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Pre-Stream ANMA's Shatteringly Gorgeous Debut EP, "Grow"

Trust us: this is a Danish singer-songwriter you'll want to know.

It's kind of a shame that the term "singer-songwriter" has a such a bad rap. It's unfortunate that pretty much anyone can learn a few chords on the guitar, sing in front of the mirror a few times and book a Tuesday night gig at a bleak college cafe to annoy people regularly. Nor are the odds favorable for aspiring singer-songwriters who have some pretty majestic names to live up to that are still prominent in the public mind: Leonard Cohen… Patti Smith… Kim Larsen… seriously, the list goes on and on. So when a new singer-songwriter comes out on the scene, we tend to treat them with a snarky scepticism. It takes a combination of talent, timing and straight up chutzpah to overcome that—and luckily for ANMA (Anne-Marie Søndergaard), that's pretty much what she's done with her debut EP, Grow.

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Grow isn't fancy. The melodies are simple. The lyrics are clear. The voice is light and brittle. Yet somehow, ANMA's managed to merge all those together to create something brilliantly moving, poignant, earthy and refreshingly optimistic. Grow is officially out this Friday, but you can pre-stream it here starting today until the rest of the week. We thought we'd have a chat with ANMA about it, too.

NOISEY: Hey, ANMA. Your EP is all about growing. How come?
ANMA: It’s called Grow because I wrote the songs while I was traveling in India and living in the mountains. Grow has a double meaning: I want to find a place where I can grow, but it also refers to growth that happens inside.

Do you feel like this EP represents a certain chapter of growth you’ve already gone through?
No, I’m still on the journey. Going to India was the beginning of my growth: just me, out traveling with my guitar. I did change a lot: my voice developed significantly because when I went out traveling, I had to experience a lot of things. Fear of being alone in the world, fear of death… those are all big things to deal with. I feel like I’m still on the journey, though—some internal growth still needs to happen.

How do you think your experience as a Danish woman affected your perspective on your trip?
There was freedom for me in India because everything was beautiful in such contrast to Denmark. In Denmark, you’re on a set path in life and everything around you is clean. There, it’s just different. The colors aren’t the same, or the smell, or how people live. They also have this spirituality that is such a contrast to the West—of course people are poorer, but they live much more in their hearts than we do. I learned a lot from that.

Do you think you can hear the influence of India in your music?
Yes—as I was in India, I had this meditative feeling I got into so you can hear that in the EP. I wrote the songs in an Ashram, which was abandoned for twenty years or something. The Beatles wrote The White Album there in the 60s. It was beautiful—all the small, round houses had what were pretty much forests growing inside them and there were no people. It’s magical there.

How does traveling itself influence your songwriting, though?
When I’m out traveling, I get my inspiration to write because something just happens when I walk down the road with my guitar and have the freedom to go wherever I want and don’t have obligations. I can just follow my instincts and heart and meet types of people I never even knew existed. That gives me a lot, and even the energy the countries have… the good and the bad inspire me. My songs are very much inspired by the moods I get when I travel.

Now that you’re back in Denmark, what are some of the best and worst things about starting out as a musician here?
The difficulty to book gigs. The competition is fierce: there are tons of musicians here and you basically have to be on the radio to get jobs. It’s a hard industry in general—even paying my musicians is a struggle. Also, I’ve heard stories of labels doing things that musicians aren’t satisfied with, so for now I’ll be working on my own. I have a lot more freedom if I do everything myself.

Thanks, ANMA.