Isabella Ambrosio discusses Anna Krantz’s beginnings as a singer-songwriter, the importance of inspirations, and different phases of life.
Anna Krantz has lived in three countries, written songs with Ed Sheeran (who was a hopeful at the time), and written with countless other well known songwriters. Her influences range vastly on her songs, but her voice remains strong and powerful, the words she’s written flowing perfectly.
She’s a striking woman with jet black hair and a mysterious smile. She met me for coffee in a place on Pearse Street. We had trouble finding where to sit, the music too loud in one section, the traffic too loud on the street, but when we settled, it felt interesting. It was my first in person interview. But, it helped that I had met her briefly before.
I started with a broad question, curious as to the road she would lead me down in this conversation, “Talk to me about how you got into music. Was it a family thing, was it school? What was the moment that music came into your life?”
She tilts her head to the side before starting, “Well, my family are really musical. I discovered I could sing when I was about four years old. For me, singing and songwriting came when I first played the piano and I just started writing songs.”
“How old were you when you started playing piano?”
“I was eight years old.”
“Was it encouragement from your parents?”
“No, I quite literally, met a piano, sat down and started writing a song.”
“How’s your relationship with music changed since you were eight?”
“That’s a really complicated question because it’s a journey. It’s an ongoing, changing process. I always try to get back to how I felt about it when I was eight though.”
“How do you do that?”
“I’m in the process of trying to do that, at this very minute,” she readjusts the way she’s sitting, “Once the industry gets in the way, once I allow the industry to get into my head when I’m writing and thinking about what a hit is, or I’m writing thinking about what’s commercial. And that takes away the joy. I suppose it’s getting back to breaking all of the rules. But, then with the knowledge of what songwriting is and what the rules are.”
“It’s like trying to find a balance between the two, without losing the creativity of when you were a child and understanding what the art of what songwriting is.”
“Yeah, there is that,” she agrees, “But then I think, if I’m really honest with myself, if I just allow, if I allow songs to come through me is always the easiest thing in the world. It gets difficult when I’m not allowing it, and that’s when the brain gets involved. So, when I’ve removed the brain, and think and allow, then it’s the same kind of relationship, and that relationship has never changed.”
“So, do you set aside time to let things come to you? Like, if you’re in the middle of doing something.”
“Things constantly come to me. Like, you will say something, or someone else will say something, and a word jumps out and it’s like, ‘That’s a song’ and it goes down in my list of song ideas or I sing it into my voice notes. And then I sit and make time to write that song.”
“Ah, so you let inspiration come from pretty much anywhere?”
“Is there a pattern of inspiration? Do you find that some things inspire you more than others?”
“Um,” she sits and thinks for a second, “No, I don’t notice that. It depends what phase of life I’m in and what I’m interested in at that moment.”
“And what phase of life are you in at the moment?”
“Well, I’m in the early motherhood, which is a completely new phase of life. And I’m in a loving relationship, which is new for me. Living in a different city than the one I was born in and one I’d ever thought I’d live in. And at the moment, I feel as if it’s quite full circle. I’m as creative as I’ve ever been and I’m more whole and healed than I’ve ever been. So, I’ve been on a journey of dealing with trauma and my own sort of demons, which I’ve really worked on and I’ve kind of come through the other side. So, I’m suddenly at peace and I have joy, which I haven’t had since I was a child and I was writing music then. So, it’s quite exciting to talk about, but I’m about to have my own studio, and write from a place of happiness and joy as a creative. I don’t think I’ve ever been able to do that.”
At the moment, my inspiration is coming from Phoebe Bridgers, you know, kind of younger people who are just telling their stories.
I reply, connecting it to my own creative writing. She smiles at my comments, listening intently. I end my own ramblings with a question for her, “Do you find your inspirations for music change with time, or your phase of life? Do you have any artists you always go back to?”
“Oh, artists, yeah. I’ve got my core people like Joni Mitchell and I was going to say Carol King, but I haven’t listened to her for years. Who do I listen to?” She ponders, “At the moment, I listen to a lot of Americana stuff, the stuff that’s from Nashville. So, my influences do change a bit. I’ve been listening to Harry Styles a lot at the moment. And Sam Fender. At the moment, my inspiration is coming from Phoebe Bridgers, you know, kind of younger people who are just telling their stories. I hadn’t thought about that. Yeah, my musical influences change, but I always do have people at my core, like Van Morrison and Jackson Brown.”
“Yeah, because I noticed the Nashville on your newest release in 2021. It was the EP with ‘Tennessee Whiskey’,” referring to ‘Every One of Us’. “And, there was one other thing that I noticed, that is really weird, which I wanted to share with you. So, my mother passed away when I was 8 years old. And when I heard-”
“-’Ready to Meet You’?” She asks, referring to her newest single.
“No, ‘Mother I Can’.” I smile.
“Oh! ‘Mother I Can’.”
“I was very moved. And the most interesting thing is her nickname was Suzy.”
“Oh, how funny,” she grins, “‘Trouble with Suzie’... That’s fucking weird, innit?” She refers to another track on the EP.
“Absolutely,” we laugh together, “But, I noticed as well that [Every One of Us] is the kind of music my father would listen to, and he’s in Tennessee…”
“That’s so strange,” with a smile.
“The Nashville influence, I mentioned, was it living in Nashville or had it been an interest?”
“Oh, living in Nashville, definitely. Completely. Having steel guitars available and putting them on the record. The fiddle. It was an amazing, amazing experience for me, but I think that with the production, I went slightly too far with that sound for my own preference. It was great at the time. But, I don’t know if it’s authentically me as an artist. It was a moment.”
"My only influence here is me"
“Do you think you would be able to produce a more natural piece of art in Dublin? Or do you feel that there are influences in Dublin that are contributing to what you’re writing?”
“I don’t think I’ve been around enough musicians in Dublin to be influenced by them. Which is actually a gift, in a way, because my only influence here is me. And it’s probably exactly what I need. I’ve learnt so much about songwriting in Nashville and my songwriting game absolutely changed. And I’ve got all of these experiences from New York. But, to be in a room on my own, would be really interesting at this point in my life.”
“How did you find New York? Did anything about it change the way you look at music?”
“New York was more of a self exploration, I got deep into my trauma and shit in New York, which is great. It’s the place to do that. I got nasty, cry, snot, tears. I took acting lessons when I was there to help my performance, not as an actor, but as an artist. And that was deep, difficult, dark, hard, necessary work. I’m so grateful for every second of that experience, but I never want to go back.”
“Of course. It’s like being able to unpack your stuff and leave and say ‘I’m done’.”
We continued talking about New York, laughing and discussing why New York is great and why it’s horrible. We talked about the fantasy of the city. It ended up as a much longer conversation, talking about beginnings and currents, discussing more music and more personal. Krantz was comforting to talk to, so wise and so poised, yet so vulnerable and open. She has a way with words, both in her songs and in person.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go listen to ‘Trouble with Suzie.’