Home > Interviews > Fast Five: Anja McCloskey

Fast Five: Anja McCloskey



When did you begin making music, and did you ever ponder a different career?

I began playing the accordion when I was five years old. My grandfather played the instrument and I always loved the way it sounded. Eventually my mother gave in and organised some lessons for me. I then spent many years performing with the accordion, playing in orchestras and singing in choirs. In terms of song writing I didn’t really find my own voice until I went to university. My campus also housed the music course, so I met a lot of musicians and by playing a fairly niche instrument, I got drawn into various bands and projects. I decided to start my own solo project in 2010 and have very much enjoyed it. I find the process very cathartic and performing and writing keeps me level-headed. I am not sure I would see it as a career; it is more of a passion. The term career sounds too formal to me. It is just something that I do, and that I need to do. I remember having a phase where I decided not to play music anymore. I think I lasted about six months before I had a little bit of a breakdown, as there was just no other outlet for everything that goes through my head.

How would you describe your music?

I mainly play accordion, so my music is definitely shaped by the instrument I have chosen. It is a very dynamic apparatus and you have to put your whole body into playing it. Inevitably that adds a dramatic touch to my songs. I also perform with violin, guitars and double bass. I think my music is quite different to what you may expect. Otherworldly and gipsyesque is something that I hear frequently, but I would also say that it has a heartbreaking energy to it.

What have you been up to so far and what can we expect the following months?

I started my solo project in late 2010 with the release of my EP Turn, Turn, Turn. This was then followed by tours around the USA, Europe and the UKand three single releases. My debut album An Estimation will be released on Sotones Records – which is a Southampton-based independent label – on 3rd September and is co-funded by the Musicians Benevolent Fund Emerging Excellence Award. We are playing shows around the UK to promote the release. I am also currently planning to write a special Christmas song with my label mates Etao Shin, which we want to give away for free in December time.

If you could duet with anyone, who would it be?

I would absolutely love to do something with Yann Tiersen, he was my big teenage music crush. I saw him live for the first time at ATP Festival in March this year and enjoyed every minute of it. Or perhaps with Richard Buckner, who we supported last year. He is a fantastic American singer-songwriter with such a dark poignant voice.

What’s your desert island disc and why would you take this one album?

My desert island disc would be Rufus Wainwright’s Poses. I recently went through my CD collection and chucked everything out that I did not feel 100% connected to. I only kept the discs I couldn’t live without. Poses was one of them. It reminds me of being a student, moving countries, trying to be independent, the sadness of saying goodbye to your family, meeting the most amazing and kind people and rejoicing in musical discoveries. It always makes me feel hopeful and I don’t seem to tire of the album ever.