voice on the verge #21: ana silvera
Wears The Trousers first became aware of Ana Silvera last year when our resident writing accordionist Anja McCloskey started playing gigs with her. First impressions of Ana as just another Regina Spektor wannabe swiftly evaporated as further investigation revealed her to be a sophisticated, hyperliterate storyteller in her own right, an artist in possession of a gloriously supple voice that suits her airy, classically-influenced piano stylings to a tee. As a youngster she sang solos with the English National Opera before defaulting to jazz in the throes of an adolescent semi-rebellion. A degree in English Literature followed, making perfect sense for someone whose songs are largely informed by various mythical and historical figures, and months spent living wherever the flow of being took her – four months sleeping in a bed beneath a fig tree in Ibiza, time in the cultural and musical goldmine of Berlin – before making her current home in the artistic enclave of Stoke Newington in North London. Being out there performing her gorgeously understated songs is clearly where her passion lies; she’s released a live CD and separately taped DVD before a single scrap of studio output. You can watch some clips from the DVD below, but scroll awhile to first digest her duteous responses to our constant questionnaire…
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What’s your earliest memory?
In a sunlit garden, pretending to be a cat called Paddy.
What were you like at school?
I hated school, so probably quietly, simmeringly plotting mutiny.
What’s the worst job you’ve ever worked and what was so bad about it?
Strawberry picking. I was fired for bruising the strawberries after all of a day.
Who was the first person/band you saw in concert?
That’ll be (does this count as a band?) Goldie, Fabio and Grooverider at the Blue Note, London.
Who was your childhood idol?
Sam Beckett…from ‘Quantum Leap’, that is.
If you could star in any TV show, past or current, which would it be and what kind of character would you play?
It would have to be ‘Roseanne’. I’d like to be DJ.
What is your most loved item of clothing and why is it so treasured?
It’s actually jewellery, a moonstone necklace my mum got for me just before she died.
What did you listen to when you were growing up?
My mum was a big soul and funk fan, so I remember we were constantly listening to Stevie Wonder (especially Innervisions), Nina Simone and ‘Freak’ by Chic. When I was around 9 or 10, I moved onto Neneh Cherry, The Beatles and, um, Clannad.
Which female musicians have most inspired you?
The ethos and integrity of artists such as Björk and Gillian Welch are a big inspiration.
What’s been the best moment of your career so far?
Any time a musician I have great respect for has been enthusiastic about working with me.
Which artist would you most like to work with – your dream collaboration?
Definitely up there would be Bill Viola (master of video art installations).
What kind of person would have sex to your music?
Temperamental graduates having sex with their hand, and occasionally, I’d like to think, with each other.
Have you ever written a song that wasn’t in English?
I have. I lived in Berlin and me and my then boyfriend were commissioned to write the theme tune to the German version of ‘Ugly Betty’. It was deeply cheesy, but kind of sweet. Unfortunately we got pipped to the post by Nena who sang ’99 Balloons’…a career low, surely.
What’s your favourite poem and how much of it can you recite from memory?
I wrote a lot of songs set to Mexican poet Octavio Paz’s work, especially ‘Piedra del Sol’ so I can quote a sizeble chunk of that.
“Todo se transfigura y es sagrado, es el centro del mundo, cada quarto…”
What are your pet hates?
Foam, as in the kind you get in furniture. I get the shivers just thinking about it, particularly the sound of it rubbing on carpet…or worse still, the thought of
What’s your biggest fear?
Snakes on a plane…encapsulating two of my biggest phobias. I’m never going to watch that movie.
What’s your top household tip?
What’s your tipple?
Whiskey, on a single rock.
What have you done today to make you feel proud?
Calming the early morning thought gremlins.
If you were the answer to a crossword puzzle, what would be your clue?
Rave snail (anag).
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excerpts from the Live At Dean Street Studios DVD
‘Notes From An Opera’
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