Anni B Sweet
There are two kinds of music. The pure expression of emotion or emotion trying to pass as music. The songs on Anni B Sweet’s first album belong to the first. Start Restart Undo manages to trap you in a glass house, take you on a picnic in the midst of winter and help you get lost in the dusty motorways of your memory. Hints of Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Feist, fresh fruit or even a solitary pack of cards just waiting to be played.
You’ll find it hard to tear yourself away from this up-and-coming queen of folk. She may steal a piece of your heart, but she’ll also help you rediscover your soul. Once you’ve pressed play on Start Restart Undo there’s no turning back.
Q: Word of mouth has helped to bring you this far and your fans have put you where you are today. Do you ever wonder what will happen when people stop talking about you?
A: I try to live in the moment because you never know when all this is going to end. It’s best to enjoy what you’re doing as much as you can.
Q: Everyone says that your future is bright. How does it make you feel?
A: It’s great that people believe I’ve got a chance. It gives me strength to continue. I don’t see it as a burden or pressure. I make music, I believe in what I make and I enjoy it. That’s what I’ve done until now: play my songs with lyrics I’ve felt and experienced. It seems to work, so I’m just going to keep on doing it.
Q: I’ve heard that you only learnt to play the guitar a year and a half ago. How is it possible to have recorded an album so soon?
A: It’s all been so fast and I haven’t even had a chance to stop and think about it. It’s a pretty naive album, heartfelt and real, pretty much like me. I didn’t know much about how to record an album, nor did I think about what was going to happen afterwards. I thought I was recording it for myself and not for lots of people.
Q: There’s a great deal of melancholy in Start Restart Undo, especially in Mr. D. How much heartache has Ana had to suffer to write with such sentiment?
A: The song is based on a relationship, from start to finish. Not all songs are the same, but they are influenced by the same doubts about life and our existence. I compose my best music when I’m sad.
Q: You’re incredibly shy when you’re on TV or the radio. Is Ana López more comfortable under Anni’s guise?
A: I feel the same as both. When I go up on stage I don’t feel like I’m Anni B Sweet. It’s just something that I came up with a long time ago without ever thinking I would actually use it. I’m still Ana López and I still get embarrassed. But when I’m up there in front of an audience I have to sing and feel what I’m singing. So I simply don’t hide anything. When I’m singing I have to remember that people are there to have a good time, as am I.
Q: In what ways have you changed between the Anni of the open mike sessions to the Anni who performed at Benicassim?
A: The first thing to change has been the nerves. Having performed so many times I don’t get as sick as I did at the beginning. My perception of life has changed, although I still haven’t fully assimilated everything that’s happened. It was a real shock to see that so many people knew my songs at Benicassim. At times like that you realize that it’s really happening.
Q: You’ve certainly been in good company when making your album: Javier Doria and César Fernández (The Melocotons), Brian Hunt (Russian Red, Templeton)… Would you say you were born under a lucky star?
A: I’m definitely surrounded by great people. Friends who have supported me from the start, especially Javier Doria. They are people who play well and I’ve been lucky enough to cross paths with them.
Q: When listening to your album, hearing Tumbado en mi moqueta azul is a breath of fresh air for Spanish speakers because it’s in Spanish. Did you include the track by César Fernández because it won your heart or are you planning to keep writing in Spanish?
A: We wrote the song together. I needed some help because I find it harder to compose in Spanish than in English [she studied at an English school]. It was a chance to get more comfortable writing in Spanish and now I’m writing Spanish lyrics on my own. I hope there’ll be more on the next album.
Q: What was it about Take on me that made you want to include a version of it on your first album?
A: It’s a classic 1980s song I listened to when I was small. It reminded me of when I was younger and took me back in time. The song itself wasn’t my style. It’s very eighties, which says it all. I thought I could turn it into something positive and so I got together with Javier Doria to compose our own version. Someone heard it at a concert and thought it would work for the McDonalds ad.
Q: The album includes some surprises, such as To roll like a ball and Monkeys. Is it too soon to pigeonhole you in one style? Are you going to keep exploring your options?
A: We all go through phases. One month you feel a certain way and you listen to a certain type of music. The next month you’re into something totally different. I’m the same. I’ll compose a rock and roll tune and then have a down month and write a darker song. It’s good to have a varied album because it means you’re being sincere. To make a song into something it isn’t doesn’t seem right. I’m going to keep exploring all the options.
Q: Are you tired of being compared to other women who have both a guitar and talent?
A: It’s a little too easy to make comparisons. The music we’re making has its roots in the 1950s and earlier. It’s strange to be compared to people my own age. We’re all in it together. We’re all in our early twenties and have grown up with the same musical influences. Comparisons to Joan Baez or Eva Cassidy seem more logical. But since the contemporary people I’m being compared to are good artists, I don’t take it badly.
Q: Is it possible to be so sweet in the real world?
A: In reality I’m not all that sweet. Anni B Sweet is a play on words in that my voice sounds sweet but the lyrics are bitter. In certain songs the sweetness of my voice gets left behind. The songs I’m writing at the moment are darker and have a different vibe to the sweetness and innocence of my first album.
Q: What are your plans for 2010?
A: I’m doing an huge tour which starts in Malaga and will finish at the end of the summer in order to give me some time to record a new album. Start Restart Undo is also travelling outside of Spain. It’s already come out in Taiwan, Holland, Germany and the UK. I have no idea if a tour outside of Spain will happen, but I hope so. This year I’m just going to play and play.
Q: What happened to your architecture?
A: Architecture fell by the wayside the moment I started to record my first album. There just wasn’t enough time between recording, promoting and concerts. I had to make a choice. Both careers require 100% dedication. It simply wasn’t possible.
Q: Start, restart, undo. Would you undo anything from the last year?
A: No. One learns a great deal from the bad things and they can help you do things better the next time around. I wouldn’t change everything: neither the good or the bad.
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