A Chat with Anna Kaye

ARTS, Features, Interviews, Music

Singer-songwriter and poet Anna Kaye discusses the release of her first EP, Little Bonfire, getting a band together, and what inspires her as an artist.

RENEE LIANG: How did you start your career as a singer-songwriter?

ANNA KAYE: Singing Annie to my parents as a six-year-old. No, it really began five years ago when I bought my first guitar (a Cort) from Cash Converters with my temp wages. I feel like this EP is my true launch though.

RL: Who are your inspirations?

AK: I admire my New Zealand art peers a lot. Poets such as Riemke Ensing, Karlo Mila, and Cilla McQueen. I also admire anyone who produces art, from zines to mainstream music. It is all valid and important, and I am inspired by beautiful people in the art world every day, especially people who stimulate thought and feeling through their work or who spark new ideas. In terms of musicians, Sarah Blasko, Lisa Mitchell, Bjork, and Emiliana Torrini are my main influences.

RL: What is your favourite song (of yours) and why?

AK: I love the two songs on my album with the mallot drums (‘Long Distance’ and ‘Back on Board’) and I love the quirkier stuff we do—like ‘Girl with No Bones’.

RL: Does being a poet influence the way you write music?

AK: My strengths are definitely lyrics and vocals. The music always happens on a secondary level for me personally and as I am writing for myself as an artist, the lyrics have to really represent me and be meaningful to me, so I hold them dearly and don’t let anyone else write the lyrics. They can mess with the music, but “Step away from the lyrics!”

RL:  What are your current “buzz themes”?

AK: Longing seems to be a recurring theme. I also get inspired to write about or for particular people I have met, or people who are close to me. I don’t write about political issues on a macro level, let’s put it that way. Not to say I won’t in the future, but my stuff has been quite introspective to this point.

RL: How did you move from being a solo artist to a headline artist with a band?

AK: I decided to set a date to make an EP and recruited friends and friends-of-friends to play in a band just for this project. Will see where that leads next.

RL:  What were some of the challenges with this album?

AK: It ended up that musically the songs needed a lot of writing, so I ended up inadvertently co-writing, which wasn’t my preferred scenario because it took us a long time to get five songs ready! The band members were cracking innuendos and wearing animal masks when we should have been practicing, so that didn’t help!

RL:  What is the unique thing about this album?

AK: It’s a mix of the quirky and the sublime. It is a showcase EP or a launch pad if you like, so there are two distinct styles on the disc. We also treated each song as a single, so having five equally strong, radio-worthy songs on one CD is quite different. We want to let the radio stations take their picks and hopefully this diversification will pay off in terms of radioplay. Fingers crossed!

RL: What are you working on next?

AK: I am about to start co-writing a solo album with Ben King from Goldenhorse and we are going to tour the EP in New Zealand and Australia. I would love to head to Europe soon.

Oh yes, and I am performing poetry with the Literatti in the show called Echoing the Ghosts, which is at Galatos on the September 25 and Corban’s Estate Chapel on the September 18. I am also involved in the upcoming Metonymy exhibition with a short film, which will hopefully also be shown at Corban’s Estate in September.

‘Little Bonfire’ is launched on Saturday, August 28 at Queens Ferry Hotel, Vulcan Lane, Auckland. Doors open from 8pm. Rockquest winner Jesse Sheehan plays support. $15 door charge includes CD. Listen to singles ‘Back on Board’ and ‘Little Bonfire’ at myspace.com/annakayemusic, or download at amplifier.co.nz.
Image © Jess van Zeal