Leaving a band to kickstart your own solo career; it’s a tale as old as time. And sometimes it’s inevitable, like when Anna Burch quit Frontier Ruckus to finally Quit The Curse. The singer debuted on Polyvinyl with a catchy yet complex indiepop record. So, after years of singing and playing bass in Frontier Ruckus and singing in garage rock band Failed Flowers, Burch is now out on her own, and with some well-deserved success.
Earlier this year Burch and I met up in Amsterdam – one of us tired from driving back and forth to Germany the day before to film The Low Anthem, the other jet lagged. Safe to say the odds weren’t in our favor, but lucky for us – and you – we managed just fine and filmed a captivating session in the Velvet Music record store on the Rozengracht.
Burch grew up listening to a variety of music, like Alanis Morissette, Smashing Pumpkins, Fiona Apple, Elliott Smith and Built to Spill. ‘I admire any artists who continue to make music that excites them regardless of how unfriendly the industry and people’s’ attention spans have become.’ How does she keep going when things are tough? ‘I get energized by watching old movies, or listening to some classic pop like the Beach Boys.’ Anticipation was a last minute choice, she explains. ‘I rehearsed it the first morning I was in Amsterdam right before heading to do the session, which seems appropriate for the subject matter. It’s my favorite Carly Simon song. I heard she wrote it about going on a date with Cat Stevens.’
Anticipation (Carly Simon)
The second cover Burch chose was from the band Aislers Set. I had to admit I hadn’t heard of them before. Which is sometimes a bit shameful, but on the other hand, isn’t that exactly what this website is all about? Discovering new music through your favourite musicians’ influences… So. ‘They’re definitely under appreciated. I love the 60’s chord progressions and melodies with the 90’s indie, 8-track production. Amy Linton has one of my favorite voices. So yes, they were a pretty big inspiration for me.’
‘Mary’s Song has been a favorite for a few years and was sort of a guiding light when I first started recording my first few songs. The melody is so haunting and lovely, and the lyrics are kind of strange, but also honest. I’ve definitely made myself cry singing it before.’
Mary’s Song (Aislers Set)
It took a while for Anna Burch to back herself and go all out with her own songs. ‘I had always wanted to write my own music but I didn’t feel capable for the longest time. There were a lot of things that clicked for me at the time I started writing the record, but I don’t think I could have done it without the support and collaboration from my good friend Paul Cherry who helped produce the record. Writing this record was so fun, cathartic, and also the most important thing I’ve done in my life.’
A while later the moment came to make some tough decisions. What was it like to leave Frontier Ruckus and focus all of her efforts on her own work? ‘It happened pretty naturally when it came up. We were just finishing up with a lot of touring when I got the final mixes for my record. Once Polyvinyl got involved and said they wanted to put it out, it just seemed like the logical next step for me, and the guys were very understanding.’
After not feeling capable for so long, it must feel great to get to play her own songs, and to sense that they’re well-received. ‘It’s been unexpectedly validating, and it does feel nice. It’s also a bit stressful at times being a self managed solo artist who is not very organized! But I’ve got a lot of great people helping me, and I’ve gotten to play with some amazing musicians this year who make the songs so much fun to play nite after nite. It’s still surprising to me that I have fans at the shows and I feel very lucky to be so busy playing my own music this year.’
Velvet Music, The Netherlands
Esther & Merel, Velvet Music Amsterdam
Backstage Hotel, Amsterdam
Theo van der Ven
Filmed, edited and graded by Matthijs van der Ven.
Audio recorded & mixed by Matthijs van der Ven.