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  1. Wealth
February 4, 2011

The Silvera Age

By Spear's

Ana Silvera, who will be appearing at How the Light Gets In, the philosophy festival at Hay co-sponsored by Spear’s, talks to Bianca Brigitte Bonomi

Ana Silvera, who will be appearing at How the Light Gets In, the philosophy festival at Hay co-sponsored by Spear’s, talks to Bianca Brigitte Bonomi
WITH A CRITICALLY acclaimed performance at London’s prestigious Purcell Room, a film in the offing and a headline series of concerts at the Roundhouse this week, London-born singer songwriter Ana Silvera is on the ascent. Classically trained, but with a penchant for The Shins, hers is a sound that defies categorization.

Having worked last year with New York scenesters Brad Albetta, the force behind Martha Wainwright, and Maxim Moston of Antony and the Johnsons fame, Silvera returned to London to collaborate with Ray Singer, responsible for Peter Sarstedt and Joan Armatrading. In her new collaboration with the Roundhouse Experimental Choir, Silvera blurs the boundaries of genre further by playing with a whole new palette of sound.

“Classical music is the foundation to what I do – Bartók, Grieg, Ravel, Debussy as well as modern composers such as Ades”, says Silvera. “But I write songs of 4 or 5 minutes, so that’s the contemporary songwriter side to things. I love chanson singers, in particular Barbara, then obviously more lyrically and musically complex music like Radiohead, The Shins and Grizzly Bear. I don’t like to be put in a box. As an artist, I enjoy experimenting until something works.”

Ana’s latest work Oracles, a specially commissioned performance featuring the Roundhouse Experimental Choir, begins with a deep loss- an exile of sorts- which through the slow, painful action of love strives for resolution. Structured loosely around the arc of the fairy tale, the song cycle relies heavily on myth and legend.

Silvera’s interest in literature sets her apart her from the current crop of somewhat derivative, manufactured pop princesses. “For me, words are primary and lyrics should illuminate the world with the same precision that the very best poetry does”, she says. “I’m not really interested in hooky choruses, or repetitive structures, I prefer things to be more linear; like a story.”

“The composition process often begins with a feeling of deadness or boredom”, says Silvera. “That’s the first sign that a song needs to be written. I’ll often start with a feeling of an atmosphere, not easily definable, like a dream, that will then reveal itself in words and music. Phillip Glass said something great about the process being like listening to a river running underground – it’s already there, you just have to listen hard enough.”

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