Name: Anna Lena Bruland (AKA EERA)
Current Release: Speak on Just Dust Recordings
Recommendations: The graphic novel Berlin by Jason Lutes / all of the Broadcast albums! Maybe start with Tender Buttons.
If you enjoyed this intervew with Eera find out more on her website www.eera.co.uk
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 started writing fairly late; around 16 years old. At the time I was listening to a lot of folk and Scandinavian singer-songwriter music. I was a huge fan of Ane Brun; so much so that I sent her my first CD (recorded when I was 16) in the hope that she would sign me to her label, haha. That sadly didn’t happen. Writing music took me to my own little place; I almost got addicted to how I felt when I got into my “writing zone”, it was, and is, such a rush.
When I listened to my favorite artists I completely separated myself from time and space. It was a wonderful escapism. Not that I had a bad childhood or anything like that but still it gave me such a thrill. I remember listening to music religiously on my disc man walking to school; it was tricky trying to prevent the CD to skip!
A friend of mine at that time introduced me to “Rated R” by Queens of the Stone Age, as soon as I heard that I was hooked. I then quickly moved on to Nirvana, Blonde Redhead, Fugazi etc. There was no turning back after that.
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 think I’ll always be searching towards my own voice. That’s the beauty and also frustration about being a writer. We need that to keep going, because if you’ve found it then how do keep you develop artistically?
I try to be as true to myself as I can be, I often follow my gut rather then my brain.
How do you feel your sense of identity influences your creativity?
I used to not be able to separate these two. I was my music-self and that was the only one and because of this I often put myself in bad situations on purpose to get stuff to write about…
Now I’m very much aware of the fact that there are several sides to me and because of this new awareness I’m able to live a better and more balanced life. I love to write and to perform but I also love to see friends and family, have a happy relationship and walk my dog; simple things.
What were your main creative challenges in the beginning and how have they changed over time?
Insecurities, I guess? I still have them but they’re getting slightly weaker. At the beginning I was only writing with a guitar so that limited me to some degree. I have some knowledge of recording equipment/ software/ synths now; which means that I can expand my writing a lot more. The more I learn the more confident I feel, the better I write. 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?
I started with writing on my nylon string guitar and some piano. Everything was always acoustic; I recorded voice memos on my phone etc. Then I got my first electric guitar when I was around 18, which changed my songwriting style a lot. I wrote more rock-inspired songs and I wanted everything to be louder. Following that I slowly got into production software and also synths.
This not only changed my style of writing but it also made it possible for me to compose more fully fleshed out songs with complete arrangements. I could also create soundscapes that were stuck in my head.
Have there been technologies or instruments which have profoundly changed or even questioned the way you make music?
Things definitely changed when I got my first el-guitar. Sun burst telecaster that I bought on a trip to LA!
I also developed a lot when I got into Logic; it was very exciting to finally be able to add lots of layers and arrangements instead of only vocals and guitar.
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 don’t like jamming; it’s really not my thing. I sometimes enjoy some harmonize jamming but other then that not so much. I prefer writing on my own then when I feel ready I share little snippets with whomever I’m working with via file sharing. I also like talking about what we’d want to achieve throughout the process.
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?
I am addicted to to-do lists, otherwise I often don’t get much done! I try my best to have clear days off, so if I’ve decided to have a weekend off of any writing/ admin / music related work then I stick to that. I love to have a routine during weekdays. I wake up, make coffee (or most of the days my boyfriend makes me coffee … hehe), walk my dog, go to the studio; try to write or if I have a deadline of some other recording work I do that.
I sometimes have vocal sessions to record for TV and Film soundtrack, which is always a lot of fun.
Go home, walk my dog again, do some cleaning (I really like cleaning) whilst watching a background tv-series, make dinner, read or watch a movie then go to bed. Then there’s the occasional going out with friends’, which happened a lot more before Corona obvs….
On top of all of this there is also some boring life admin that one has to do in life. So yeah not that exciting but it works for me :) I love it. 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? Wow this is a very difficult question. I honestly don’t feel like I’ve had a “breakthrough” moment. It has all kind of happened naturally and slowly. I don’t think too much about what I do, I just do! If I allow myself to overanalyze I can often get stuck…
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 am a very organized person, so I need to have every practical thing sorted before I can adventure onto my writing journey. Boring things like a bill I have to pay or an email I have to reply to can distract me very easily from my creative self.
Guess that’s also linked to my anxiety. If I have everything sorted my anxiety goes down and I can focus on writing. My “strategy” would be to clear my mind from daily mess by writing them down in a to-do list and get it all done.
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?
It sounds cliché but music really got me through quite a lot of heartaches; both listening to music and writing music. Music gives you a new perspective and it gets rid of those heavy thoughts. If you’re lucky, you end up with a beautiful song.
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?
This is a very difficult and dense subject. I am not able say much about this.
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?
Sticky, old beer smell reminds me of sweaty gigs at small venues in London. That smell combined with amazing live music is heaven to me. Might be a simple one, but it also brings me back to very happy memories. I always want to rush home to write after those types of gigs.
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 usually write songs that are about my own personal experiences. The first slightly political song I’ve written is on my new album, “Falling Between The Ice” which is about the climate crisis. In the chorus I say “I don’t think we should lie, I don’t think they’ll survive”. ‘We’ refers to politicians and ‘they’ refers to future generations. I love nature so much so it felt natural for me to speak up for nature on this album.
I write about whatever feels natural there and then, I don’t see myself getting heavily involved in politics when it comes to my music any time soon.
What can music express about life and death which other forms of art may not?
Guess it can create many more layers? If you listen to a piece of music only you can hear it your way and it might be completely different to you than the people around you. Life and death is very complex so we need tons of different ways of expressing it.