Anna O is a Perth musician who has always been a singer but it’s only recently that she started writing her own songs, we found out a little about her in this interview.
Hi Anna and welcome to Beauty and Lace, thanks for taking the time to talk to us.
What made you want to pursue a career in music?
I’ve been singing for as long as I can remember and have always wanted to do it professionally, yet making a career of it seemed like something only for those who were “discovered”. I did lots of music related things: high school productions, community events, studied jazz at WAAPA and taught singing, but I still couldn’t shake the feeling I needed to be making my own songs and sharing them with the world.
I packed my bags and went to LA, and the biggest thing that I learnt is that you don’t have to wait to be discovered: with a bit of talent, a good strategy, the right people around you and a lot of hard work, you can make it in the music industry. After my time in LA, I quit everything else I was doing and set out on the journey to become an artist.
Your new single is Sleepless, can you tell us a little about it?
Sleepless was one of the first songs I wrote for the EP and it’s opening track.
You know those nights when your mind is so busy, so loud, that you just can’t get to sleep? It was on one of those nights that I wrote sleepless. I was thinking about the contrast between the quiet buzz of the night compared with the chaos in my head, and tried to imagine what it would be like if we could hear a cacophony of insomniacs and their crazy thoughts, a giant choir of sleepless minds.
Where does your songwriting inspiration come from?
Everywhere! Sometimes it will be a one-off sentence or word that pops into my head. Sometimes it’s a melody that comes to me while I’m driving in the car, or a story, a feeling, a personal experience, something I’ve read…
Do you have a process for songwriting you can share? Do you start with the music or the lyrics?
What comes first? It changes every time! Sometimes it’s a lyric, a vocal hook, a beat, or just a single word. One night the word “fanfare” popped into my head, I thought “that’s cool”, now it’s the final track on my E.P.
Usually though, I get an idea, and I start recording and pre-production on my iPad straight away. I can play around with the melody, vocal hooks, different beats, there’s even a string section! Some of the original iPad recordings even made it onto the final tracks; we tried recreating the parts in the studio but my producer and I thought the original ideas had way more mojo. The piano part in Sleepless? All me on my iPad.
Can you tell us a bit about your debut EP, When The Winter Came, which releases in March?
When The Winter Came has been a year in the making, and I’m super proud of the result.
Writing the E.P. and starting out as a self-managed artist has been a crazy journey, and I’m pretty sure I did everything in the wrong order. I started recording when only one of the tracks was written, found my producer after getting my EP cover photos done, and started playing shows only after the EP recording had finished.
Whether it’s because of this process or despite it, I’ve found my sound and am excited to share it with the world. You can expect 5 diverse tracks, each driven by strong vocals and beats. The E.P. is launching March 22nd and will be available on iTunes or my website (www.annao.co).
You worked on the clip for Sleepless with Si Moore and Cameron Frost, can you tell us a little about the experience and how you came to work with them?
When we filmed Sleepless, it was one of six videos we shot in the space of a week. Si, the director, is the Moore half of Bayly&Moore who film and shoot different projects all over the world, he was fresh back from LA when we shot this massive project and I soon realized I was working with a creative genius! Cameron Frost from FROST Productions is one of my good friends from high school and can work magic with a camera.
Where did the concept for the clip come from?
Straight from Si Moore, the director:
“As Anna will tell you, this song is (quite literally) about being sleepless. Lying awake in the endless frustration that only insomniacs know where your ears and your mind seem to dash between total alone-ness, and then moments later total chaos. Like when you try and listen to silence and it seems like a black hole of nothing, and then you listen a lil bit harder and it turns into a cacophony of noise.
So naturally we wanted to do something visually to represent that that was really simple, that captured the alone-ness of that feeling (steering clear of clutter without being too sterile), and then brought in the occasional injection of ‘noise’, like a million insomniacs thoughts late at night – which obviously became the slow-mo weird street party.
Not long before we shot this video I was in LA and driving through the warehouse-filled arts district late at night and we drove by a narrow alley that had a crazy mexican street party going on in it – total darkness and nothing, and then all of a sudden a flash of crazy wild colour and life, and then nothing again. So we pretty much recreated that for our ‘cacophony of insomniacs’.”
The launch gig for When The Winter Came is on March 22 at Four5Nine Bar in North Perth, what can audiences expect?
Big beats, red hair and a copy of the E.P.
What’s next for Anna O?
New tracks, new videos, a tour and playing to as many people as I can.
What does being a woman mean to you?
There are so many ways I could answer that question, but when it comes down to it, I just want to live my life doing what I love regardless of my gender
Thanks for your time Anna and good luck with the launch.