Most people would agree that beneath the art of music lies the undercurrents of deep psychological meaning and purpose. Music affects the human psyche and soul in ways that other art forms cannot. So would it be that unusual for someone with the education and experience of a psychiatrist to also have a love and intensity for music? Not in the case of Honolulu native songwriter/musician AND psychiatrist, Ev Fox. Fox believes that his experience in helping people find more happiness and fulfillment in their lives through his career as a psychiatrist is matched by his ability to write songs that become part of the soundtrack of a person’s life. “One of the things I like about songwriting is that you can have instant access to someone’s most intimate space if they relate to your songs. As a psychiatrist, it can take months or years to develop that kind of rapport and depth with someone,” Fox explains. He demonstrates this inimitable ability through his songs that infuse flavors of zesty pop, gritty country rock, and even a pinch of Bossa nova which you can find in his most recent work on the August 2011 release of singer Liana Mason’s debut EP, which he both produced and wrote/co-wrote most of the cuts on the EP. Fox performs his matchless blend of genres in live performances from the open-air-umbrella-drink clubs of his native Aloha state, such as Pipeline Café, a coveted spot for big names in music like the Black Eyed Peas and Sammy Hagar, all the way to the shadowy beer pubs and clubs of England, including Vibe Bar, a London hot spot for live music, with performance stops in between at Nashville’s legendary Bluebird Café which is host to the world’s greatest songwriters of all time.
But Fox is not just a songwriter striving to reach the hearts and minds of audiences. He is also a trailblazer and leader to other songwriters in the paradise of the Pacific. Fox is a co-founder of the Oahu Songwriters Group and the coordinator of the Hawaii chapter of the Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI). This desire to help other area songwriters emerged from Fox’s experience in attending a songwriter conference about six years ago in Kauai where he had the fateful opportunity to learn from country hit maker Jeffrey Steele (“What Hurts the Most,” “When the Lights Go Down,” “The Cowboy in Me”). It was that encounter with the highly successful Steele that showed Fox that he himself can be a songwriter instead of just someone who writes songs. “Four years after that conference, on my first trip to Nashville to establish the Hawaii chapter of NSAI, hearing the music there and my memory of that time with Steele gave me chills down my spine,” Fox remembers. “It was then that I heard my inner voice say, ‘You can make it in Nashville!’” Fox knew to listen to that inner voice and has done so by making it a priority to continuously write and to travel to Nashville and London several times a year to share his creations with industry leaders. “Regardless if it is Honolulu, Nashville or London, I will continue to play and write to honor this amazing gift I’ve been given,” Fox says, “because ultimately, I am not completely happy or fulfilled unless I can incorporate my music into my life and career.”
Fox’s gift for music is not a newly discovered gift. Instead, the realization of his gift came at the tender young age of 13 when he decided to learn how to play guitar after listening to a family friend play some of Fox’s favorite songs on the guitar. The family friend was in a band and Fox said to himself, “I want to be like that!” Once playing guitar chords became as natural to Fox as brushing his teeth, he found himself in a band in college that quickly garnered the attention of United Artists and was assigned a United Artists A&R rep who encouraged them to continue working hard. “He told us, ‘if you don’t make it this year, you’ll make it next year!’” Fox remembers, but, as with many bands, the group broke up before they could experience the possibilities the following year held. For Fox, it was time for “Plan B,” so after college he went on to medical school to pursue psychiatry. But even after med school and numerous years as a practicing psychiatrist in Hawaii, Fox’s gift for music never really died. In fact, a resurgence in his dreams of music, along with a re-evaluation of his priorities is what’s led to new plans that still involve work in the field of psychiatry, but now on a part-time basis with music at the forefront of his career. “I will always continue working in psychiatry in addition to music,” Fox explains. “I think good music and good psychiatry share a lot of commonalities – both arenas inspire, encourage, and help humankind relate to and empathize with each other. Both music and psychiatry challenges us to look beyond the limits we place on our abilities and give us the courage to live the life we never imagined possible.”
Fox’s full-time musical pursuits for 2012 will include two trips back to London, England for performances at several new venues, and then a couple trips back to Nashville for more songwriting and performing. It is Fox’s hopes that some of his songs will provide just the right mix of emotion and connection to the human soul and psyche for the soundtrack of some of the latest and upcoming independent films. Those wanting to experience a taste of Fox’s infusion of pop, country rock and bossa nova can do so by visiting facebook.com/evfoxmusic.