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On the Avenue

Anika, Unprocessed

Annika Henderson

Text by Anika
and John White

Fans spinning. The noise in the boisterous NYU-area cafe was not enough for me to miss Anika telling me that I was “light-footed” and “slightly gaunt.” Anika herself is a very stylish enigma, with an internationally-bent English accent and a kind of juvenile quality in her face that I relate to. She appologized for having “teary eyes,” which I didn’t notice.
Anika started out in political journalism in Bristol, England. After meeting producer Geoff Barrow of Portishead, who was looking for a vocalist to work in his band Beak, Anika released a self-titled album which included a cover of "I Go to Sleep," written by Ray Davies, covered by The Pretenders in 1981.

Now people seem to want less, but at the same time, you don't want to fall into the trap of loosing your identity.

Will you make a second album?

We're recording at the moment...

[The first album] was a bit of an experiment, and a rebellion against loads of different things in the recording industry.

What things, to be specific?

When I was working as a promoter, the way the industry was going, was really frustrating, because, bands had to fit into the ‘music box’. A band had to have the perfect  image and nice music. People weren't so worried about the content.
Now, I think it's kind of going back to a world where people may want the music to be more genuine.

So it's a kind of a rebellion, in that. We want the music to be risky: it wasn't designed to be liked, but some people liked it, I guess, which is good, but it's more that there's an alternative. Bands have become obsessed with trying to fit the perfect model role, and they forget, there are other options as well, you don't have to do that. I don't think we can sell our music to many recording companies. Because it's not really pleasant.

Music has become kind of processed.
It's funny, when "reality tv" came out, and people suddenly thought they were experts in the music industry, saying "That guy is going to make it through," all they did was get used to how to take an artist, and put him in mainstream. It spun out of control.
The same: I like listening to nice pleasant music, but not all music should have to be like that, there must be another alternative... there's always room for the Sufjan Stevens.

Do you like that kind of music [Sufjan Stevens]?

Yes, it's fine, it's good for chilling out... and going on long train journeys... but to make a point about something...
Why don’t you have many clear press photos?

Going back to that rebellion, when George sent the photographer to shoot me, he asked to make them look as rough as possible. So people can never really tell, "Is she 30, or 12? I can't quite tell." It's nice for me, there's less pressure, so if I turn up looking like this, my worst, they've got no expectations, it's fine. It's the same way when I kept missing notes in the actual recordings, when I miss notes at the live shows, it's ok. It's fine.

Why did you agree to this interview with Avenue Journal?

It's very clean, and I like the mix up of text and images. It's an interesting time in graphic design. I think it's what a lot of people have been doing. It's kind of a reaction to what people were doing before, where everyone wanted everything on the page, and it affected graphic design. Now people seem to want less, but at the same time, you don't want to fall into the trap of loosing your identity.

It's the same with music, bringing things back to a world people want to live in that’s more genuine. They don't want everything to be so over produced.