I jumped at the chance to speak to singer-songwriter supremo Anna Pancaldi and she didn’t disappoint. Our interview was on the day of the new website launch for Neon Music so after no sleep, a lot of coffee and diet coke and nearly an hour later we were still chatting about Anna’s recent tour, her latest single and what she has coming up.
“I’ve just been away for three and a half weeks. We played in Germany which I love. They have so much appreciation and love for music. They never stop clapping!” We discuss the difference between different countries and their responses and Anna says, “In Germany, they are more likely to buy your music and to follow you,” she continues, “In London, we’re exposed to so much and our senses are overloaded so lots of things don’t feel very special. In other main cities, they don’t have access to everything all the time so there is different appreciation. The people in Germany really respect music.” However, London always holds a special time in Anna’s heart, “London headline shows feel incredibly special and those moments feel like a celebration. I spend a lot of time hiding away writing, recording then promoting so when you get the chance to do those live shows, they are rare moments to be with people properly.”
Anna’s music and her voice creates a physical experience for the listener and is truly immersive and emotionally complex. If you’re not sure what I’m talking about then listen to ‘Brother’ from Anna’s ‘Sweet Charity’ EP. If you don’t feel a multitude of emotions during the 4 minutes and 58 seconds then surely you don’t have a heart or a soul. It’s difficult to pin down Anna’s genre of music and you don’t want to. She says, “It’s some unnamed genre of music, raw and honest“. Her vocals stand out with their range although she describes them as “quite low, like my Dad.”
Anna Pancaldi says of her 2017 EP ‘Sweet Charity’, “I’ve been very lucky with the fans I’ve culminated over the years and having been in charts. The song ‘Brother’ just fell out in 8 minutes. There are those rare occasions when you have a song that needs to be written. It came from somewhere deep in my subconscious and the reaction to that has been incredible. At the same time, I had been on the piano and instrumentally moving away from the guitar was a new experiment. I was chuffed with the release of that and the support I gained from fans, blogs, and live audiences.”
We discuss Anna’s writing and reactions, “It is a very rare moment when lyric, melody and the accompaniment come together in the space of 10 minutes. It’s like a bit of magic, it doesn’t feel like it comes from you. It’s been really exciting playing live and seeing what songs connect with the audience. It’s an electrifying feeling when you truly connect with your song and other people connect with it.” She continues, “a lot of being an artist is quite solitary so when you play live, face to face to see whether your music is truly connecting with people. Spotify is great, but you can’t beat playing live and feeding off an audience that way.”
How does she go about writing? “It’s great when you have entered into a creative space but I can’t turn it on and off like a switch. I allow myself the breathing space. It does ebb and flow at times – I have the right words but can’t always articulate myself whenever I want to. I have a journal and write poetry so will extract things from that. I also use a voice memo while jogging. It’s completely random how it happens. I don’t have any kind of formula.”
Anna’s latest single ‘What I’ve Become’ showcases her enormous voice which is deftly soulful yet immensely cathartic. A colourful spectrum of tempos and emotions. There are no theatrics and the song is luxuriously textured and multifaceted. Anna Pancaldi portrays craftsmanship in every song she delivers and this is no exception. Despite Anna’s sunny disposition and positive nature, a darkness lurks in feel and lyrics – ‘What I’ve Become’ is edgy and intense and remarkably unforgettable. Visuals show Anna in her trademark hat and flowing hair playing an electric guitar amongst bright flashing light and dark shadows. A reflection of the light and dark within the song.
Anna’s reaction when I ask her what she would be doing if not music makes me chuckle, “Oh my lord! I have many interests but as far as anything else I was meant to do….I don’t know, you have to have that mental ability to persevere. You have to love doing something creative. It’s an incredibly personal part of you. It is a business and not for the faint-hearted. it demands your all – music is the only thing that demands my all and I pour everything into it. It’s been a tumultuous ride already and I have questioned whether I can do it.” Anna Pancaldi says, “I have sung ever since I can remember but I started properly writing when I was 19 years old. Even now with success I feel you need validation from a crowd so know they love what you are doing. I’m doing this career cos I know there is nothing else I want to do with my life.”
Anna Pancaldi is very confident, but of course there are times she feels insecure, “I went back to LA to write and showcase for labels. I did an incredible tour in the States and I was putting feelers out, doing open mic nights – it was a truthful trip. It taught me the importance of taking risks – it’s so easy as we get older to get frightened of doing things, you get warier but doing that trip showed me you can take a risk. Always carry on doing things that scare you as really shape you and your career.”
“I didn’t reflect until last year when things got crazy busy and I was getting tours planned and leading up to the release of my EP. You realise how much of the year you spend quietly writing, I never used to be able to spend time on my own. It was an imperative lesson I needed to learn. I like having a lot of that quiet time. I’m reading this book called ‘Big Magic'(by Elizabeth Gilbert) which talks about being a creative and what that means. How creating any kind of art is a piece of magic, it gets given to us and we don’t own it. You have to create the right environment, give it a home and space to breathe. Fear and nerves co-exist on the other side of creativity. You need the fear but it can be crippling. The book touches on the fact there is always going to be fear but don’t let it govern you.”
Day to day life is “super busy” and Anna Pancaldi is always exploring various avenues within music having done some syncs, working with dance producers in LA and session work. Her music is also featured in TV Series ‘Famous In Love’ (starring Bella Thorne and available on Amazon Prime – Anna is in Season 2, episode 6).
What’s next? “There is the new single and an EP in the Autumn. I’m quite excited to release more singles and give music to people more often. I cannot wait to get into the studio with producer Matt Ingram (Laura Marling, Lianne La Havas), he has incredible talent and is so passionate about music.” She says, “I’m not doing festivals this summer, I’ll be writing throughout the entire summer. It’s amazing how quickly the year gets booked up.” She is also planning a UK and European tour and a London headline show in the Autumn.
Anna’s new single is the first release where she debuts on the electric guitar as she always used an acoustic guitar before, “It’s an exciting adventure and the beginning of a new journey with the electric guitar. I’m inspired to make a different kind of song. It’s more of an evolution.”
“I try to stay as true to myself as I can in creating music I want to instead of conforming what music has become. I want to be able to feel free to create music that I am proud of. ”
Stream ‘What I’ve Become’ here.