Interview: Luke James Williams & Annie Dressner | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Cambridge based singer-songwriter Luke James Williams and New York folk artist Annie Dressner are hitting the road this Autumn and promoters Down By The River have got them to stop by the North-East to perform at Claypath Deli in Durham on Saturday 28th September. Both artists have received considerable recognition for their songcraft, which has seen them both feature on national radio and perform at some of the UK’s biggest festivals 

Ahead of their Durham show, we caught up with the talented joint tour headliners for a joint interview to find out more about them.

What is your music about?
Annie: My music is mainly autobiographical; the songs are memories and clips from my life put to song.  A few of my songs are not about me, but I have tried to write them from the perspective of the person whom they are about – so they, too, may feel very personal.

Luke: Life. I write primarily from personal experience and in response to what is going on around me but I like to leave room in the songs for people to draw their own meanings without being too ambiguous. When you create a song it becomes a living, breathing thing and it changes over time.

Who are your biggest creative influences?
Annie: I’m not super trendy but always say that my biggest influence is probably Simon & Garfunkel.

Luke: I take inspiration from a whole host of music, art, books, films and everyday life but in terms of my biggest influences musically it would be artists such as Sufjan Stevens and PJ Harvey. I love how they are constantly breaking new ground with their sound whilst retaining a very unique identity. The songwriting is always stunning and intriguing and each album brings new surprises. 

Could you briefly describe the music-making process?
Annie: Normally when I feel the need to write a song, the song comes out quickly with both the words and lyrics at the same time.  I record all of my ideas and then go back and tweak and write from the original music thought that came to mind. I recently wrote a song from lyrics first and added the music after.  That was much harder to do, but if I can learn to do that, I may be able to write more songs with more frequency.

Luke: I think it’s probably most akin to doing a puzzle. You have lots of different elements and you keep working and shaping until the picture makes sense and says what you want it to say. Sometimes it comes together very quickly and other times you can go years without the missing pieces.

Describe your live show.
Annie: Native New Yorker with a guitar, no pick and sometimes Paul Goodwin on electric or keys.  

Luke: At the moment it’s just me playing my songs solo but I incorporate different instruments, sounds and stories into the set to take the audience on a journey. 

Name your favourite song by your tour co-headliner and explain why you chose this track.
Annie: “Speak to Me” is one of my favourite songs of Luke’s.  When I am into a song, I am normally first listening to the music, followed by the lyrics.  I think the song is really beautiful. I love the constant guitar and how softly and sweetly Luke is singing. His double vocals on the chorus in the recording are really lovely and I believe what he is singing. 

Luke: It’s genuinely hard to pick just one but ‘When I See Stars’ would probably be it. I love how Annie’s songs paint pictures, they are like brilliant indie films in musical form. The chorus in particular in this song is just beautiful! 

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