Poppycock June/July 2014 - Page 32

music anna tivel From playing fiddle to picking up the guitar and breaking into the Portland music scene, Anna’s adoption in to the Fluff & Gravy Records family has fostered a creative period that now sees her releasing her first LP, Before Machines. This incredible songwriter with her fragile voice talks with us about her journey to this point, her odd comfort on stage but discomfort off, and her off-the-cuff recording choice for the album. w e s l e y • b a u m a n WB: I’d love to talk about your genesis getting into the Portland music scene. You had moved here and started waiting tables, and then broke into the Portland music scene. How exactly do you do that? AT: It’s one of the friendliest ones I’ve ever found in this city. I moved to Portland to go to school and then hung around. I wasn’t writing songs or playing much fiddle with anyone, and I started looking for ways to play. I started writing songs maybe a few years ago and playing guitar. I wanted to do some more music and so I started looking on Craigslist on the musician page. There was everything from “dress up like a cow and play bluegrass in the mall for the release of a new app” or there’s little bands people are forming. So I started getting together with people. Everyone was just really friendly. Just kind of [made] my way through the grapevine, I guess. I played with a guy named Tyler Stenson for a little while and met someone else through him, and someone else though him. Eventually, I picked up a guitar and started writing songs and that’s when 32 I really wanted to take it more seriously. I did that for a year and thought maybe I could stop waiting tables for a little bit and try it out and see if I could, between playing fiddle with other people and doing my own stuff, make ends meet. WB: So it’s working out? You’re not waiting tables anymore? AT: No, I was thinking about doing it this winter. I’m definitely not in the lap of luxury by any means. WB: So you said you started writing songs about two years ago. What prompted you to begin writing songs for the first time in your life? AT: I guess I’ve always really loved writing in general. I’ve always loved poems and stories, and the lyrics to things I’ve always been drawn to. I just didn’t really have a vehicle to make stuff into songs and play guitar. Writing songs on fiddle never really felt natural to me. I just started playing my roommate’s guitar a little bit and learning a few chords and messed around with words. Then it just clicked, I guess. WB: So what do you draw from? There are a lot of different artists, and a lot of different styles or types of songs. Are you writing by opening your heart and writing from very personal experiences? AT: I have this aversion to being too obvious in my songs, like saying the direct thing, whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing. The more personal it is, or the feeling of it, the more truthful I feel like the song is. Then it kind of sticks and I want to play it, I’m proud of it, but when I’m writing a song that isn’t as close to