July 24, 2021

"In our civilization women can create life, but not art" | Culture

"In our civilization women can create life, but not art" | Culture

Some trouble takes over Anna Calvi (London, 1980) when his status as an artist recognized by critics is mentioned. And although she confesses not to read reviews, the fact is unappealable: as it happened with her opera prima in 2011 and with the continuation (One Breath, 2013), his new album, Hunter (Domino-Music As Usual), receive congratulations. "I do not think about it and the prizes [sendas candidaturas al Mercury previas] neither mean so much for an artist in full activity, unless you know more people when it comes to someone like me, say, alternative.

The voice of the powerful singer and guitarist resembles in the talk a whisper. Nothing to do with the slap of elaborate music, but without exhibitionism that dazzled in the last edition of the FIB. A summer preview of the tour that takes place this Saturday in Spain (13, Valencia, 14, Barcelona, ​​16, Madrid, and 17, Santiago), also in a trio format and that promises "ardent".

This third length of study moves around the same concept: "I do not know what is called conceptual album, but there is a link between the songs. They are a look at someone who does not bend to how women are usually portrayed. A woman who explores the pleasure and feelings rejected by gender labels ".

"If I were like a man in everything except in my body / would I understand you now completely?" Calvi intones in the first verses of the album. "I have always been interested and I have lived with passion those themes, it is normal that they surfaced in My lyrics, although this time I decided to write more directly, not so much between the lines, I wanted to tell stories and, at the same time, convey a feeling of freedom. "

A desire reflected in the music: "With a somewhat more raw and wild sound, for which Nick Launay seemed perfect in the production for its ease to make it feel organic. I had already shown it with the Bad Seeds, "says Calvi. And not only with the band Nick Cave, also with another of the projects of the Australian, Grinderman, which he opened in 2010. From that environment emerged one of the stellar collaborators of the album: the bassist of both groups, Martyn P. Casey ("An incredible musician, it was amazing to have him"). The other plus of prestige comes from Adrian Utley, the multi-instrumentalist from Portishead. "I wanted that special sound of their keyboards[analogsynthesizers[sintetizadoresanalógicosmellotron…], the beautiful soundscapes that it weaves, "he says.

Calvi defines his new delivery as the development of "a utopia": "Imagine myself, graphically, loving without the burden that they instill in you as a child, that song that being homosexual is something horrible". The closing cut, Eden, alludes to it. "A first time with a woman without thinking, 'How are my friends going to react?'" And there are a couple of songs where dynamite rancid feminine stereotypes "Because I am an Alpha / I divide and conquer", sings in Alpha. Or the text of one's own Hunter: "Nothing lasts, nothing lasts / now I want to play, I want to play / one more flavor, one more time.

Although the work was recorded in the very London studios Konk, owned by The Kinks ("old-looking but great sound"), it does not stop having ties with France in its gestation. For much of the five-year period since the previous album ("my label never asked me"), Calvi lived in Strasbourg with his French girlfriend. "And although we're back in London, after three years together, I do not stop seeing it as a second home." Already its first artistic link had a gala connection: a cover of Jezebel, success for Édith Piaf in 1951 (months before for Frankie Laine). And not long ago, he covered a live EP with Christine And The Queens. "I think she's very intelligent in all the things she does," she says of the artist from Nantes.

Another thing is the influence of his father, Italian: "I used to play opera when I was very young. And maybe that's where my passion and romanticism come from, in the musical sense, of the Mediterranean identity. I saw English as something more tense and ironic, with what I did not identify. " The opera, apart from certain records of its throat, has become a new field of operations after composing The Sandman, from a short story by the writer E.T.A. Hoffmann. Robert Wilson was in charge of the staging last year. "We got along well, although at first she was distressed, her halo intimidates a little."

She, in any case, knows what it is to deal with luminaries: Brian Eno collaborated in his first album and David Byrne, in the EP of versions Strange Weather (2014). "Both share a real enthusiasm for music, and curiosity to tackle new things. It was a very inspiring attitude. " Eno was the one who released the lapidary phrase about Anna: "The best since Patti Smith". And when producing Rob Ellis (collaborator of PJ Harvey) his debut, the usual comparisons emerged. "In the end, everything comes from a civilization that sees feminine creativity as something exotic and that is based on the idea that women can create life, but not art. I hope that is changing in some way. "


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