Anna Mieke‘s debut album ‘Idle Mind’ was one of Ireland’s most successful indie releases last year, a subtle debut with distinctive vocals and a mellow, enchanting backdrop.
Since, she’s been touring internationally, discovering a penchant for playing in unusual spots such as a piano amphitheatre at Edinburgh Fringe, and a puppet theatre.
She’s recently released a video for ‘Warped Window’ from the album, in collaboration with brilliant Irish filmmaker Myles O’Reilly, and is working on a follow-up album with a far dingier tone…
Is it different producing a video for a song that’s been part of your repertoire for quite a while?
I’m not sure! I haven’t produced a video for that many of my songs to be honest, so each time I have done, it’s all been fairly exciting. You’d think that the fact I know Warped Window so well and have played it so many times would make it easier to get in one take but for some reason, when filming the video, I kept messing up the first line and getting the lyrics wrong.
This performance also felt quite different to how I usually play it, as we’d decided last minute to use a saxophone instead of a synth. That, and having an audience of pigeons, sitting and watching from the rafters of the warehouse. They were a rowdy crowd.
How was working with Myles?
Ahhhh Myles is just the easiest of people to work with, as well as being very talented at what he does. He has the ability to just fade into the background, so you forget he’s there at all. He has a brilliant combination of spontaneity and enthusiasm about him, and is a good one for seizing opportunities as they come up. From the get-go, he was enthusiastic about the space I’d found, and also fine with just turning up and seeing how things panned out, without a definite plan.
It’s been a year since the record. Are you pleased with how it’s all worked out, looking back?
Yes! It’s definitely tough, releasing something independently, and no doubt there are contacts and networks that I didn’t have access to as a result, but I’ve also learned a huge amount having done so, and retained all ownership and rights to my record, which feels good.
Financially, it was very hard at times. I went through a period of working 8am- 6pm in two different jobs, and then working at night on music/ album admin. A very, very stressful time, but I had been expecting that and had planned it all out – having an end in sight made it a lot easier and motivating.
So, having released independently, I think the record, and my year since the release has worked out very well. I’ve gone on tour in Ireland and the UK, people are still buying the album and tickets to shows, and I’m still writing and feeling good about creating music. For my next release, I’d aim to link up with a label – for the experience, support, network and ‘step up’ that it would offer, and a feeling of having more of a team about me.
What’s been your favourite moment that’s come from the record so far?
Having a ‘finished’ thing, and feeling proud of it. And people’s response to it – one of my favourite things is someone emailing me, or buying an album on Bandcamp and messaging me, or talking with me after a show, and telling me how the record or a particular song affects them. It genuinely really means a lot. And touring with my bandmates; Matthew, Brían and Ryan. Serious laughs are had.
You seem to have a penchant for playing in weird and interesting places. Is it something you consciously seek out as part of your tours?
I don’t think it’s something I consciously seek out, but I’m very, very open to playing in strange places. And sometimes, when you’re open to something, opportunities to encounter that ‘thing’ tend to crop up quite often. The room/ space/ area that a performance takes place in has such a huge impact on the experience of both the person performing and audience member…for so many different reasons – general vibe/ acoustics/ lighting/ the view/ backdrop/ context… all of it feeds into everyone’s experience. On top of that, unusual/ interesting places are often accompanied by unusual/interesting venue owners/ gig organisers/ audience members – and that’s usually a good thing.
Where would you like to play, given the chance?
There’s a barge in Paris I’d like to play on one day. That’d be fun, floating down the canal on the roof of it. Ah, there are many, many places I hope to get to one day for a show.
Given it’s been a year since the record, are you starting to think about the material that will follow it?
Yes. I’ve been working towards a collection of more songs. They’re tending more towards a different sound from most of the songs on Idle Mind, which I associate with a younger self. I’m dangerously addicted to drones and repetition these days, so there is, and will be, a lot of that.
Have you spent much of your time in shutdown on music? It seems a strangely appropriate to the title of your last album, Idle Mind…
A little bit. I’m getting into the swing of it each day. I’m not in the place I usually live, and it takes me quite a while to settle into a ‘flow’ of writing songs in a new place. As well as that, I’ve been painting and walking a lot, and learning the mandolin.
What are your hopes for the future?
Many hopes! Musically speaking, I’m hoping venues and thus events and other gatherings will be able to return to somewhat normal within the year. I haven’t really let my mind dwell on the very real possibility that it won’t be until 2021 that we can all gather at concerts and festivals again. I’m really going to miss being in a crowd of people and performing live with others until then.