“They got a big heavy sound with Annie’s light delicate voice floating on the top…” – Matt Adams (The Blank Tapes)
At the crossroads of ambiguity, escape, emotion and subtlety you’ll likely find San Francisco based Annie Girl.
Wearing her history on her sonic sleeves with almost haunting and poignant honesty to the point you may have no choice but to fall into the storied tracks like a late night soap.
In a vocal style reminiscent of Hope Sandoval mix in faint echoes of Margo Timmins and lyrical openness of Clara Luzia and a good blend of awe and tactile ‘plot lines’ there is no doubt this is an artist who’s coming EP Pilot Electric (Out May 2nd) should and will have your attention.
Annie Girl (Photo by Karen Doolittle)
Annie Girl is backed by The Flight (Josh Pollock – guitar, Nick Ott – drums & Joe Lewis – bass) in what will soon be the new benchmark for indie pop/rock. In an age when music genres are becoming increasingly discombobulated, there is a sense of newness and forwardness in what this group is providing us. In another word, Fresh.
Bottom line, Pilot Electric is one of the finest set of tracks I’ve put ears on so far this year. Chock full of thick airy arrangements complimenting the almost angelic delivered vocals from the leader of the band.
I recently had the chance to chat with Annie about the new EP and a bit of her back story…
Your back story intrigues me to no end. Can you tell me about how you found yourself in San Fran from Denver?
San Francisco had always been part of the plan for me.. I told myself wild stories growing up, and once I hit junior high I realized that I was standing on a dot that I was too young to connect.
The first time I came here I was sixteen. I hadn’t found my voice and I was coming out of a rough period.. After ten months I left, went back to Denver and got a little apartment on capital hill, started attending community college and telling myself new stories that involved a rigorous education and a degree in English Literature. After a semester I wanted to transfer to the state school but the dean gave me the wrong application deadline.. Due to the timing it meant I would have to wait another full year before I’d be able to get into a university. I didn’t feel right about staying in my hometown another year, and realized that the entire plan was something I’d come up with when I got scared and tried to let go of my dreams.
I couldn’t continue on that path so I bought a one-way ticket to San Francisco.
Your journey in music started at an early age, was this something that was sorta put on you or has this direction always been of freewill?
My dad’s a musician so I grew up in a house with instruments in it. I’m not sure if my parents asked if I wanted to take piano lessons.. I was three – I don’t remember. I do remember that I loved playing piano, and I loved going to the lessons.
When I wanted to play saxophone and stopped paying as much attention to the piano they were both supportive. They’ve always been supportive of me, and the way that music fits into my life. I started playing guitar in elementary school and had my first band.
On a recent trip back to Denver digging through pictures I found one of me at two or three, hands wrapped around a microphone singing.. Music has always been a place where I can be free.
Learning any instrument at an early age is a grand accomplishment for anyone; you learned several and started dabbling in songwriting.
I figured out at a young age that through songwriting I could say anything I wanted, no matter how personal or extreme. All I had to do was remove a few words here and there so that the lyrics didn’t totally expose my heart.. Still the words say a lot and I think the simplicity leaves more room for others to relate, and keeps the songs private and personal for me which adds to the energy of my performance.
Back to San Fran, how did you find yourself with The Ark and what exactly is it?
The Ark was a collective located in a SoMa warehouse. Cristian brought me there. (Cristian run’s Calar Music, put out our first record, and is doing the Vinyl release of Pilot Electric.) I ended up in Delores park at the tail end of a three-day party. One friend introduced me to him and another prompted me to play a song on his guitar.. I happily obliged and he listened. Even then he believed in me – before I found my voice, and before I believed in myself. He brought me to The Ark. I fell in love with it. All these people from different parts of the world practicing different mediums.
We did some of my early recordings there and soon after I joined the Family Folk Explosion they invited us to move in.
What’s an interview without speaking of influences… Who would you say you’ve modeled your direction after the most? (And, does it change as your music does?)
I see (and hear) them on a regular basis and they push me to be better.
How did Annie Girl and the Flight come to be?
I’d been playing with the Family Folk Explosion, more of a meeting of the mind’s then a band.. It had three main songwriters – Mark Matos, Matthew Welde and myself. They both had bands separate from the FFE and The Flight spawned out of that situation.
Joe and I had already been playing together in FFE and I’d see Josh performing with various bands around town. I’d never heard anyone get a guitar to make the sounds he does and was totally wowed every time I saw him. We ended up playing in the same band at GAMH (Mark Matos and OS Beaches) and I eventually got up the nerve to ask him if he wanted to play with us.
Then I got to share a bill with one of my favorite musicians Emily Jane White. We exchanged albums and Nick (her boyfriend who she lives with, who also plays with her but wasn’t at that gig) heard it at their house, ran into Joe who said we were looking for a drummer and that was it.
You have a new release coming out, why did you decide to release an EP? Do you dislike long albums?
Not at all! Each record is a story and this one just happened to be short.
Superbly laid out arrangements. I have to ask how much is how you envisioned them during writing and how much is studio hashing?
We knew most of the songs well before going into the studio but they changed a bit once we were in there.
With your last release you had some pretty good critical admiration. Am I safe to assume that none of that affects the way you work on new material?
Yeah, the songs are just me purging bottled up feelings or weird thoughts I’ve been pushing away or holding onto – it’s a mix of both.
You could easily make mainstream pop albums or ride the wave of the neo-folk scene, has it ever crossed your mind to go for the bucks over making what’s personally right? And/or what do you think of the current state of the music business?
I’m terrible at containing myself categorically and have failed to do so in most areas of my life… Keeping things in is not my forte. Recently I started this side project called Dooms Virginia for the other half of my songwriting-self and will probably release something under that moniker before the end of the year..
As for the music industry – it’s a wild west.
How much of your life do you hope always stays a mystery?