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Interview: Anna Pancaldi


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The singer-songwriter is one of the oldest genres of musical expression, dating back to ancient bardic oral tradition where poetry was accompanied with instrumentation. Essex-born Anna Pancaldi has been touted as one of the nation’s most promising singer-songwriters by outlets such as BBC 6 Music and Radio 2. High praise has been sung for her personal lyricism and chiming guitar chords.

Anna Pancaldi, courtesy of Sonnet PR

Though many artists often don't have the sustainability to live up to hype, Anna’s steady release of singles only continues to prove her talent as a songwriter. Her success has come from a vivacious hunger and passion for what she does, meaning she's also had to sacrifice stability for a full-time career as a singer-songwriter.

“At age 21 I had a vivid awakening where I remembered asking myself, if this is what I truly want from my life then I must run with it wholeheartedly and not waiver. In that moment, I quit my temporary job, sold my car and went travelling around the world for nine months with a little guitar writing songs and performing them as I went. I have never looked back since.” 

Anna’s retreat to South Africa became a sanctuary for pushing through years of self-doubt and stage anxiety. Many established live performers such as Cat Power, Brian Wilson and Carly Simon have notoriously suffered with performance-based anxiety, something which Anna knows too well.

“South Africa was a pivotal part of my growth as a performer, I had been suffering from stage fright for years prior to moving there. Finding my vocal coach, Gavin Smith, gave me the tough love I needed to push through it. I didn’t have the strength to pull myself out alone and am unsure as to where I would be now if it wasn’t for him. I also wrote my very first song there, ‘Do You Know What it’s Like to be Me’, an emo moment for sure! ”

As the modern age wears on, many bands are choosing to focus on digital sales and exposure through playlists on established streaming sites, but Anna's dedication to touring is refreshingly grounded: “touring builds fan base, but then you need to keep in touch with them, and so it goes around”. Though an artist can tour fairly frequently, it is the music that exists in the stratosphere of online streaming and the playback on TV shows that sustains interest in the hype felt from the aftermath of a live show. Anna's features on a Levi’s advert and the ABC network show ‘Famous In Love’ has then seen her streams extend into the hundreds of thousands, in both her her home nation and across the pond in the US.

“I don’t think most artists have a choice to engage with social media nowadays, it’s the easiest conduit from artist to fan we have and if used tactfully, you really can reach people with it.”

“Also, when starting out, it’s the one free platform artists can use. Touring is a brilliant way of making waves, but also comes with great cost. With streaming and playlists your exposure is increased and there is income to be made from that which we all need, but I think more of the issue for artists starting out these days is keeping people’s interest with there being so much content.”

One particular theme that seems to permeate Anna’s work is that of love and loss - it's a common trope of singer-songwriters due to its cathartic qualities. Anna professes that “most artists compose music concerning the experiences they have felt most deeply and for me loss has walked very closely by my side, I wish it hadn’t." This emotional rawness is extended through the power of her voice and perfectly encapsulates the message her lyrics convey. 

“For me, the voice speaks of the soul and evokes raw emotion, bringing meaning to the words you convey. You can write an incredible song, but the performance takes it to the next level.”

Her latest single ‘Peace’, however, is a departure from the melancholic undertones of previous singles such as ‘Brother’. She adopts the help of the electric guitar to inject a more optimistic, upbeat tone into her catalogue. It sounds like an artist who has achieved serenity with themselves, becoming at peace both emotionally and sonically: “I knew that in part I had to find a way of expressing myself in an alternative way, so that the songs that come more naturally (being the melancholic ones) can stand alone more so, it truthfully was a real challenge for me, but important to push myself from what I know.”  

Despite proving her capability to headline large venues in selling out her London headline dates, Anna prefers to play more intimate shows in her fans' living rooms, which inarguably create a more memorable and intimate experience between fan and artist. 

“The moments when you connect face to face with your fans and feeling that can only be found playing live, it’s electrifying.”

“I know you can’t play those shows forever, but it’s so important to give fans an experience that hopefully etches on their mind. We have so much content, music, TV, radio, voices around us constantly and it can be hard to reach above, so that’s why those moments I hope, can achieve that and I honestly love playing intimate shows too”

Despite a highly successful year, Anna shows no signs of slowing down, telling us that we can expect to hear “Lots more new music!”.

“I am currently on tour in Germany with another single out before the end of the year, then heading back to the US to tour next year and at the end of the year I will be back out on a UK/European tour. I’m excited!”

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