Ann Woodland aka Anna-Vee is an accomplished guitarist and singer/songwriter, who uses her life experiences to pen original tunes. Anna-Vee will be launching her brand new CD at TG’s on January 25 – an album of completely original tracks that showcase her talent …
You started to play guitar when you were just 14 … What made you decide to give it a shot? Were there some people who inspired/influenced you?
I played piano beforehand, and a good friend of my sister’s started playing guitar in our living room with some James Taylor songs that I really liked. She taught me a couple of chords, and Santa bought me a nylon string guitar for Christmas with a Beatles music book that really got me going (don’t know how he knew!)
Fill us in on some of your musical background. You’ve played both acoustic and electric guitar over the years, as well as both lead and rhythm guitar. What have been some of the musical highlights for you?
I met my husband, Jeff, when I auditioned for a band with him playing bass, and I was playing acoustic guitar back then. Marriage and two daughters later, I was keen to get back into music in one form or another. It was Jeff who instilled the confidence in me to take up electric guitar, and we gigged in Newcastle until we moved up to Port 10 years ago. My Nan left me some money in her will, so I bought a Fender Bonnie Raitt Signature Strat guitar that I still play today. I feel as if she is with me when I play; it’s a great feeling.
The best highlight besides sharing my hobby with “the other half” was to play at our wedding. Jeff on bass, our best man one of the guitarists and our other band members formed part of the entertainment for the night. Kind of weird playing in a wedding dress though!
Another was writing a song for one of my work colleagues for a theatre production which we performed locally – something I hadn’t done before. It was a great experience, and I looked at lyrics, melody and the way they come across quite differently.
Songwriting is also very close to your heart. How do you come up with your lyrics? Do they come in bits and pieces, or do you find it’s quite easy to write whole verses?
I suppose people write songs differently. I generally hear the base for the melody first, whether it pops into my head or when I’m just bumming around on the guitar, then I guess the hardest part is coming up with a topic for the song. Once I have that, the words, luckily, seem to flow. I read a lot of books when I was a kid, so that probably helped! I try to make sure it doesn’t sound like my other songs, otherwise I lose interest pretty quickly.
You’ve just produced an album, entitled Then, Now and Tomorrow. This album contains all original tracks, but describe a couple of your favourite songs for us ..
The first song on the album, titled Julian, is about Julian Assange. At the time, he was all over the news holed up in Ecuador. He fascinated me with his ongoing status enough to pen lyrics first, then the melody, which is the other way around to how I usually write.
Our eldest daughter moved away earlier than I would have liked, but she did well for herself and impressed us nonetheless with her determination and courage, so that inspired me to write a couple of the tracks about her.
My youngest just moved to uni with the same determination, and the change I saw in her was remarkable. Definitely songwriting stuff here!
We also had a young guy staying with us for a while, in his own right a great musician whom I wrote with for a short while. Share the Load is a song about him and all the young kids in our life.
I really like Words. I had a fun time structuring the chords with this one, but had no title. I was sitting outside in the sun tapping my pen on the table and decided to write about writing a song. If you hear the lyrics, you’ll know that’s what this is about.
Going by the title, how much of this album is kind of retrospective … i.e. looking back at where you’ve been as a musician, as opposed to where you’d like to see yourself in the future?
Then, Now and Tomorrow is also a song on the album about the years Jeff and I have spent together, with snapshots of the past and things to come. It also seemed to make sense as the album is a storybook of where we had been, where we are now and what might be tomorrow.
I believe there are a few special people who helped you with the album, some of whom also performed with you – including your husband. Tell us more about this …
We recorded in Michael Lynch’s “Shoehorse Studio”. Leigh-Anne Slade and Richard Coombes are great friends, incredibly supportive, talented and just wonderful people to boot! Jeff and I are lucky to be able to not only perform with them live in our band Ecko Beach, but share the experience of recording, and their input on this album has been great. We’ve had a lot of fun.
Crissi Wilbow, a great friend of mine, sculptured the “happy” tree for the album cover, and Mel Miante from Live2U did such a beautiful job designing the cover. Beau Bennett from Ghost Road laid down some nice electric and slide guitar on some songs, and George Yonon took some great studio photography featured inside the album.
When and where will you be launching Then, Now and Tomorrow?
Sunday, January 25th, in the upstairs function room at Town Green Inn. Everyone’s welcome. Great venue.
What are your future goals and aspirations?
I’m keen to write in different genres but not pigeon hole my music, and that is important to me personally. I’m looking to co-write with our musician friends to throw a fresh perspective to songwriting.
Where can people buy a copy of your CD, or listen to your music?
I have a Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/Annavee2 where people can inbox me for a copy of the album. Jeff and I also play in the duo “Goody 2 Shoes” and we gig around town pretty often playing originals and covers, and we always have CDs available for purchase. People can also follow us on Facebook for gig updates, and we are available for private bookings through Live2U; visit www.live2u.com.au or telephone 0427 032 345.
Interview by Jo Atkins.