By BRUCE DENNILL
Sincerely Anne’s latest single, She’s On Fire has an intense message that’s still fun and inspiring, designed to capture the hearts of women around the world. “There are already enough obstacles and mindsets against us in this world. Our demons tell us we are not good enough, that we are not that which we sometimes envy. We all have amazing virtues, bravery and strength within us. We just need to try and see it – and we need to show each other that.”
“Influence” is a loaded, often misunderstood concept. An artist may sound similar to another but have no knowledge of them, or be a super-fan of someone whose output is completely different to their own. Who or what was the artist, album, song, era or scene that initially mapped out the road to you becoming a musician?
Agreed! I would have to say that discovering Imogen Heap in around 2005 had a massive impact on how I perceived what was possible as a music artist, which sparked and inspired my journey with music production as a young teen. Her album Speak For Yourself is the one I’m particularly referring to, with the most stand-out songs being Hide And Seek, The Moment I Said It, Closing In, Clear The Area and Headlock. I have also been influenced and inspired by the rock bands of the 2000s, with bands like Muse, Coldplay, 30 Seconds To Mars The Rasmus and My Chemical Romance having the biggest influence on me. However, I cannot necessary blame these influences for becoming a musician – that came from a yearning for more to life that I absolutely had to obey.
Has that changed over the years? If so, how and why, and what are you currently exploring?
I can still listen to every one of those artists’ songs and enjoy them all over again, but I have, over the years, gathered a lot of inspiration from the songwriting of the likes of Sia, Twenty One Pilots, Civil Twilight, The Civil Wars, Kodaline, SYML, Ryan Tedder, KONGOS, Monark and others. I have also been challenging myself to listen to artists I wouldn’t usually have been drawn to, such as Tyler The Creator or Kishi Bashi. And as you so well described, I’ve also explored the artists I have been told I sound similar to according to others, to get inspired, which is comforting, because I know that my style, voice and production style isn’t necessarily foreign.
Name one song you wish you’d written or one you’d like to be known as the definitive interpreter of. What makes that song so important?
I wish I wrote For King And Country’s It’s Not Over Yet. First of all, it has such an uplifting message, but also the entire arrangement compliments the message so well that it’s impossible not to feel good listening to it.
In production and arrangement terms, what are facets of your music and the music you love most by others that you feel are crucially important in terms of creating the mood you’re after or supporting the message of your song?
I feel like the style of the music needs to match the message of the song in most instances, and yes, even break the boundaries of sticking to one genre. I suspect that’s why some of my songs sounds so different to each other. Silence in the song, using strings, key changes, tension in the chords, having a mellow chorus instead of the traditional full chorus – all these things say something, and I love using these elements in conjunction with the lyrics they support. Music needs to make you feel something, and it inevitably does. In my teen years, I recall saying something like “I wish we could all just speak in music/melody”. If you’ve ever listened to an instrumental piece of music, and it made you think of that one sad event in your life, or almost inexplicably brought you to tears – that’s what I’m talking about. I find that you can even use opposing music and lyrics to even create irony, which is something I’ve noticed in Twenty One Pilot’s music – their older stuff. Or think Whitney Houston’s I Wanna Dance With Somebody – have you ever read all the lyrics?
Which aspects of your music do you prioritise? For you, would you rather have that your lyrics, your melodies, or your vocals or instrumental work are the are the most memorable parts of your songs?
I’d love to say “all of the above”, but I probably mostly prioritise melodies – something catchy – as well as chord progressions – weird or wonderful – and lyrics the most, all three very closely tied.
What’s your favourite piece of gear?
My Arturia Keylab88, by far. Versatile, light and customisable, because I run it through software, so my “keyboard” essentially never gets out of date.
What is the story behind She’s On Fire – the genesis of the song, the people involved, and the muse behind its creation?
I was inspired to write an uplifting song about and to women to encourage positivity towards each other after witnessing both the good, the bad and the ugly. I am incredibly blessed to have some wonderful women in my life who are essentially “good vibe females” as the songs puts it. I look up to them, and the positive message was mostly inspired by them, and seeing the trend of positivity among influential women these days. But there has to be darkness if there’s light, so I do touch on the somewhat stereotypical negativity of female-ness. But I offer a solution: the negativity of your perception is just a reflection, or when you steal your joy via comparison, you’re simply hurting yourself because of something you think you lack. It’s implied that we all have brilliance within us. I wanted the song to make people think, but to also have them tapping their toes to the acoustic reggae-pop vibe. I worked with Brad Cumming on the drums, the epically talented Jason Green on bass, and Jarred van der Vyfer on acoustic guitar, and I did all other instrumentation myself. The song was recorded at Footprint Productions, mixed by Brad Cumming and mastered by Rogan Kelsey. Truly a dream team!