During our time at the 2016 Final Fantasy XIV Fan Fest in Las Vegas, hosts of Aetheryte Radio had a chance to sit down with singer and songwriter Susan Calloway to talk about her performance at the event and what she currently has in the works for fans of her music!
Fusionx: This has been your first Fan Fest. Have you had any time to go around and look at the event itself?
Susan Calloway: Not yet, I’m hoping to do that more today. Yesterday I was really just kind of chilling out and getting ready for the show. I have to get into a certain framework for that and I’ve been a bit tired since I’ve been here (in Vegas) too, there has been a lot going on so I’ve been trying to save my energy a bit. But today, now that the concert is over, I hope to check it out more.
Brin: Speaking of getting ready, what kind of things do you do to prepare for a show?
Susan Calloway: A lot of it for me is just taking care of myself. Trying to get sleep, eating right, working out, things like that. Singing is a very physical job and sometimes people forget that. When you’re doing something like this, you want to feel as good as you can. A lot of it too, is being in a mental state of mind of just saving your energy a bit and focusing, concentrating on what you’re doing and thinking about the show, thinking about the music and making sure you’re warmed up and hydrated- things like that. There’s a mental thing to it as well- you don’t want to be distracted. Let’s say if you have to have a heavy conversation with somebody, that’s not the day, you gotta put that stuff down.
Fusionx: You’ve performed at a lot of Distant Worlds concerts… how was the crowd here at Fan Fest different from the audiences of Distant Worlds?
Susan Calloway: It’s interesting, since Fan Fest is all FFXIV fans, it’s much more concentrated with fans that relate more to me. At Distant Worlds you have more of a mix there, because we’re doing music from all the different games, so this is a little more of a die-hard environment. That’s honestly one of the reasons I wanted to do it because I’m such a part of FFXIV. If I was going to do any kind of Fan Fest for a Final Fantasy game, this would be the one.
Fusionx: When we talked to you back in March, you mentioned an album for the Fall. How is that coming along?
Susan Calloway: We put out a fan CD for this event actually and we’re going to be releasing singles from that slowly for the general public as well. It’s coming really well, and so this is a bit of a teaser for that CD. It’s still in progress but we didn’t want to keep people waiting so we we thought we’d put this out and give them something to listen to so they can get excited for the record.
Fusionx: With Answers on there, this is definitely a good place to release that!
Susan Calloway: Yes exactly! It’s fun, we did an Answers Remix version. I have a friend in Los Angeles I work with a lot that does remix stuff for a lot of big artists and we collaborated on that a bit. I re-sang it and we did some cool vocal stuff to it. I think the fans will really like it. It’s more of a fun and more optimistic pop version of Answers– it’s not as dark. It’s nice though, because the song is so popular, to be able to give people different versions of it.
Fusionx: One of the things I’ve liked about the Final Fantasy concerts is there have been different people singing the songs such as yourself, or Angela Aki. It’s always interesting to hear songs from the franchise sung by someone else, it always gives a bit of a different feel to it.
So right now we’re at the Fan Fest for North America. There are going to be events in Japan and Germany as well. Will you be performing at those events as well?
Susan Calloway: Well, I don’t know if they’ve officially announced anything yet so I’ll just say that… Square Enix loves to be consistent. We’ll leave it at that.
Fusionx: Last night, Soken told us a lot of the piano arrangements were made in a short time for Fan Fest. Did you have a lot of time to rehearse with these new arrangements?
Susan Calloway: I would love to say yes, because I would have loved to have spent more time rehearsing, I just got the music a few days before so I didn’t have a lot of time. So I guess it sort of was a bit of a last minute thing for them. It was great working with Dejan, he’s a great pianist, I thought he did a great job, and he didn’t have much notice either so he really pulled a rabbit out of a hat in my opinion. It was still the same material though, so you kind of just dig deep for your own artist interpretation of what’s happening.
Fusionx: There’s a concert tonight, are you going to be performing there as well?
Susan Calloway: I’m not performing unless something crazy happens that I don’t know about. I’m going to come though, I’d love to see those guys.
Fusionx: Is there anything you’re working on for Final Fantasy XIV in the future?
Susan Calloway: I’m sure we’ll be doing more stuff. I can’t officially say anything, but there’s lots of chitchat about it. I think having such an amazing response from you guys, from the fans, has made a huge impact on that. I’d love to be a part of it as long as they’ll have me and as long as you guys want me to keep singing.
Fusionx: Aside from your album, what’s coming up next for you?
Susan Calloway: We have quite a few shows coming up for Distant Worlds. This year has been a lighter year. Next year there are a lot of dates I have on hold. We’re doing Montreal in February, Newark in January. I’m hoping to add next year, once my record is done, to put together a tour for my stuff to and we hope the Final Fantasy fans will want to come to that. It won’t be all Final Fantasy, but it will include some of that.
Brin: One of the things I’ve always enjoyed about the series is that it’s very eclectic musically so just because you’re a fan of the game doesn’t mean your boxed into any one style of music. You’ve done rock and other genres and so I think fans will be very receptive to that. I think a lot of fans will say “Well I like her here, what else is she doing over here”.
Susan Calloway: I love doing this stuff, but I love writing music. Even as a kid I would write music and sing and that’s the most focused part of me as an artist so I’m really anxious to share that with everyone and I’m confident they’ll like it. It’s the same heart and soul that I put into my Final Fantasy music, I don’t think it’s that big of a jump really. There are a lot of parallels between them and there are a lot of spiritual or soul-like lyrics. I feel Final Fantasy comes from that place, of just a good and evil struggle, the comradery of providing hope and answers and there’s a lot of that in my own music and I think it will be a very natural progression for fans.
Brin: Well you’ve already sold one copy! It’s such a good track that I had to own it. I think you’re doing something interesting, that might be a little risky, but also something that will pay off in the long term.
Susan Calloway: Thank you! That’s what I’m hoping because I’m not just a singer. I know there have a been a lot of different types of artists like, maybe Angela Aki, I think we’re probably the most similar because she also plays and sings and stuff. I would love to do more of that in Final Fantasy and Square Enix knows that. Even for events like this, I would love to sing and play Answers for you guys, I have my own arrangement of it that I think is really fun and emotive. Maybe at a future concert we can begin trickling in somethings like that.