As if Anna’s new single, ‘Chelsea Hotel #3’, wasn’t shocking enough in its scream for female autonomy and pleasure, it ends with a glorious lyric about Tim Curry in lingerie. Anna smiles in recognition.
“I think it was the first time that I ever felt something downstairs and thought, ooooh what is going on? I was watching Rocky Horror Show for a first time when I was 10 or 11 and I remember that being the moment where I thought what is happening down there!” Anna gleefully namechecks influences like these throughout every song she’s written, almost as if she can’t help it.
“These are the things peppered through my album – there is Spice by the Spice Girls, Funeral by Arcade Fire, films like Y Tu Mama Tambien; I literally namecheck all of them. I don’t know if I do it on purpose so much, but I know that it’s very important to me that there are streams and rivers and to know what stuff is flowing in from where. I spent so long when I couldn’t write, and when I was finding it so hard to create anything I was struggling with the idea of people plucking this amazing stuff from out of thin air and they were just able to do it, wake up one day and just do it.”
It’s clear Anna takes pride in her body of work – the first EP in 2015 was a solo labour of love; for the album she enlisted the help of William Doyle, an artist in his own right who was looking to develop his production skills. “It was a dream,” she says. “I had spent nearly 3 years up until he got involved, where I had tried different things but ran out of money, but he put out a thing on social media saying I am looking to produce things and if anyone is interested please get in touch. Within twenty seconds I was typing away to him. I knew the kind of audio world that I wanted it to be in – really intricate and with tiny metallic audio things going on – I didn’t know how to do it. He understood the world that I was trying to create – it was perfect.”
I ask what it was like to suddenly find yourself in a room with another headstrong musician. “William is such a joy,” says Anna. “I tend to go off on red herrings – oh shiny things. He is very good at not doing that, saying, you know, maybe we should do a bit more work now. Just spending 2 or 3 days with him for over 6 months was great. I was embarrassed though, not knowing all the terms. I would say I want it to be earth and mud with sparkles, so he was very patient.” The pair finished the album before sending it to City Slang, a much-admired label who quickly signed Anna to their roster. After years of toil it was a moment to cherish.
“Yes, it’s totally cemented the hard work, but having done the album before I was signed, with just Will and then presenting the album, that was where the pride comes from. I have spent years honing this. So, City Slang saying yes was also very nice.”
You’re not going to disappear again, are you, I ask as we step out onto a wind-swept Southbank. “Last time I read everything. I think that was part of my demise. But it’s hard as it just gets filtered into my eyes and I can’t avoid it. It’s hard to know what I am going to do. Don’t worry, I am not going to vanish for another five years, that’s far too sad. I promise I won’t read reviews or listen to anyone, I’ll just do my own thing.”
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