pandemic. It was a cathartic experience that really solidified my intention to pursue my master’s degree in early childhood development and music theater.

Borrowed Time was a whole other creative pursuit and songwriting adventure with my music partner Jon Diamond that led us to snowy rural Michigan last Thanksgiving to make a southern rock record!

Your sons were in the studio with you while you recorded this album — that must have been a unique experience! What was it like? 

It was wonderful. We recorded the album in 11 days at Black River House in Croswell, MI, owned by Kenny Tudrick and his wife Drea. They created such a homey vibe and welcomed us in with such warmth and dignity so that we all functioned like a household, with us tracking in the basement and the kids listening to playbacks with us and dancing around, and Kev and Drea making food for us all around the clock. We also traveled with our incredible friend Kam Harris, an amazing artist in her own right, who helped take care of the kids during the workdays.

Who else did you work with? 

Bobby Harlow and Kenny Tudrick produced, with Kenny also playing some incredible guitar. Jack Daley on bass, who I’ve done four or five albums with — he’s my go-to guy. A prince among men and a force of nature on bass in the studio and on stage. Todd Glass on drums; he is such a sweetheart and rocks so hard in that Detroit tradition with a Stones backbeat and AC/DC four-on-the-floor propulsion. Jordan Champion played some great keys on a few tracks, and Jon Diamond on guitars, harmonica and backing vocals. Kevin Mackall co-wrote lyrics with me on three tunes, too!

Tell me about the inspiration for the album. How did you decide on Borrowed Time for the title? 

The inspiration musically evolved from the rootsier demos that Jon and I created into a full-on Southern rock record. That was one of the first things Bobby suggested as a producer, and that’s what hooked me into working with him. We clicked because I grew up on a steady diet of Lynyrd Skynyrd in Florida, and of course, I brought in many of my musical inspirations, as I always seem to do when making an album.

Borrowed Time made sense as the title (and the kind of anthemic approach to the song itself) because we don’t know exactly how long we’re going to be alive, and by understanding this, we might make different (better) choices for how we handle certain situations. For instance, an argument with someone we love who could die before we ever get the chance to make up! Lyrically, this album was also a departure from reflecting just my own life and world and really opening my heart up to telling stories from around the world that represent the suffering of humankind and existential struggles of the human condition.

If your audience could only take one thing away from Borrowed Time, what would you want it to be?

From the album? I would hope they could catch a glimpse of the journey I took lyrically and feel the heart and soul of the songs and the suffering of the characters in them and then crank it up and let loose, getting goosebumps and getting lost in the music for an hour of bliss.

What are your top three tracks from this album?

This is always a dynamic changing thing; right now, after touring this past year and playing the songs live, I’m feeling “Curtain Close,” “Nothing You Own,” and “Not Another Second on You.”

How about the top three tracks of all time?

All-time faves are the same kind of thing. I was thinking about “Miseryyesterday and maybe doing a studio version of that and then “Faithful Sinner,” as I love doing that song for my dad and audiences seem to relate. And perhaps “Sittin’ On.” We’ve had a lot of fun playing that one lately, and I get to deliver a little Buddhist teaching in the rap before we play it.

How have you changed as an artist since your last blues album, Love Lives On

I think I’m always evolving as a person, a mother, a wife, an artist, a songwriter, a student, a teacher, and a meditation practitioner…you can call a river by its given name every day, but it’s never the same river moment to moment, right?

How have you stayed the same? 

Staying the same is impossible, but if anything, it’s an internal moral compass and a heart that steers my life like a rudder. That sameness is very personal and inside for me. Maybe it’s also consistently trying to practice the values of not wanting to say, do, or act in any way without being mindful of compassion for all living beings.

You recently returned from the Borrowed Time tour in Norway and Denmark, where your children accompanied you. How do you balance family with being a career musician? 

Family is everything, and I don’t tend to want to do longer tours without my family. It’s a struggle to balance my tour self-care and resiliency regimen with the kids, but it is also wonderful to experience something I’ve done for so long through the eyes of the children. Also, Kev has been playing bass on this tour which completes the family unit musically on the road.

Are there any challenges you didn’t expect?  

There are always unexpected challenges on and off the road, and that’s what we train for! Lol. My oldest son is a great hang and a joy to tour with, while my youngest is a bit more intense. Ha-ha!

Describe your sound to me in three words or less, and blues can’t be one of them. 

Shared lived experience.

What guitars are you currently playing? 

My main touring guitar is Kev’s Gibson J160E with a Fishman piezo pickup installed, which I use over the original P90 pickup. It’s set up with Dean Markley phosphor bronze 11’s, and it plays great.

Do you have a preferred “go-to” guitar for songwriting?

I have a beautiful Gibson Dove in my studio that I love, but mostly Jon Diamond is my go-to guitar in the songwriting process.

With mental health being a major issue today, what does being an ambassador for The Jed Foundation mean to you? 

I’m so deeply moved and inspired by the work that JED does. Remember, it is a tremendous resource for us all at jedfoundation.org. Being a JED Ambassador means that I make it my commitment to use my megaphone and my platform to connect the conversations I evoke by sharing my story, and the stories of others whom I represent, to mental health and to the mission of reducing shame and judgment for all in that space.

Lastly, any words of wisdom you would like to share to aspiring female musicians?

Live your truth, fail miserably, and arise from it with strength and grace. Don’t worry about being cool because that will never lead you to finding your voice — finding your own voice and staying true to delivering it is the only chance you have at making an authentic connection with anyone in this world. That’s your most valuable equity as an artist.

album coverBorrowed Time Tracklist

  1. Double Down On Wrong
  2. Blue Mist Road
  3. Call My Name
  4. Save Me
  5. Curtain Close
  6. Hard Road
  7. Borrowed Time
  8. Nothing You Own
  9. Not Another Second On You
  10. Lonely Lie
  11. Last To Know
  12. Star

Photos provided by PR

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