Perhaps it’s something of an irony, here on a site that heralds shiny technology, but there is a longing among many musicians to return to something raw and unvarnished in music. There’s discontentment in the ranks of the techno-futurists, enough to sow the seeds of rebellions. If that feeling could be given a voice, Anika would be a good candidate. A political journalist who found herself, entirely unexpected, at a session with Portishead producer Geoff Barrow, she is a vinyl-loving, politically-minded throwback, an antidote to everything that commercially-calibrated in music.

The first thing you should know about Anika’s self-titled debut is that some people immediately hate it. Others just as quickly fall in love with its tendency to sound as though it were made 30 years ago. It’s not retro as pastiche: the music is unrehearsed, largely unproduced, fed through cavernous spring reverbs and played on abused instruments and machines. It sounds like another decade because it was made in the way those records were produced. But it’s also divisive, something unprocessed enough that people can form strong opinions about how it tastes.

And, of course, there’s the question I knew I’d have to broach – the fact that the results sound rather a lot like Nico (of Velvet Underground fame). (The New York Times’ Ben Ratliff described the effect neatly as “healthily irritating.”) Barrow must have been pleased; the guy’s festival here in New York is “All Tomorrow’s Parties,” so you do the math. But it works, because the similarity is entirely organic. Anika, too, is German-born, here German by way of England with a hint of Welsh inflection, and intentionally over-pronouncing the lyrics she intones. She doesn’t sound like an imitator, but like a successor. (She also sounds a great deal more English and Welsh, for the record.)

When Anika was to do the photo shoot, she tells me, Geoff instructed the photographer to “make her look as rough as possible.” That might be the best way to sum up the musical performance and production here, too, a punk rock, just fell-out-of-bed approach to music. And like Nico, like Anika herself, no matter how rough the styling, the results are somehow oddly irresistible. (Anika, on the cover of the album, seems to channel Warhol.)

Producer Geoff Barrow, who gave us Portishead, BEAK>, and Invada Records, might be a surprising pairing on first blush. But his own sense of the importance of song-writing, of the album as a vessel for expression and not just mass-production, and taste-defying, upstream-swimming aesthetic here is perfect.

And I wouldn’t mention this here if I didn’t find this album relevant to the other techniques of production in a digital age. If it makes people angry, actually, that’d even serve its purpose.

I spoke to Anika in New York, where she was doing a series of DJ gigs. The night before, I saw her at Gallery Bar; she struck me as almost delicate with her collection of all-vinyl, no computer in sight. (She told me that she’s doubly careful because she’s actually clumsy, which I can appreciate as something of a klutz myself.) But for all the practiced carelessness of this record, Anika herself is careful and thoughtful. And I think, whether you’re in the love it or hate it camp as far as the music, what she has to say about musical expression and the industry will be very, very familiar to readers here.

CDM: Tell us a little about your background – before you got into promoting this record, you were really a journalist, right?

Anika: I was a political journalist. I had to give it up officially. It’s the Berlin-based news network – ESNA, it specializes in education and science policy, and I was the UK correspondent. We’re a news network, newspapers and policy makers buy our service. It’s on a very specialist scale.

I studied politics in University. I’m officially more of a political journalist. Music has always been there, but it was more of a hobby. I’ve been doing all sorts over the years. I did a bit of work for BBC Wales News, a lot of news stuff, worked for newspapers.

And this is something to which you intend to return.

It’s definitely something I’m going to back to. I was doing that full-time in Berlin up until October when I said, okay, I have to go back to England to rehearse, because the album’s actually doing alright. I recorded it not necessarily with the hope of releasing it. We did it as an experiment, more of a mini-rebellion for me against what I disliked about the industry at the time.

I can think of a pretty long list myself, but what was it specifically that you disliked?

I worked as a promoter. In Cardiff, I used to book bands for four bands in Cardiff and one in Bristol. I used to deal with entertainment for the venues, do all their graphic design, all their marketing, set up a label for them, release local bands in Cardiff. There were just a lot of things I really disliked about the scene, and about the way it works.

In England, people weren’t going to gigs. In my venues, the bands would always be secondary. One of the venues that I worked for, they got a sound restriction the minute I got there, which meant they couldn’t have live acts before twelve. They weren’t aloud to have any live music before midnight.

For the venues, music was always secondary. It wasn’t their biggest income, really. They knew it would only ever make ten pounds a night. Since people aren’t willing to pay for gigs, the most I could charge for a gig was four pounds – like, six dollars. People wouldn’t pay more, and they’d normally expect it to be free. And the way they run it, they never took the bar into account. I usually just break even. I don’t think I ever made money from gigs, ever. I don’t think anyone does.

I worked directly for the venue, so I was on salary. It was four venues. I had to make sure there was a band on every night in two of the venues. For the commercial nights, I had to come up with the concept, the graphic design, book the DJs. I had to do all the graphic design for the bars, the cocktail menus, the food menus, worked with the food and cocktail people to come up with good stuff. It was a lot of work for one person. I had to rep the gigs at night, as well. I’d come in at ten in the morning and I’d be working until about four or five in the morning. I’d go home, sleep for an hour, and come back to work. I’d normally work six, seven days a week. It was a bit much. I had to rep the gigs, so I had to cycle from one venue to the next to sort out the bands, give them their beer, cycle back, buy some more beer, give it to the bands, and maybe DJ at three in the morning and go home. And they’d always say, oh, well, you’re not structuring your time well enough.

So I quit, because I hated it. I was being absolutely taken advantage of. So now I know I only want music as a hobby and not as a career. And then a week later, I got a call from my friend saying, oh, yeah, my friend’s band are looking for a singer. Do you fancy having a go? I tried a few bands in Cardiff, not because I want to be in a band, but because I had a load of lyrics, and I wanted to see how it worked with music. I recorded stuff that directly rejected all the kind of stuff that most bands thought that they have to fit in. So on purpose, we rejected the whole imaging of it. The way I sang it, at first it was political.

How would you say it’s political?

In two ways. The songs I write are [often] directly political. It was also political in the fact that it was a statement for me. It was directly rejecting everything that pissed me off about the industry at the time. It didn’t fit. It wasn’t pleasant to listen to. For ages, in England, all the bands that were doing well were so pleasant and so nice, and they’d go on [BBC] Radio 1 and they’d have interviews and they’d be, like, oh, yeah, it was so nice, I love the record… It was great, and I think music like that is really important to have, but there was no alternative.

It’s great to have that, if you want to do the washing up or you want to do the Hoovering, fine. But there was no music that was any different.

When indie became music, rock music became mainstream, between 2000 and now,, for England, it is commercial rock, isn’t it? In England in the 90s, at least people did stuff that was more rebellious. It wasn’t so nicey-nicey all the time. What if you’ve got something to say? And people were too scared to make any statement, in case someone didn’t like it. There were scared to take a risk. And that’s the thing about this record. It wasn’t designed to be liked. It was designed to make people think.

It’s like “No one’s there.” Now it seems cliche, but when I first wrote it, it was when the English media was writing all these headlines … personifying the recession as if it was some wolf that was going to eat your children. It was just the politicians’ mistakes, and the fact that we spent beyond our means. It was scaring people so much that they weren’t spending any more, so it actually makes things worse.

It was just interesting reading people’s opinions on matters and how they’d been framed. I remember my housemates at the time making all these throw-away comments about religions that they didn’t really know anything about. It’s the same with the Recession. A lot of people didn’t know much about it and didn’t look into it and understand why. That’s the thing about “No one’s there.” It’s just saying you need to question what you’re told.

And I imagine there’s also the politics of the music itself – you had said that music itself had suffered.

The reason music was suffering was because the people going to gigs weren’t taking risks. Firstly, people stopped buying music, which was pretty shit. Gig goers in England weren’t taking risks. So I’d put on a really good band, but they hadn’t had that much press coverage that week. People follow too much what they’ve been told. So this year, at the moment, the BBC released their top ten bands of the coming year. So all the music media has been writing about these bands and no one else. They’re just so lazy. And now they will be the top years this bands because they’ve been told. It’s like the chicken and the egg – which came first?

All those people on that list have the whole package, they’ve got the photos, they’ve got the MySpace friends. It’s just so predictable.

So, really, it’s not only the press, but the listeners, as well?

It’s the chicken and the egg. What comes first, the apathetic listener, or the [press]?

Just thinking about the production here, too, do you think you can record rebelliously, as well?

You can record it rebelliously by not over-producing it. That’s exactly what we did. To try and get that, we had to go to extremes. We didn’t plan any of the songs before we turned up that day. We’d walk in – we’d go the night before and spend the night on YouTube finding things that we could twist into a completely different form, and then we’d go in the next day and say, look what I found? And then I’d go print out the lyrics, Billy would figure out the bass, and then Jeff do that and Matt would walk in, and then we’d try it out, and then the third take was the one that we used. And that’s why it’s not perfect, and that’s why it’s funny when people say oh, yeah, what is this? It’s not perfect singing or whatever. It’s like, oh yeah, it’s not. It was never meant to be.

Okay, I have to ask – obviously, the comparison is going to get made to the Velvet Underground. Was that a conscious influence?

It was really weird with the singing thing. A lot of people said oh it’s Nico and rubbish — like a rubbish, rip-off version of Nico. But firstly, I’d like to point out I’m actually half German. I learned German before I learned English.

When I was doing it, because I had a lot of political lyrics, and because some of the stuff we were doing was Bob Dylan, if anything, I tried not to sound American. So I over-pronounced everything, because I didn’t want it to sound American. And I happened to be living in Wales at the time, for the last five years. It actually sounds a little bit Welsh, but people don’t know that. And so that’s where it ended up where it was. It was me trying consciously not to sound American and then trying to sound Mockney. Mockney is like the London accent. And I didn’t want to have that, either.

I personally didn’t realize we were going to release it. I did it just for a bit of fun. I didn’t realize it was Geoff Barrow at first.

Wait – really? When did you find out that’s who it was?

[laughs] I thought it was just some guys that wanted to record stuff. And when I turned up, no one had borrowed to tell me that it was Geoff and people. I only found out after a few sessions.

My friend kept telling me, oh, they’re called, like Beep or something. I typed in Beep onto Myspace and I couldn’t find them. I think eventually it’s because Geoff gave me a CD in the studio. I was like, oh yeah, do you have one of those Beep CDs, and he said, oh, you mean Beak? And he gave me the CD. And so I went on their MySpace and I was like, oh, right, so that’s Geoff Barrow then… [laughs]

It was good, because I think we all just wanted to do something different. At first, they were just looking for a singer, I think, to do Beak stuff. But then, I just did stuff slightly differently and it ended up being a solo project.

Geoff just kept saying don’t practice. That was his only input, he said don’t practice. At first, it was just to get that kind of rawness, where we weren’t trying to fit it into anything. If I’d had more time, I probably would have had singing lessons, and it would have lost all of its vulnerability and everything. And it is vulnerable, because people can dislike it. It’s easy to go off and make stuff perfect, and then if people don’t like it…. At this sort of point, it is … [pauses] very vulnerable. It’s vulnerable to attack. Because it’s me, not necessarily feeling particularly one hundred percent when I was doing it, it makes it even more vulnerable. But at the same time, it makes it more genuine and more sincere.

It’s a rebellion against what we were told to be. We were told the right way, how best to produce a perfect record. I could have probably got singing lessons, gone to the gym a bit, got a haircut. And that would’ve been alright. And I could have fit it in.

I didn’t actually want to be a musician. I wanted to be a politician. I did it for kind of almost the right reasons. I wanted to do it for sincere reasons. There’s this hyped-up image of this amazing pop-star lifestyle. And because of these reality shows where the emphasis is only on the person’s voice, and then probably what they look like, and then nothing else matters. Nothing about what they want to say, the individuality. People often want to be famous, or they want to be musicians for completely the wrong reasons. And I think that’s why so many people have reacted strangely to the record. I know a lot of my friends at home who are used to mainstream records say, oh, this isn’t really my thing. And it’s fine. I know a few people have commented on my singing ability. And that was never really the point.

How did it come to be that you wound up going this route, then? You had been writing for some time?

I’d been writing loads in that year. It was in the years when I only had two hours at home a day to sleep, and I could never sleep. I was so shut down after work. So I ended up buying a rubbish guitar and trying to put structure to my words. I’d written for years, but never put much structure to them. Still can’t play particularly well, but it helps structure it. I used to just sit there for two hours in the time when I should have been sleeping. I think my housemates thought I was nuts at the time. But it was my way to unwind. So I wrote loads in that year.

I tried out with a few bands in Cardiff, just some jamming sessions with my friends. And it didn’t work because they had big electric guitars and would just drown out my lyrics.

I think it was because my Geoff said to my friend, oh yeah, we’re looking for a weird singer with a bit of a weird voice. And my friend was like, oh, I’ve got exactly the person.

When you did hear yourself on the album, did you say to yourself, oh yes, that’s really my voice, personally?

I didn’t listen to it. I just did it and didn’t listen. We just recorded and that was it. I just walked out of the room, went in the kitchen and made some tea, and didn’t even want to know what happened to it.

And then sometimes I’d say, oh, well that sounds really bad. I’d say, can I do it again, and we’d do it again, and we never used that one, because it just sounded, too …

I think the record can be quite enjoyable. But people seem to be one extreme or another – they’ll fall in love with it, or absolutely hate it. That to me is rather interesting.

I don’t mind. I quite like asking people why do you dislike it – because some people really do to an extreme. It’s always nice to hear why. It’s always good, because it’s made them think. It’s made them question why they don’t like it. That’s good. That’s an achievement.

I couldn’t listen to it for ages after. I just forgot about it, took up that job in Germany with the intention of staying, moving to Brussels to work in policy development.

That’s why I let [Geoff] do it. It was rejected all the pre-cut roles, how it should be. That’s why it worked so well. Geoff’s a bit of a rebel, as well. He doesn’t like fitting to what he’s told.

That’s why it’s good for me to do these DJ tours and only use vinyl. It’s really difficult for musicians at the moment … if you sell your soul and make knocking music and get endorsed by some big company, it pays for you to do that. But if you don’t, it’s really hard to try and afford to [be a] musician. I was fortunate that I moved to Berlin and managed to live. It’s really difficult how people don’t buy music any more. I know it’s really cliche to say, but it’s true. Especially with vinyl, that’s why it’s really important to endorse vinyl stores. It’s really important to buy.

So, to you playing vinyl isn’t so much about nostalgia or authenticity, it’s the economics around that physical object.

Yeah. That’s why I bought vinyl today. Even though I could probably pick up the phone and say could I have some vinyl, please. I think you need to put something back, because otherwise it’s not fair.

So many [shops] have shut down in the last years. And they do help underground music survive. They have in-stores, and they help promote records. And that’s why I was in Other Music. They helped with my record a lot.

That’s the problem with the whole downloading culture. It’s just a reflection of consumerism, how we want everything now.

What’s in Anika’s Vinyl Shopping Bag?

Anika and I met for the interview at Manhattan’s terrific independent music store, Other Music. (If you do prefer digital downloads, or happen not to be in New York, they also have a digital store – so, in fact, you can have it both ways after all.)

In fact, the very first thing she did was to show off her acquisitions. Here’s what she bought, with some commentary, via her Tumblr blog:

The Soft Moon Parallels 7” (This band played before me at Part time Punks in LA and i really liked them! I hadn’t heard of them before)

Nite Jewel – Am i real? six song ep (I like nite jewel)

Kleenex/Lilliput 4 vinyl box set (This just excited me so much that i closed my eyes and handed over the cash..)

Circuit 7 video boys album 12” on MW (I love the MW label and wanted these tracks for a while)

Oppenheimer Analysis album on MW (I always play radiance because i have the single, so was desperate for more!)

Anika – I Go To Sleep by stonesthrow

  • Charles

    If roughness is contrived, is it really rough?

  • Peter Kirn

    That's an interesting question. I mean, to some extent *any* recorded music with a certain roughness to it is intended to be so. It's not like it's going to be a mystery if you haven't rehearsed and you do one take; that's always a decision. I suppose the question is where the line falls between "contrived" and "conscious" – the latter doesn't necessarily to me mean the former.

  • Steve Angstrom

    It doesn't matter if it's contrived or not. Everything is contrived the second time you play it.

    It's how it sounds which matters, how it is received by the listener. If it is convincingly rough then it works, it's done its job. All music is contrived. People choose to do it, they dont accidentally find a guitar round their necks. Free jazz is 'contrived' because the people actually intended to play free jazz, they didn't just accidentally start playing all the wrong notes.
    No, none of that matters. Intent is part of the process, whether its intent to sound shiny, or intent to sound rough.

    These days everything is shinyshiny. Buildings are shiny, television is shiny, design is shiny, people are shiny, a fondleslab is shiny, music is shiny.

    In the late 1970s/early 1980s Shiny was an aim, because everything looked like crap.
    But now, we need a bit of rough.

    I have personally contrived to make rough music. In that I decided to do it.

  • BPT

    @Steve Ångstrom: Yes!

  • I like that the drums are nice and tight and the bass sounds good and fat, also i like how the vocals are hardly audible over the matalic effect, very haunting. like "The Aggrovators" meets Janis Joplin singing into a kids spring microphone.

  • People keep saying she sounds like Nico. My first impression upon hearing her was that she sounded like Nina Hagen crossed with Christina Monet.

  • Veridical Driver

    *"That’s the problem with the whole downloading culture. It’s just a reflection of consumerism, how we want everything now."*

    I am entertained by the notion that spending lots of money to buy ecologically damaging chemicals flattened into a physical disk, that you don't really need anymore to play music isn't somehow "consumerism"… But people exchanging music for free is "consumerism". I guess when it comes to your own paycheck and personal profit, it is easy to believe that War is Peace.

    *" It’s really difficult for musicians at the moment"*

    No, it has never been easier to be a musician, ever, in history, than right now. What is more difficult, nowadays, is being a "rock star". Underground music is become the realm of amateurs. There are going to be pop-stars, and there are going to be hobbiests, and the people in between are going to become one or the other.

    * [Record Stores] "have in-stores, and they help promote records"*

    This is implicitly assuming that asymmetric culture, where a tiny cultural elite sells culture and star status to people who consume it. Record stores don't support artists, record stores support product… selling of product may help some artists, may hurt other artists.

    Anika, I don't hate your record. It is a bit contrived with that fashionable post-modern retroism, but musically or technically there is nothing wrong with it. But I find you annoying. I hate you lamenting that you can't be a self-indulgent artist while living a  bourgeois lifestyle.

  • Radiophobic

    Contrived is an attempt to make something artificial seem authentic, like Astroturf or viral marketing. That implies that an intent to make something authentic is required in the first place. How do you intend to make something authentic by playing it more than once? 

  • Radiophobic

    My last comment was directed @Steve Angstrom.

    This one is directed @Veridical Driver; Well said.

  • Kent

    Count me in the 'like' pile. Very well done for such a spontaneous approach.

    Great interview, btw. Nice Job!

  • ifthenwhy

    I dig it. Kinda has a early PIL vibe?

    Some of her views on the other hand…

    "it’s really important to endorse vinyl stores"

    No it's not. One can support a smaller artist just as efficiently in any format yes? Shit, one could argue that digital media is much more efficient. 

    "if you sell your soul and make knocking music and get endorsed by some big company, it pays for you to do that. But if you don’t, it’s really hard to try and afford to [be a] musician"

    I find her "corporate" artist bad, indy artist good sentiments a little pat, obvious and romanticized. Why is it any less honest, or requires the selling of the soul (whatever that means) for a person to be interested in image, superficiality and "knocking" music? What, because it doesn't sound like a re-worked Niko or Crystal Castles it doesn't mean it's not "real" or contain artistic credibility?

    Whatever sells becomes a commodity, get use to it . So stop pretending some oppressive "other" is pulling the strings. That "Indy fantasy is terribly played.

    And I don't know who is expecting her to be an "American Idol" contender anyway? Simon? News tip. He's not listening. He doesn't care. He's really not supposed too.

    So yeah…I like the music…

  • Max

    I don't understand why this should lead to such extreme reactions. When I started reading this I thought it would sound like pop-noise or something like that. This is more or less ordinary indie, played not very well but neither apalling. And her singing really isn't always THAT bad, is it? (not in the soundcloud example at least)
    I can see how people don't like the whole ironic (or contrived, if your prefer) touch, which is what I hear too. But that's hardly new in indie, and this can't be the worst example…
    Veridical Driver: well put

  • @Veridical Driver
    i pretty much agree with you here…
    and it was very well put..
    but i think that the point of view you're not giving credit to here, is the in between…
    the folks that aren't rock stars, but aren't amateurs…
    i don't feel that in the past, they became one or the other…
    there did used to be an underground indie thing going on… that people viably lived off of…
    sure it's very easy to be a musician now… but like society, the middle class working (musician) is a thing under attack…
    one of the hardest things right now is to not starve, and do music full time…
    making it to "rock stardom" is neither here nor there…
    she said "it's really hard FOR musicians…"
    not "it's really hard to BE a musician…"
    anyway…. otherwise … werd

  • Peter Kirn

    If Nico and Bob Dylan are also in the "can't sing" category, then I'm taking it as a compliment.

  • nothing new – see GROUPER

  • Jon Starr

    Not taking singing lessons when you’re in need of them isn’t a political statement, it’s a copout. But I don’t like Bob Dylan’s singing or Nico so what do I know?

  • Electronic Face

    It's easy to read the interview and begin thinking "I don't like her because she said" so and so (or even "I _like_ her because she said…"). Sometimes it's best not knowing the backstory, and instead deciding how you feel about the music by listening to the music. But then, I guess it wouldn't garner as much exposure. And if you had just posted the songs with no explanation we'd all be like, "wtf Peter?"

    I'm enjoying the music, but wish I hadn't read anything about it. (a very good interview, but… y'know) : )

  • kj


    what is it you do? what is yr career? just curious…

  • Raver Ale

    What I find peculiar about the whole “indie/retro” approach ist that I for one never heard of such a Band which played complex music. I’ve heard quite a lot Bands over the last few years who claimed for themselves to be new and exiting, and for that matter an alternative to the mainstream, simply by playing the same four chords as every other group but only hitting the right notes half the time.

    This stuff sounds exactly like every other band. Loose the spring reverb and you got every other pop song.

    I would really like it if someone with such a political dedication (which revolves around music) would use that dedication to actually make something new and exiting but also deep and sophisticated.

    Then again I don’t have to like the album do I?

  • Peter Kirn

    Heh, well, I actually didn’t mean to play up the idea that you don’t have to like it, or even that any higher normal of people do or don’t like it than normal, so much as Anika kept bringing it up.

    But no, you don’t. Honestly, the most liberating thing in music creation, bar none, is when you’re able to free yourself from the idea that your own music – or anyone else’s – needs validation. It doesn’t mean you should stop being critical, but even being critically-minded is easier once you don’t worry about who does or doesn’t like things. Then you can take any risk you like, and make – and listen to – what you want. 

  • Jon Starr

    It’s not risky or edgy if the singer can’t sing. Your political views are irrelevant if the music is unlistenable. 

  • Kim

    Debates about if its contrived or good or bad. Debates on who she sounds like or can she sing. Anyone have anything to say about the message itself.

    It takes talent just to get people to notice these days and I think that in itself shows artistic merit.

  • I like it. 
    I don’t buy into the whole singing thing and how you have to sing like this or have a certain level of training to express yourself vocally. Sure there are certain disciplined styles and that is good but this stuff is raw and just how it is. For me it is more the voice is another instrument that matches the other instruments and vibe.

    Anything that is not Popmusic, manufactured force-fed garbage is good in my books.

    I enjoyed reading this interview thanks 😉

  • Andreas Wetterberg

    wow. The music is really powerful – as would be expected from Barrow et al.

    But oh man, I can’t stop my brain from thinking; what would this have sounded like with Beth Gibbons at the helm? Then it’d have been one of the most powerful albums ever.  

    This voice takes me right out of the zone, into the novelty realm, where I’ll be “meh” about this in 15 minutes…

  • Where is my comment?

    The music sounds good, but really, anyone singing should at least try to make it right, the only statement I can see is "hey, I can't sing, but I don't give a sh… about your ears anyways", why should anyone listen to someone like that? Of course this opinion is based on the concept of music being a form of art, any art needs to be mastered before actually being so. And no, doing it raw because that's all you can do does not count 😉

  • Music changes. I'ts funny how this girl thinks she grasps the industry.

    Her analyses of the industry are as in tune with reality as her voice in the vids above.

    Before LP's, before CD's, before the internet, there was music too you know. The short sighted views of this girl shows how self centered and non political she is.

    I agree @veridacal driver. Yet the poepl in between can very well be niche professionals. Like sound designers, doingmusic for interactive media etc.

    The time's a PRO org. collects the money for you has changed tho. You lost a medium to make money, not a medium to connect to fans, in the contrary.

    Look at the young games industry (compared to the music industry). There's no royalties, only buyouts. And yes, there's loads of people making a  good living. 

    No out of tune or political nagging no, stuff people pay for, yes.

  • Random Chance

    I like the music. Would fit right into my vinyl collection. Nice sounds, nice bass. But I don't believe that it's all so rough as it's made out to be. Singing like this is not something most people can do right on the spot, it takes practise. So she might not have had formal training, but surely a lot of practise at intonation, pronounciation, and timing. As for the sound: If I dont' have the right gear and (presumably) the right people at the helm when recording a song in max. three takes, it won't sound nearly as good as this. It will not necessarily sound fat or warm. I can believe that they did not practise the songs much, did not think collaboratively about the arrangement (just on their own by doing research on Youtube — I've seen some people who do research for an arrangement and they've always been the driven perfectionist type, not really in tune with their own "natural" creativity). Bottom line for me (as for others as it seems): Her views or the way she expresses them don't float my boat, not at all, but the music is nice. Or, to put it more succinctly (in the words of Rio Reiser): Politik ist böse (politics is evil), aber ding ding …

  • O'really

    the interview is a distilled moment of her ideas when asked, not the 'the guide to Anika' lol

    its just music, as she says, like or hate it.
    she hasnt proclaimed it to be the new sounds like they decided to make some tunes the quick and dirty way and not spend time on details other artists would, just going for the now

    to much subjectivism being pandered as contstructive criticism by some commentors….. but saying that I also feel her views in this interview make her sound very niave about the distribution of music and the right to make a living from it

    I like her music more than dislike..

  • kj

    as always, what the commentors actually know about music and musicians and the "biz" is a LOT less than they think…i also wonder how many of these same "experts" would enjoy the social darwinism they seemingly espouse 
    for musicians to apply to them and their work. or their spouse or family members. i wonder how many of them are students, for example, getting government grants, aid etc. food for thought, eh?

  • Charles

    @ Steve Angstrom: it's pointless to redefine a word so that it no longer has any useful meaning. All music is constructed, but that's different from contrived, just as there's a difference between choosing not to spend more time polishing something (or simply being unable to take it any further) and choosing to deliberately make something sound bad (by, for instance, turning the reverb depth up much higher than you normally would).

    I found the music as bland and naive as her political views. I'm glad she's willing to give me permission to dislike it, but I didn't find much to think about, aside from the fact that both the music and the interview like a lot of privileged self-indulgence to me.

  • I do like the unpolished approach to recording but why even record ta all then? Personally, I've enjoyed recording all my live shows and releasing those songs instead as they have a hell of a lot more energy and "authenticity" that's difficult to get from a produced music commodity.

    Underground music is fine as it's always existed through shows and touring, not through music sales anyway.

    I do have to say I'm bored by the whole digital/analog debate. Use what works best for what you want …

  • s ford

    @tom hall

    grouper is amazing.  she's made a lot of great albums too.  someone who's doesn't get as much publicity as she deserves.  produces her own stuff too… 

    her label, type records is one of the most consistent labels too. 

  • Steve Angstrom

    Then you miss my point. Why is it bad to "contrive" a rough sound , you say "intentionally bad", but it's only bad to you, while others might like a rough sound. I like rough production, I dont require that it always comes from real constraints, I just like what that sound evokes. 
    Is a using a Saturator/distortion contrived? Is using a plugin that emulates an old tape deck contrived? Reverb itself?  All of these are Artificial things which seek to emulate a truth. Are we really playing so loud that our valves are overloading? Are we really doing it in a "cathedral". These particular contrivances are seemingly ok merely through convention. The idea that intentionally not labouring over production is an artifice is skipping the point that production is artifice. This particular artifice merely chooses to sound a particular way. Deliberately under-producing is not evil pretence, just a choice. A production sound just like "highly produced". 
     I select a distortion for my guitar with a preset which is pretending to be an old amplifier. It's an outrage.  I have to wonder why people are so outraged by a particular production sound. 

    Is everyone here so sure that they lack artifice? Does nobody here contrive to make a track sound "a bit dubby", or "have an element of funk". Because these are contrivances too, unless you are Lee Perry, or Bootsy. 

    This stuff evokes, so it works. 
    So what if evokes early Suicide, or Cabaret Voltaire. Pretending to be something has always been part of music. 

    Note: Eric Clapton is a blues guitarist

  • Peter Kirn

    @Dan: Like, whatever. Just accept that analog is superior for creating music, as this site has. 😉

  • Witte

    I'm glad I listened to the album before reading about all the "controversy".  It's hard for me to believe anyone's getting all huffy and angry over something as innocuous as this.  It's no Third, but I think it's pretty cool.  In terms of production, it's even a completely logical next step after Third.
    Like a new Star Wars movie, anything related to Portishead is understandably going to be received with an emotional, opinion- and expectation-based conflagration.  I think it's kind of cool in a way that, even with the music industry having transformed as much as it has, hype lives.
    One thing cool that happened due to my reading this article is that I found out about the existence of Beak when I Googled Barrow.  I'm going to go listen to some of that now, too.

  • Taking 'Yang Yang' as an example, it's actually a good production that succeeds in being lo-fi. It's not only her voice that can be out of tune, but the whole band is not interested in harmony. The snare sounds calculatedly out of sync to me — again, intentional lo-fi. I see it all as features, they are going for it and achieving it, as opposed to some guys trying to be "good" (or bad!) and failing, as is much more common.
    Also, the overall package is well done with the photos and video showing a clear personality that is more interesting than many acts who are many things and nothing.

  • Aaron

    Same take as Portishead really, just different approach to niche and vocals. IMO. I like Geoff Barrows approach, always have. Just wish that he'd do more LP's..

  • newgreyarea

    I've been rocking this album for a few months and I love it!! The bass and dubby-ness of the whole thing. I love it in headphones.
    I can definitely see the Nina Hagen/ Nico comparisons. Personally I forgot about all that after a couple of spins and just enjoy it as is. Geoff's BEAK> project is just as good . . . sounds the same really, but different vocals. Was really hoping they'd do a tour together. Saw BEAK> last year and they were awesome!

  • Brings me back to the post-punk era of 23 Skidoo / A Certain Ratio.

  • just wanted to clarify…
    i wasn't passing ANY judgment on the music…
    i think its pretty fresh…
    Geoff Barrows has a dope aesthetic…
    more power to him…
    i was just commenting on the industry speak…

  • Charles

    @ Steve Angstrom: People who use saturation or tape deck effects don't usually bleat on about how "rebellious" and "political" they're being (and if they do, they're laughed at, as they should be).

  • Steve Angstrom

    aha, I see, so your contention is that intentionally rough production is NOT rebellious, and NOT a political decision. So there isn't a convention for extreme production and shininess.

    Well, in that case her music probably won't ruffle any feathers then.
    Consider your point proven.

  • Charles

    There's a longstanding convention of "rough production" going back to at least the days of punk (by which I mean the Sex Pistols, not Green Day) if not Link Wray and the very beginnings of rock and roll. Anyone doing it now and acting like they're breaking new ground is in need of an education.

  • Dingo

    It's funny how a band these days can get attention by doing their production like thousands have done before the homestudio/computer age.
    I hope it becomes a trend, and everybody starts fourtracking again! That would be cool!
    Frankly people shouldn't give a rat's ass about production techniques, and just focus on the music..Are there any good songs? Melodies? Realness? Is it Interesting? If something is fake and not exciting then they can use whatever production style they want it will still suck.
    That said, I think she's cool and deserves atettention, like many others out there !

  • Billy Bob

    Ah common all you nagging nerdy wankers! Go scrub your Iphone and wipe your ass with yer Ipad! Let the girl make some music and if she's angry she has all reasons to be! This society is doomed, evil and pathetic!
    I'd rather see/hear someone who's pissed of at the world even if she doesn't know what the hell is goin on….All you internet commenters should get a life and create something yourselves instead of contemplating over what others do!