An Interview With Anna-Lynne Williams


You know her. You love her. And if you’re anything like me, you probably act like a tween at Justin Bieber concert when you hear she has a new project coming. Or that she might be hitting a city near you alongside her partner in life/art Matt Brown in their world renowned duo Trespassers William. Yes, this is Anna-Lynne Williams. And she is awesome.

I have been ever so fortunate enough lately to have had Anna contribute to my charity based book/compilation album, both of which she is involved in (Children of Mercy…Facebook it!). I am, and will always be, eternally grateful to have her involved with my little project. She’s let me name drop her more than the other Arquettes might mention big brother David (even if she doesn’t know about it), in order to gain a bit of recognition. And, yes, I am doing it right now!

Anna-Lynne and I also recently shared a birthday on the 8th of last month. So, as a sort of birthday present to her, and myself, I thought I would ask her a few questions and wax philosophy on her musical creation process. And watermelon vs. shrimp.

I sat down with (my laptop and drew up a questionnaire for her to answer) Anna-Lynne to discuss her new label and band, SXSW, a Lotte Kestner cover album, and the future of Trespassers William.

Download: “Compasses” by Lotte Kestner
[audio:110202-lotte-kesner-compasses.mp3|titles=Compasses|artists=Lotte Kestner]

Ladies and Gentlemen….the First Lady of Indie Music! Let’s begin….

RT: You seem to be the busiest woman in indie music these days. Can you tell us a little bit about the multitude of projects, beyond your obvious staple with Trespassers William, you have been working on lately?

ALW: Ha, I thought I’d slacked off a bit this last year, I’ve had chronic headaches so I haven’t done as much recording as I was doing in the past. I guess I’d started a few things rolling in the last few years and they’re all coming to fruition right now and I have my hands full. My new duo Ormonde has an album coming out. We recorded and mixed that during 2009 and we’ve paired up with Hometapes so that’ll be out in a few months time. I’ve written a follow up to the Lotte Kestner solo album but I haven’t started recording it yet. I have a covers album that I’ve been working on for a few years that I’m just finishing up. That’ll probably be the first album of mine that’ll be released this year. Considering it’s a covers album I’ve probably put too much time into it. I’ve been crafting it a lot more carefully than I’ve done with my own songs in the past. And I’ve been playing in Josh Morrison’s band around Seattle. I also want to put out a synthy dance album…

RT: How did you manage to hook up with the genius Robert Gomez? Was it fate? Or just that you appeared on his album Pine Sticks and Phosphorus?

ALW: Robert and I met in Denton in ’08 when I flew out to sing on John Grant’s record. We were in the studio and Robert came by and laid down the guitar solo for “Chicken Bones”. My duet with John was actually cut from the record, but I met some really great musicians while I was there. I ran into Robert at a bar a few nights later and I remember he was going around with a video camera asking everyone if they were a shrimp or a watermelon. I think I said that I liked watermelon more, but I was more of a shrimp. We stayed in touch after I returned to Seattle because I interviewed him for an on-line magazine. We traded CDs and got into each others’ music and when he suggested that we go to this remote desert town and make a record I got really excited.
I actually haven’t sung on any of his solo work (except for an upcoming one) There are two great female singers on Pine Sticks though, Sarah Jaffe and Manya Repnikova.

(For the sake of journalistic integrity, I do feel the need to admit that I was absolutely wrong as Anna-Lynne has proven in such a king away. I apologize to Sarah Jaffe and Manya Repnikova. You are ladies are awesome too. Note to self: think before writing.)

RT: Tells us a bit about your label you have started, Saint-Loup Records. Where does the name come from? What can we expect to hear in 2011?

ALW: I decided this last fall to start a record label. I’d been wanting to release my friend Sergius Gregory’s albums for ages, so I got a business license and drew up my own version of a record contract. I’ve always been interested in the promotional and financial side of the industry. His album will be out this spring, it’s sort of a best-of of his early works, and then maybe we’ll release his new stuff. And I might end up putting out the Lotte Kestner covers album on Saint-Loup too. Not sure if that’s a good idea yet. But I do really want to get it out quickly.

Saint-Loup is a character from Remembrance of Things Past. And I like the word loop.

RT: So, with Saint-Loup kicking into gear, and Ormonde becoming a staple in your life, will there be some focus taken off Trespassers William? Lotte Kestner?

ALW: I think there’s time for all of it. I had sort of set aside last year to work on Trespassers but then I wasn’t well, and I didn’t feel like the album we were working on felt new. So instead we ended up doing some traveling and performing. We performed at a conference in Belgium. We played the Texas festivals. We started a little house show tradition in Seattle. I think I’ll know when it’s the right time to return to the Trespassers album, when we have the right songs. Trespassers also collaborated on a track with the Icelandic band Leaves, that’s coming out really soon. I love it. Arnar is great.

I’m definitely going to put some extra time into Ormonde this year though. Robert just moved out to Seattle and we’re figuring out how we want to go about our live show. I’ve left the year open to see where Ormonde takes me. And on off days I’ll get started recording the new Lotte Kestner songs.

RT: And which of these beautiful personalities of yours will be lucky enough to hear from at SXSW this year?

ALW: Ormonde is going to SX. Robert and I played one of Hometapes’ parties last year and we can’t wait to go back and do it again this year. We’re playing their official showcase too. The rest of the time I’ll be bumming around watching stuff.

RT: What inspires you to continue making music after all these years?

ALW: Oh, here come the hard questions. : ) There is definitely an ebb and flow when I am writing songs by myself. If things are going smoothly in my life and the weather is good I end up in the park playing badminton and don’t write anything for awhile. But then something difficult will happen, or I’ll get snowed in, or find myself left alone in the house for awhile and I’ll start writing again.

So it’s really a response to my mood and how much time I have to myself.

And often I’ll see a complex movie and have some thoughts to work out and I end up recording something. Or see a great in-store performance. Other people’s tenderness often makes me want to work on music.

RT: I would never want to ask “which of your projects is your favorite”, but I might ask which is the most personal to your own life (without being too invasive, of course)?

ALW: The Lotte Kestner stuff feels the most personal, because I do it alone and I’m mixing the songs myself and playing the instruments in my little way. Trespassers feels the most like an actual part of me, since I’ve been doing it for so long and going at those songs so many ways over the years. But I wouldn’t call Trespassers the most personal. The most INTEGRAL, maybe.

And Ormonde has been the most refreshing thing for me in a while… you write completely differently when you’re working with another songwriter. Robert and I really helped each other out with lyrics and themes, and that really got a new palette going on. And I get to listen to him sing.

RT: One last question: Would you be offended if I officially stated here on FensePost that you are indeed, The First Lady of Independent Music?

ALW: Ha, that’s not offensive. Nor is it true. : )

For more information on all these wonderful projects Anna-Lynne Williams has going on, check out the official Saint-Loups Records Blog. Or find Anna-Lynn Williams on Facebook!

And for exclusive Trespassers William news, visit their WEBSITE.

“Compasses” is from the 2008 album China Mountain, Anna-Lynne’s debut solo effort under the name Lotte Kestner. The track has also been re-released on the Children Of Mercy compilation album available now The Beechfields Record Label.

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