When i-D online contacted Anna-Anna to arrange an interview, we were met with: “OMGGGGGG Seriously??? <333!!!! Awwwwwww:)”, a positivity at the core of Rio resident Manuela Leal’s music!
Apparently The Guardian were met with the exact same response. But the chilling, sultry tones of Anna-Anna are a far cry from her OMGGGGGGG email persona. Having spent the last ten years or so in New York as a sensible freelance graphic designer, Manuela let loose on her musical talents. The songs from her debut EP Last Night I Lit the Moon are dreamy, experimental soundscapes that curl like smoke, crackle like TV static and really are like nothing you’ve ever heard before. Describing Anna-Anna as an alter-ego inhabiting a shadowy space between fiction and reality “where everything is possible”, we skyped the mysterious musician, who donned a number of masks and hats, to chat about music and her superpowers. If we ever pick up a transmission from outer space, we hope it sounds like this.
Tell us about Anna-Anna… Anna-Anna is a band made up of one person, me, Manuela Leal, based in Rio de Janeiro. ‘Anna-Anna’ is a name that sounds common and neutral in any language. Anna-Anna, the double; Anna-Anna, the superhero who turns ice into gold. As ‘Anna-Anna’, I am pure imagination. Anything is possible.
What did you listen to growing up? As a 13-year old I was a huge Sex Pistols fan. I spent a summer in England and it felt like anything was possible: in music I had found a place where I belonged. As a child and teenager I was trained classically, which opened me up to abstraction and silence. My early experiences of night life in Rio really marked me; the idea that music was tied to how you dressed and that when you went out you were outwardly living a dream life – even if it was just for a night. Later, when I found people like Lee Hazlewood, Serge Gainsbourg, Scott Walker and 70′s “Berlin” David Bowie, I felt that sense of possibility again.
Your music has a strong filmic quality. Are you inspired by the work of any particular filmmakers? Yes. Initially I drew from actresses like Anna Magnani and Silvana Mangano and from films like Michelangelo Antonioni’s ‘L’Avventura’ and ‘L’Eclisse’ for the ‘Anna-Anna’ character. I really love ‘The Marriage of Maria Braun’. Maria believes she really is going to “win” her life game and her story is completely merged into her historical context. There is no escape: her internal life is the landscape of history. I like the ways in which films are like songs, with different sounds, textures and characteristics.
What are the main themes in your lyrics? Superpowers! Imagination transcending human possibilities to affect the physical world. Internal worlds that shape what is seen. Love, the greatest power of all!
What’s next? I am writing new lyrics and will begin working on the music for an LP in English. I am writing a single in French for Paul Valéry and Baudelaire. I am working on three films made up of found historical and Youtube footage. And writing songs in Portuguese for a mini-LP about the internal prints of a place I lost and found. Once this is all done I’ll be playing live in London and New York in early 2012.
Anna-Anna’s released tracks are available now at anna-anna.bandcamp.com
Text: Oscar Quine