INTERVIEW: Fiona Horne on music, witchcraft, aviation and saying farewell to Def FX
Fiona Horne first came to prominence in 1991 as the lead singer of Australian electro-rock band Def FX. The band released four albums and numerous singles, including ‘Space Time Disco’ which peaked at number 24 on the Billboard Dance Chart in 1993, before breaking up in 1997. Horne went on to become one of the most recognised and respected practioners of witchcraft in Australia, writing 12 books on the topic, appeared as a spokesperson on various TV shows and also acted as a witchcraft advisor to production houses in Hollywood.
Horne releases her latest book The Art of Witch this month and is also re-uniting with Def FX for a farewell tour around Australia. We recently caught up with Fiona to talk about her music, witchcraft and her new career as a commercial pilot in the Caribbean.
International rock star, author, public speaker, witch and now commercial pilot - you have lived quite an eclectic life!
I guess the way I’ve chosen to live life, and the way I’ve lived it, is I see it as an opportunity to learn something. You don’t have to necessarily grow older, you can grow better at living. What I find as I’m growing in life and exploring new avenues of expression, whether that’s aviation, creating an oracle card deck or performing music or whatever it is, its that we don’t need to have a use by date on our dreams and goals. In our lives, we can continue to grow and evolve and have adventures and become better versions of ourselves if we choose to, and that’s just what I try to do.
There’s some beautiful ideas in that. Talking about not giving up and it’s never too late, there’s a rumour you are going to be doing some reunion shows with Def FX?
Yes, that’s all happening in June, we’re doing a farewell tour. All the information is on my website and on our social media page. Not a lot of people know about it because the mainstream media hasn’t really got behind it. We’re doing this for our fans. The shows are happening along the east coast of Australia and Adelaide at the same time as my speaking shows are happening. My boss just gave me the month of June off. I can get back to work in the Caribbean after this!
It doesn’t sound like a bad way to go back to work – back to the Caribbean! The world has changed so much in the last 20 years or so especially with the music industry and communications. What do you think? Do you look back on your days with fondness?
I’m not in the music industry enough now to understand the challenges or the highlights of it now, it’s so different. But I do feel really blessed to have been in a rock band in the 90s in Australia. I had a bloody good time. I remember being in front of the media and having all that street cred, it was fantastic.
Another issue I’d like to get your view on is how you think sexism has changed over the last 20 years, especially with regard to women working within the arts?
Not working full time in the arts now, I’m not completely informed, but I will say is that I think there’s more women in music now than when I was doing it. The way I relate to women’s place in the world in general now is being a female in aviation. I feel like I’ve gone back to the dark ages when I was performing in Australia’s first all-girl punk bands. Working as a woman in aviation is like going back to prehistoric times, there’s sexism and everything goes. It’s very hilarious to be honest - I always say the airplane doesn’t know whether a man or woman is flying it, so it really shouldn’t make any difference.
Do you think that there’s any nuance around the world? For example, do you think that in the Caribbean you’re going to face a bit more sexism than in a a bigger country like Australia?
No, it’s the same everywhere. It’s just how hidden it is. I’m part of a secret group on Facebook called Female Aviators Sticking Together. It’s an invite only group for women aviators around the world, there’s about a thousand of us. I don’t know how I would have survived without that group. My old boss in the previous company I worked for would introduce me to people saying ‘Yeah she’s a pilot, she’s not my wife, not my girlfriend, not my mistress.’ It was bloody nuts. It’s getting better, but we talked about what was it like being in music and what is it like now, well I would have to say that women have a more of a footing in music now than we did back then, but aviation is far behind that. But, you know, I think when faced with these kinds of obstacles and potential roadblocks, it’s important that we understand they can navigate and guide us, they don’t have to stop us. That’s how I live my life, I navigate through the obstacles rather than let them stop me.
Whereas the rest of the world is still very much patriarchal, I feel that witchcraft is actually an area that most people would identify as being predominantly, overwhelmingly a female domain. What is your take on that?
Yeah, definitely. In the new book The Art of Witch, I consciously and deliberately chose to use ‘her’ rather than ‘him’ through the whole book. in my new oracle deck, there’s only two male cards. the rest are all girls. I’m addressing the imbalance.
What do you want your books to contribute to the women’s movement, to inspire creative young women?
I do address the new feminist movement within witchcraft specifically around the phenomenon of finding community and bonding through social media. I talk about how witches as a modern virtual movement are utilising that tool now. I think that it’s giving young women an opportunity to experience a sense of a world that’s female-centric. Kind of a reawakening of the divine world and young women where they don’t have to determine their lives and seeing who can buy their desirability according to males or to something other than themselves. What I’ve noticed about young women drawn to witchcraft is a sense of self-empowerment that is unconditional and not based on society’s opinions of what they’re capable of.
How do you think that your days in music, becoming a star in that arena have set you up to take yourself into witchcraft, spoken and written word?
Working as an entertainer and being a performer has influenced my life not only as an author and talking publicly about witchcraft but also in my career now as a commercial pilot. My boss told me just before I came out to Australia to do this tour I was our most requested pilot. It was lovely and I thought what makes me the most requested pilot? So I looked at some of the emails he forwarded me and people kept saying it was about my service, they said that they found me to be very warm, kind, professional, but also that I showed a genuine interest in them and that I was entertaining. I thought maybe that ability in me to be a bit of a performer and to help people feel entertained and happy helps me to do my job as a charter pilot well.
After the Def FX farewell tour, do you think that you’re ever going to get back into music?
You know, honestly, probably not. I can’t say that I will. And that’s why I announced the week before coming to Australia that it will be my last tour. If I’m going to work as a professional aviator, I just need to focus only on that. I think through the phenomenon of social media I’ll maintain a connection with the magical community and at the end of the day, my books and oracle cards are out there. But if I’m going to fly airplanes, it’s not something you can split. It’s just very different mentally and I need to focus 100% on that. So I don’t intend to do any more musical projects that would be for the public to see or hear.
What are the musical artists that you’re listening to these days?
There’s a really great kind of remix-EDM artist called Gawler. She’s just really fun, just really great upbeat music. One of my favourite bands is All Then Witches - ironic, isn’t it?! They’re kind of like a swamp rock band from Nashville, they’re really dark and fabulous, so I love them. I also love listening to My Bloody Valentine, people have asked what’s your favourite song ever and I’ve always said ‘Soon’ by My Bloody Valentine. Very romantic song. I also really love Slipknot. After a hurricane hit my island home (St Thomas), when the roads were clear enough to drive around, I drove around listening to Slipknot really fucking loud on my car stereo with the destruction and the devastation around me, I needed a soundtrack for it. That was my way of challenging the stress and grief of the mass destruction. The music I’m listening to tends to reflect what I’m thinking about.
You’ve really moved to the beat of your own drum and followed your own passions, and as you’ve said, you’re learning how to live better with each year. So, what advice for young women do you have?
Self-love is not just a slogan that’s printed on a coffee cup or a tea towel. We really need to act on that. The number one lover in your life should be yourself. Be tolerant, be compassionate, be supportive. Allow yourself to grow. Don’t ever be disappointed if you make a mistake. Learn from it and move on. I would also say that failures and mistakes in life are fantastic because you learn and learn. So, don’t ever give up on yourself. If you, screw up, start again. Also, really focus on enjoying the journey because life is about the art of transformation, nothing is fixed or static. All that matters is in the journey, not the destination. That’s the advice I would give.
Def FX Farewell Tour
21 June - Bar On The Hill, Newcastle, NSW Tickets here
22 June - Unibar, Adelaide, SA Tickets here
27 June - Crowbar, Leichhardt, NSW Tickets here
28 June - Sooki Lounge, Belgrave, VIC Tickets here
29 June - Woolly Mammoth, Fortitude Valley, QLD Tickets here
Fiona Horne’s latest book The Art of Witch is out now. Fiona is currently on a spoken word tour, offering insights on the new book and witchcraft.