Anastasia - Peter Svenson
Anastasia - Image by Peter Svenson

BN1 chats with ANASTACIA

Self deprecation is perhaps a rare quality in some singers and artists, particularly perhaps when you have previously been dubbed or branded in terms such as ‘diva’. A breakout star of the early 2000s, you may remember Anastacia thanks to songs such as I’m Outta Love, Not That Kind and One Day In Your Life. The ‘little lady with the big voice’, known for trademarked darkly tinted glasses and bearing her midriff also endured something of a very public battle – twice – with breast cancer, later going on to raise awareness around the world. 

The pandemic saw a delay of her 20th anniversary; Anastacia will be touring this autumn however with I’m Outta Lockdown, a 22nd-anniversary tour instead. “I really wish I could have written during the pandemic, cos usually when I am working it’s all at the same time” she muses – with a routine revolving around studio time, touring, promotion and more. She adds: “That is when I work best, though, and I realised that during the pandemic that for me to find a melody, for me to feel creative enough to make words work and make emotions happen, and make a metaphor happen in a song, it is having other people there to make it a team effort.” A studio allows for interaction between individuals, a producer to take a lead in the creative process, a process she herself describes as dancing with each other. Interjecting a note of humour into the slightly somber, she takes a voice similar to that of Goofy, the Disney character: “Unfortunately I was absolutely worthless as a writer during this pandemic” she intones, before breaking character – “and I was listening to everyone else’s new music and so I probably listened to more music than I ever listened to in my life, over this lockdown!” Describing herself as a “big variety girl” – and someone who believes in a “buffet of music”, musical choices included individuals such as Chicago [the band], Rag & Bone Man, and Ariana Grande. “My eclectic joy is finding music attractive to the ear either melodically or the voice has to pull me in.” Anastacia reflected. 

Over the course of the pandemic she had initially been planning to release new music, but had found it difficult to create due to lockdowns and other worldwide restrictions. With the 20th anniversary officially postponed, she described it as something of a “reality check”, complete with something of a mourning process attached to comfort zones we were all used to.  Instead, she had noticed people putting out singles, sans an attached album – with the current creative process of: “Let’s not worry about the whole album, let’s just write some great songs, and whichever ones we like, let’s just start with the single and leave it at that.”  Whereas fans will want to know if a new album is incoming, that is an unknown currently: “So we’re putting out a single with the unknown of when the album will come, or is there a full album with this single or two or three or what? I don’t know and I don’t have the answer.”, she says. And it’s okay not to have the answer right now as the world is different, she added. 

American Night is a Neo-noir film that was released earlier this year – and for the first time in her career, Anastacia was asked by the director to provide the title song: “I’d never done that before, and he wasn’t done with the movie, nor did he show me any clips from the movie, he just had a title and gave me like a paragraph of y’know, a moment of ‘this is kind of what’s going on in this movie I’m making.’ 

As the world begins to open up in moving towards a post Covid 19 universe, so to do the live acts begin again. Anastacia her will be back in Brighton next month with the tour Asked what she’s looking forward to, the witty reply is almost instant: “Seeing if I can remember all my lyrics!” She quickly adds: “The most I’m looking forward to is being in front of people, giving them a show. Whether it’s me or not, I know how excited people are going to be to see a live show, me aside.” While suggesting there is something of a thirst for live performances. 

And what about set lists? She hints that there will be songs that have never been played live before. “It’s such a ‘palaver’ ” she muses, a jocular throwaway to my own British accent. Asked for specific examples, an expression of mischief flashes over her face, topped off with a cockney impersonation: “It’s top-secret Ma’am”. We both laugh: “I can’t tell ya my secrets or I might have to put ya in the corner..”

For a business notoriously fickle, many will not stay the course for 2 decades; what does the lady herself have to say to this?  “I’m grateful. This was not promised, this is not [a] normal thing in many artists lives” she says, contrasting the record stores and cassette tapes of 1999 to streaming and the availability of illicit music today. The last decade, she says, has been spent making music and touring when she felt like it. “And that is an honour because if I didn’t put out any more music, my fans still want to see me perform and a lot of artists that are older like me – antique, ha ha ha – we do have that ability to not have to be number one on the chart to actually fill an arena or a theatre. And I’m very grateful for that because I really love performing later in my life than I did at the beginning” she says, expressing feeling tired at the start of her career due to her busy schedule. 

Asked if there is anything else she’d like to say, Anastacia says: “I thank people for using music as a way to get through this pandemic, first of all.” – despite the lack of live performances. The mischievous look appears again as the Zoom call comes to an end: “Don’t sleep on this old broad, cos I’m comin’ at you this year, is what I’m sayin’!” 

Anastacia plays Brighton Dome on Mon 31 Oct

www.brightondome.org 

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