Few genres of music are quite as divisive as classical orchestral music; for some it is the absolute pinnacle of human artistic endeavour, for others it is indecipherable and dull. I was lucky enough to receive an education in music that covered an incredibly broad range of genres, and therefore can enjoy classical music as much as popular music. Even so, I’ll be the first to admit that pop music speaks to me on a deeper emotional level than most classical music, which I suppose I appreciate on a more technical level. What is truly fascinating, are the attempts by musicians to bridge the gap between the two, whether it’s the commanding string sections of a sixties pop ballad, or the use of orchestral instruments in tandem with electronic elements as seen in an increasing number of pop acts today. One artist who does this incredibly elegantly is Australian singer/songwriter Anders, who I spoke to following the release of his latest single ‘As Before’:
KM: How did you first start writing music?
A: I was going through some old boxes the other day, and found some lyrics from when I was about 10 or 11 – awful lyrics about school and such. I have some old recordings from around that time too. I’ve always been intrigued by words, and the unveiling of deeper meaning through stories. Watching John Mayer got me into playing guitar and singing.
KM: You’ve just released a new single ‘As Before’ from your upcoming album ‘Creature Myopia’, to be released in 2017. Can you tell us what the new single is about?
A: Many things; relationships, the human condition, climate change. The final lyric, “It’s a draw, we’re as before” encapsulates it, and it’s tied into the concept of the album, ‘Creature Myopia’.
KM: There’s a lovely blend of the jazz style vocal and the folky sound world. What musicians do you think inspire you as an artist?
A: I’ve had a lot of trouble deciding on a sonic / genre direction, as I love everything from Vivaldi to D’Angelo to Audioslave. In the end I think I’ve just put bits of what I love into different songs and tried to tie it together with my voice. So you might hear influence from folk/soul/classical/jazz/rock/pop/blues, or what have you. Jeff Buckley is obviously a huge influence – his command over genres was just breath-taking.
KM: Agreed. Something I really like about this track is the introduction of the strings in the middle 8, especially the pizzicato section, which is quite reminiscent of those sixties orchestral ballads. Did you always intend to work with orchestral instruments or did that come about as a part of the production process?
A: I adore strings, and listen to a lot of Brook Benton, Nina Simone, Sam Cooke, Al Green, so on. Perhaps that’s where it comes from. I think we tie strings intrinsically to cinema these days, so it adds a depth that we associate with story-telling.
KM: You also recently released a live video of ‘Mother’, another track from the upcoming album ‘Creature Myopia’. It’s very vulnerable and revealing – do you ever feel nervous about being exposed?
A: I strongly believe that the purpose of art is to expose what we ordinarily ignore; perhaps not too bluntly, but in an intriguing way. That being the case, subjects like death are absolutely fascinating. For something that inevitably effects us all, it’s strange how much we dislike thinking / talking about it. My favourite lyrics portray a new way of looking at a subject, without being too overly direct. It’s an art unto itself.
KM: So what inspired this track?
A: Originally an abusive relationship, but it was a few years until I finished it, and the meaning broadened.
KM: Does the rest of the album follow suit?
A: I wanted to make a concept album with as much contrast and variation as I could get away with; all my favourite albums have that in common. There are one or two “rock” tracks, a “blues” track, and two “folky” solo pieces.
KM: This will be your debut album – what was the recording process like? Did you have any difficulties or was it all plain sailing?
A: I wrote the equivalent of two other albums before settling on these tracks, thanks to a writing break in the South West of Australia.
I had everything arranged and produced before hitting the studio, so it was basically just recording what we had prepared. I’m a big fan of recording live, capturing an atmosphere, and using as little technology as possible. There’s something about the sound of humans playing instruments in a room together that simply can’t be beaten.
KM: What do you hope people will take away from this album?
A: I hope it’s a pleasant album to listen to, from track 1 through 10. If listeners have the time to dig into the lyrical content a bit more, even better.
My main hope is that people can appreciate and connect to the raw, human sound that personally I feel is missing from music sculpted and quantized on a laptop.
KM: You’re about to embark on a run of live shows in your native Australia. How do you prepare for a tour like this?
A: Practice. I’m a perfectionist, so I have my set list and I’m just practicing like a crazed man.
KM: What a lovely way to end the year. Are you excited for 2017?
A: Certainly, and keen to get this album out! I’ve got some exciting singles to release soon, and I’ve started writing the next album, so plenty of good times to come.
‘As Before’ is out now.
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