The Mercury-Nominated Artist Delves Into the Mindbending Roots of Her Music
“Memories always change,” says Anglo-Italian singer-songwriter Anna Calvi of the inspiration behind her second album, One Breath. “The fact that they fade is sad but healing, and something I wanted to explore.” Swiss filmmaker Karim Huu Do’s lyrical short unpicks Calvi’s beginnings as a musician as she visits the wine-soaked haunts and rural edgelands of Clermont-Ferrand during her recent spate of concerts in France. “I enjoy touring, taking my guitar around and playing to people every night,” says Calvi on the eve of a European jaunt that starts with a Dublin show on February 1. “It feels like a trade, which I like.” The ferocious intensity of the London-born singer’s voice and guitar and the boldness of her Spanish matador-inspired stage style has attracted the attention of Gucci’s Frida Giannini, who designed outfits for her 2011 American tour, and Karl Lagerfeld, who photographed her for Maison Michel’s fall/winter campaign in the same year. Her role of rock pin-up and fashion muse contrasts with her decidedly more introspective everyday persona. “Music gives me a space in which I can be more courageous,” she says of the discrepancy. “There are not that many places in life where you can find a similar kind of strength and fearlessness.”
Anna Calvi's One Breath is available now on Domino.
A Dawn Chorus from the Psychedelic Dreamer Heralds a New Series with Yours Truly
“It was interesting to see the changes in color that happen over the course of two or three hours,” says Ernest Greene, aka Washed Out, describing the spectacle of the Californian coast before dawn that kicks off Sunrise, Sunset, a new NOWNESS series created by music filmmaking collective Yours Truly. “I can’t remember the last time I slowed down enough to soak all of that in.” The film segues from the beauty of beachside town Carmel into a hushed early morning performance of “Paracosm,” the eponymous track from the Sup Pop signing’s second album. Written in and around Greene’s countryside home outside Athens, Georgia, the album’s electronic flourishes and dreamlike aesthetic chime with the picturesque landscape captured here. “The week before the band arrived, we went out on adventures along a stretch from Carmel to Monterey and down to Big Sur,” says director Babak Khoshnoud, who in 2009 co-founded Yours Truly alongside William Abramson and Nate Chan. “It reminded us of the sounds and visuals that the record contains; it’s a soundtrack to summer, regardless of the season.”
Look out for NOWNESS' bespoke dusk and dawn collaborations with Yours Truly during the coming months.
Director Martin de Thurah's Intimate Portrait of the Indie Sensation’s Haunting Lament
Canadian chanteuse Leslie Feist swirls and twirls through a monochrome kaleidoscope while intoning her sultry ballad “Anti-Pioneer” in a new video by Danish director Martin de Thurah. A four-time Grammy Award nominee and 11-time Juno Award-winner, Feist honed her musical chops with electro-pop iconoclast Peaches and the Toronto alt-rock band Broken Social Scene. Her Gonzales-produced debut album Let it Die catapulted her into the mainstream limelight, and in 2006 her track “1234” from sophomore effort The Reminder went to number eight in the US after being featured on an advert for the iPod Nano. De Thurah’s video was shot with a tiny crew in an old building in Mexico City while the pair had a two-hour break in the middle of filming the promo for Feist’s “The Bad in Each Other,” lifted from recent LP Metals. “We had a window of opportunity to shoot something else, which never happens,” explains De Thurah. “I had thought about making something very simple, complex and emotional with Leslie alone. I found the song very intimate, and wanted the video to reflect that.” Currently touring Europe until September, here Feist opens up to NOWNESS about working with De Thurah, her Canadian music buddies and her fixation on puppets.
Why did you want to work with Martin?
Feist: Martin leaps out as this person with a really strange, beautiful language of moving poetry that isn’t spoon-feeding anything, but allows for a darkness and a buoyancy at the same time. Everything he had done I have a huge appreciation for, so I sought him out to recreate the language of those short films.
Are music videos important to your message?
Feist: It’s an addendum to making songs. I have an aesthetic taste of things that are going to reflect into the music, but it’s not something that I can do. There are people who have worked really hard in developing their eye and it is fun to join forces and see what you can find in the middle.
Are you still connected to the Canadian crew of Mocky [musician and producer], Peaches and Chilly Gonzales?
Feist: Ha! Very much so. Mocky, Gonzo and I are in constant contact, and Peaches travels as much as I do so we find each other when we’re in the same city. They’re definitely my original musical family for sure, and Mocky, Gonzo and I still work together all the time. They co-produced my last record with me so that’s a natural old friendship that’s just adapted over ten years. When we work together the inside jokes are flying at all times, but there’s a core sensitivity. Sometimes you can disarm the seriousness of a situation and truly look it straight in the eye if you’re jack-assing around at the same time.
There seem to be a lot of puppets in your work over the years, including last year’s The Muppets movie in which you had a small cameo.
Feist: Ha, yeah! For a couple of years on tour I had a woman, Clea Minaker, with me on stage doing live shadow puppet shows. I don’t know where it came from, but a natural answer is watching Sesame Street and The Muppet Show as a kid implanted that good-naturedness. Though also making the inanimate, animate. Even taking a salt and pepper shaker and marching them around or whatever is something of a mainline to good-natured happiness.