Album: Anna Calvi
For Fans Of: PJ Harvey, Cat Power, Jeff Buckley
The 20-something Anna Calvi seems an old soul. One of her biggest inspirations is the 19th-century classical composer Claude Debussy; two of her largest fans and champions are Brian Eno and Nick Cave. But her explosive blend of raunchy blues guitar; sultry, powerful vocals; and dark-clouded atmospheric swirls is a fresh take. We recently caught up with the self-admittedly shy Calvi from her hometown of London.
Paste: How does it feel to have attracted so much incredible press before your first album was released?
Calvi: Well, it’s just nice to know people have really responded to the record. When I was making it, I just wanted to make something that was true and honest to me and not worry about whether it was commercial or familiar to other trends that were happening in music. So I’m really glad I stuck to my very strong vision of what I wanted to make and didn’t make any compromises, and it’s always nice that other people like it.
Paste: How do you feel about the direction music is going?
Calvi: I just don’t concern myself with it very much. Obviously there are artists around today that I really love like Antony and the Johnsons, who I really think is incredible. But I’m just not interested in music that’s meant to be hot and new. I just require a lot from the music, and I’m really emotional about what I listen to.
Paste: Do you have any other current musicians that you appreciate?
Calvi: I really like Animal Collective, and there’s a band called The Invisibles, who are amazing.
Paste: I read that some of your biggest influences are classical composers. How do they influence your sound?
Calvi: Well I think the kind composers I really like, like Dubyesee, what I get from the music is a real sense of atmosphere, [long, inaudible passage] and the music is extremely inspiring and very emotive.
Paste: Some artists don’t agree with the labels critics give them, like folk or Americana, so if you could describe your own music, how would you describe it?
Calvi: I don’t really like trying to describe it like that. In my ideal world, no music would be described as anything because you could just listen to it and make your own decisions on how it made you feel.
Paste: You mention the Devil a lot in your music. Can you elaborate on that?
Calvi: Well, it’s not really the Devil in the literal sense. It’s more using an example of how a feeling might take you over, and the idea being out of control and finding a way to survive that feeling.
Paste: What was the reason behind opening the record with a purely instrumental track?
Calvi: I really want to create a whole new world for my songs to inhabit. I really want to take the listener into that world, and you need to be hypnotized into being in that world to be taken into a different atmosphere. That’s why I wanted to use a track that set the tone of the album.
Paste: How would you describe that world?
Calvi: I don’t feel I need to describe it. I think when you listen to it, you hear it.
Paste: How does it feel to have Nick Cave and Brian Eno to recognize you as one of the great musicians to have come along?
Calvi: I feel really honored to have their support, and it’s honestly a huge thing in my life, knowing them and having their support.