Interview: 5 Minutes with Annie Goodchild
Electronic American roots musician Annie Goodchild is no stranger to the music world. This Boston born and raised Latina singer-songwriter has been honing her craft for many years now, fronting her soul band Melou, as well as collaborating with influential YouTube star Scott Bradlee of Postmodern Jukebox, amongst many other exciting projects. Annie has also been kept busy with her live performances at festivals, having opened for R&B queen Alicia Keys at the highly exclusive Baloise Session Festival and played at the acclaimed Zermatt Unplugged and Montreux Jazz Festivals.
Just last week, Annie has shared the premiere of her latest track, ‘Ether’, from her upcoming album ‘Meditative Mouthfuls’, which is scheduled to be released next month, on September 28. The newest track is a cinematic American roots number with Goodchild’s gorgeous soaring vocals taking the listener through a journey of jazzy guitar and groovy electronic beats.
We caught up with the talented Annie Goodchild and chatted about stage fright, the recording “womb” and how life gets the creative juices flowing.
Set the tone for us. Why the arts?
I don’t think I chose the arts; the arts were born in me from the moment I got here. My primary instrument is my voice, It’s a part of my physical being, and I think this creates a special relationship between myself and music. Singing has enticed me from my earliest memories. Each singer a siren drawing me in and casting their own spell. I think many artists have said this, but I can’t do anything else, nor would I want to. The world needs art, and I feel really grateful to actualize my experience in this way.
Which comes first when you’re producing – the sound or the idea?
Most of the time, when writing, everything happens at once. The more open I am and present I am the clearer the picture becomes. Sitting down and writing just lyrics, for example, is very rare. Usually I’ll be at an instrument and kinda jam out the chord progression while singing a melody. During this time the general sound, production ideas, and color of it all comes together.
Does your material feature any collaborations?
Sure, If I don’t write a song on my own I’ll usually collaborate with my friend Maarten Swaan or producer Dave Bianchi in Barcelona. I’ve worked with both of them for years now. More recently, I’ve been working with producer Hannes Butzer of Berlin. We kinda just ended up as strangers in his studio and had an afternoon to create something. We just clicked. He spent time studying blues in the States and really understood, right away, my fragile balance between American roots music and my more cinematic/electronic music.
What’s on your current playlist?
I’d say about every 6 months I become obsessed with a handful of new artists and inhale as much of their work as possible. There are also my favorites who I’ll always go back to. Alabama Shakes, Laura Mvula, Violents ft. Monica Martin, St. Vincent, Matthew Herbert, Childish Gambino, Leon Bridges, Robert Plant and so on. This list could go on forever.
Tell us about the chemistry you have with your fans on stage.
So, I’ve dealt with anxiety my whole life, and stage fright comes hand in hand with that. I’ve beaten myself up for letting my fear conquer my stage presence for a very long time. The majority of my favorite performers are glorious spectacles on stage like Janis Joplin or Prince, and I always thought I needed to be this or a version of it to be a stage performer. I’ve learned through time that what is brave for me and what I care about is being honest on stage, and connecting with as many other humans as possible. I think when I’m really “in it”, so is the audience. We have this moment in time where everything else can fall away and we can be there, being mirrors of each other. Sometimes people cry, sometimes we laugh together, but whatever is happening, it’s real.
What techniques do you experiment with to get your original sound?
I’d say, more than anything, I experiment with vocal techniques. I think the music industry wants artists, especially female ones, to have one, easy to swallow, easy to understand, sound. I never understood this. I want to stretch my voice in as many ways as possible, the same way an instrumentalist would. I want to explore all parts of my voice so I can get closer to communicating all the experiences and emotions that I’m singing about. I always said if I had a billion bucks, I’d travel the world studying different cultures’ vocal techniques. Humans are amazing and it’s so interesting to see how different cultures have grown to express themselves musically and vocally.
Take us through a day in the recording studio.
Being in the studio and recording is one of my favorite things in the world. Not to get over-dramatic, but there is something meditative and womb-like about being in a vocal booth. It’s my own version of an isolation tank. I’m somewhat of a perfectionist and will keep doing vocal takes until someone cuts me off, haha. This also translates to editing most other instruments or finding the perfect plug in for a synth line etc. I’m for sure font and center, I want to be there throughout the whole process. It’s an extraordinary thing watching a small idea you had swimming around your head get turned into a fully fleshed-out song. So a day in the studio is a happy day.
Was there a specific moment in your life where you thought, “this is what I want to do”?
I honestly can’t remember a time when I didn’t know this is what I was gonna do. Music spoke to me. Being a little girl and listening to the great female vocalists made my soul swell. Nothing else really ever came close.
What do you keep close by while you’re playing a set?
Water. Lots and lots of water. My beautiful band, and just enough courage to remind myself to be present and honest with the audience.
Any emerging artists on your radar?
At the moment Buscabulla, a band from Puerto Rico, is my new favorite. They have such a dope aesthetic to everything that they do. Another band I’m really into now is And The Kids. They are the kind of band I want to be in and be best friends with.
What gets your creative juices flowing?
Life and all that comes with it. It’s a vague answer, but it would be impossible to name all the things that can spark creativity. I think, for everyone, there are big moments, feelings and experiences that you know will mark you forever. Love, loss, succeeding, failing, intimacy, fear and gratitude, to name a few, are all things that come out in my work. There are also all the small moments in between those larger ones that can subconsciously be just as inspiring. Those moments can be work from other artists, chilling with friends and everything just feels calm and right, dreaming, nature, meditation, food etc. Life serves up an endless feast of creativity, and I’m happy to eat it all up.
Take us through your collection of gear, tech or software that accompanies your creative expression.
Before I take my ideas to a producer or my band, who have a lot of equipment, I work alone at home. For me, writing organically on an instrument serves as the best tool for me to get the initial idea out. I usually have a general picture, color and tone to a song in my head as I’m writing it. Choirs, orchestration and production ideas come hand in hand with that. I work with Logic Pro X mostly as well as a the BOSS RC- 300 loop station to get those ideas and parts communicated best.
Any side projects you’re working on?
Forever and always side projects! The first will be a series of videos I’ve just started making with my guitar player, Gabriel Wyss. We will cover songs we love, and write a few originals and film them with no professional lighting, no reverb or effects, no fancy camera. Just us and the music. I think I really needed this project now. The hustle of the music industry can take you further away from music than you’d expect The next, which I’m very excited for, is a collaboration with Legion Seven aka Sarah Reid. We have been friends for years and have wanted to work together just as long. She is an extraordinary artist. Conceptually, we will invite a different artist, most of the time another woman of color, to create a show with us. We use our individual songs which we deconstruct to make something new, as well as songs we’ve composed together. We just had our first show and worked with Joana Aderi who’s fucking fantastic.
How have you refined your craft since you entered the industry?
I think as an artist you can never be done working and growing your craft. The same could be said for humans as a whole. With each experience and as time goes by I think inherently your work becomes more refined. In the very beginning of my career I would write songs in every genre. I mean really all over the place. I think the music industry still considers my work pretty far-reaching, but now I’ve learned to take all those influences and infuse them into a more concise sound that feels like it’s my own.
Breakdown the news for us: what can we expect from you this year?
NEW MUSIC! My upcoming EP ‘Meditative Mouthfuls’ will be out this summer and fall. I’m really excited for these tracks to finally get to your ears! Expect videos, EP’s, shows, new collaborations and more fun surprises throughout the year.
Watch the new music video for ‘Ether’ by Annie Goodchild below.