Anika, Beak> collaborator, and sweetheart to boot

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In my excitement to be one of the first to report on “Beak2009”

, as 90 percent of comments are lying, angry anons. Turns out it was actually Mr. Barrow and he was unhappy with our coverage, which admittedly was writing fit for the comments section.

After smoothing things over, I scheduled an interview with Anika via Skype to discuss her “one shining moment” story of meeting Geoff Barrow and recording her debut, while juggling her duties to the honorable art of journalism. The transcription that follows tarnished my grandiose perceptions of my own self-imagined credibility, but I share it nonetheless; mostly because at heart I'm a Midwesterner. As unnerving as this interview might read, Anika was genuine and charming in her replies, which was a tremendous relief since I'm genuine in my appreciation of a record that I initially covered in a frivolous manner.

So you’re still
working as a political journalist?

Sorry about that. I’ve got loads this week. In England it’s
a big week in terms of certain politics. I’m the education and science
correspondent for England, so I’m trying to get it all sent off to Germany. I won’t bore you with it.

Are you still
balancing the political journalist and music promoter lifestyle in addition to
recording artist?

I’ve given up promoting, but obviously I still do the
musician stuff, trying to balance it with political journalism can be a wee bit
difficult. Both sides want me all the time. My boss in Germany, if he wants me
to do something, he wants it right then and there. The same with the music
stuff. You have to be very flexible.

Are your editors
aware you’ve done a record with a producer with international fame?

I don’t think they quite know who [

Sometimes it’s good, if you’re a musician to work outside of
the industry. I think it keeps you a little bit more sane.

Depending on the
success of the record, do you see yourself leaving journalism to commit to
music strictly?

I think I’ll see how it goes. I need to carry on working as
well. I suppose I did it more to shake up the industry a bit after being a
promoter for two years. I was so bored with what I was booking. It wasn’t just
that. I was frustrated with how music was getting samey and no one was taking
risks. I wanted to do something that was really going to mess with those people
and go against it.

How did you meet
Geoff Barrow?

I’ve been helping out with a music festival in Germany since
I was about 14. I’ve happened to know a lot of people since a young age. In
terms of Geoff, I know one of his good friends. One of his friends has a German
pop band and I did graphic design for him to help him out. He repaid me by
recommending I do something with Geoff. So that was alright. Good deal.

It was kind of a bit embarrassing. When my friend first told
me he just said, “My friend is looking for a female vocalist. I’ve given him
your number. Is that OK?” I said, yeah, it’s fine. But he didn’t mention it was
Geoff. I didn’t really figure it out either. When I got a call from Geoff I was
very casual and told him to call me back, I was in a meeting.

When I went to the first jamming session I hadn’t really
heard much of

It probably helped
your audition.

Exactly. I just liked their style of music. I thought, yeah,
I might do something with these people. Then, I checked up on their Myspace and
I was like, “Oh no, how embarrassing.” But, they probably just thought I was
really chilled out.

So the album was
recorded in 12 days.

We only used two originals. But we didn’t do
just straight covers. They're a bit more evil, I think – slightly darker than the

“Masters Of War” is of course Bob Dylan. Obviously, Yoko Ono is “Yang Yang”. Those are
the two most well known ones, I suppose.

I will come clean. I
have not heard a single Yoko Ono song.

Fair enough. She’s a controversial character for a lot
people. I think she’s quite an interesting lady. So that’s that really.

If you look at most albums these days, people don’t realize
that they are covers. With the amount of people that rip off stuff these days,
we wanted to do it more to mess up these sweet sixties ballads. They’re a
little bit darker than they were intended.

I was caught up in the sonics and interpreting
the dub sounds and kraut rock of it all. I wasn’t even considering the titles.

I think it makes it more controversial because a lot of
people come to us and either connected more because of the [cover] song or
rejected it because of the original. It was interesting. Some people thought we
really slaughtered Bob Dylan’s song, other’s thought it was really good.

I read that you met
Patti Smith at age 16. Were you aware of her status in punk music?

I was about 14. That was the thing. I was working at this
German music festival. I was always placed backstage because I could speak
English and German and be a translator or whatever. I sat next to her on the side of the stage
because we were watching Bright Eyes, Conor… whatever he’s called. I didn’t
realize it was her. I really feel really bad about saying this, but in the
least horrible way I thought it was a bloke because you know… yeah. Then, I
realized after when I was watching her on stage, I thought oh shit, I just sat
next to her.

Patti Smith is definitely an inspiration to me. I read her
new book. It’s crazy thinking back. I’m such an idiot. I think sometimes I’m a
bit oblivious to things, which isn’t always bad.

I’m dealing with my
oblivion right now. Things have been worse.

Sometimes it’s best to do that. Stuff is more genuine if you
don’t know the connections, in the same way as when I started working with
Geoff I didn’t do it because of who Geoff was, I did it because I really liked what
they were doing. I know it sounds a bit cheesy or a bit corny or however you
say it in America.

Either works.

I prefer that though. I think it’s helped me evolve. I met my hero at age 13, it was a band, but seeing them
in concert for about a year, you’re less starstruck. You begin to respect
individuals for their ability and that was a way to get over it by age 15. So
now, I’m at a stage where I really respect a lot of people, but I suppose I don’t
really get starstruck. I’ve never been a stupid teenage girl that follows boys.
I’ve got more respect for someone’s musical ability and… I dunno, I’m talking

Don’t sweat it.

Anything else I can shed some light on.

Are there plans to
tour this band?

We’re already thinking about the next record and if there
is, I definitely want the majority of it to be originals. So we are hopefully
playing SXSW. I’m hoping to come over to America for January for some
promotional stuff, even if it’s just DJing, since it’s so expensive to tour.
That depends on how well the record goes and the money we have to play with.

Well, I’m out of questions. It’s been a pleasure talking to

Thanks it’s been nice speaking to you too. I like your uhh…
I had a look at your website.

Did you? I was hoping
to avoid this, but I take it you know about Geoff not appreciating some words I

Yeah, I know about that.

So you weren’t
concerned about talking with me this morning?

Well in the end I’m a journalist, so I respect free speech.
So that’s alright. Don’t be too horrible unnecessarily. If you’re a journalist
that’s your liberty to write what you want to say in certain countries.

Given the lack of
feedback I typically get on my writing and that blogging can feel like you’re
talking to yourself, I did not expect Geoff Barrow to ever read me.

It’s strange when you write that stuff. You just
get into the habit of being quite open with your opinions. Hopefully I don’t
get the government on my back for my recent coalition article.

Anika is out now on Stones Throw.