If you still believe in the power of love, this is a story for you. It has a hint of 90s nostalgia, a coven or three of witches, a hot new band for you to fall in love with and an event you need to attend. Best of all, in the depths of winter, it’ll warm your heart and soul all the way from the beanie on your noggin right through to the tips of your ugg-booted toes.
“There’s an authenticity to it because we actually are real witches.”Fiona Horne
Ready? Let’s begin.
I’m on the phone with Fiona Horne, one time singer with ubiquitous 90s Aussie rockers, Def FX, who brought us a brand of punky grunge electronica that lit up airwaves, venues and teenage bedrooms in equal measure. Oh yeah! They were quite something. And, if you haven’t had the pleasure, go check them out, because they still are.
We’re having a chat about her new project, Seawitch, and the Witches Ball, coming up at the Rechabite on 26 June, where said band will be playing a set of their mighty fine music. More on Seawitch later.
So, we’re talking and bonding and I’m feeling the good vibrations all the way from Horne’s Dunsborough home, when she launches into the most extraordinary story.
Around 30 years ago in Sydney, when Horne was fronting an all-girl punk band called The Mothers, she dated another muso (as musos tend to do with varying results), Dave Hopkins, who was then in a band called The Hellmen.
“We dated and definitely had a pretty powerful thing,” said Horne, “but life took us in different directions. Def FX just took off and I just went off and was doing that and Dave ended up coming back to WA and establishing a career as a naturopath and doing local bands.”
Post her career with Def FX, one of the different directions Horne’s life took her was to the Caribbean, working as a pilot.
“I was living in the Caribbean flying aeroplanes,” Horne said. “My life had been reinvented, I was working as a commercial pilot out there, but then I lost my job with the (COVID) lockdowns.”
Around this time, Horne received an Instagram message from an unknown profile and was about to ignore it when something made her take another look.
“It took me a while to realise who this guy was,” Horne said, “and then I said to myself, ‘That’s not Dave is it?’, and then I realised it was him, so I replied to his message, and we started chatting. That was May last year, and we spoke every day for hours and hours for a month and decided that, I’m in the Caribbean and he’s literally on exactly the other side of the world…we decided that we’d take a chance on love.”
Taking a chance on love meant travelling halfway across the world during a pandemic. Horne made her way from her home in the Caribbean to Los Angeles and then onto Melbourne.
“I got on one of the last repatriation flights out of the US and flew from LA to Melbourne,” said Horne. “I did two weeks hardcore iso in one of the hotel rooms and Dave drove across the country. He drove from down here in Dunsborough, where we live now, all the way across the country to get me. Then we drove back across the country together, with all the border shutdowns, the passes, it was next level scary, but it was the best day when we crossed the WA border. We kept thinking we weren’t going to be allowed through. It was hardcore.
“It was amazing, seeing each other for the first time in 30 years, and the old spark was stronger than ever. It was incredibly romantic and crazy and wild and scary too. We crossed over the border into WA on the eve of my birthday and it was just so good to wake up in WA on my birthday last year and just know that I was safe.
“We got to his house in Dunsborough and we had to do two more weeks of iso. That was a great way to reconnect.”
If you’re not smiling right now, check your pulse, you may be dead.
Isn’t that the stuff that movies are made of? That should be the first one that rolls out of our new movie making facilities here in the west.
Not satisfied with just being in love, they went and started a band, as well.
“He (Dave) said, ‘I reckon we should do a band,’ and I’m like, ‘Really?’,” Horne continued. “He said, ‘You should play guitar,’ and I said, ‘I haven’t played guitar for 30 years, David.’ He said, ‘That’s alright I’ve got a Fender Strat, I’ll let you play that’.”
Jees, Dave, romantic, or what!
“We went into the studio and we wrote a song a day for nine days,” said Horne, “and that was Seawitch.”
A bit like the modern lovechild of Blondie and Iggy and the Stooges, Seawitch are filled with rock goodness, riffs aplenty, love and magic. You can get yourself a sneak preview here.
“I didn’t think I’d get to do music like this again,” said Horne. “I feel more excited about this stuff that we are writing, the fact that I’m playing guitar again and getting to rock out so hard with incredible musicians.”
And it just so happens that they’ll be launching their debut, self-titled, EP at the Witches Ball in Perth at the Rechabite on 26 June. It’s going to be a monster night, filled with music and, given that Horne and her sisters in event promotion, Tracy McFie and Larissa O’Neill, are bona fide witches, real magic.
A focal point of the event is the Magical Moon Ceremony, which will be led by McFie and O’Neill , founders of Wyld Tribe, who work to ‘open spaces & conversations for everyone to grow into their ALLNESS, to create the bonds of commUNITY & live from hearts expression & kindness.’
“They are really amazing women,” said Horne, “witches, healers, they do a lot of community work and put on a lot of women oriented events, like Sisterhood Rising, which attracts 500 women every year.
“The ball is happening on the full moon so there’s going to be a ceremony where we will tap into those abundant lunar energies that lend themselves to manifesting positive abundance, things that are good for us. At the same time, the ceremony can also create a space where you can let go of things that aren’t serving you and allow this really positive energy to come in. I think this is going to be a beautiful ceremony where we can celebrate being together and gathering in a joyous, abundant way, and letting go of fear and embracing hope and optimism.
“You don’t have to participate in it. If you just want to watch, if you’re just there and part of the ball… this is a totally unique night out for magic witches, non witches and people who love music, whatever. You can just watch and all of the good energy will rub off on you. The ceremony itself will involve singing and an invocation and movement, but you can just watch and enjoy.
“There’s an authenticity to it because we actually are real witches.”
Opening the Witches Ball are Witchy Djypsies, although Horne was emphatic in saying there are no headliners, everyone has equal billing.
“Witchy Djypsies are amazing,” said Horne, “they’re a seven piece progressive kind of folk rock, bit of jazz band. Everyone goes wild. This is a total immersion night of magic, music and fun. It’s completely unique.”
Clearly, the Witches Ball is going to be a night no one should miss. Speaking to Horne, even using the magic of mobile telephony over a great distance, you can feel the love and positive energy emanating from her. On 26 June, that energy will fill the Rechabite to overflowing.
Having fronted one of Australia’s greatest rock bands in the 90s, Horne is also a true pioneer of the music industry. She summed it up like this:
“I love girls to the front. I’m all about hashtag girls to the front. When Seawitch do shows we only ever play with other female fronted bands.”
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The Witches Ball takes place at the Rechabite on Saturday 26 June. Get event information and tickets here.