YOU are a London-based four-piece fronted by uber-dynamic songstress and pianist, Anna Waldmann, whose heartfelt lyrics and gentle melodies provide the core of the band's sound, which is beautifully atmospheric, folky, and with a baroque-pop twist. Their new single, 100 Lanterns, is out this week on iTunes, and we suggest you go and download it. We catch up with Anna in central London, to find out a bit more about her musical journey...
“I was always into classical music from when I was really young, and then I started to write weird poems, and I think it was when I combined the two that I realised it sounded pretty different to other stuff out there,” reflects Anna Waldmann, modestly, as two tepid cappuccinos arrive at our table. “ It's the same with all artists, I think; you take what is available to you and your environment - musical things, your influences - and it kind of comes out esoterically in some weird mess, which is then your project... I think!”
As I down most of my coffee in one, before it becomes completely cold, Anna lets off a warm smile, and waits for my next question. I discover she is also adept on the violin, but piano is her mainstay, and that classical background is what enables her to pen such inventive chord structures.
“It's because I start with the songs on the piano, and I like weird chords from the Baroque period; if it was piano on its own, it might not be entirely relevant, nowadays – I don't really like that word, but... [smiles] It's quite evident in plagal cadence, and stuff like that, and lots of bands, such as Radiohead, use a lot of it – and they're my favourite people in the world, so that's cool [laughs].
“But chord-wise, songwriting is about what sounds right to you. I am not the best technical songwriter, I just fiddle about until something sounds right; and if you were to analyse my songs, there are a hell of a lot of chord changes in them, and that's where the classical influence comes into play the most.”
And it's not just the piano playing that's a little quirky... Anna's vocals are really different. For me, there's a little of Kate Bush, a little of Tori Amos, and a lot of something else. As Anna sees it, “I sound like a weird 10-year-old!”
“My voice was too weird to do this classical stuff I grew up on, so I wouldn't exactly be your typical soprano; and also, my voice wasn't particularly strong, so I grew up thinking, 'oh, this is all I've got to offer', but then I realised that actually it's just very peculiar, and there aren't a lot of voices out there like it,” she admits. “I have been compared to a few people, like the singer from Blonde Redhead, and a few others, and as a result, what I once thought was a weakness, is now my strength, really.”
We agree... YOU's excellent debut single, In Halves, was play-listed by XFM, and got a nice write-up in NME; and single number two, 100 Lanterns, is released this week on iTunes.
Check out YOU's live recording of the new single in the video above, and have a listen to the master HERE, and if you like what you hear (and see), head to the iTunes Store now and download it!
Follow YOU on Twitter @itisyouhere
Read Anna's full interview in Headliner Magazine in early 2015...