Interview: Anna B Savage
It feels like a snapshot of an attempt to be honest about how I was feeling, and how I had been feeling for the couple of years whilst trying to write it.
With the release of her wonderful debut album, A Common Turn out on City Slang Records, and the response so good she recently participated in her first Tim Burgess’ listening party. London born Dublin based singer song-writer Anna B Savage kindly answered some questions via email for Echoes and Dust about its making, her musical influences, what the future may hold in a post Brexit, pandemic world, and the announcement of a tour to go ahead (fingers crossed) later in the year.
(((o))): Can you tell us a bit about your early musical background? How you got into learning to play guitar and the discovery of your stunning singing voice?
Anna B Savage: Sure! My parents are both classical musicians so I learnt a lot from them, and we always had a load of music being played/practiced in the house. I’ve sung for longer than I can remember. My brother taught me how to play the guitar at 13, the first song I learnt was The Scientist by Coldplay.
(((o))): What are your key musical influences and how have they contributed to your song-writing?
Anna B Savage: Key musical influences are quite varied, obviously, we listened to a lot of classical music at home, lots of Radio 3. Also, The Beatles, and a load of Jazz, like Ella, Nat King Cole, Dionne Warwick and stuff. When I started to find stuff I liked myself, I was drawn to the more classical and technical things added with a bit of weird, so like Owen Pallett and Regina Spektor. I’m not entirely sure how they’ve filtered in, but I do like to have fun when I perform stuff so I tend to write stuff that’s maybe a bit more difficult than I initially come up with.
(((o))): There is a few years gap between your E.P and your debut A Common Turn, was there a specific moment when you felt it was time to write again? Was there one song/moment when you felt it unlocked your creativity to write more songs for the album?
Anna B Savage: No, it felt like the four-year interim was almost a continual slog. I had incredibly low self-esteem and thought everything I was writing was shit. I didn’t stop writing, I kept trying, but I was standing in my own way a lot. It was just hard graft that got me through, and showing up for myself repeatedly.
(((o))): You got in touch with musician/producer William Doyle (East India Youth) after seeing a post by him asking for musicians to experiment with. Where were you with the song writing process at this point? Did you have all the songs written?
Anna B Savage: I had the whole album, and some more, in my head. They were all fully formed and my part was broadly finished (save for a couple lyrical tweaks down the line). I wanted to add in to it what Will could bring: I wanted his producing prowess, his electronic knowledge and his textural gorgeousness. He brought a deft hand to my ideas and made me feel not alone.
(((o))): A Common Turn may not be a concept album in the truest sense, but lyrically there seems to be reoccurring themes running through the course of the album. It feels like a snapshot of your life at the time of writing these songs. Would you agree?
Anna B Savage: Absolutely, it feels like a snapshot of an attempt to be honest about how I was feeling, and how I had been feeling for the couple of years whilst trying to write it.
(((o))): The songs sound extremely personal and honest. Were there any fears about opening-up yourself in this way?
Anna B Savage: Not really, I honestly didn’t expect people to hear it.
(((o))): The four videos for ‘A Common Tern’, ‘Corncrakes’, ‘Dead Pursuits’, ‘Baby Grand’ are all very different in styles – for example ‘A Common Tern’ performance art, ‘Dead Pursuits’ animation – and compliment the songs really-well. How were these ideas formed? Would you like to explore performance art, film/drama soundtrack work etc in the future?
Anna B Savage: Ah, thank you! Yeah, I’ve had a hell of a lot of fun sorting out the videos for these songs. I guess it feels like yet another way to express these songs, yet another way to be creative. I had never made videos before, save the film I’ve been working on for 3 years so to actually-have a very active role in performing/creating was amazing. Like learning a new language.
(((o))): Do you have any producers or artists you would love to collaborate with in the future, and why these?
Anna B Savage: Moses Sumney! I will say it in every interview until he hears and tells me to stop. What an unbelievable talent. I would love to hear his voice near mine.
(((o))): The impact of the Covid pandemic has been devastating in a lot of ways – how has it affected you, and what difficulties has there been to release an album at-this time?
Anna B Savage: Yeah, it’s an absolute shitter. I’m incredibly privileged in that I was able to move in with my brother in his place in Bristol in the first and second lockdowns. None of my family or friends have been ill so I’m incredibly grateful for that. I wanted to feel like I had some autonomy over my life so I moved to Dublin and have started a Masters. It’s been really-nice to feel like I have some control, and get to experience new things. Releasing an album at this point is incredibly frustrating and it makes me very sad thinking about it 🙂 but it is what it is and everyone’s being wildly kind to me, so y’know, there’s that.
(((o))): What do you think the longer-term effects of the pandemic on artists like yourself will be?
Anna B Savage: Well, with Brexit, too, I feel like UK artists specifically will have a really fucking bumpy ride getting back to it. No one knows for certain (still) what’s happening so I think there’ll be a lot of uncertainty. It already feels hard to make a living, and I think it’ll get harder before it gets easier. I hope people will be gagging to see shows and will not only go, but also throw their money at the acts they love to buy their merch. But really, everyone’s as pinched as each other so the possibilities of that feel pretty low. You’ve got me on a pessimistic day.
(((o))): Hopefully, when the day comes when gigs can return, do you attend to get out and play gigs/concerts? Do you have a band ready to assemble or will the shows more likely be solo performances?
Anna B Savage: Yep, I’ve got a big UK & Europe tour booked for October and November so my fingers are crossed. And they’ll be with my gorgeous band. Can’t wait.
A Common Turn is out now on City Slang Records. Anna and her band will be playing the following dates across the U.K and Europe. Check out Anna’s website for further details and links to purchase advanced tickets.
October 5, 2021: Louisiana, Bristol – United Kingdom
October 6, 2021: The Castle Hotel, Manchester – United Kingdom
October 7, 2021: The Hug & Pint, Glasgow – United Kingdom
October 9, 2021: Workmans Club, Dublin – Ireland
October 11, 2021: Hare & Hounds 2, Birmingham – United Kingdom
October 12, 2021: The Lexington, London – United Kingdom
October 13, 2021: Prince Albert, Brighton – United Kingdom
October 14, 2021: Elsewhere, Margate – United Kingdom
October 21, 2021: Witloof Bar, Brussels – Belgium
October 22, 2021: Molotow Sky Bar, Hamburg – Germany
October 24, 2021: Hus7, Stockholm – Sweden
October 25, 2021: Krosset, Oslo – Norway
October 26, 2021: Vega Ideal Bar, Copenhagen – Denmark
October 28, 2021: Kantine am Berghain, Berlin – Germany
October 30, 2021: Haus Der Musik, Vienna – Austria
October 31, 2021: Heppel & Ettlich, Munich – Germany
November 2, 2021: Bogen F, Zurich – Switzerland
November 3, 2021: Circolo della Musica, Turin – Italy
November 4, 2021: Le Periscope, Lyon – France
November 5, 2021: La Boule Noire, Paris – France
November 7, 2021: Le Grand Mix, Tourcoing – France
November 8, 2021: Bumann & Sohn, Cologne – Germany
November 9, 2021: Paradiso Upstairs, Amsterdam – Netherlands