Anna Rest Easy On Nordic Music, Films, and ‘My Own Private Viking’

Anna Rest Easy 3

We’re excited to announce that Anna Rest Easy (aka Ruth Dixon) is going to release a second album, the follow up to her excellent debut, ‘Retrospectre’. Out in the autumn, ‘My Own Private Viking’ is inspired both by Ruth’s favourite films, as well as her favourite Nordic songs. Watch her EP trailer video:

We caught up with Ruth and asked her about the album. We’ll be reviewing it in the next few weeks as well.

EP: ‘My Own Private Viking’. What’s the deal with that title?

Anna Rest Easy My Own Private Viking

ARE: The album’s original title was Vendetta ’89, but I rejected this after someone pointed out that Taylor Swift had claimed that year for one of her own titles (I had no idea). The new title came about whilst I was doodling in the studio during recording, Nordic and cinematic inspirations meandering through my mind. I guess I was daydreaming about Swedish vikings and River Phoenix?

EP: It’ll be a massive surprise to anyone who knows you (not at all) that you’ve been inspired by Nordic songs (as well as your favourite films). What is it about the songs of the Nordic region that appeals to you?

ARE: Nordic music has a raw darkness that I deeply relate to. I would say that 75% of my music collection is Norwegian, 15% Icelandic, Danish or Swedish, and the remaining 10% a mix from the remaining 192 or so countries of the world.

EP: ‘Silent Kill’ is a bit of a sombre song…guns, arms made of sand. What’s going on there? What’s it about?

ARE: It’s about silence. Originally inspired by Holly Hunter’s character in The Piano, that song attempts to explain how silence is both peaceful and terrifying at the same time. I recently discovered the horror movie Hush on Netflix, which is another neat representation of this idea. Silent Kill doesn’t have the same narrative style that many of my songs have, as it’s more of an intro, there to set the scene. The sad, sombre scene.

EP: Just as an aside – Tell us about the violent sandstorm in the Sahara Desert. Why were you there? How terrifying was that?

ARE: The sandstorm was brief but unpleasant, and I have never been so grateful for the invention of sunglasses. Why was I there? I took two weeks off school to travel through the Sahara with a group of Dutch eclipse chasers to see a total solar eclipse. No, seriously.

EP: I’m listening to ‘The Sirens Of Camden’ and I’m struck by the lyrics (great idea having lyric videos btw). What’s the writing process for you? How do you go about it? Do you write the lyrics down first or do you do the music? Or is it both at the same time? You ever thought about using the Burroughs cut up method that Bowie used to use?

ARE: Most of my songs are written completely in my head. I can rarely write a decent song whilst sitting at a piano with a notebook. I find that the only way to avoid constraints and limitations is to hear how I want the song to sound in my head and to later work it out on the piano or guitar. The melody and lyrics have to come simultaneously; they write one another. I wrote ‘The Sirens of Camden’ whilst walking through Camden on a particularly riotous night. I wrote ‘A Masquerade’ in the car on the way home from a hard day at work. ‘Mathilde’ was written in the shower.

The cut-up technique is an interesting one – I admire artists whose lyrics possess a kind of artistic disorder (Bowie is one good example, The Mars Volta is another), but it would not work for me. My songs are quite mathematically structured, especially in terms of rhythm and rhyme. Also, most of my music is narrative; applying the cut-up technique would leave you with an album of Memento-esque musical mind-fucks. Wow, maybe that’ll be the title of my third album…

EP: ‘A Masquerade’ features a really lovely video (all your videos are lovely as it happens) – what’s the inspiration behind it? And how did you make it? I’m liking that the music is in direct contrast to the deeper meaning of the song. What compelled you to do it that way?

ARE: Ah yes, the profound, forward-planned and deeply inspired lyric video for ‘A Masquerade’. My cousin and I were watching 10 Cloverfield Lane using my brother’s projector and we got distracted making shadow puppets. Afterwards, we decided to quickly get out an iPad and film some random footage of me waving my arms about along to the song, because we weren’t sure we’d get another chance, and it was 1am and we were feeling ridiculous. That’s literally it. One take of me dancing in front of a projector. As for the song, I wrote it in a bad mood, so I gave it an upbeat melody to lift my spirits in the moment. I enjoy the irony.

EP: Talk us through your videos. Where did you get the ideas for them?

ARE: My approach to the lyric videos has been to under-think them. I plan nothing and wait until a couple of days before the release date, and I do the first thing that comes into my head whilst listening to the song. The only exception is track 8, but that video may well become the official video, rather than just a lyric video. We’ll see. As it stands, I have to release track 5 next week, and I haven’t yet given the video a single thought.

EP: ‘Battle Cry’ – again, nice contrast between the video and the song’s subject matter. The lyrics too are amazing – what exactly is ‘wild autumnal hair’? Talk to us about the song.

ARE: This song hasn’t been as popular as some of the others, but I am actually quite fond of it. It is very unconventionally structured – I literally wrote each verse until I was finished with what needed saying, meaning all four verses are different lengths and follow different patterns. I very much made it up as I went along, which gives it a refreshing linear feel every time I perform it. The song tells a story about an adulterous relationship, told from the perspective of the “other woman”. I suppose “wild autumnal hair” is hair that is unruly and browny/orangey? I had quite a clear image of the male character during the writing process, and boy was his hair all over the place. Probably all that adultery he was doing.

I related the song’s subject matter to war and bloodshed, you know, to lighten the mood.

EP: Will we ever get an Anna Rest Easy song that is genuinely about joy, happiness and rainbows?

ARE: No.

EP: Are any of the songs on this album inspired by Susanne Sundfør?

ARE: I feel it would drastically upset the balance of nature if I said no to this. Look out for track 6…

Be sure to check out Anna Rest Easy on Tumblr, where Ruth will be uploading more videos throughout the summer. You can also find Anna Rest Easy on her official website, Twitter, Facebook, and now Instagram! ‘My Own Private Viking’ will be released digitally on October 24.

About the author

Lisa has been writing for over 20 years, starting as the entertainment editor on her university newspaper. Since then she's written for Popwrapped, Maximum Pop, Celebmix, and ListenOnRepeat.

Lisa loves all good music, with particular fondness for Jedward and David Bowie. She's interviewed Edward Grimes (Jedward), Kevin Godley, Trevor Horn, Paul Young, Peter Cox (Go West), Brendan B Brown (Wheatus), Bruce Foxton (The Jam), among many many more. Lisa is also available for freelance writing - please email lisa@essentiallypop.com

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