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Reverb 2012 Interview: Ana Silvera

Each week until December 2012, we’ll be uploading an interview with one of the artists involved with Reverb Festival 2012. Our first interview is courtesy of rising star Ana Silvera – you can listen via Soundcloud or have a read below:

Ana Silvera – performing with the Estonian Television Girls Choir

Reverb 2012 – Sunday 26 February / 7.30pm / £10 – £30

AS – Ana Silvera

AM – Alex Mee – Roundhouse Radio

AM: What will you be performing?

AS: I recently wrote a piece called Oracles which is a song cycle in seven parts. And I’m also writing a four piece movement for choir electronics and solo voice which is a work in progress. It doesn’t have a title but it’s a collaboration with composer Max de Wardener who’s working on the electronics and co-arranging with me.

AM: What is it about the voice as an instrument that inspires you?

AS: I think it’s the most expressive pallet you can possibly have especially if you take it beyond the normal realms of what choirs and voices are expected to do. My plan for this piece is for it to take in all sorts of feelings and sounds, so percussive as well as harmonic and polyphonic. It’s just this amazing instrument tool to play with. The Estonian Girls Choir are soprano, alto and tenor and so that’s an interesting challenge to not have bass in there.

AM: When we were doing some research for this, one of the tags that people use to describe you was as a folk opera artist. Is that a tag that you’re happy with and do you feel it describes your work?

AS: Oh wow – that’s interesting. The opera bit is a little misleading because it implies that I sing in an operatic way which I don’t but I suppose that’s referring to the strong classical influence to my music and the folk is definitely true. Perhaps not in the normal sense of a folk sound but probably more in the sense of telling stories, relating narratives using traditional tales to shape my music and taking on personas from various folk tales.

AM: How was it working with the Roundhouse experimental choir?

AS: It was a great pleasure. They are really strong and lovely singers. I felt very supported because it was an interesting process of creation. I had the idea before I had any of the music to make this seven song cycle and they were very much with me as I developed it. Also their willingness to experiment as their name suggests was really helpful because I could just give them a sense of an idea and they could run with it.

AM: You mentioned the folklore aspects of your work. Why have you chosen to use that as inspiration? Was it just a personal interest?

AS: Well that’s a really interesting question. I think there’s something very archetypal about those stories and there are some very important emotions and journeys but at the same time it’s so multi-layered. They work on both the literal – the sheer enjoyment of a story – but also a psychological and also a spiritual sense because they often involve some kind of spiritual question and quest. I think I was also keen to not solely write songs from a personal perspective because I think that can sometimes be quite limited. You create a persona that is the conventional ‘I’ which is the artist and I wanted to broaden that out and deliberately take on different personalities and perspectives.

AM: Are you also doing a collaboration with Imogen Heap on the night?

AS: We are indeed. I’m probably going to be dueting with her on one of her songs and I think it’s going to work the other way round as well although we’re yet to decide on what we’re going to duet on together.

AM: Are you looking forward to it?

AS: Absolutely. For a start she’s got a fantastic voice and I’m getting to know her work. I was obviously already aware of her and her work and thought it was excellent.  So I’m very much looking forward to it. Harmonising is one of my favourite things to do. So not only am I going to have a choir but also a fellow solo artist – it’s great.

AM: Do you think bringing in highly recognised artists from pop culture helps people to access more classical inspired work?

AS: Yeah I guess it does. It’s hard for me to say because I’ve come from the other way round. I’m from a very classical background and it’s been a journey for me going towards pop music via classical. So I suppose it can work both ways.

AM: And finally, what pieces would you recommend for someone just starting out with this type of music?

AS: I would listen to Grizzly Bear, which I’m sure lots of people know. They do some pretty amazing stuff with choirs. Also there’s a composer called Max Richter who wrote a series of pieces. One called Infra which was set as a dance by the Royal Ballet. Also connected to that style are people like Steve Reich and Philip Glass whose style is very melodic and rhythmical, something that you might recognise from pop music.

AM: That’s great, thanks for talking to us

To read more about Ana’s performance at Reverb 2012 and to buy tickets, visit roundhouse.org.uk/reverb

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