Anna-Lynne Williams [Interview]
September 7, 2012 1 Comment
Anna-Lynne Williams as demonstrated time and time again that she is one of the greatest talents out their singing today. All with the humbleness and grace of a precious little bird, she tells tales of love and loss and all things sacred, just from a few notes and a few simple strums of a guitar. Whether as a solo act (Lotte Kestner), or alongside Matt Brown (Trespassers William), or with fellow art smith Robert Gomez (Ormonde), Williams has proven to be one of the hardest working women in the indie music world. And not only does she produce, she produces magic!
Last her second album as Lotte Kestner album came out which truly rocked the earth. It was truly original, inspiring, and innovative beyond belief. And yet, ironically, it was a cover album. Stolen was a collection of cover songs like you have never heard before. You may have recognized a Vic Chestnutt or Trashcan Sinatras song from the album (or even the now classic Beyonce cover if you bought the deluxe edition), but you never heard them like this before. This is what she does. It seems as though Anna Lynne greatly realizes that to cover another artist does not simply mean to play the song, and hope somebody likes it better or equally. For her, it means to re invent the wheel each time you do it. She applies her own personal touch, and makes the song completely her own. This becomes extremely relevant in her recent cover of that Gotye song that seems to be getting on everybody’s nerves, “Somebody That I Used To Know”, and perfectly exemplified when she re-established the brilliance of Elvis Costello’s “I Want You”. Yes, she is a craftsman when it comes to the cover song.
But, this year it’s all about the originals! Trespassers William is no longer available, but we will be fortunate enough to have one more giant release coming soon, A Lotte Kestner album is coming soon, and Ormonde’s Machine (check out the music video for “I Can’t Imagine, directed by Gomez himself, here)is already out and thriving and contending to be one of the greatest albums of 2012 (check out my review from Fensepost.com). You can also catch her randomly performing across Seattle with the excellent band, Ghosts I’ve Met, and she also happens to be featured on Seattle MC and fellow Trainwreck’d interviewee Sadistik’s new album!
Obviously, Ms. Williams is a very busy woman these days. So, we are very fortunate that she was willing to take the time out of her busy life to swap a few words with us. I have had the pleasure of communicating and working with her for the better part of two years now, and I have always made it a point to introduce her music to any and everyone who appreciates brilliant musicianship. And so should you! So, sit back and bask in the brilliance that is Anna-Lynne Williams. Enjoy!
What brought you from SoCal up to the rainy city of Seattle so many years ago?
Everyone in Trespassers William had been born and raised in California, and we were all ready to see another part of the world (or coast, at least). We had just signed to Nettwerk and decided to record our next album (Having) somewhere new. We voted and settled on Seattle, and at that point we decided to quit our day jobs and just stay in Seattle after we finished the album. It was a toss up between Portland and Seattle, at that point it really didn’t seem to make much difference, we just wanted to move somewhere different, cooler, north. Seemed like a good climate for our music and our personalities. Of course decisions like that end up guiding your whole life, but at the time it just seemed like a question of backdrop.
You recently suffered a serious hand injury. How are you feeling? And how is the guitar playing going these days?
Yeah I ruptured a tendon, and it ended up almost paralyzing my arm last summer, the long term effects lingering in my hand. I spent a few months unable to move around or do much, which affected me in a lot of deep ways besides just not being able to play the guitar. I went through a cycle of physical therapy, tried to ease back into the guitar in the winter, but I still haven’t really healed up. It’s so much better than it was that my general feeling is relief, but I have given up the guitar for the most part. I just play for a few minutes at a time if it’s for something important, like recording. I’ve taken to leaning more on my voice and my wurlitzer. And other people.
How did you come up with your surrname Lotte Kestner?
I love Goethe’s “Sorrows of Young Wether.” Lotte was a character in the book, and Charlotte Kestner was the woman who inspired the character. It’s a great sounding name so I borrowed it.
You appeared on the The Chemical Brother’s amazing album Push The Button, which was certified Gold. Where do you keep your Gold Record? Any significance?
That’s funny that you ask that, I do in fact have one and it’s in my kitchen in a sort of out of the way place. But we inadvertently got it in a shot in the homemade Ormonde video and I was worried someone would spot it and think I was showing off. 🙂 Being an artist for a living is a bizarre thing, every week you have to juggle crushing insults with excessively generous compliments. You learn to believe something in between the two.
How did your new duo with Robert Gomez, Ormonde, come to life?
Robert and I met in a recording studio in Texas, had some friends in common, ran into each other a few more times while I was in town. We exchanged cds and must’ve listened to each other a lot, because we both became convinced we should make an album together. We have a lot of the same sentiments in our music, but none of the same weapons. So it was exciting and natural to merge. I think we saved each other from our writer’s block and spent a full month together making an album in a rented house. I came out of a chrysalis.
If you were chosen to sing the national anthem for a major sporting event, what would be your choice of sporting event? Why?
I would probably have a heart attack. 🙂 Do they do the national anthem at tennis matches? Maybe that.
You’ve had much of your music featured in film and television. What has been your favorite to date?
“Different Stars” in A Love Song For Bobby Long is probably the most prominent and fitting placement we’ve had. That was really lovely. I’m also really excited to see Pin-Up Dolls on Ice when it comes out because Robert and I actually wrote a song for the movie, which I’ve never done before. It’s a horror film.
So, I hear we are fortunate enough to get one more dose of Trespassers William this year. What would that be?
Yeah, Cast is coming out on Saint Marie Records in a matter of days. On New Years Day I announced that the band was breaking up, and to soften the blow for us and for listeners I put some unreleased material up on bandcamp. That’s when Saint Marie offered to release the songs properly, said we could make a whole double disc affair of it. So we took everything down that was floating about on line and compiled our favorite rarities, and recorded a few brand new tracks.
And Lotte Kestner? When will we hear a follow up record from your solo project?
The album is very finished and ready, and I’ve got a long play EP done as well. I’ve been nesting on them for a while, waiting for the Ormonde and Trespassers William to come out and have their proper moments. And artwork and videos and other things that can slow things down. But they should both be out very early next year. I can’t wait. The Bluebird of Happiness album is very much a best of times/worst of times sort of album. There’s a lot of love on it, of the hopeful variety, and then there’s all the agony of giving up guitar and not being able to get out of bed on there too. Last year was a big one for me, and that’s when I wrote all those songs.
Your label Saint Loup Records is over a year old now! What else can we expect to be released in the near future?
Well, since some bigger labels came along I decided to put out all my main releases in the traditional fashion this time around, labels and PR companies and everything. But I’ll be releasing my EP myself. Almost as an experiment. And because it feels good to do things with your own hands sometimes.
What was the last thing that made you smile?
A picture of my new nephew.
Discover more Anna Lynne goodness at her Lotte Kestner tumblr. Discover more releases at the website for Saint Loop Records, and pick up Ormonde’s new album from Hometapes. Also, be sure to watch for new releases via Saint Marie Records as well!