ANYONE who has a love and passion for Talking Heads is…
alright by me but, with Anna Tosh, there is so much more. I talk to her about her single, Weightless, and what, in her words, it means. She talks about her sound and putting music together; what we can expect from her E.P., One Big Fire, and what will lead from that.
Tosh discusses her influences and how much came to her life; the importance of London and picking up the guitar as a teen. I understand about Anna Tosh’s gig schedule and the relevance of love when it comes to song-inspiration – and whether bands like Talking Heads are pivotal in her success and sound.
Hi, Anna. How are you? How has your week been?
My week has gone swimmingly. We have been in the studio mixing tracks for my E.P., One Big Fire.
For those new to your work; can you introduce yourself, please?
I’m a singer/guitarist and songwriter from London. I have recently gone solo and am putting the finishing touches on the E.P. - which will be released in October.
I am intrigued by your new single, Weightless. Can you tell me how the song came together and what it concerns?
The song was written by me and a long-term collaborator, Herman Stephens. We started it in the final days of a previous band we had together several years ago (Shotgun Venus). It languished half-finished on a hard drive until last year - when we started working together again on this project.
It’s about a recurrent dream I had, of walking across a beach and into the sea, drifting underwater and ending up in the Land of the Dead.
It is the first single from the E.P., One Big Fire. What can reveal about the title’s significance and the sort of sounds/themes addressed?
One Big Fire is about relationships and the journeys we go through with other people: trying to discover who we are ourselves.
Based in London, you must take a lot from the people and surroundings. How influential is the city as a source of inspiration?
The funny thing is that, even though I am born and bred in London - and spend 90% of my time here - I have to get out of town to connect with what it inspires in me.
I usually need to leave the city to get enough perspective to write about what I have experienced here. It’s too intense otherwise.
IMAGE CREDIT: Paul Rowson
I start most of my songs holed up in the countryside somewhere, trying to decompress from London. I constantly encounter the most diverse range of people I could ever hope to meet… I am lucky to live here.
As a teen, you learnt your guitar skills to a number of bands/musicians. Was it a valuable experience and when did you decide you needed to go solo?
I have had so many priceless experiences and I still play with (and collaborate with) other people on their projects. I love it and am constantly learning - But, last year, I knew that it was time to stick my neck out.
There’s less risk involved when you are sharing responsibility for a project. It can be easier but life is not about always taking the safe option.
Plus..I got sick of compromising!
How important were relationships – fractured and fraught – to you stepping out and getting your voice out there?
Every relationship is a mirror to myself: a constant education and source of inspiration.
Can you tell me about your musical roots? It seems like you are compelled by a range of genres. What kind of artists and sounds did you grow up listening to?
As a kid and teenager, I was listening to a combination of ’60s Pop music, Heavy Metal and ’90s Indie. I had a cool older brother who influenced my musical tastes pretty hard.
I was most interested in Nick Cave, Sonic Youth; The Jesus and Mary Chain, Mike Patton; The Beatles, Ben Folds Five; Sheryl Crow, PJ Harvey; Guns N’ Roses, The Doors; The White Stripes…
I hear elements of Talking Heads in Weightless – with some Punk edge. Are they a band you are driven by and do you think they deserve more attention/exposure in the current age?
I got into Talking Heads about ten years ago: someone made me a mi-tape of them while I was sick. I think, in my feverish state, they wormed their way into my brain instantly.
They are the epitome of an ‘Art Band’ to me - more so than Sonic Youth, even. David Byrne has reasons why he does everything and never stays still.
I think they have the legendary status they deserve.
How far ahead are you planning? Will there be new songs later in the year?
I’m planning another E.P. next year and am about to go away for a couple of weeks to start writing it. New songs are coming all the time: I try to get at least one brand new one in the set every time we play.
Can we expect any tour dates to coincide? Where can we see you play?
One Big Fire will be released in early October and we’re having a launch party at Servant Jazz Quarters (in Dalston) to celebrate (10th Oct).
As for a tour… I’m up for it if you are!
PHOTO CREDIT: Youyang Yu
How do you spend your time away from music? Do you have time to explore the city?
Music is never far away.
There’s not a time where I clock off from thinking, planning; getting inspired… but if it’s doing my head in and I need a break, I’ll flight-mode my phone and try to get lost on Hampstead Heath - near where I live in North London.
Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?
If you had to select the three albums that mean the most to you; which would they be and why?
David Bowie - The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust
The (most) perfect story ever told in Rock ‘n’ Roll.
PJ Harvey - Let England Shake
Sad, beautiful; intelligent, ambitious; melodic–as-hell: I hear something new every time I listen.
Iggy & the Stooges - Raw Power
If I ever need to be reminded why I chose a life in music; I listen to this.
What advice would you give to any new artists starting out right now?
Do it only if you know you can do nothing else...
Don’t be afraid of what you thought was amazing when you were seventeen. The Internet is the greatest tool invented in the last century but it will never replace real-life experience.
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can name a song and I’ll play it here (not one of yours as I’ll do that).
Let’s stick with the Talking Heads theme: This Must Be the Place (I don’t mind if it’s the live version or the studio version).
Follow Anna Tosh