Tell us about your new single/ album/ tour?
I’ve just released an EP called ‘Swim.’ It’s a collection of songs that I wrote during the last few years that I’ve spent living in Cambodia and the Solomon Islands.
What’s your favourite work at this point in time?
I really loved making the video for the lead single from the EP- ‘Alight.’ It’s a song about finding hope in dark places, and we shot the video while I was working in the Philippines. It takes place in this abandoned mansion in the hills out of Manila. We spent the day scrambling up crumbling stone staircases and hacking through overgrown vines to find the best spots.
Tell us a quick, on the road or studio, anecdote.
During the shoot for that video, the director wanted to capture smoke floating across the scene as I stood playing the song in the mansion. We didn’t have anything as fancy as a smoke machine, so one of the camera people made a gigantic pile of mosquito coils just off screen and lit it on fire while I was playing. It kind of made me choke, but at least I didn’t get bitten by bugs!
How would you describe your sound in food form and why?
A good aglio olio pasta- familiar but fresh, with an unexpected spicy undertone.
What, or who, inspires you?
I just played a show with two absolute powerhouses- Anna Cordell, who is releasing beautiful music while also running a hugely successful fashion label and raising five daughters, and Bec Goring, who is one the best guitarists I’ve heard, a killer songwriter and captain of the Geelong AFLW team. It’s really inspiring to see these incredible women kicking music goals while also doing other diverse and amazing things.
Which song do you wish you wrote?
Chelsea Hotel #2 by Leonard Cohen. Lyrical gold.
What’s next for you?
I’m heading out on tour around Australia over summer, then to the UK for shows later in 2020. I have lots of new songs bubbling away in my brain too, so I don’t think the next release is far away.
What’s your scene?
A campfire in the bush with mates with lots of red wine on a warm, starry night.
Anna Smyrk has come a long way since growing up on a lavender farm in Central Victoria. She has toured widely across Australia over the last few years (including appearances at Port Fairy Folk Festival and the Queenscliff Music Festival), juggling her music with her work in international development. In January she toured the UK for the first time, playing to packed out folk clubs and earning herself invitations to return in 2020 for festival and headline appearances.
Her debut EP, Song of the Silver-tongued Magpie, was described as “exquisite” by ABC Radio National, while Rhythms Magazine called it “a slow-burning gem”. Now Anna Smyrk is back with her second EP, Swim.
From the sapphire waters of the Solomon Islands to a crumbling Cambodian town; Swim is a collection of songs inspired by Anna’s time spent in wild places and paints stunning pictures of her travels.
“Being in unfamiliar places always spurs new ideas for me. I wrote these songs in the Solomon Islands, Cambodia and Australia. I was living in places that were so different in so many ways, but water, rain and the ocean were fundamental in all of them, and images of water kept coming up in the songs.” – Anna Smyrk
Track one, ‘Benjamin’ lulls the listener in with gentle slide guitar and mandolin, evoking the dreamy heat of a remote island in the Solomons. ‘The Wait’ tells a tale of long-distance love, and waiting for the monsoon season, all against the backdrop of a small Cambodian town. ‘Home’ is a heart-breaking piano-driven tune about witnessing the world going underwater in the Pacific islands. ‘Bones’ is steeped in longing for the ocean. Closing track, ‘Alight’ is a stirring song about finding hope in dark places and glows with layers of vocal harmonies.
Swim was recorded in a Central Victorian farmhouse in the middle of a dry, brown summer when Anna was visiting home for a couple of weeks. The songs are layered with vocals and reminiscent of Seeker Lover Keeper and the subtle power of Tiny Ruins, drawing inspiration from the greats of the alt-country tradition like Gillian Welch. It features a band of old friends on violin, banjo, dobro, double bass and drums and Anna’s sister on backing vocals.
“We had a tiny window to rehearse and record these tracks, but I had been thinking about them for a long time. The whole process was a mix of really thoughtful intentions, coupled with raw, fresh ideas from a bunch of musicians I love and trust.” – Anna Smyrk
Lead single, ‘Home’ was released earlier this year and has been getting love on Double J, ABC, BBC, and community radio. It was ‘Track of the Day’ on The AU Review with author Jodie Sloan calling it “a glorious piece of musical storytelling”. Tiana Speter from the Soundcheck said it “packs a heart-rending and elegant punch.”
The next 12 months will see Anna splitting her time between advocacy work in the Philippines and touring her new EP around Australia and the UK.
ANNA SMYRK SWIM EP TOUR DATES
The Lost Ones – Ballarat, VIC
Nov 16th, 2019
Macedon Railway Hotel – Macedon, VIC
Nov 22nd, 2019
Spotted Mallard – Melbourne, VIC
Nov 27th, 2019
Illawarra Folk Festival – NSW
Jan 16-19, 2019
Newstead Live Music Festival – VIC
Jan 26-27, 2020
Terang Live – VIC
Wheatsheaf Hotel – Adelaide, SA
Stone Pony – Adelaide, SA