INTERVIEW: Anna B Savage | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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A songwriter of rare poise and emotional heft, Anna B Savage’s upcoming visit to The Cluny ranks among the region’s must-see March events. Having emerged during the pandemic and played only a clutch of UK dates since, this month’s show represents a maiden opportunity for North East fans to experience the majesty of the Londoner’s craft in person. “I find it easier performing in front of strangers,” she states, on the prospect of swaying a new audience. “Obviously a crowd of 200 is a shit-ton of people, but I still feel like a completely anonymous person – even if it’s quite antithetical to the stuff I’m writing!”

Indeed, despite capturing hearts with the stirring catharsis of 2021 debut A Common Turn, the new record in|FLUX presents an even more probing exploration of inner tumult. A step-up in every sense, Anna’s second full-length was penned during and inspired by the process of therapy; a candid, deeply intimate account of the nuances and flaws of the human condition, centred around the relationships we forge and the psychological imprints they leave – for better and for worse.

“One of the annoying things about healing is that it’s nonlinear. It doesn’t come packaged up in a nice neat bow, and part of the difficulty is learning to live while experiencing lots of opposing feelings at the same time,” she notes. “That’s the magic and pain of having relationships with people – they affect you in completely different ways. They can be damaging, joyful and everything in between. It’s all about multiplicity, and part of growing is that realisation that things aren’t just black and white.”

Captured vividly across ten captivating vignettes, this ongoing quest to come to terms with her own psyche culminates in a broad array of tonal and thematic shades – from the lingering scars divulged on The Ghost, to Pavlov’s Dog’s sex-positive outlook and the joy the title track sources from solo contentment. It’s a delicate, occasionally juxtaposing balance Anna was keen to strike across in|FLUX, not least in retort to the opaque parades offered elsewhere.

“I think social media in particular has encouraged and enabled us to become our own brands, and that’s something I really wanted to butt up against,” she observes. “Brands don’t like change, nuance or grey areas: You can only be one thing, and you have to keep repeating that thing in different ways in order to succeed. It’s not only an unhealthy way for us to be – it’s not human.”

Nowhere is this progressive approach better embodied than on the album’s bookends. With its claustrophobic framing and repeated pleas of “stop haunting me,” aforementioned opener The Ghost is the sound of a songwriter grappling with the cyclic contours of mind and memory, seeking to wage war with her brain as opposed to comprehend its inner workings. That it was written more or less concurrently with opposite number The Orange – a song which treads similar thematic ground, but from an outward-facing position of acceptance (or “muted happiness,” as Anna puts it) – is not only remarkable, but testament to a writer who delights in the challenge of divulging her innermost conflicts.

With the album in the can, Anna’s next round of musical therapy promises to be more compelling still – and where better to conduct it than before a room of northern strangers?

Anna B Savage plays The Cluny on Monday 20th March. in|FLUX is out now.



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