Annie Dressner isn’t your typical singer-songwriter. While some of her millennial contemporaries look to YouTube for a big break and others travel from far and wide for a chance to showcase their work in the U.S., she’s making (air)waves across the pond. Her songs have played on BBC Radio 2, BBC Radio 6, and Amazing Radio (as Ruth Barnes’ Artist of the Week). Annie’s poignant style has also garnered her praise as “a name to watch for” on Folk Radio UK.
Her latest release, the East Twenties EP, is “a collection of songs about love and loss” derived from personal experiences that are sure to resonate with audiences across the globe. Full disclosure: as a childhood friend of Annie’s, I might be just a tadbiased.
I recently caught up with Annie to discuss her reverse British music invasion. So, what do cows have to do with it all? Read on to find out!
Jonathan: What was your inspiration for the East Twenties EP?
Annie: It took me a little while to think of a title for the EP. As you know, I grew up in the East 20s in Manhattan, and all of the songs reminded me of different times in my life while living there.
J: So, now that you’re living across the pond, will your next album be an ode to England?
A: Well, I guess you never know! I’m currently working on a new album, and most of the songs are not written yet. Perhaps I’ll sing about bangers & mash and riding the London Eye.
J: Your lyrics have an emotionally raw quality about them. How would you describe your writing process?
A: Writing songs is the clearest way for me to emote. All of the songs that are either on the EP or my album (“Strangers Who Knew Each Other’s Names”) were all written in the same way. I sit down with my guitar and press record on Garageband, then I strum and sing sort of stream of thought. I’ll go back and listen then tweak and edit from there.
J: You know, it’s not everyday that an American singer-songwriter packs up and heads to England!
A: (laughs) That’s what people keep telling me!
J: It’s a pretty big jump. That’s for sure. Why England?
A: To put it simply: love. It was definitely not for the weather.
J: And here I always thought you did it for the rain!
A: I do have some nice wellies!
J: I’m sure they’ll come in handy for an outdoor concert — if they haven’t already.
A: Oh my goodness! There was SO MUCH mud last summer at a few of the festivals.
J: Sometimes you just gotta get down and dirty!
A: (laughs) What kind of site is this again?
J: You’re right… we’re having a little too much fun talking about weather…
A: You’re just lucky I didn’t start talking about my fear of wandering cows… but yes. Moving on.
J: Moving on? Um… I don’t think that’s possible now! What exactly is a “wandering” cow?
A: Well… sometimes there are cows just wandering through the fields. Full disclosure: I am seriously scared of them. I was walking in a field and halfway through I realized that there were no other people around. It was just me and about 15 cows. I tried to go back, but the problem was that I was surrounded by them. Anyway, I kept walking calmly as they were just [grazing] around the field, but then they started to walk on the path too. I called some friends in a panic and scared a cow. Thankfully, it jumped to it’s side rather than to the front. I ran and cried until I was free from this pretty field from hell. And that is the 2nd story that explains why I’m afraid of cows. The first is similar, but I wasn’t as close to them.
J: Wait… so you’ve had TWO incidents with wandering cows?! Oh, England… land of rain and the devilish wandering cow.
A: Seriously. I like burgers.
J: I don’t even know how to segue away from that story! Let’s try this one: if you could collaborate with anyone on a song or entire album, who would it be?
A: Let’s see — Belle & Sebastian would be so much fun! I can’t help it though, singing with Paul Simon would just make me melt.
J: Crushing on Paul Simon, eh?
A: Big time… since… forever. In a platonic music way though. Mr. Simon, if you are reading this, please don’t get the wrong idea!
J: Well, you two have a lot in common. New York roots… moving to England to pursue your solo careers…
A: Paul Simon… duet?
J: Spirit animals are all the rage these days. What do you think is yours? I’m guessing it’s not a cow. Oh, look at that… we’re back on the cows thing!
A: Moo! Spirit animal? For some reason, all I can think of is an aardvark — and I doubt I’d actually want to be one.
J: Who created all of the artwork on your “East Twenties” EP cover and your website?
A: I did. I drew that on a napkin when I was 2 years old. My mother had it framed on the wall ever since. I did take some artistic license and colored it in for the EP. I also designed my website.
J: Do you think 2 year old you somehow knew that you were creating a piece of art that would serve as a gateway to future artistic endeavors?
A: Absolutely! I was a child genius. (laughs) I invented baseball — and the internet. Want to know more about Annie’s music? Visit her official website for full tracks, videos and upcoming tour dates!
Check out Annie Dressner’s official video for “How Am I Supposed To Be?”