Annie Bass' new single, Hold On, is out now! We chat to the singer about her music and more.
Image: Morgan Sette
In July this year, singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Annie Bass made her return to music after an 18 month hiatus. On her new single Hold On, the singer navigates towards accepting insecurities, exploring the darker parts of an anxiety-fuelled existence. Hold On sees the singer continues her long-time collaboration with Christopher Port.
After the release of her 2019 EP Control, the singer found she had no choice but to examine how her anxiety was manifesting itself within her life. Reflecting on these darker parts, Bass made the decision to sit with them before exploring these themes within her music.
The accompanying mesmerising visualiser is intimate yet powerful. Conceptualising the concept in the first few weeks of lockdown, Bass recruited women close to her, asking them to record themselves singing along to the track. With Hold On being one of the only tracks the singer has released independently, Bass found having total creative control to be empowering.
Hold On is out now! Read our full interview with Annie Bass below!
Tell us a bit how you started your musical journey…
Journey is a nice way to put it. I think I played my first composition at a school assembly when I was about 6. I was mostly self taught until I started to take things a bit more seriously in high-school.
I’ve always gravitated towards music, it’s such a big part of who I am, who I have always been. When I left school I studied at VCA (Victorian College of the Arts) for a year before starting a Bachelor of Music, majoring in Jazz which completely opened up my world. Since then I took a little detour to work in the music industry, but found my way back to performing and writing when I started my Annie Bass project a couple of years ago.
Your new single Hold On navigates towards accepting our own insecurities and explores the darker parts of an anxiety-fuelled existence. Could you tell us about the song and the importance of exploring these themes?
I’ve been pretty open about my experiences with anxiety and depression. I think it’s something that collectively we are starting to feel more comfortable to talk about. However with that openness comes what I now call a ‘vulnerability hangover’. It’s great that we are being encouraged to speak about mental health, our experiences, and how we are feeling, but I can’t help but wonder if we should engage more and plan better for what happens once those doors have been opened.
In my own experience, I got to a point where I really had no choice but to examine how my anxiety / depression was manifesting itself in my life, and try to figure out how make space for it. Instead of running from those darker parts of myself, I made the decision to sit with them, to figure out who I was with all the pieces of myself, not just the ones that were carefully curated. This song was born from those moments, where I started to let go of that control.
Hold On is your first release since early 2019. The track is sonically darker than your previous releases, how has this evolution of sound influenced your musical practice?
I think this track is definitely a reflection of how I was feeling in 2019. I remember sitting with Chris and initially you couldn’t hear my natural vocal in the mix at all, it was so heavily processed. I wanted to go darker, deeper. In the past I guess you could say some people have described my voice as “pretty” and I really wanted to get away from that. With Chris I had the opportunity to explore different sounds and ideas, and stopped worrying about what people would think.
My first EP, although at the time it was something I was really proud of, when I look back now doesn’t really feel like me. I guess that is evolution, and I’m excited to see where my sound goes next.
The accompanying mesmerising visualiser is intimate yet powerful. Could you tell us about your intentions with the clip and how involved you are when it comes to planning the visuals for each track?
This release is one of the only tracks I’ve put out independently which at first was totally intimidating, but now looking back having total creative control has been so empowering. I’m lucky to have really supportive people around me, including my (incredible) publicist Ella who suggested I think about creating a visualiser for the track.
Honestly, I’ve never really felt in control of my aesthetic but this release was totally different and the idea for the video came together really quickly. It really solidified the idea that we have to follow and trust our instincts. I came up with the concept in an afternoon, and managed to fumble my way through enough iMovie youtube tutorials to pull it all together. Plus of course my beautiful friends who helped bring it to life.
Was the music video filmed during the pandemic, and if so, did this affect the desired outcome for the clip?
I came up with the concept in the first few weeks of lockdown. If anything the pandemic sort of inspired the clip. It really was a matter of me asking my favourite people if they could record themselves singing along to my unreleased single, which now out of context would have sounded a bit nuts, but they all obliged and I actually love how it turned out.
On the track, you continue your long-time collaboration with Christopher Port. How has your collaborative process evolved over the years?
I still remember the first time I heard Chris’s music, I was completly blown away. When I reached out to him, he was so open and invited me to his studio to just hang out and chat about music. We both come from a Jazz background so straight away we had so much to talk about. It’s an interesting dynamic when someone you admire, and you’re a massive fan of, becomes one of your best friends. I had never really worked with a producer the way I work with Chris, it’s so comfortable and exciting. I think we really understand eachother, and he certainly knows when to push me musically which I am so grateful for.
Could you tell us a bit about your creative process when writing and recording songs?
I write 95% of my songs on a keyboard my parents got me in highschool. I generally like to write songs on piano first. I suppose my theory is that if the song is good when played on just a single instrument, any extra production will only make it better. But for me to love a song, it generally has to exist on it’s own first. I definitely draw from my own experiences when I’m working on lyrics. I have a journal that comes with me everywhere so that’s usually where I find my lyrical inspiration.
How do you feel your music speaks to listeners?
I’d like to think that it’s relatable and maybe confronts some themes we aren’t comfortable talking about freely.
I know that there are songs I love because when I listen to them I think “yes that is me” and I guess I feel seen. When I think about why I write music at all, it’s because I want to have that connection to people, to say “I see you”, and want to make them feel something… whatever that might be.
Australia has a diverse and vibrant music scene, who are some of your favourite Aussie acts?
There is such amazing talent in this country. Some of my favourite artists at the moment are BRUX, Kwame, Clypso, Aphir, Willaris K, Tkay Maidza, Mo’Ju, KUCKA, Alta, George Maple, honestly I could go on and on and on.
What has been the most challenging part about creating music during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Being a singer songwriter, I am always looking to collaborate with producers to develop and finish songs. I definiltey took for granted how much easier that is when you can physically be in the same space with someone.
It’s also just a really weird time for everyone. I’ve felt this huge pressure to create as much as I possibly can, but in reality it’s been very up and down. I’ve had to give my self permission to be softer and go with the flow a lot more.
Can fans expect an album or EP in the near future? If so, what can fans expect in terms of the sonic sound of your future full-length release and if you are continuing to experiment with any new sounds?
I’m currently finishing off an EP with Christopher Port, and have just started another. I am so so excited about the music that I’m working on at the moment. It’s certainly an evolution but it feels like such a good representation of where I’m at musically. I’ve been exploring a more pop focussed sound, which is something I’ve shied away from in the past, but now feels like a great time to lean right into it.
The current pandemic has obviously put a halt to touring and performing live, what are your touring plans post pandemic? If any, what can people expect from an Annie Bass live show?
It’s so hard to know what is going to happen to live music as the months roll on. I am desperate to play live again, performance is such a huge part of why I love what I do. I’m currently working on a more initmate live show that can try and adapt to this new environment.
James Blake, Lykke Li, Lana Del Rey.
James Blake / Mount Kimbie.
Album that has had the most impact on you?
How do you define your musical style in 3 words?
Moody, intense, thoughtful.
Best song of 2020?
Don’t Call Again, Tkay Maidza.
If you could create the soundtrack for any film, which one would it be?
The best/most memorable show you’ve ever performed?
Opening for Jacob Banks at the Oxford Art Factory.
Album you would listen to on repeat on a road trip?
XX, The xx.
Best concert you have been to?
Herbie Hancock at the Hollywood Bowl.
Last concert you went to?
Aldous Harding at Womadelaide.
Guilty music pleasure?
Ariana Grande (Zero Guilt though).
If you were a Spice Girl, what would your Spice nickname be?
The most amount of people you’ve ever performed in front of?
No idea, I think seven-ish thousand at Falls Festival?
If you could support any artist on tour, who would it be?
James Blake or Lana Del Rey.
An artist you think has had the most influence on the music industry?
Way too many.
What advice would you give yourself a year from now?
Stress less, be present.
The moment you knew you wanted to be a musician?
First time I played a piano.