You could learn to play the piano, we could learn to play the piano, we could all be pianists if we really, really wanted to. If any of us spent a few months or years having drumming lessons then we may end up happy to take to the sticks in a band. However, not everyone can sing. Sure, you can have lessons, we can have lessons, but without any actual original talent to start with it’s pretty hard to get anywhere, especially professionally. You either have it or you don’t. Well, here’s a new artist that’s stepping out from the shadows of her obvious talent and into the light, because she definitely has it. In recent years she’s mostly been known as a vocalist for hire, appearing on tunes by artists that you could mostly associate with Planet Mu Records, such as the likes of Itel Tek, Vex’d and Starkey, among others. Now it’s her turn, as her recent original works are causing something of a storm that’s sure to go from the teacup to the wider media, as she plans to give focus to recording more of her own material.
We watched Anneka perform at a recent Vice Magazine launch party, which was being held at The Green Door Store in her home town of Brighton. We had been asked to DJ between the artists, pausing for the acts when they take to the stage. This inadvertently allowed us a front-row view of the performers. That night Anneka was on second and turned out to be a truly magical sight. She plays the kind of music you lose yourself in, not to suggest it’s self-indulgent, rather that it’s hypnotic and dripping in atmosphere. Her sound was quite the shift from what we’d previously been setting out as a DJ, where our focus was on getting the room worked up. She only seemed to notice the room’s change in gear after her first song. As she set up the second tune, she had the humility to apologise for the slightly quieter tones and asked the crowd if they minded. She needn’t have, for if she’d been able to see through the stage lighting she would have noticed the crowd were completely hooked. Including me.
She layers up her songs as if wafting clean sheets over her bed. It’s a smoothly synchronized show, although entirely electronic, with programmed samples and digitized beats, save for the occasional rattle that’s shaken in between hitting pads with the sticks. It actually turns what is otherwise a mostly synthesized collection of sounds into quite a percussive performance. The rhythms are cleverly stacked up in a way that could fall apart with the tiniest of distractions, requiring the kind of concentration that you would normally associate with the latter stages of Tetris, but then she adds the most organic of ingredients – her voice. No wonder she’s been repeatedly hired to sing for other artists, this voice is particularly special. It’s pure and clean and easily breathed in. Obvious comparisons to Grimes will most likely be welcomed, but this isn’t as pixie-cute. Instead of the high-pitched Glossolalia vocals on show with Clare Boucher, you get a more rounded soulful glide.
The voice really is her best special move. She even uploads stems of songs, mainly just of her voice, on Soundcloud and offers it up to others to work it into a new tune or remix. People have duly obliged – over 60 people submitted remixes to her – with a couple of particularly awesome versions based from her stems of the song, Shut Her Down, appearing on Hype Machine, (hear those here and here). All this shouldn’t discount from her entirely self-crafted music, which form the same kind of left-field electronica pop as Bjork – an artist that she confirmed is a direct inspiration, but then again perhaps we’d be slightly more alarmed if a solo female artist of this kind didn’t take inspiration from the Icelandic queen. You can catch her live show again at The Green Door Store on February 13th when she gets a perfect support slot behind High Places. And it really is a show, something that clearly comes naturally considering she has a degree in Music & Visual Arts, obtained at Brighton University. Her debut EP is still being designed and recorded, but on the initial evidence her shadow has some serious catching up to do. (MB)
ANNEKA – JAWS OF DAY
VEX’D – HEART SPACE (Feat. ANNEKA)
ITEL TEK – RESTLESS TUNDRA (Feat. ANNEKA)