Amelia’s Magazine | Kimberly Anne introduces new EP Liar

Kimberly Anne by Melissa Pierce
Kimberly Anne by Melissa Pierce.

South London born and bred, singer songwriter Kimberly Anne bears her heart on her sleeve, sharing life and love in soulful songs such as Almost On My Feet, which was originally written when Kimberly set herself a challenge to write and record a song in under four hours. Here she introduces the Liar EP, made with a selection of acclaimed producers: Mark Crew (Bastille), Rich Wilkinson (Lianne Le Havas, Bombay Bicycle Club), and Charlie Hugall (Florence & The Machine, Ed Sheeran, Lucy Rose).

Who is a Liar, and why did you write about them?
I am the Liar, especially to myself but purely in a idealistic romantic way. In relationships I tend to photoshop out the blemishes and crop a well composed image on how it like things to be instead of dealing with things properly. I hid from my feelings a lot in the past and thought it was easier to carrier and play house then confront the things that were rocking the boat. It can feel innocent enough fooling yourself, after a while the fantasy will merge with reality and just result in a bit of a blur of feelings. At the same time as fooling myself, it has sadly resulted in deceiving and hurting others which I felt I needed to talk about in ‘Liar’.

What else inspired the lyrics on the record?
This collection of tracks came together and just felt right but now I’m getting a chance to stand back and listen having had a little space I can hear a unintentional theme of general heart ache. Generally a bit depressing but we’ve all been there when it feels like your heart has been in a blender, I just hope a positive can come out of it if someone else out there takes comfort in being able to relate.  

Kimberly Anne By Amelia Grace
Kimberly Anne By Amelia Grace.

How did you get involved with your roster of producers for the new EP?
Production is so important to me so getting it right it key. A lot of the track I record start of as my home produced demos, so when searching for a producer I really want to find someone who can develop and mature my ideas without losing whatever worked about it originally. It’s a real skill and working with a hands on artist like me isn’t always easy, I’m sure I’m a massive pain in the arse! 
It feels amazing to have had the opportunity to look at the albums sleeves of some of the records that I admire with strong production like Bombay Bicycle Club, Bastille and Lucy Rose and be able to approach those involved to see if they wanna come and hang with me. Sometimes if I’m lucky they say yes. 

I hear you have a number of interesting collaborations in the line, can you share any secrets with us?
Yes the collaborations project is feeling very exciting right now! I wanted to have a little musical adventure and team up with a few artists around right now that I just love. Many are completely different from myself which is the best thing. It’s so liberating to break out of your comfort zone and be challenged to take musical risks you wouldn’t normally if working alone perhaps. One of the artists I will reveal is the stunning D/C, he’s beautiful soul/electronica has had be stalking his YouTube videos for three years. I’m so chuffed to have finally been able to get in a room with him and write. 

Kimberly Anne arrows
You recently headlined at the St Pancras Old Church, what was the highlight of the evening? 
As the gig was taking place in a church I really wanted to include a moment that connected with the more traditional use of the space. A choir was just a must have but as the count down to the show got closer and closer I had no positive leads so was looking really unlikely. Luckily 5 of my amazing friends stepped in at the last minute and joined me in performing a cover of ‘Maps’ by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. They were stunning and it was made all the more special having my nearest and dearest up there on stage with me. 

Kimberly Anne Liar packshot
I believe you are a south londoner like me! Where abouts did you grow up and how has it affected your outlook on life?
Sowft Landon indeed! I grew up in an area around Crystal Palace, the only park in the UK I am aware of with dinosaurs. I still go and visit them when I need a good old think! It was cool being a little out of the way of the main city to be honest but I knew it was never too far away if I needed it. Similarly a bit of country air and green fields was only a 45minute journey away too so if felt like I was nicely sandwiched in the middle. South London was definitely the diverse environment, it fascinated growing up being surrounded by such varying cultures and food. Learning swear words in other languages as a teenager was also pretty essential. 

The ‘Liar’ EP by Kimberly Anne is out now on Polydor Records.

Categories ,Almost On My Feet, ,Amelia Grace, ,Crystal Palace, ,ep, ,interview, ,Kimberly Anne, ,Liar, ,Melissa Pierce, ,Polydor Records, ,South London

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Amelia’s Magazine | Alexander the Great : a Folk Operetta

Alexander The Great by Amelia Grace

Alexander The Great by Amelia Grace.

Humphrey ‘Huck’ Astley is a poet-singer-songwriter and author of the three-part album and stage show ‘Alexander the Great: a Folk Operetta‘ – here he describes the process of embarking on such an ambitious project…

How did you get involved in a Folk Operetta?
Alexander the Great is essentially a concept album, but I was wary of calling it that. I did however want to hint to people that it was more than just a bunch of songs, and I toyed with calling it a ‘narrative album’ before settling on ‘folk operetta‘, which is a term I found on Wikipedia! (I later discovered Anais Mitchell‘s folk opera Hadestown and almost died of embarrassment, though I’m not a big fan of the album.) To be honest, I’m using the term fairly liberally – I’m not a folk singer, and I don’t know anything about opera! But I like to think that I borrow a penchant for story from one, and a penchant for drama from the other. Little did I know, when I conceived the thing, that the title would be a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy and land the work on stage!

Alexander the Great - a Folk Operetta

What was the process of creation, how many people are involved and how long did it all take?
The album took about a year to write, on and off, after some false starts and a brush with extinction, and was finished in late 2012. Literally weeks after I’d written the last song, my friend and colleague Sebastian Reynolds got in touch saying he’d been selected for The PRS for Music Foundation‘s development scheme New Music Plus UK and that he needed a music/theatre crossover project to pitch, and that hadn’t I written an opera or something? So we applied, and got the funding! We’ve since formed The Xander Band, recorded the first two acts of the operetta in EP form, and been working on the stage show with The Cambridge Junction, with whom we were partnered.

huck and the xander band by Sangita Kumari

Huck and The Xander Band by Sangita Kumari.

What can the audience expect? What are the highlights?
They should expect to be taken on a journey – sonically, visually, thematically, geographically. I should point out that it’s not about the historical Alexander – it’s actually a kind of queer runaway myth of two young friends and their fall from grace in Dixie – though it does reference the Ancient Greeks. The story is a classic rites of passage about a young man’s transition through innocence and experience and finally independence, and it’s partly based on my own adventures in the South with my old band The Handsome Fee, so it’s not a complete fantasy!

Alexander the Great - a Folk Operetta live

Where can people see Alexander the Great?
It made its debut at The Cambridge Junction last weekend, then plays at the Rosemary Branch Theatre London on Tuesday 3 June and The Old Fire Station Oxford on Thursday 12 June.

What next for Huck and co?
We’ll be recording the third and final act as soon as possible, then grouping it with the first two and releasing all 12 tracks as a complete album with some kind of illustrated lyricbook – which will probably be a whole other project in itself! Then we’ll be going on tour…

You can hear music from the first 2 acts on band camp here, or if you like what you hear why not see the operetta for yourself on its final two tour dates.

Categories ,Alexander the Great, ,Amelia Grace, ,Anais Mitchell, ,folk, ,Folk Operetta, ,Hadestown, ,Humphrey ‘Huck’ Astley, ,london, ,New Music Plus UK, ,Rosemary Branch Theatre, ,Sangita Kumari, ,Sebastian Reynolds, ,The Cambridge Junction, ,The Handsome Fee, ,The Old Fire Station Oxford, ,The PRS for Music Foundation, ,The Xander Band

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Amelia’s Magazine | Johanna Glaza: Letter to New York – Review and Interview

Johanna Glaza by Daisy Steele
Johanna Glaza by Daisy Steele.

Letter to New York is a stunning showcase for multi-instrumentalist Johanna Glaza, channeling the vocal gymnastics of Kate Bush and the idiosyncratic song structures of Philip Glass. Here she tells us more about her songwriting influences and process.

Johanna Glaza portrait
Which musicians have inspired you most, and why?
My bible is Henryk Gorecki’s Symphony N3. I heard it for the first time a few years ago and it had such a profound influence on me,as if it cut me into tiniest bits and pieces in order to make something completely new. At the time of recording my first EP I was listening to Philip Glass. When I heard him I thought- oh my god, this guy ripped off my future ideas I would have had by the age of 60 or so ;). Letter to New York came from endless plays of Ravel’s Sheherazade. Listening to it, I imagined not a boring opera diva but some mysterious creature living in a completely unreal world, singing with such unhuman longing. It sounded so unfamiliar I wanted to take this vibe to the contemporary scene. Recently I have discovered Arvo Part, so I guess the next record will have his imprint.

Johanna Glaza by AmeliaGrace
Johanna Glaza by Amelia Grace.

How many instruments do you play and what is your current favourite?
I taught myself to play piano, keys and ukulele. I even attempted a bit of glockenspiel on my recent record. Each time I try out a new instrument I feel like a kid, it gives me freedom of being not perfect. Different songs inspire different instruments. Piano for me is a very independent instrument with a very strong voice of its own, sometimes it feels like a battle of egos when I try to sing to it. So I choose ukulele for more intimate songs. I love how it sounds like a little harp at times. But my top favourite instrument will always be my voice. There’s just so much you can do with your voice. On one of my tracks I used it as a percussive instrument. On others it served me as a ghostly choir. There’s no distance between you and the instrument, you are the instrument yourself when you sing.

Johanna Glaza the tree
What prompted your intriguing song structures, and how are they created?
Well, I sort of always struggled with writing songs of conventional structures. The ironic thing is the harder I tried to make them conventional, the more I’ve been scolded by my first listeners for their complicity. So one day I gave up and decided to try whatever comes instinctively to me, even if I can’t understand it myself. When I wrote Letter to New York I wanted to stay faithful to the linear structure of the letter, because the letter itself can’t be repetitive. So I wrote the words first, and then sat down and sang them to a simple piano riff, and kept all the bits and pieces that came then. I was so surprised when my brother, who is my harshest critic, rejoiced that finally this song’s structure has made sense to him. I was like, you kidding me, it makes hardly any sense to me now!

JohannaGlaza_LetterToNewYork cover
Why did you want to write a Letter to New York?
To be honest I can’t remember how it came to be. I guess just like with all messages or letters sometimes we have this urge to speak to the person, we grab a phone or a pen so spontaneously. Only in my case it was the place itself I wanted to connect with. I missed New York. My first solo shows took place in that City, it gave me courage to do what I do now. Sometimes I felt so isolated in the basement studio when working on the record, I had to remind myself about the place that inspired me the most, my glass kingdom.

What is your favourite bit of the big Apple?
L trains on the subway. My friend called it the beautiful people line. So true! I met so many beautiful people on L trains and heard some of the most unusual music from busking musicians. Forget about the old tired covers you hear in London. People play mainly their own tunes there, and with an open layout of two way platforms it’s a perfect spot to gather a crowd. I can’t tell you how many times I missed my train to be able hear one more song. And I was never the only one do so.

How did you make the video for Letter to New York? any challenges or best bits?
I’ve chosen to shoot the video in a very wild, uninhibited place in Lithuania called The Dead Dunes. It is a very special place on the coast. No one is allowed to walk there, but a few years ago a local woman showed me the secret path to the dunes. Anyone could be transfixed by the complete solitude there. I imagined this is a place where the main 3 characters of the song – Black Crow, Koyote and the mysterious Wind – could meet. But a week before the filming there was a huge fire in the nearby forest. It’s a miracle we managed to get there at all, and when we did it was an alien world, all black dust. We felt there had to be another scene of the rebirth in the sea. I was with a dream team of crazy inspired people, you see. It was +2C outside, everyone was wearing winter jackets and I went into the sea to be reborn. I would do it again if you ask.

Letter to New York by Johanna Glaza is out now and can be bought here. Catch Johanna Glaza play live in London for free on 11th September at The Finsbury.

Categories ,Amelia Grace, ,Arvo Part, ,Black Crow, ,Daisy Steele, ,ep, ,Henryk Gorecki, ,Johanna Glaza, ,Kate Bush, ,Koyote, ,L trains, ,Letter to New York, ,new york, ,Philip Glass, ,Ravel, ,review, ,Sheherazade, ,Symphony N3, ,The Dead Dunes, ,The Finsbury, ,wind

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