THE fantastic Anin Rose has been telling me...
about her new single, No Apologies, and how it came together. I ask what the reason was for featuring an all-female choir on the song and whether there is new material/gigs coming later in the year – Anin Rose selects a few albums that mean a lot to her.
I ask whether there are any approaching musicians we need to look out for and how the German-born artist unwinds; what the differences are between the music of Hamburg and London – she selects a great song to end the interview with.
Hi, Anin Rose. How are you? How has your week been?
I am very well, thanks, and my week has been filled so far with some wonderful things. So, happy days!
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?
I am a London-based, German-born singer-songwriter and am obsessed with choirs. I started singing in gospel choirs at the age of fifteen, so my style is Pop with a Gospel twist!
No Apologies is a great track. How did it come to you?
I had a very intense period of writing with and for a friend of mine, Jamie Grey. At that time, I wrote songs on the bus, in the train and in every free minute I had cause it felt like we were on a mission. But, we could never be sure if what we were writing was good enough and actually presenting Jamie’s most authentic self. So, in one evening, I wrote the chords and the first line, “Heaven knows we fall”, at home and brought it into the next session. It was like saying; that we have got nothing to lose and that we can just be ourselves and do what we are good at - and we might fall, but at least we fell sticking to who we are. Everyone loved the idea but, as much as we tried, we couldn’t continue writing this particular melody.
So, the beginnings of the song were on my laptop for another nine months until I went into a session with Anders Hojer alone, who was part of the songwriting team. He is an incredible writer and producer with whom I had a lot of talks about my artist identity and style. We both have strong opinions about what kind of music we want to be doing and what not, which was pretty much the inspiration for No Apologies. From a young age, I was judged for my height, my loud voice and my inability to keep opinions to myself. This song was like standing up to my past but also to my future; promising myself that I wouldn’t let anyone reform who I am and that it’s time to stop questioning myself.
It features an all-female choir – one does not see that much in music. What was the reason for that incorporation?
I am one of the musical directors of the London International Gospel Choir. I am working with them now for three-and-a-half years and gotten pretty close to a lot of the singers. But, during that time, I was also involved in a lot of female-led projects or met feministic role models like that time when I was the stand in for Gwendoline Christie in Star Wars and saw a tall woman in shining armour float over the film-set like she owns the place.
My photographer and closest friend started the project, Too Much of a Person, where she interviewed one-hundred women and non-binary people to speak about what they have been called too much of and how they might have turned those stories into their power. I got involved in the project and hearing the stories whilst watching the new Wonder Woman movie made me want to create my own female army. That’s how the all-female group came to life and I put on a headline show with just them and a pianist backing me. Our chosen cover was, of course, a mash-up from Destiny’s Child.
You clearly have a love of vocals and harmonies. Has that always been the case?
Yes. I started singing in a Gospel choir at the age of fifteen and sang in a vocal band (just voices) for years in Germany. We had a beatboxer and used effects so we were able to imitate guitar sounds, but we also sang Jazz harmonies and were touring through Germany, kind of like Pentatonix. At the age of nineteen, I lead my first choir in a school for special education and these days I conduct several choirs whilst arranging and performing for other artists.
Do you think there will be more singles coming later in the year?
Yes. My second single, Stand for Something, is on its way - to be released in April before the E.P. comes out, hopefully, in May!
You were born in Hamburg but are based in London. Are there big differences between the cities in terms of music?!
Yes. I believe London is very unique. Not always in a good sense. The living costs are enormous so you struggle more as a musician here and well-paid gigs as an artist are less usual here than in Germany. So, when I meet my musician friends in Germany, they ‘hassle’ less and they generally don’t play in a corner of a pub where no one listens. In Hamburg, people go to concerts and give their full attention - and I’d say you are respected a lot more as an upcoming artist.
Can you tell me what sort of music you grew up around as a child?
I grew up with parents, who are obsessed with music. I got C.D.s for every occasion and our house was never quite. At times, it was Sting, Tower of Power or Michael McDonald but, at other times, I’d turn the volume right up and sing along to S Club 7, Alicia Keys or Natalie Cole. We always had a massive C.D. collection and my mum still asks me at times where some of her dearest pieces went. I was very blessed to be taken to gigs from a very young age: from Jazz concerts I didn’t like back then to Soul and Funk concerts like Incognito.
Do you have a standout memory from your time in music so far?
I think performing at the O2 Shepherds Bush and throwing roses in the audience was a stand-out moment as well as the headline show last year at St. Giles-in-the-Fields.
Which three albums mean the most to you would you say (and why)?
Alicia Keys - The Diary of Alicia Keys
Because it was the perfect mixture of musicianship, vocal excellence; harmonies and good Pop melodies.
Sting - All This Time
It’s a collection of songs with incredible lyrics. Sting is a storyteller and he is excellent when translating those stories into music and the most breathtaking arrangements.
The Script – The Script
When I heard those songs I knew this would be something I could do. Everything else I listened to I loved and admired but would not strive to be or replicate. Those guys are seriously underestimated and undervalued in the music industry I believe.
PHOTO CREDIT: Marina Chichi
If you could support any musician alive today, and choose your own rider, what would that entail?
A German needs efficiency and a working stage set up, so I think my rider would implement tech specs but in absolute detail. Besides that, I think food makes people happy and a place to breathe before a show. A musician to support would be One Republic, cause who doesn’t want to get to know the master of songwriting, Ryan Tedder? But, personally, I think I could connect well with Maggie Rogers, Jessie J or Tori Kelly as these are some kickass women I could learn a lot from.
Are you planning any gigs in the coming months?
I am performing at the launch of Too Much of a Person on the 27th April at Omved Gardens, which is an incredible venue and I am super-excited about the event. Otherwise, I am planning a couple of female-led showcases - which are sadly still in progress - but which will happen in May. October will be my usual headline show, so watch out for that!
How important is performing? Do you prefer it to life in the studio?
I think both are essential and important for me. A good balance is perfect I’d say. Writing songs is most rewarding, but performing is the most magical experience. When you write a song, you’ve written something off your chest and it feels often very therapeutic. Playing the songs live is sharing that message and shouting it out in the world; until it becomes several people’s message and then the magic happens; when people connect with what you say. I could cry every time I feel it in the room, when people tune in with what you are singing.
IN THIS PHOTO: Rothwell
Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?
Yes! I am a big fan of Rothwell. I had a writing session with her and her voice is unbelievable! Great songwriter. If you like harmonies and Folk, check out I’m With Her. I will see those three wonder-women live this month and am massively excited!
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
I unfortunately don’t have that figured out yet. I really have to force myself to book a holiday or a weekend off. But, I am very strict with my morning Yoga sessions - to start the day in the right way - and we started playing board-games recently. I think it’s a great and social way to get your mind stuck on something else then melodies.
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
Maggie Rogers – Light On
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