On 3rd September 2012, acclaimed German-American artist Anja McCloskey releases her debut album ‘An Estimation,’ a 12-track collection overflowing with bold arrangements, punchy instrumentals and Anja’s haunting vocals, recorded entirely in a Georgian Quaker Hall in Southampton.
Built around Anja’s trademark accordion, ‘An Estimation’ embodies elements of folk, classical, alternative and traditional music, as it moves effortlessly between moments of darkness (‘And Her Head’), drama (former Q Track of the Day – ‘A Kiss’) joy (‘Italian Song’) and beauty (‘Sunset No.73’).
“Not all my songs are intrinsic personal stories, but the emotions are personal. I am most alive when I feel, so I tend to be either extremely happy or very down when I write my songs. That’s definitely reflected in my music.”
Other highlights include the piano-led ‘Buddenbrooks,’ inspired by the Thomas Mann novel of the same name, and new single, ‘Instigate It,’ which Anja calls her ‘funeral song.’ “It’s upbeat, but it is a farewell song, with devastating lyrics which have a lot of personal meaning to me.”
Anja’s own favourite, the beguiling ‘Tornado,’ is dramatic but slow-paced, working its way up to a dissonant violin outro, followed by the contemplative ‘Quite Low,’ with its smouldering vocals. And don’t miss ‘Blinded By Blue’ which plays on classic French Musette waltzes, written after an awkward encounter in Paris, and ‘Ivory,’ one of the album’s oldest songs, originally a Haunted Stereo demo, which later featured on Anja’s 2010 EP, ‘Turn Turn Turn.’
“I ponder over my songs for months, sometimes years,” says Anja. “I write very quickly, so they’re often very raw. I then record demos and arrange parts for other instruments. Eventually when I listen to it recorded, I feel such relief that I’ve got it from my head to a stereo.”
Anja is already a relative veteran of the music scene, having gained a raft of experience playing with avant-garde performance orchestra The Irrepressibles and folk-rock trailblazers Haunted Stereo (also on Sotones), with whom she composed ‘Cross the Sea,’ another Q Magazine Track of the Day, before going solo in 2010. “It’s been extremely liberating,” says Anja. “The dynamics in a band are very different. I can now be my own boss and live out my unstoppable German energy, crazy schedules and organisation attacks!”
Anja chose to stick with Sotones, loving the creative freedom and camaraderie of an independent label, releasing her first solo EP ‘Turn, Turn, Turn’ in 2010, before embarking on her first ever US tour. She has since released three acclaimed singles, ‘And Her Head,’ ‘A Kiss’ and ‘Italian Song’. All three have been accompanied by stunning videos directed by Gillian Sore, on board again for the new single ‘Instigate It’, currently being filmed in Southampton. Anja also recently worked with artists Joe McDonald and James Crawford on a stop motion animation for understated B-Side ‘Black Coffee’. Check out all Anja’s videos HERE.
And finally, as an artist ‘impossible to pigeonhole’ (This is Fake DIY), where would Anja herself place ‘An Estimation’? “Well, in HMV the categories have been reduced to dance/urban, jazz, classical, rock&pop and other. So, I would have to choose other. I can’t possibly see myself in rock or pop. Though if I had a choice I’d put myself in alternative. Or maybe my dual citizenship qualifies me for world music…?”
Find out more about Anja here.