As a member of pop group The Pipettes, Ani Glass, whose real name is Ani Saunders, delighted music fans with energetic fun songs that were ridiculously hard to get out of your head and I for one I still dance around my room to “Pull Shapes” with almost reckless abandon. Now having branched out by herself, 2016 is most certainly the year Ani will show the world who she really is. Currently working on an EP, she kindly agreed to this interview to chat social media, dream shows and song-writing.
PW: Most people will know you from your time in The Pipettes, but what was your musical background prior to that? When did you first realise you wanted to be a performer? Was there an album you listened to or concert you attended that made you think 'yeah, I want to do that'?
Ani Glass: During my time at university I joined pop band Genie Queen. We were based in a small studio in Liverpool and were lucky enough to meet a lot of interesting bands and musicians that passed through. It was a really exciting time. Before then I was certainly more of an observer; though I had a fair amount of experience as a youngster performing at the Eisteddfod, an annual Welsh-language youth festival of literature, music and performing arts & Europe’s largest youth festival, and as a competitive Irish dancer, it wasn’t something I had ever considered. In truth, it was a series of happy accidents which led me to music. And of course, once the door into the music world had been opened, it was very difficult to look back.
PW: Which bands and artists did you grow up listening to and how did they influence you? Have such influences changed over the years?
AG: We grew up listening to a lot of Welsh music – traditional and contemporary, along with a lot of Irish and some Cornish folk music. My mum is a member of socialist street choir Côr Cochion Caerdydd - Cardiff Reds - and so I learnt a lot of protest and socialist songs, national anthems and songs in different languages that I don’t speak. There wasn’t much - if any - English pop music in the house, though my Mum did teach me “Yellow Submarine” when I was about 8, a time when I didn't have a clue who The Beatles were! We also didn’t have MTV so access to contemporary pop music was limited. I would probably say that Britney Spears/Max Martin were my first real pop influences though my first true musical love was Paul McCartney. There is a clear political undertone in my work which is largely down to my Mum's influence and also a strong poptimistic outlook which is probably down to Max Martin. But I suppose you're influenced by everything around you, pop + politics = sign of the times.
PW: In terms of the music you're creating now, how would you sum it up in a couple of sentences?
AG: European, post-industrial electronic pop music made in Wales. Dark yet hopeful.
PW: How easy/hard do you find the song-writing process and who/what most inspires you?
AG: I really enjoy the song-writing process – musically I find that it’s a combination of mood, maths and mistakes. My songs are melody-driven which for me always dictate the lyrical direction. I do however agonise over lyrics; I am constantly changing, updating, stream-lining them.
PW: Are there plans for an EP or album in the pipeline?
AG: At the moment I’m working on an EP with electronic pop master wizard W H Dyfodol, a.k.a. Haydon Hughes & Y Pencadlys. He brings sparkling doom to my perky pop. We’re not rushing it, taking care to find the right sounds, but I think it’s something that I’m going to be very proud of.
PW: As someone who sings in your native languages of Welsh and Cornish, you've been championed by BBC Radio Cymru with growing airplay on BBC 6 music. How important is such support to you, or are you more concerned about what your fans think?
AG: It's always wonderful to have radio stations play your songs, I have been made to feel very welcome on the airwaves! It is important to have recognition from radio stations but I have really enjoyed playing gigs as you get an instant reaction. It encourages you to develop, improve and streamline your set and ultimately helps you along the road towards being the artist you want to be.
PW: If you could play one venue anywhere in the world, which would it be and why?
AG: I recently played at Cardiff Castle as part of the Tafwyl Festival which was pretty cool! I never would have imagined that I would be doing that when I was little.
PW: What are your touring/performance plans for the rest of the year? Will you be heading overseas, perhaps to America?
AG: I'll be playing at a few festivals this summer including the Eisteddfod, Greenman, Twrw and Hub Festival and also at Sŵn Festival in the autumn. I would love to play overseas, hopefully soon!
PW: You're also a producer, artist and photographer. How do you juggle your many passions?
AG: I like doing a lot of things and each of them equally as much. It's quite handy in a way because if, for instance, I'm stuck in a musical rut then I'll just pick up my camera and take some photos and vice-versa, that way I still feel like I'm creating. I suppose the only downside being that there aren't enough hours in the day to do everything - relaxing is one of my favourite things to do but I'm terrible at it and can't seem to find time to fit it in.
PW: Finally then, what's your ultimate ambition as an artist and with that in mind, whose career would you most like to emulate?
AG: I think any artist who is still creating later in life and is still just as passionate as they were when they were in their 20's is worth emulating. I've recently been really inspired by International Welsh artist Ivor Davies - he is ever so inspiring, still hugely excited about creating, very encouraging and has a lot of time for everyone. If I could be anything resembling that then I'd be extremely happy.