INTERVIEW: ANNA SCHARLING TALKS TO NORDIC MUSIC REVIEW!
On March 3rd, Danish singer songwriter Anna Scharling will release her debut album entitled 'Sleeping At The Gates'. We spoke to her about her musical background, the album and what else she's been working on.
NMR: 'Your songwriting is based around the minimal use of instruments, often just piano or guitar. I was wondering if that was based on the instruments you learnt first as a child or more to do with musical influences later on?'
''I think it was the other way around actually, my musical influences as a child came from the simplicity and beauty of a few instruments. I remember the song "A case of you" by Joni Mitchell as the reason why I started playing the guitar. I was 12 years old and my older sister was singing this song for her student exam (baccalaureate), so I heard my dad and her practice it, it had a very big impact on me. So I stopped playing classical piano at that time and in my summer vacation I learned the song on guitar, and have played it ever since. Then I started to get lessons in guitar, and not until 10 years later I started to write songs on the guitar. I have always listened a lot to American and Canadian songwriters, and I enjoy listening to simple arrangements, it makes more room for the melody and voice. It’s my first album, and something in me wanted to perpetuate the songs as I had written them, without much decoration.''
''I enjoy listening to simple arrangements, it makes more room for the melody and voice.''
NMR The EP released last year had a lovely diversity of influences across different tracks - folk, pop and even country too. Do we see this variety of styles in the new album too?
''Both yes and no, there’s probably a more clear overall direction to it, but still each song has its own vibe to it. Some of them are dreamy and some of them are straight storytelling. All of the songs from the EP and the album was recorded in the same period of time, so somehow they all have the same starting point of arranging, but my writing on piano and guitar is quite different, and that you might notices on the album as well.''
NMR: The recent single 'I Remember the Darkness' is a beautiful track with thoughtful lyrics, can you tell us more about it please?
''The first thing I wrote in the song was the line “I remember the darkness from my mothers womb”, a dark and mysterious sentence, that I didn’t really know what I meant with. The song developed into a story about losing your soulmate, your better half, your twin - thinking about all the things you could have reached together. The memories you have together although they never occurred, or did they in a parallel universe? I think there are more than one interpretation of the song, for me the deeper level of the song is about memory and how our minds tend to shape the past as a highly subjective matter, putting a big question mark to the objective truth.''
NMR: The song also features Michael Moller from the band 'The Mountains. How did that link up materialize?
''Michael has been a mentor for me and my songwriting. He was a teacher at "Engelsholm Højskole" where I have come for many years with my school to write songs, eventually he also became the pre- and vocal producer on the album. I heard Michael sing for the first time in 2013, and I was totally blown away by his voice, secretly hoping that one day, I'd get the chance to sing a duet with him. A year later, while he was helping me out with a song, he casually mentions that we should do a duet together some time, you can imagine how thrilled I got. Yet another year passed before I started writing the song "I Remember The Darkness" knowing that this was the song, so in Spring 2015 we finished it together and recorded it with Gustaf Ljunggren. In a way the song has been 3 years on it’s way.''
NMR: 2016 seemed to be a hard year for those of us who believe in a fairer, tolerant and more peaceful world and we've had an ongoing debate here at Nordic Music Review about how influential music is now in changing opinions. Do you think that musicians and songwriters can still influence social change in the current era?
''Yes definitely. Social or any kind of change comes from people wanting and believing in change, and that’s what music is here for, to aspire hope and courage in the individual. I think that might be one of the finest purposes of music, the feelings it enhances and the thoughts it ignites. To me music is an engine that makes me capable of getting through things that are difficult or fun for that matter, it brings energy to the body. When that’s said music is not a media for change in a protesting way as it has been earlier in history, but I still think it does its quiet work at another more personal level.''
''Social or any kind of change comes from people wanting and believing in change, and that’s what music is here for, to aspire hope and courage in the individual''
NMR: And will you be doing a live tour once the new album is released? Any chance you might make it to the UK for some live dates??
''I’m going to Germany on a tour in April, I don’t have UK on the tour plan just yet, but if I get the opportunity I’d gladly stop by ;)''
NMR: Aside from the new album, are there any other projects you're working on right now?
''I’ve just returned from Los Angeles where I’ve been recording an EP with my side project Sea Change consisting of one of my favourite Danish guitar players Anna Roemer and an American singer songwriter James Craft. We’ve created a cinematic folk story - the release date is still unknown! Besides that I’m the lead vocal singer in the electronic indie band Eksil (former Exil), which is quite different from what I’ve done earlier, but I love the music and I get to live out my dream of being a singer in an experimental rock band.''
NMR: Finally, do you have any tips for our readers on good Danish songwriters or bands that we may not have come across before?
''My favourite Danish acts in these days are Blaue Blume and IRAH - enjoy!''
Don't forget that 'Sleeping At the Gates' will be released on March 3rd. Follow Anna on Facebook and Soundcloud on the links below: