Anna Pancaldi is an international songstress who has received heavyweight support from BBC Radio 2 and BBC 6 Music. Following a string of sold out London shows, appearances at Glastonbury festival and a debut TV appearance in the US, Anna is set to release her third EP 'Sweet Charity' in March. Anna has also penned a song for a Levis commercial. Here Anna shares her thoughts on songwriting.
- Do you have a daily songwriting routine or do you wait for inspiration to strike? Not really, writing is so personal and delicate and I can't force it by making it too scheduled, but we're all different.
- Do you have any tricks to get the creative juices flowing? I like to be in a still, peaceful and intimate setting so it almost feels like a show.
- Do you find you normally start with a melody or lyrics? It's probably equal as to which I start with, depending on where I am. Sometimes I'm on the road (not driving haha) and start writing lyrics, other times I am sat with my guitar and start there.
- Do you think that melody is the most important aspect of a song? I think lyrics and melody are equally vital, what are you trying to say, convey and make people hear and resonate with? You can't have an unforgettable song without the two married together.
- How long does it take you to write a song? Wow, so varied haha. Sometimes I have written one start to finish in 10 minutes, like my latest single 'Brother' and others take months!
- Could you explain a little about the writing process behind a few of your songs? 'Brother', I think I am most proud of, I wrote it back in the summer in the studio preparing for my EP 'Sweet Charity' coming out March 20th. I sat there one evening at the piano (which I haven't ever finished a song on before due to lack experience on) and it fell out in under 9 minutes, a rare moment for me, but a special one. 'Stay Right Here' I began writing many years ago when I used to nanny and then went onto complete it years later when I went travelling around the world for nine months in 2011. I went to see more of the world and focus on composing, have more time and less routine was pivotal for me to relax into writing more and I finished it in my dorm room in Wellington, New Zealand. haha, my poor room mates! 'Promise We'll Never Grow Old' I began writing alone and has been my most favourite co-write to date, I finished it with the wonderful songwriter Carassius Gold who truly brought the best out of me. I vividly remember walking home that day to Bethnal Green with the widest smile and such joy in my heart for composing a song I am so proud of and still am to this day.
- What songs that other people have written do you particularly admire? 'Home Again' by Carole King, 'The Man That Got Away' from a Star is Born sung by Judy Garland, 'Hallelujah' by Leonard Cohen and so many more. A few songs I can't help but go back to.
- Do you think that a technical knowledge of theory is important or does it get in the way? I dropped out of studying music at uni because I wanted to focus specifically on the craft of writing, performing and the business, so I learnt some of that on my diploma before I left, but for me it wasn't what I wanted to spend 3 years doing within a degree. However, it does not get in the way and it can transform the way you write music having studied it, it just isn't for everyone. Laura Mvula is a wonderful example of someone who has studied music at a conservatoire, has brilliant musicianship skills, knows the theory behind it and the stunning music to prove it.
- Do you tend to revisit your songs and rewrite them? Not really to re-write, but to listen yes, it's funny listening to earlier recordings and hearing how you voice develops and grows! Fascinating!
- Do you write songs with a view to being commercial and following current trends? No, not now. It's something I have really struggled with over the years and many others too, I know. But and it's a big but, it's so imperative that you know who you are as an artist. One, because what is the point of building your life around music you don't care about? It holds no worth at all. Secondly, everyone has an opinion and you can end up being blown about in the wind if you don't know who you are and stand strong in that. I am my worst critic and I trust that, but I also have people around me who are honest and who's opinions I respect too. it's taken me a long time to be comfortable in who I am and the music I am putting out into the world.
- Have you done much co-writing, and if so what do you see as the benefits? I have started doing quite a few recently and see how co-writes can bring out the best in songwriters, take you to places that you wouldn't usually go as I think we tend to have habits within writing, but for me, it has been a challenge and learning curve. What I write is so personal, it can be hard to share that with others.
- Who do you view as great songwriters. Who has inspired you musically/ lyrically? Jeff Buckley, Carole King, Bob Dylan, Stevie Wonder, Joni Mitchell and so many more. Such integrity, honesty, timelessness, truth and some of the artists who I can relate to, who truly make me feel something, transformative.
- Do you feel that when there's conflict/struggle in your life that it inspires better songs? No one goes through life unscathed and we all experience that on many different levels, so I think yes, these struggles are things that bring real music. Experiences that evoke a powerful emotion in you can't help but make the best music.
- Do you have any idea where you ideas come from? All my songs have come from my walk through life so far, the things that have impacted and transformed my life which I cannot ignore.
- Do you have any advice you'd like to share with budding songwriters out there? Listen to the greats and soak up their lyrics, their melodies and write write write. Draw on the things that affect you the most and use those experiences to bring out your strongest, deepest emotions. Always pay attention to the turn of phrase, another songwriter told me that once and it made me look at lyrics so differently, but in a beautiful way.
This interview was by Ben Williams. Find Ben on TWITTER, FACEBOOK
This interview was by Ben Williams. Find Ben on TWITTER, FACEBOOK
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