We’re looking for a #Melbourne #drummer and/or hand #percussionist with #1960s sensibilities. If you’re interested or can help us find someone, we’d lava for you spread the word or email your questions or suggestions to contact@annieandbern.com

We’ll be rehearsing once a week and performing about once a month in Melbourne. We plan to play some out of town festivals and shows, and tour interstate for a few weeks later in the year. We’ll also be recording our third album this year. We’re looking forward to our new sound and we hope you’ll like it too. As you’ll see in our video below, we have a cabasa, maracas, jingle stick and sleigh bells but not enough hands!

 

Well! Now that the dust has settled, we have the faculties to write a proper thank-you note to those of you who actively supported our recent album release and tour. We give our thanks specifically to everyone who bought albums, attended shows, spread the word, graciously hosted us, and gave us advice about IT gizmos and marketing. Far-flung friends came to meet us, new fans gave us insights into how our music affects them, past audiences and album buyers returned, and long-standing friends showed us that they’re still by our side. In all your different ways, you keep us going. Our heartfelt thanks to you!

We also thank the talented musicians with whom we shared shows: Rose & The Sea (Newcastle), Bleeding Gums Murphy (Sydney), Alana Patmore (Sydney), The Cheeky Violets (Canberra), Mixtape Chorus (Canberra) and The Old Married Couple (Melbourne). Let’s all do it again soon!

What you don’t realize when you’re a child and you hear a hit song on the radio, is that you will probably hear that song for the rest of your life. There are a lot of songs I heard on the radio when I was ten that are still being played. Many of these songs I don’t want to hear again – They weren’t very good songs to begin with, but they were in the style of the era and became hits. Of course people like different things, and a particular song may remind someone of something special, for example, if it was playing when they had their first kiss.

If there is a special moment you want to remember for the rest of your life though, wouldn’t you rather remember it in relation to a good song – A song that could be not only a memory trigger, but also a thing of beauty unto itself? When a song is sent out into the world, the songwriter has a responsibility to make that song as good as it can be, and the record producer and record label and radio programmer all have a responsibility to keep the quality high. Over the next years, the children hearing those songs will have something good to hear throughout their life – Something more than “Boom! Boom! Let’s go back to your room.” That way the world will become a better place. ~ Bern

Hello! Time flies when you’re recording an album. As we wait for a break between downpours of rain, aeroplanes, neighbourhood powertools and squarks from nesting crows, this seems like a good time to give you an update on our album-in-progress. We’re writing this post together, so we’ll start each paragraph with an initial so you know who’s speaking.

A: I’ve been enjoying the puzzle-solving nature of lyric writing. It’s a buzz when the right word falls (or is pushed) into place. Spinster’s Delight (a working title) was the most difficult song. Not many words rhyme with ‘spinster’ – I eventually decided that ‘I convinced her’ worked best. In the same song, I felt I’d reached a career milestone in having the slang word ‘khyber’ in a song, to rhyme with ‘moral fibre’. In Come To Our Party, I’d written two verses with ‘or’ sounds and wanted to keep the pattern in the other verse, but I was stumped! Then I remembered that I hadn’t plumbed the shallows of my foreign-language knowledge. Good old ‘por favor’ saved the day, and I threw in ‘respondez s’il vous plait’ to boot.

B: Here’s a little something I whipped up whilst testing a new mic position. Some steel string Faux Flamenco if you will …and I did, so you might as well, as well! You can hear a little distortion as I check to hear how close I can get to the mic before peaking. You don’t wanna peak too soon they say, and it doesn’t until later in the piece, so all good there. I couldn’t resist adding some keyboard as well. Whilst listening, think pathos, self belief and joy of the heart.

A: There’s a 15-second “laaaah” on Ooh La La Lah, so I’ve headed back to Bikram yoga. When I was diligently attending classes many months ago, I discovered that it gave me more singing stamina. It’s sweaty and overwhelming and gruelling, but it delivers the goods. I’ve recorded that vocal now, but there’ll be no slacking off for me because I’ll need to sing it at our shows very soon!

B: Summer Love will definitely have birds chirping on it. They were very chirpy one day whilst I was recording guitar, and since the song is about Summer I think it will be fitting to hear them at the beginning. This made me wonder what other albums have unintentional incidental sounds on them. At the end of David Bowie’s Life On Mars you can hear a telephone ring and the pianist (Rick Wakeman, I believe) stops playing. I’ve always wondered if that was planned, but I assume it was just something that happened and they deliberately left it in. Do you know any other examples?

Hello. Annie here. I haven’t posted for four months. I ran out of puff, you see.

I found myself thinking, “Wouldn’t it be lovely to come home from work and have my nights free? Wouldn’t it be a relief to not have to design posters, revamp web pages, email venues, find support acts, constantly come up with worthy social media offerings, and organise licensing and accounting and publicity and advertising and the other odd jobs that need to be done for a musical act? Why shouldn’t I go on holidays like other people do, rather than spend every spare cent and spare minute and spare calorie of enthusiasm as I have done for the past fifteen years?”

The interview with myself continued on something like this:
Q: What would I do instead?
A: Gardening and Morris dancing.

Q: If I never wrote another song or performed again, would I really mind?
A: Perhaps not. (I’d never in my life had that feeling before.)

Q: What do I most enjoy about Annie & Bern?
A: Singing; Sitting with a pen and paper and a cup of tea, writing lyrics; Meeting audience members, vintage enthusiasts and musicians; Having the honour of performing at a person’s wedding; Dressing up; Travelling and having zany times with Bern; Stumbling upon new music on the internet and sharing it.

Even with the carrot of all these enjoyable aspects, I still didn’t have the wherewithal to learn and rehearse Bern’s latest songs. It was like trying to run on empty. I was at a crossroads. I had to tune in to my motivations and to wait for inspiration to spring. We didn’t know if my musical drive would be rekindled or if I’d end up packing it in.

Meanwhile, Bern was writing songs, researching recording techniques, and listening to bossa nova. He also bought a cabassa.

I decided I’d clear the driest tasks out of the way (accounting and licensing) so I could see the wood for the trees. While I was doing that, I was drawn to Nordic folk music. I also bought a covered tambourine.

A couple of months later, I found the enthusiasm to sing Bern’s songs-in-progress.
A few weeks ago I started writing songs again myself.
This weekend, we’ll start recording our second album. We’ll be touring it from November. It may well be a bossa-Nordic affair.

Hold onto your chips.

Hold onto yer chips, Canberra – We’re back this Saturday March 12th, 7-9pm! We had such a lovely time at Smith’s Alternative on our Christmas tour, that we booked a repeat show there that very night, with the same lineup:

The Cheeky Violets duo combines indie, folk, pop and a touch of jazz, each singing and playing acoustic guitar. Mixtape Chorus is a choir for lovers of indie pop music. Annie & Bern will perform a set of originals, then send our sixties song list around the room and play the audience’s favourites. Be there and take your pick!

Set times are 7pm The Cheeky Violets / 7:40pm Mixtape Chorus / 8:20pm Annie & Bern
Entry is $10 / $7 CMC members at the door or from Smith’s tickets page.

A lot of our shows, like this weekend’s, feature female musicians. Reflecting on International Women’s Day (March 8th) we’re proud to have been involved with so many impressive women over the past year: Alanna and Alicia, Bobby Dazzler Market Party, The Cheeky Violets, Gunyah Animal Healing Sanctuary, Kay Proudlove, Kelli Morris Photographer, Kensington Market, Lila Jean Vintage, Lisa Crawley, Miss Pippilotta, Mixtape Chorus, Once More With Feeling, Ray Of Light Studio, Shadow Feet, Soul Scissors & Vintage Bride!

We choose to work with women as much as possible, for two main reasons: Firstly, we’ve found that women take pride in their work and the way they do business. They’re respectful, enterprising and hard working, which makes them a pleasure to work with. Secondly, the music industry is rife with sexism, manifesting as a lack of recognition, under-representation, condescension and harrassment. We’re driven to change this.

We’ve worked with women in music, vintage fashion, weddings, magazines, photography, arts & crafts, hair styling and animal welfare. We’ve shared gigs, collaborated, and given and received introductions and practical support. We give our thanks to the women above, as well as to all the individual women who have been gracious and supportive of us in so many ways over the past year. YEAH!

Hello. Annie here. Over the past week, I’ve been reflecting on Cilla Black: On what I admire about her, on how I came to be a fan, and on the memories that I connect with her. I’d like to share these thoughts with you, and if you’d like to share yours as comments, that would be a lovely thing.

Cilla Black’s passing has resonated with me much more than is usual for me with people I haven’t personally known. There is an echo of the grief I feel for my mother’s passing. Looking back, I’ve realised that my initial introduction to Cilla Black was by way of my mum’s record collection. Mum was born around the same time as Cilla, and 1960s pop had been a big deal for her. (I’m having a cry again now actually, as I type this!) When I was a teenager, Mum gave me her compilation album of 1960s female singers, and I took to it straight away.

I Know A PlaceAlfie was a standout track. I was awestruck that a voice could be almost speaking one moment and belting the next, masterfully navigating such great dynamics, and all the while with palpable, shifting emotion.

It was only last year though, that I really became of fan of Cilla Black, after I saw the ITV drama, Cilla. I tuned in to soak up the 1960s, but was then swept up by Cilla and Bobby’s love story, and thrilled by Cilla’s passion. The songs on the soundtrack were sung by the show’s star, Sheridan Smith (who revealed herself to be a very impressive singer in her own right) rather than by Cilla, but they gave me a thirst for Cilla’s original recordings.

The more I listen to Cilla Black, the more I appreciate her talent. Her power is perhaps the most readily apparent quality, and it is indeed amazing. It’s her delicateness though, that is compelling for me. That lighter touch draws my ear closer. To sustain a quieter tone takes a lot of craft as well. You need to give the vibration just the right amount of fuel, like you’re maintaining a small flame. Then there’s her warmth and presence. That’s what turned on the waterworks again when I listened to Alfie just now. Her tender, gentle questioning gets right through to my heart. The song provides a house for that emotional charge, of course, but I hear great openness in many of her other song performances as well: Step Inside Love, You’re My World, Anyone Who Had A Heart …I will keep exploring.

The last appearance I saw of Cilla Black was her hosting of Never Mind the Buzzcocks. It was televised on the BBC in December 2011, but I saw it repeated much more recently. Having grown up in Australia, I wasn’t familiar with Cilla’s substantial TV career, but it was clear from this show why people loved her on the googly box. Cilla was so affable and uniquely herself. It was easy to feel at home with her.

I was quite taken aback when I heard of Cilla Black’s passing. She was so vibrant that it seemed she would be around for years and years yet. I am grateful to have heard her voice, and to have shared her with my mum, and to have enjoyed her light.
Thank you, Cilla. xxx

Hello! Annie here. Saturday December 12th was one year since our first gig! I’m taking this as a cue to divulge our plans for 2015, and to reflect on our first year’s adventures.

In 2015, we’ll be putting on larger-scale, vintage-focussed events. You’ll see people dolled up and hear 60s pop hits and plenty of ORIGINAL music. We love keeping vintage style alive by celebrating it with new creations. To stay informed by receiving our blog posts as emails or by following us on Facebook, you’ll find buttons for both in the right-hand column of our News page.

We’ll also be performing at more private events. If you’d like to book us for a party, wedding or conference, or have us serenade your sweetheart, take a look at our Weddings page. We see performing for special occasions as a great honour, and we’re looking forward to doing a lot of it in 2015!

On reflection, our first year had many, varied highlights:

Releasing our debut album Here Comes The Love was a significant milestone, and it gave us a much clearer sense of our own sound.

Winning The Roddy Read Memorial Song Writing Award and its prize of a Cole Clark guitar has spurred us on in our song writing and may lead to a 2nd guitar being added to our instrumentation.

The unexpected opportunity to write a commissioned piece for a video game trailer was new territory for us. The creators of Real Racing 3 thought our sensibilities would suit their 1966 Lamborghini Miura release. We wrote Ooby Dooby and were chuffed to hear that the people at Lamborghini HQ really liked it.

Having genuine 60s-pattern dresses made for me by Miss Pippilotta made me feel rather like a star. I’m looking forward to future costuming endeavours with her, and you should see what Bern has planned for his own ensembles!

Vintage SuitcasesGoing on aeroplanes also made me feel like a star, even in economy. My and Bern’s co-ordinated vintage-style suitcases (pictured right) aided that effect, getting considerable attention in the boarding queues as we set off to tour Hobart, Byron Bay and The Gold Coast.

We performed at 28 events – at hotels, festivals, bars, cafes and markets – up close, on big stages, on little stages, in a round, and outdoors. We performed on radio programs too, and were interviewed and reviewed in magazines, newspapers and blogs.

We performed alongside so many talented musicians at shared-bill events! They’ve inspired us, and we’ll continue to work with talented and impressive acts in 2015.

Bern and I are sincerely grateful to everyone who has come to our gigs and/or bought our album so far. As detailed in my post The Importance Of The Album Buyer from earlier this year, your active support helps bring our music into being.

To everyone who has been supportive of us in other ways (with hospitality, media coverage, personal recommendations and introductions, playlist inclusions, accommodation, CD selling, photo-taking, mid-set water-fetching, etc.) we hope we’ve already thanked you but, just to be sure, THANK YOU! See you in 2015!

Hello! Annie here. It’s been two months since my and Bern’s album tour. On the night of our Melbourne launch, we were excited to see that we’d sold another album from our Listen & Download page. We couldn’t see who’d bought it, to thank them directly. So, before we get back into posts about gigs, new songs and vintage style, I’d like to acknowledge the importance of The Album Buyer and, while I’m at it, the wonders and practicalities involved in an album’s realisation.

I want you to know that, when you buy an album, you really are helping to bring music into being. You are actively funding the flowering of human potential. You are providing the means for the following to occur.

First, recording: I’ve heard people bandy about the statement, “All you need these days is a laptop and Pro Tools”. No! Recording engineers develop awareness of sound in its infinite detail. What’s more, they invest in sound proofing, speakers, microphones and other bits and bobs that remain mystifying to me. They research equipment, take time to experiment with it, and have enthusiastic discussions about it. The really pleasant ones have the tact and gentleness to be able to tell a performer when a take wasn’t quite up to scratch, or rather, “I think we should do it again – I think you might be able to do it even better”, without harshing the performer’s tentative grasp on their recording-day mellow. At least that’s what it seems like to me, and I appreciate it. Thank you, Kent Street Studios.

Next, production: For Here Comes The Love, after the recording engineers captured our performances, Bern mixed them in his studio at home. He took on the role of producer – refining the sound to bring out the heart of each song and to imbue the whole album with its atmosphere. I see it as kind of ‘dressing’ the recording, which in itself conveys another level of meaning and feeling and character. Thank you, Bern.

Then, the cover art: Rather than hiring a graphic designer, I put together our sleeve artwork, using our photos. Photographers have my admiration too. They research, experiment and invest in equipment, and they have a discerning eye. What I see of their magic is probably the tip of the iceberg, but I do see that they have the ability to utilise a setting to create a photo-worthy scene, to eliminate details that could distract viewers, to direct their subject towards flattering or compelling poses and expressions, and to frame shots and finesse tones to evoke a desired mood. The very pleasant ones accept their subjects’ vanity and image anxiety like a photographic confidant, conducting painstaking ‘alterations’ without a word of complaint or judgement. Thank you, James Bryans.

Practicalities need to be funded too. For example, we bought licenses for the three covers we included, and we had to get the albums manufactured. Our album buyers are helping to pay for those things.

As for the song writing, selling a lot more albums would mean Bern and I having more time to write more songs. When you buy our album, you give us hope that we might have that in the future.

I’m not suggesting you should buy an album if it doesn’t appeal to you. That would be like kissing someone you don’t fancy. If it does appeal to you though, if it enriches you, or excites you, or energises you, or connects you to a feeling you like, or makes your day a bit more pleasant, then buying an album is a great thing to do – And I mean ‘great’ as in ‘significant’.

So, we give our profound thanks to everyone who has bought our album. Hopefully, the person who bought the download on May 24th 2014 will read this. If it was you, and you’d like to let us know, please do!

THANK YOU