Baden-Württemberg, Germany is home to half German, half Italian Annabell Di Miceli – Anna Who? to you and me.
It’s from there that she writes her gorgeous, tear stained, songs and the moment we heard them, we decided we had to interview her.
Here is what she had to say.
When did you first realise you had a talent for writing songs?
Well there are always 3 different types of girl in class at school: the Prom-Queens, the Geeks, and then there is a Dreamer.
I didn’t live in a mansion and I failed at algebra, so I had to find my own ecological niche.
Some would say ‘Hey, look at that talented Darwin Fink, he’s using that arm to pick up his food.’
For me, in the ’90s, that arm was my notepad, a pencil and a hippie guitar from our cellar.
Other people tried to write songs, too. I saw them desperate in front of an empty page. ‘How to begin? How to end? What to write about?’
The results were mostly ‘Rock’, ‘Beer’ & ‘I love U’. (If you read that in this order it sounds like a Homer Simpson song!)
Anyway, back to the topic.
I skimmed through my text and realised that the structure of songs or the subject matter just wasn’t a problem for me. The words just seemed to come out naturally.
It was – and still is – like a fever. I have to sweat it out until the end.
I’ve been listening to Anna Who? a lot over the past few days. The songs are quite stripped down. Are they home recordings that you intend to expand upon or are they deliberately quite bare?
They’re minimal to the bone because I don’t like overproduced Pop.
I don’t even like Radio Pop. That said, though, there is a plan to expand in the form of a first LP.
Since the home recorded demos I have written a lot of songs which I want play – either with a simple E- tuned guitar or I might experiment with drums.
The heart of the songs will be the same but “the A-Team” will do it’s best to optimise the recording and mastering.
What genre would you say Anna Who? is?
Some people have said Indie/Dreampop but that’s not exactly right.
When people hear Dreampop they think about a girl with a guitar singing at the moon in front of a camp-fire.
That’s not Anna Who?.
Many of the new songs are so angry, but they don’t come with a Metal riff, more New Wave.
Is Italian Stallion a genre? Or Modern Riot Grrrl-Pop? Although my trousers have no holes!
Seriously though, Singer/Songwriter is never wrong.
Where does the name Anna Who? come from?
There are two versions.
The first version is one for the people who are blessed with a name like mine.
Whenever it’s up to someone to write down your name, or to remember, they have to ask 3 times how to write it.
Then you have to spell it for them.
Then they still write it wrong, anyway.
In the end they write it how they want to with a shake of the head – like they belong to some kind of ‘easy-name club’ and I can’t join. (I think that’s the same club who’s members are all skinny.)
The second version is that I played a lot of gigs where there was some ‘local hero’ band playing too, who’s attitude was to screw up their nose at any women entering the stage as a musician and not a groupie.
Both versions end with the phrase “Anna, who?”
Anna Who? isn’t your only project is it? You play in Skill Variety too, right? Tell us a bit about that.
Before Skill Variety, I played in bands which were already there and just needed a singer.
After that I formed Skill Variety so I could finally play the style I like and be 100% me.
It was one giant leap for me, because I never was just a singer. I was a guitar player, too. I’m not the second Hendrix, and I will never be, but I can strum my own songs.
Our rehearsals lasted about 5 hours, often with no breaks.
It was hard work, but really good fun.
After more than 2 years, we decided to take a break. People have to study or work or they move.
Your creative side stays the same though, so you have to find an outlet.
That reason birthed what was originally known as The Versus Cannys – although now I just use the name Anna Who?
Is there anywhere that people can buy your music?
Not yet, but in April/May I will re-record the Demos and will also record the new songs.
At the moment I’m working on the booklet, too. There will be about 8-10 songs on it.
I’m also searching for the right label and clubs where I can promote my music.
Soon I will record new videos, so people who would like to hear my music can watch videos for the new songs – for free.
Why do you write songs in English?
I like the challenge.
Even when I was 12 years old and I could hardly speak the language, I wrote a song about a person who had everything but freedom, in English.
I like the language and I like the fact that so many people can communicate with it.
At the same time I’m a friend of hidden meanings and that’s easier in another language than your own.
I said to the folks in my home town, ‘When I’m getting naked and stripping down my soul, I won’t make it that easy for you.’
Have you ever written any songs in German?
Yes and I record some too, but in German I can’t combine the words and the melody as easily as I can in English. The lyrics were quite weird, too.
The songs had the structure – with verse and refrain and all – but they could also have been the poems of Jim Morrison.
I don’t want to compare myself with a genius like him, it’s just that when people read my German songs they looked at me like I look at a vinyl record player while hearing Jim sing about the visit of the murderer, the conjuration and something about a blue bus.
I was left with questions.
(If you don’t understand this last sentence listen to ‘The End’ by The Doors and all will become clear – DT)
Tell us about the most memorable gig you’ve played?
I’ve experienced playing in front of 20 people to 800 people, and one thing I’ve learned is that the number of visitors doesn’t make a rock show.
The memorable gigs are still the ones where foreign people want to shake my hand and tell me what they think about the music.
Imagine this; when I wrote ‘Operation Scotland Yard’ I was lying on the floor (yes, on the dusty, dirty floor) and never wanted to make another step again.
I was captured by a moment of brutal sadness.
Then, in one town, I saw a boy reaching for the hand of the girl next to him while I was playing that song.
Later they told me it was their first date. So they gave the sadness such a wonderful note.
I will never get tired of reactions like that.
What’s the most embarrassing thing you’ve ever done?
To name one of the top 10, I had never visited a circus until I was 16.
The embarrassing moment took place during the break of the show. They called out that people could come down and ride the elephants.
Well, I love elephants.
I stormed down to the circus ring. The problem was, there were about thirty other people – all of them little children.
Think about a queue full of midgets, and then a 1.68 meter tall Anna. Yay!
Do I have to go on and tell you how the clowns asked me where my little sister is?
Or how they took the megaphone and shouted “Can the mother of the tall girl please pick up her daughter?”
Teenagers and Clowns – do not mix ’em.
Name something that you hate?
When a female participant of a talent show cries while singing ‘I will always love you’.
Extra tears = Extra points.
Name something that you love?
When a musician sings with tearful eyes, but somehow manages the feelings, gets over it and smiles bitter at the end like ‘I made it through – but look at my scars.’
Like Miss Nash, Mr. Oberst or Mr. Buckley.
If you could swap lives with someone, who would you choose and why?
With the manager who’ll officially spot Anna Who?.
He will make a lot of money!
Anna Who? Justice Took The Plane