Exposure: Anna Meldrum
After a short time displaying her own blend of honest lyricism and melodic, guitar-fronted pop songs to a handful of low-key crowds - as well as the odd festival appearance and support slot - Glasgow-based musician Anna Meldrum has decided to enlist the help of various willing volunteers in a bid to broaden her horizons and give her sound a bit of a boost. Officially launching the band at Brel in Glasgow later this month, here's Anna herself to tell us a bit more.
What first made made you want to be a musician, were you brought up with a strong musical background?
Well lots of my family are musicians - some of my big cousins are Gaelic singers and we used to listen to their albums in the car when I was wee, and I'd sing along even although I couldn't understand the words! I suppose that made me feel like recording music was an attainable goal, although I originally wanted to be a drummer because I wasn't particularly confident in my vocal ability. I played the drums for a few years when I was about 13 or 14, but then I got fed up with having to hike drums to and from the car, and my biceps got freakishly big, so I started nicking my sister's guitar to muck about with instead.
What would you say has had a particularly big influence on the music you make and your lyrics?
I'm pretty lucky because my parents have really good taste in music, so I think just being brought up listening to good pop music gave me a real love for the simple three minute pop song, which is what my music essentially is: no frills. I saw Ben Lee play in King Tut's when I was 17 and I think that had a big effect on what my style would become, in terms of the fact that Ben Lee (who is Australian) sings completely unashamedly in his own accent, and has this lovely sense of humour in his lyrics and when he interacts with the crowd. It made me wonder why everyone sings in an American accent and encouraged me to sing in my own Scottish way. It also made me wonder why so many songwriters stick to 'safe', sort of vague lyrics, and made me want to be bit braver with mine. I don't want to come across as someone completely serious and whiney, because that's not what I'm really like, so I thought I should make that clear in my songs.
Its often hard to describe one's own music, but if you were pushed, how would you go about summing up your overall sound?
Well it's got a bit of a nostalgic feel about it I think, because my songs are based on the time-honoured acoustic-guitar-and-vocals formula. But I've been told my voice and lyrics lend more to more current artists like Kate Nash and the like, so it's kind of a blend of old-fashioned Americana and contemporary British pop.
You've now upgraded to a full band line-up- did you always want a fuller sound or has it simply just evolved that way?
I think there's something really special about being able to play a song only using the guitar, so that the melody and the lyrics are at the forefront of the performance, but I always wanted to have the option of a band behind my songs. I've been trying to get a band together for about a year now, but it's only just come together more recently. Having the band is going to give me the opportunity to play in places I wouldn't have been able to fill with sound before, too, and maybe get people to dance a bit. So it feels like the next logical step for me anyway.
In your time as a musician/performer so far, have there been any specific moments that have been particularly memorable/special for you?
Connect Festival last year was a great experience. When we arrived it was pouring with rain, completely miserable, and I was the first act on the Your Sound stage, which was totally deserted. I was sure no-one would bother coming to watch me in the rain (and I was also mega-grumpy because my hair had gone all stupid because it got wet!) but then when I started to play this great big army of people showed up, as if they'd just materialised out of the mud. It didn't stop raining but the sun peeked out a bit and I was so pleased. And relieved!
Are there any plans for any releases in the near future?
The plan is to get a wee single recorded and released this year, so watch this space!