PROUST ON THE TOON – Anna Calvi | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Parlour games were massive in the late 19th century, and it’s one of these that can be held responsible for what’s now known as The Proust Questionnaire. Its namesake is the literary French icon Marcel Proust who was just 14 when he answered the questions for a childhood friend, as a new-fangled personality test. Of course, these days, it could be called the “James Lipton from Inside the Actors Studio” questionnaire.

Many notable musicians, artists, writers and actors have answered the questions before, which are notably telling about one’s personality. And we think it’s only right that they continue to do so – for our entertainment and for theirs.

Enter: Proust on the Toon. (Wey aye!)

Ahead of Anna Calvi’s excursion to The Boiler Shop on Wednesday 3rd October with her band (including multi-instrumentalist Mally Harpaz and Alex Thomas on drums), to tour her intensely glorious album Hunter, Anna Calvi was gracious enough to answer some select question from the Proust Questionnaire.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
I guess when you lose all sense of hope, I’d say that’s the lowest point that you can get to. When you can only see the negativity around you and you can’t see that it will ever change. Which I guess happens to everyone at some point.

What is your idea of earthly happiness?
Forgetting who you are and where you are and just being in the moment. I’m very much in my head a lot of the time, I think probably too much. But I find the moments I’m most happy is when I’m really not thinking and I’m just in the world, just appreciating the very simple things.

To what faults do you feel the most indulgent?
I’m a terrible hypochondriac. It drives me insane. Whenever I feel stressed about something externally, I deal with it by worrying that I have some sort of brain tumor or something. It’s very frustrating. So I’d say that’s my biggest fault.

What is the quality you most admire in a person?
Empathy. I think it takes imagination to have empathy. It’s so important. Being able to have fulfilling relationships with other people is to be able to put yourself in their shoes.

What is your most marked characteristic?
It’s a funny one, because I don’t feel small, but I know that probably the first thing people think when they meet me is that I’m small. But it’s funny because I only realize that I’m small when I see photos of myself next to other people, and then suddenly I realize I’m half the size of most people.

What in your mind is the greatest of misfortunes?
Making mistakes can be really beneficial, in a way, if you’re open to learning from them. Or if you use them as fire to get better. Like, if you make a mistake in your relationship and you end up breaking up because of it, you feel so awful about it and so bad about it. But next time round, when you’re with someone, you just know you’re never going to make the same mistake again. It can make for a better experience the next time that you’re in a relationship with someone.

How would you like to die?
Just really quick. I’d like to die in my sleep, obviously. But sometimes I think, say if you were right in the street and you just exploded, it would be so quick you wouldn’t even know it had happened. So if it had to be in a dramatic way, maybe like a plane exploding into flames in the sky, then maybe that would be – as long as it’s quick, I could handle that. But I think sleep sounds less stressful, so I’ll go with the sleep one.

What is your present state of mind?
Well, I started interviewing at eight in the morning today, so I’m pretty frazzled. I’d say frazzled is my state of mind.

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