FFO the kind of dark pop PVRIS excel in, Anavae’s debut album was a bit of a mission for Jamie Finch and Becca Need-Menear. Thankfully they battled through, and the result – the bewitching ‘45’ – is bloody massive.
You’re based in London, right? Did you both grow up there?
Becca: We’re both South East London babies.
Jamie: I grew up in Greenwich (best part of London btw), but have lived in nearly every corner of London over the years.
When did you first realise you wanted to be musicians? Is it living up to the hype so far?
Jamie: I always thought that the cool part would be touring, playing shows and rocking out. But it’s really not. The only real joy I get out of it now is seeing people’s reactions to the music we’re creating – and knowing that there are people out there listening to what we put out.
Becca: Making and releasing music happened quite accidentally for us, I think. The very early years were filled with free experimentation, imitation and basically, seeing what we could throw at a wall. I think avoiding grand expectation has made it somewhat easier to deal with many of the difficulties we’ve faced over the years. Most recently, we didn’t receive a great deal of the money we raised through our Pledge campaign, which would have been enough to cause anyone to have a breakdown, but we both mutually thought, “ha, well, of course, that didn’t work out.”
How long have you been working on your debut album for, and what was the creation process like? It sounds like it was a bit of a rollercoaster.
Becca: The idea of a “debut album” ended up feeling like a phantom, or some dream that would never become a reality. We’d often say “…oh we’ll finish that song when we come to do our album.” So being on the other side of that now is so surreal.
Jamie: Some of the songs on the album are five+ years old. Some were written at the very end of the recording process. Looking at the tracklisting for the first time was a pretty daunting experience… seeing a large chunk of my life all slapped down into one place, ready to be burned onto a CD. I still can’t quite get my head around it.
What do you most enjoy writing songs about?
Some of these lyrics are really abrasive, were there any lines or sentiments you were conflicted about including?
Jamie: Our manager called me after hearing ‘Human’ for the first time and said, “It’s disgusting… this will never get picked up by radio,” and I remember being really pleased that it had pissed him off so much.
Becca: I think, for the most part, it’s quite difficult to shock young people. I think ours and the younger generation have been so bombarded with awful information daily, that we’ve become a little numb. Being abrasive was never really an aim of mine. It’s actually a little surprising and quite exciting hearing that people do think my lyrics can be grating. I’ve always written about what I’m going through or what I’m feeling, and sometimes that does, of course, become characterised and conceptualised like in the song ‘Human’.
How did you approach curating the album’s track listing?
Jamie: We had to just jump in. We chucked a load of tracks in an order that we thought worked… and for the most part, it flowed together nicely. We had to put the two quieter songs in the middle and at the end in order for it to work on vinyl (so that each side ends on a quieter track to avoid any distortion/peaking that happens with vinyls) which was interesting.
Becca: I like how Jamie left out the part where we’d argue for months and disagree on almost every choice the other made…
The songs are going to sound huge live, is that something you had in mind when putting the album together?
Jamie: “Huge” is definitely a word that takes over my mind while writing most of the time. Somebody reviewed our track ‘Afraid’ when we first released it saying it was “too big”, which was definitely a highlight of our musical journey for me. “I guess I’m good at making things sound big then… let’s see how big I can make them sound.” I still feel like I could go bigger.
Becca: Jamie and I have really different ways of approaching ideas. Jamie will often curate an idea before moving on it, whereas I’ll always create from feel, and whatever happens, happens.
What other bands do you feel are doing exciting things at the moment?
Becca: I’m incredibly inspired by FKA twigs’ work ethic and imagery. I sometimes watch her rehearsal videos as a kick up the butt. I also find Sevdaliza and IamamwhoamI / Ionnalee absolutely fascinating. I still don’t feel like I have successfully created a body of work that is true to what I have in my head, but this album feels like such an important stepping stone, to what I hope will be bigger and better pieces of work.
Jamie: Banks will always have a place in my artistic heart. She manages to weave so much creativity, emotion and nuanced feeling into her songs – while still keeping them simple enough for any dummy to enjoy on the radio. You can tell she is writing the material that she wants to write – and makes it work for the laymen pop listener.
Do you have big plans for 2020?
Becca: We’ll be playing tour dates across the UK in February, and then growing what we’re creating at St Pancras Old Church. We enjoy doing something a little bit different, so if it’s weird, we’re there.
Taken from the November issue of Upset. Anavae’s debut album ’45’ is out 1st November.