Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Anna Calvi Puts Opera Background to Good Use

(Photo: Maisie Cousins)
Growing up with her music obsessed Italian father, Anna was exposed to an eclectic array of sounds which ranged from Captain Beefheart to The Stones, to Maria Callas, combined with an early understanding of classical music developed through childhood violin lessons. She would come to identify the work of 20th century composers, Messiaen, Ravel, and Debussy as an influence, attracted in her words “to the impressionistic element of the music”, the feel of which she would try to recreate on guitar, an
instrument she was compelled to learn on discovering Django Reinhardt and Jimi Hendrix at the age of 13. Combining all these influences she aimed to make her guitar sound like an orchestra, but only instinctually; “I don’t try and achieve this by using lots of pedals- My Vox amp, a reverb pedal, and then’… she puts her hand somewhere between heart and gut… ‘it comes from here.” In the following years Anna would immerse herself in other influences such as opera, West African music, the blues of Robert Johnson and Bukka White and in particular flamenco- the passion flamenco dancers exude in their stance and style having had a massive impact on Anna’s fierce, upfront stage persona, and the outfits she and her band choose to perform in, the visual element of Anna’s art being of huge importance to her. It’s this thoughtful focus on the visual side of things that leads Anna to clearly identify how the work of film directors Wong Kar Wei and Gus Van Sant has also influenced her music, remarking on her admiration for “people that make beautiful films where the cinematography tells the story”, something Anna attempts to mirror in her own work. [Source]

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