Name: Anna Lann
Occupation: Producer, composer, singer, videographer, visual artist, dancer, DJ
Current release: Anna Lann's Saint Laser EP is out now on Boysnoize Records.
Recommendations: Iris - Wim Mertens; Embodiment - live Anna Lann & PentHouss
If this Anna Lann interview piqued your interest, head over to her instagram, soundcloud and facebook account for more information.
When did you start writing/producing music - and what or who were your early passions and influences? What was it about music and/or sound that drew you to it?
I sang ever since I can remember myself and played different instruments as a child. I turned to music production in my twenties as I realized that 'doing it myself' was the only way to achieve complete control over my artistic ideas.
For most artists, originality is preceded by a phase of learning and, often, emulating others. What was this like for you: How would you describe your own development as an artist and the transition towards your own voice?
I do not believe originality exists anymore, there are new takes, angles, perspectives and approaches, but no one in our era can claim originality on anything.
As for my development - it is never over, done or complete. Stating I found my one authentic true voice would be a mistake, as I believe my continuous evolution will never come to an end.
How do you feel your sense of identity influences your creativity?
They are inseparable. I cannot tell one from the other. You cannot put a genre on my compositions, or for that matter, define my practice with a single traditional definition for that very reason; my creative output is a direct outcome of who I am, and who I am is not just one single unified identity. It consists of many different frictions and reflects in that same way in my practice, be it sound work, moving image or installation works.
What were your main creative challenges in the beginning and how have they changed over time?
The biggest creative challenges I had to overcome actually came from the outside world and the people who surrounded me professionally. I would listen to people's opinions without having the confidence to filter and reflect on what is or isn't right for me and my work. This changed over time as I became more confident in what I want to create and achieve, and this sort of confidence freed me from conventional boundaries.
As creative goals and technical abilities change, so does the need for different tools of expression, be it instruments, software tools or recording equipment. Can you describe this path for you, starting from your first studio/first instrument? What motivated some of the choices you made in terms of instruments/tools/equipment over the years?
Must say that in this case, what started as a lack of means, pushing me into finding creative solutions and usage of unusual materials, became overtime a great weapon and gold knowledge I use and explore regularly.
For example - I made diy synthesizers out of bizarre tools and objects, trying to make up for sonic depth and record analogue sounds without buying expensive modules or synths. Tapping whatever came to hand from kitchenware to utility tools, and eventually to acoustic instruments such as harp and gusli, turning them into homemade synthesizers with distinct features and sounds.
Another example - I learned operating studio equipment on a mixing and mastering level and became an engineer as a result of that very same reason - to cut on expenses. This resulted in gaining a priceless professional technical skill.
Collaborations can take on many forms. What role do they play in your approach and what are your preferred ways of engaging with other creatives through, for example, file sharing, jamming or just talking about ideas?
I live and breathe collaborations. 'PentHouss' - the art hub I founded together with artist Yonathan Trichter some years ago, operates on the very foundations of collaboration at its core. We work together with dancers and choreographers, filmmakers, and designers to generate new art worlds and systems.
Take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your work, please. Do you have a fixed schedule? How do music and other aspects of your life feed back into each other - do you separate them or instead try to make them blend seamlessly?
Waking up around 7 am, having a chill moment over coffee, into yoga practice, followed by some vocal exercise routine, finally ready to start the day.
Then it is work work work until noon in my studio. Usually divided equally between music production and PentHouss art production, mainly focusing on creative parts. Then at noon, I'll have a fresh green juice, a walk outside, lunch ... and a 15 min power nap. Waking up into afternoon work, mainly focusing on technical parts. When I feel my brain is drained for the day, I will go for a workout, dinner and into the night, whatever it brings.
Can you talk about a breakthrough work, event or performance in your career? Why does it feel special to you? When, why and how did you start working on it, what were some of the motivations and ideas behind it?
Notable commission would include Embodiment – Live, a 2019 performance for Inbal Theatre – Suzanne Dellal, Tel Aviv, which combined a moving image work created by PentHoss (Yonathan and myself), shot in the Judaean Desert, The Bell Caves Beit Guvrin and Ralli Museum Caesarea, with live performance featuring PentHoss-designed stage and costumes presenting a group of 13 dancers, accompanied by a live electro-acoustic orchestra led by yours truly.
There are many descriptions of the ideal state of mind for being creative. What is it like for you? What supports this ideal state of mind and what are distractions? Are there strategies to enter into this state more easily?
I do not see it in these terms. For me, there are only two divisions in regards to creativity - inspired (can happen literally in any state or mood) and not inspired. Sure there are strategies and ways to practice focus and productivity, but I feel that it takes more than these to enter a unique moment, and I feel that it often requires the element of surprise, which genuinely cannot be practised.
Music and sounds can heal, but they can also hurt. Do you personally have experiences with either or both of these? Where do you personally see the biggest need and potential for music as a tool for healing?
I perceive music as an archive that can be browsed and manipulated, just like certain scents or objects would instantly throw you into a specific connected situation, regardless of how many years would pass. Listening to a specific album or song would often seem to behave like a time-travelling device, and often, travelling to those places would bring memories and feelings that would probably prove to be healing in the long run, or for the very least, provide a healthy exchange for a psychiatric session.
There is a fine line between cultural exchange and appropriation. What are your thoughts on the limits of copying, using cultural signs and symbols and the cultural/social/gender specificity of art?
I think we should stop wading with copyright claims and originality issues and accept that these are just some of the side effects of freedom of speech, equality and globalization, not to mention that all those cultural symbols and signs go way back before our era, during which they were probably also interpreted from another origin, and so on. I do not feel that anything belongs to anyone, especially in artistic practices. There is only the question of how one chooses to interpret and present things, and those are the contemporary reflections that would mostly disappear or sometimes become footprints in history.
I mean, take, for example, the entire hip-hop industry that is built on non-original samples and melodies as its very core and see how this swept the world off its feet and brought so much to music worldwide. Or Andy Warhol's legacy, claiming originality on all copies, bringing popular art into the highest galleries, using iconic symbols and signs, changing only the way we perceive them (The soviet Hammer & Sickle, or the Campbell's soup cans, etc.). These are just two instant examples that come to mind, and there hasn't been even a century since their appearance, so is there really a question of copyrights, or for that matter - limits?
Our sense of hearing shares intriguing connections to other senses. From your experience, what are some of the most inspiring overlaps between different senses - and what do they tell us about the way our senses work?
I'm not sure I can answer this question, as I haven't experienced the lack of any of them. For me they work all together. I don't know another way.
Art can be a purpose in its own right, but it can also directly feed back into everyday life, take on a social and political role and lead to more engagement. Can you describe your approach to art and being an artist?
I can definitely say that I have both in my practice. Some of my works are fantasy based picturing imaginary worlds, and other works deal with timely political urgent matters.
What can music express about life and death which words alone may not?
Music, and sonic elements for that matter, resonates on a different biochemical level than language; therefore, it provokes an ever different emotional spectrum, be it regarding life, death, or any other subject. I do not believe that these two should be compared, though they complement each other when used simultaneously.