“It can be nice to be in the middle of nowhere and not have so many thoughts, commercials, industries down your throat.”
A week before the atmospheric folk singer embarks on her first UK tour, Paula from Ramsgate Music Hall caught up with the eclectic Anne Eve to talk ghost towns, accordions and Patti Smith.
I know you’ve been busy this week and you’re currently gearing up for your tour, which is fast approaching. How are you feeling about it all?
Pretty excited, just been rehearsing constantly!
We’re looking forward to having you here at Ramsgate Music Hall! I know you started off as a solo singer before you gained your band. What is the main differences between those two and what do you enjoy more?
Definitely enjoy having the band more. I think I started off on my own because that’s how it usually goes, you know? Start writing and you wanna try out performing and stuff and I tried a few band set ups along the way but I’m pretty happy with the one I’ve got now. Always good when you’ve got other people on stage with you.
Cool so I heard that you went to Goldsmiths College, which is where Blur went, James Blake and Katy B. So would you say that that was a particularly competitive creative environment?
I didn’t feel like it was competitive I just think that being in an environment that wires and influences you, it makes you more productive. It inevitably causes you to grow because you’re outside of what you thought you knew and there’s so many ideas around, you feed off that.
So you’ve been likened to Regina Spector, Laura Marling and Cat Power. Would you say you take any influence from them?
I’m really flattered! I love Cat Power and Regina Spector. They’re all really legitimately talented musicians and writers and I don’t so much take influence from things I just let things absorb and I think that listening to as much music as you can and paying attention to as much art as you can is so important. I guess you become a more rounded person, so I’m glad that people draw parallels between us.
Aside from those artistic peers, you seem to still have a lot of your musical influences based in the ’60s; Led Zeppelin, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan?
Yes they’re people that I started listening to when I was a lot younger – they ground me as a musician. For me, I have people that I can always come back to if I’m getting a bit lost or something. And definitely I admire that era. That was the revolution of it all wasn’t it? I mean, Led Zeppelin are so dope, I really love it.
Outside of that you’ve got people like Patti Smith and Amy Winehouse – What do you take from their music?
Yeah well I guess I just take the fact that they’re being really honest and raw and that they’re not necessarily going along with the usual thing. Amy was an incredible writer. In terms of lyrics she would come up with a demo and it would blossom into a fully-fledged song and it wouldn’t loose any sentiment to it. And Patti Smith she was an artist and a poet as well which I really admire because I think they all sort of dip into each other you know? I feel like art and poetry are a massive part of why I write and how I write – definitely. Also I love these androgynous powerful figures, I think they’re really important.
When Amy Winehouse sang about lying on the floor for four days in heartache, she really lived that pain and meant it. Would you say that your lyrics are the real you?
Yes. I would say that definitely. I feel like you can tell if someone means what they’re saying. With all the music out now you can spot from one set of lyrics to another who’s fake and who means it. That’s what I love about Amy’s lyrics, they’re not like any other persons. They’re so honest and you feel like you’re saying it yourself. She sings in a way that you can paste your own life onto.
Back to your band – I was surprised to see an accordion in the video for ‘Basement’. Who plays the accordion?
That’s Jess. We were friends first and at the time I wanted to thicken up the texture of the band but I didn’t want something generic. I didn’t want another guitar because there were already two and I didn’t want a piano. I knew that Jess played accordion and I thought that could be perfect because it’s like an organ in a way. She came over and we had a jam and it just fit really well and it’s not so much the accordion its her ability to sink into what’s going on musically, she is incredibly talented that way. She understood where I was going musically so I got lucky with her!
Is it right that ‘Basement’ was written and recorded in two days?
Yes. We were coming to the end of the album and I needed two more songs so I just had a day of writing and I guess I wrote ‘Basement’. That’s how I’ve written a lot of my songs. It’s always the way that you’re stressing out about writing and you’re stressing out about what you want to say. You sit down just to blow off steam and you end up writing a song.
It’s the best way for me. The pressure builds up, you’ve got a lot going on, your heads all over the place and you just sit down and do what you love doing to blow off steam not for any other reason and something good comes out of it. Something honest, something raw or something interesting … I don’t know.
There’s loads of ways you can release negative energy positively. Art, poetry, filming, images – all of that stuff. People just challenge that energy in different ways.
Your latest single Ropes was released last month and it’s a massive step up in terms of your song writing and the buzz surrounding your music. Can you tell us a little bit about journey?
Ropes I wrote last summer. I was waiting around and sitting in the garden. I had practice that evening and I took it to the band and then it became a song very quickly. It had 6 months to grow before we started recording the album so I guess it just sort of took form that way. Then when I got in the studio I had the opportunity to load up all the ideas that I had and I knew in my head what I wanted the song to be like. There’s always a backbone in my mind for a song and you just experiment on top of that.
Overall what would you like people to take from this album and from the tour?
Guess I just want people to connect with it and feel like they can keep it around and listen to it. The kind of record that stays on your shelf and you don’t grow out of.
The tour is a way of reaching out to people. People can come along and get to know your music and you a little bit better. I guess I just want to reach out and connect.
Ramsgate is pretty quiet but over the last year it’s really started to pick up with places like Ramsgate Music Hall bringing in some great artists. It’s so lovely to have musicians like you coming because it can be a bit of a ghost town!
Thanks for having us! I grew up in London so it’s always been full on. The thing about it is that ghost towns can be pretty useful in some respects from a poetic standpoint. It can be nice to be in the middle of nowhere and not have so many people around and so many thoughts/ commercials/ industries down your throat. You can process your own ideas. Patti Smith grew up in Jersey, that was a nowhere town and then she moved to New York. I grew up in London so I’ve always been full of other people’s thoughts from day 1 you know? So much is going on in the city. There is something to be said about ghost towns too!
Pick up a copy of Annie’s debut album ‘Sunday 91’, out now.