She thought she’d be a promoter, she thought she’d be a journalist, she ended up a chanteuse: half-English/half-German Annika Henderson aka ANIKA currently resides in Berlin, as she continues her collaboration with Geoff Barrow of Portishead/Beak> fame and his Bristol mafia.
Her self-titled first album was noted for its post-punk take on 1960s covers and her icy drawl. A new EP comes out this spring and a reconfigured band will be showing up at Berghain on Tue, Jan 15, along with the red-hot Trust, Balzer, and the Hossbach DJ Team.
Many are under the impression that your original band was Beak>, which was not the case.
Well, in fact, my original band was almost Beak>: two were from Beak> and then the other two were from Bristol. Geoff was there in the studio in Bristol and helped coach the drummer. The thing is, I didn’t really register that they were looking for a singer. I’d just handed my notice in as a promoter in Cardiff and then got the call from Geoff, saying a mutual friend passed on my number saying I was a weird singer. He just said, “come over to Bristol and drop by the rehearsal space.”
I’d been working so closely behind the scenes in music that I didn’t think of this in any special way. I just thought, “Okay, cool, I get to use some of my lyrics.” We just talked a lot about our beef with the industry. I was especially raw at the time having just quit my job in music forever. I never really felt hired as a singer. They were more like counselling sessions.
So you had never sung before?
I’d sung only at home. My friend, who runs a venue in Bristol, used to go out with a very good friend from university. I had insomnia, so in the morning I’d get up and play their guitar in the lounge. With my album, every time I’d turn up, we’d listen to some songs, print one out, I’d try it and then we’d record it. I didn’t think it was for a purpose. It was clear that I didn’t really fit with Beak>. Perhaps I was too opinionated.
Geoff was a long timer and you came in cold.
Well, Geoff certainly taught me a lot, and Beak> too – in fact, all the people in that little dysfunctional family. They showed me the ropes and I had to learn pretty quickly. That’s one thing: as soon as you start to meet the nice ones in the industry, they introduce you to more. It was a huge relief after a number of years clashing against people. Geoff was the first one who was like, “Yeah, okay, cool” and accepted what I was doing, in the raw state it was. One of the most important things Geoff taught me is that if someone you don’t know says you’re an idiot, it doesn’t really matter. Life is an experiment. If you’re lucky enough to do music, then why not try stuff out?
Anika with Trust, Balzer and the Hossbach DJ Team | Tues, Jan 15, 20:00, Berghain, Rüdersdorfer Str. 70, Friedrichshain, S-Bhf Ostbahnhof.