Interview: Anja McCloskey
Published on November 5th, 2012 | Jonny Abrams
Rocksucker loves An Estimation, the debut album by singer/accordionist Anja McCloskey – “a revelation, brimming with tempestuous classical folk equal parts spellbinding and richly melodic” – we said in our four-quail review – so we fired her over some questions pertaining to the record, and her prominent involvement in the splendid Southampton-based label Sotones…
How did you spend Halloween?
Rather shockingly (but not to those who know me) I did nothing on Halloween. I had a nice dinner, cleaned the house and watched a happy film. I can’t deal with scary movies and costumes. My imagination is too vivid for that…
Congratulations on a sublime album. How did you manage to swing recording it in the Quaker Hall? How long did it take, all in all?
Well thank you, I’m glad you like it. We found the Quaker Hall by chance when looking at large halls in the Southampton area. We fell in love with it the first time we set foot in it and it was a no-brainer really to record the entire album there. It was such a serene setting, old wood everywhere, a grand piano… I think overall it took us about a year to record and mix the album.
How much of the instrumentation did you handle yourself? Who else contributed?
I sing and play accordion, piano and clarinet on the album. There is also the odd song where I play electric guitar (“Sunset No.73”), but I wouldn’t claim that I can actually play that instrument… The other contributors on the album are my Haunted Stereo band mates Andy Harris on vocals and electric and acoustic guitar and Ben Jennings on violin, Moneytree’s Campbell Austin on acoustic guitar and vocals, Ollie Austin and Ruth Skipper from the Moulettes on drums and vocals respectively, Etao Shin’s Joseph Kelly on double bass, Brad Walters on acoustic guitar, Thomas Tantrum’s David Miatt on acoustic guitar, Ottersgear’s Mikey Kenney on violin, Patricia Spodzieja on viola, Hollie Chapman on violin and Mike Porter on clarinet. As you can see, just a few people ;-)…
Have you given much thought yet to a next album, and if so do you think you’ll record it in the same location?
I am actually moving to the States for a little bit at the end of this month to concentrate on writing new material. I usually try and gig new songs as much as possible to develop them and to gauge audience reactions, so I will be trying them out on an American audience this time. When I feel I have enough material I will certainly think about recording a new album. But I think I want to record it at a different location this time. I like change and it keeps me on the edge. I would never want to become complacent about my music and always stick with the tried and tested.
How much of the day-to-day running of Sotones do you handle yourself?
I am a Director of Sotones Records and currently I am in charge of PR and Finance. Sotones is run as a co-operative by the bands that are signed to the label and we take turns in being directors. It is basically a group of like-minded musicians helping each other and having a fun time doing it.
What does 2013 hold for the label? Or is it impossible to tell at this stage?
There are a lot of exciting projects in the works. Both Ottersgear and Lonely Joe Parker are releasing LPs and there are more projects to come from Etao Shin and Calico Cat as well. And I can’t wait for the long-awaited return of David Miatt aka Jackie Paper. It looks like it is going to be a busy year!
I love Rufus and he can do no wrong in my eyes. Whilst Release the Stars completely blew me away on first listen, it did take several attempts to get into the new album. It definitely has a Mark Ronson touch to it… The standout track for me is “Rashida”.
In fact, excluding Sotones artists, what would be your Album of 2012?
There were quite a few amazing albums that came out this year. New and cherished additions to my CD selection were definitely Sharon Van Etten’s Tramp and Dirty Projectors’ Swing Lo Magellan.
Are there any instruments you can’t play that you’d like to be able to?
I have been trying to learn to play the violin for years. It has been a painful process, as it just sounds awfully out of tune and clumsy to me. This year I decided to call it quits. I will never be an amazing solo violinist and perhaps I should just stick with the accordion, which brings me immense joy and is the loveliest instrument I can think of. It is super expressive and full-sounding and I wouldn’t trade it for anything else…
Anja McCloskey, thank you.
An Estimation is out now on Sotones. For more information, please visit www.anjamccloskey.co.uk