The second album is always an exciting challenge. It’s the moment to show that your music goes behind a proof of concept and that lightning can indeed strike the same place twice. For Anna Westin, Folk-pop singer-songwriter, this very challenge lies ahead with her forthcoming LP ‘LEV’ nearing the horizon. We got chatting to the woman herself to find out more…
STM: When was the last time you discovered an artist through word of mouth?
That is generally how I hear about people. I think the latest was Sibylle Baier, from my vocal coach Hughie Gavin.
STM: How useful is the tool of ‘word of mouth’ when an artist is just starting their career?
I think it is hugely helpful, because it is already riding off of a foundation of trust, which brings credibility to what the person is saying. If you know someone, and you trust their musical taste, then you’re probably more likely to check out what they are backing because of who they are and what they have liked before. It isn’t just random advertising. It’s building out of a network of relationship.
STM: What were your first ‘tools of promotion’ when you first started in music?
Friends, word of mouth. A haphazard instagram campaign.
STM: What made you choose the path of music?
Because I love it – because it makes sense of experience, and I can’t ’not’ do it. It’s just been natural to how I communicate with life.
STM: What do you think the industry would look like without streaming platforms like Spotify?
I think it could be a good thing – slowing things down, making people more conscious of choosing to look for music, savouring a specific album rather than rushing through playlists. And there’s the issues of payment for artists. I wonder what it would look like, whether it would return to more physical -based experiences where word of mouth and actual copies of records become the point of contact with the world, or gigging is seen as the entry point in. I need to think about that a bit more, as it sounds quite refreshing! But Spotify has also enabled me to have access to lots of voices that I probably wouldn’t have had, so there’s that…
STM: How excited are you to take the new material out on the road?
Very. It feels like a long time coming.
STM: If you had to describe the new record to someone who could not hear using only images which images would you show them?
A heart, I think, as the album means heart in Hebrew. But it is more of a whole sense of being human, the integrated connections of emotion and soul and thought and how they all connect to love, to loss. So maybe I would also show them sea, which is where I wrote most of the songs, and an eye, because I have been thinking about the saying of having a ’good eye’ which is connected to seeing the world with love.
STM: How did the songwriting process for LEV begin?
I think it started with the first song, a few years back. At first it was just a collection of songs. It was only later that the more recent songs brought it into a whole concept for an album. So, probably sitting in my new flat in margate, wondering whether I should have moved to a town I didn’t know by the sea, excited about the possibility of what was next, mourning an old love. I remember distinctly – the flat, with one sofa, before the furniture was bought – the cold blast of sea air, the sense of anticipation, and making sense of a few dreams that I kept having. That’s where Bright Burning Mess started, and where the album emerged essentially. And Margate, and then New Brunswick Canada, became the cradle contexts for it – the folk scene in Margate was hugely influential in going back to what songwriting looks like as storytelling.
Then when the songs were written, my producers Imogen and Ellie helped make sense of the structure as a whole, filled in bits that were missing, coaxed the songs out further.
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