On this month: Anna Meredith

January 28, 2020

Photo by Ed Miles 

 

There is a propulsive joy in Anna Meredith’s music. Her debut album Varmints – a fever dream of electronic rhythms, brass, vocals, guitars and more – was a labour of love, created between “some big classical pieces, and TV and film work”. 


After studying music at the University of York and Royal College of Music, Anna has been composer-in-residence with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, and has written pieces for several Proms concerts, including Five Telegrams, performed on the first night in July 2018. The electronic side of her work has seen her music reach a new audience: “It felt like a big gamble, so I felt really grateful that its success has enabled me to build up that side of my musical life.” 


Her show at The Old Market this month – part of their Reigning Women season – will feature music from both Varmints and recent album Fibs. I recommend checking out her video for Paramour on YouTube if you’d like a taste of what to expect from the concert: the video sees Anna’s band performing the frenetic composition – with deftly layered melodies reminiscent of Battles and Steve Reich – filmed by a camera which has been mounted on a Lego train, whirling around a track. The line-up for the show will consist of “a drummer, guitarist, tuba player, cellist… and I do electronics, play a bit of clarinet and hit some drums as well.” 


After finishing Fibs, Anna decided to buy herself a Nintendo Switch. “I’m completely, alarmingly obsessed and it’s all I think about all the time. I’m playing Zelda and it’s brilliant.” Fans of old arcade games might enjoy the pulsing arpeggios of Anna’s music. “I do like the sort of chiptune soundworld of older video games… lots of 
energy and a slightly cheap 80s/90s synthy sound.”


Is she having more fun in the pop world? “I don’t think the worlds are as black and white as one being more fun than the other. It’s just about finding the right audience, and I’ve been really lucky that people have come with me. I don’t think about genre much when I’m writing; people who have come to my orchestral stuff have then come to band gigs, and vice versa. I feel really proud of that crossover. There’s a lot of overlaps with the style of writing: it’s all the same ingredients really.”


To round off an impressive decade, Anna was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s birthday honours list in 2019, with the medal ceremony taking place soon after we speak, in January 2020. “It was a total surprise, and a bit bonkers. It’s not one of those things I ever had on my radar as something to expect or consider. I’m really chuffed; I’ve got to find a hat, and a two piece outfit… I’ve got to do some serious shopping. It should be an experience, the whole thing.”


The Old Market, Feb 10th, 7.30pm 

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