The most exciting event of in August, the most community-based day of the year, probably the most fun you’ll ever have in Preston Park. Brighton & Hove Pride is circled in thick red pen on my calendar every year and 2016 is no different. National and international stars will keep the various stages jumping including the likes of Sister Sledge, Fleur East, Carly Rae Jepsen and emerging solo star Anne-Marie. Not to mention a great range of DJs and other entertainment, you’d be mad to miss this year’s event.
Cutting her teeth in the music industry with the Rudimental boys for the last two years, Anne-Marie’s solo career has started with a bang. “Each song I write is a true story so being able to get that bit of story out is great,” she tells me. This style of writing allows her to connect on a personal level to fans and listeners, as she’s able to get her emotions and messages across. It’s evident this is the case looking at her recent releases and especially new single Alarm. This is a song that really bears down to the grit of love and loss. A track that many can relate to, the 25-year-old’s sound is a unique blend of edgy pop, R&B and hip-hop. She aims to keep her art personal, with such a demanding industry this is no mean feat though expresses her disdain for people’s lack of originality. “I’m quite strong minded and I know what I like so they kind of have to get used to that,” she laughs. The singer explains, “because the lyrics are so obvious and they’re, like, conversational saying like ‘this is what happened’, instead of shoving that in peoples faces, we kind of wanted to make it more beautiful and aesthetic so I think they work really well together.” The age-old tale of unrequited love is recreated in Alarm’s visual conterpart. The beautiful aesthetic that Anne-Marie describes is exactly right, almost a ten-years-later snippet of Baz Luhrmann’s 1996 classic. It gives the song more intensity with the fiery scenes of candles and sex alike. The album will see its release this year but the date is yet to be confirmed.
But what about Brighton? Anne-Marie tells me that she was here just the other month at The Great Escape festival, though has never been to Pride. As well as being incredibly excited about performing, she is also looking forward to seeing the parade and the park attendees. “The atmosphere is absolutely ridiculous and everyone is just up for it. And also all the beautiful colours, because everyone dresses so brightly that is there, it makes me want to step up my game and get a really bright outfit!” Clearly understanding Brighton & Hove’s love of rainbow colours and flags, we’re set for a great weekend. She adds, “I hope it’s sunny!” And so do I – last year’s event saw the sun shine down all day long, almost the universe’s way of smiling at Brighton & Hove’s Pride and inclusive attitude.
A broad range of influencers coming from the likes of Sia and Christina Aguilera, Anne-Marie’s sound is a blend of modern and past superstars. “I think Alanis Morrisette was a massive influence on the way I write and the lyrics and stuff like that but then my parents kind of listened to, like, Paul Weller and The Who and reggae and ska music. My dad’s a mod so I kind of grew up on all that sort of stuff.” Each artist she speaks of is present in the undertones of the tunes she’s producing. With such an eclectic taste she tells me it was tricky to decide on a direction with her songs. “I’ve literally been influenced by so many people it was hard to like choose a genre of music to go down. I’ve kind of mixed everything together.” It’s clear that this artist was keen to forge her own path. The fresh and new style that Anne-Marie brings to the charts is welcome now more than ever as the depth of her music is clear. “I don’t want to write a song that just means nothing.”
Her fellow Pride artists are clearly exciting her too. She will indeed be sticking out the evening to party with the likes of us Brighton folk. Though she may not have realised before our chat, she’s now incredibly pumped for the day. “Sister Sledge! Oh, Sister Sledge is ridiculous! I’m well excited for that now!”
Brighton & Hove Pride 2016 will be celebrating across the city from Fri 5 – Sun 7 Aug.