Interview: Anais Mitchell
Where are you from?
I'm from the small state of Vermont in New England. I've been living in Brooklyn the past couple years, but I'll be moving back to the countryside this summer!
Who's in the Band?
Right now I'm touring with a duo project-- an album I made with my friend and collaborator Jefferson Hamer. It's a collection of our arrangements of old English and Scottish folk ballads, called 'Child Ballads'.
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How did you get started?
I always wanted to be a writer of some kind, and in high school I started playing guitar and realized that maybe I could write songs. I played open mics, I played in the subway, I played for tips and for anyone who would listen, until I had some semblance of a music career.
When did music come into your life?
My family are not musicians but they are all music lovers, and we used to sing along to records and the radio, and my mom sang my brother and I to sleep in her out-of-key voice. When I was in high school I was very inspired by artists like Ani Difranco, Dar Williams, Tori Amos-- a very powerful and emotive generation of female songwriters.
Who has influenced you?
I've always loved the 'songwriters' songwriters'-- Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen, Randy Newman, Gillian Welch, and the like-- but lately I've been especially influenced by English, Scottish and Irish folk music-- artists and bands like Paul Brady, Martin Carthy, Nic Jones, Anne Briggs, Fairport Convention, Pentangle, stuff like that. I also love well-written pop music: Peter Gabriel, Robyn, Gotye, etc.
Who are you listening to at the moment?
I'm really into this album by a young guitar player/songwriter called Blake Mills right now. Also, I spun a lot of Sam Amidon the last couple years!
Where do you get your inspiration from?
Dreams, different kinds of love, politics (especially in hard times), my childhood, other music I listen to, books I read...
What's your next move?!
We'll be touring with Child Ballads for the next four months-- coming to Nottingham, in fact!-- and then I hope to lay low, do more writing, hopefully work on another folk opera like Hadestown. We're also hoping to stage Hadestown as a theater show!
Tell me something about your life that readers might be surprised to read!
When I was in college I studied Arabic and then studied abroad in Cairo, Egypt. After I graduated I went back to Cairo for a few months... A lot of my early songs were influenced by that time.
Anais Mitchell plays The Maze in Mansfield Road on Sunday. Sold out.