Friday, 22 July 2016

The K Anderson Tarot Interview!

K Anderson is an immensely talented and fascinating DIY indie-pop singer-songwriter living in London. He has a number of incredible releases under his belt as well as a super fun Youtube channel where he makes beautiful and kooky covers of classic pop songs. Not afraid to open up in his lyrics about his queerness, his awkwardness, and self-criticism, I was desperate to interview him through the medium of a cutesy, fluffy tarot deck - the Tarot of the White Cats! Here’s what happened….

Tarot Cat : What I love about your lyrics is how brutally honest you are; I never get the sense that you’re trying to paint yourself in your best light, which is really inspiring and human. Your track Everybody’s Moving to Berlin, for example, is particularly frank, especially the lines ’I’m risk-averse and comfortable’, and ‘I wasn’t always this dull’. Thinking about this I pulled a card at random and it was the (delightfully tacky in this deck!) Knight of Pentacles. Pentacles can be thought of as the practical suit, the one that relates to the material stuff, earthy stuff, finances, physical security. This Knight is a well-armoured cat holding up a coin, not charging so fast like other knights in the deck, or as growly as the same card in other tarot decks - he seems to be passionate about safety and making sure things are well grounded and secure. How does this Knight’s themes of security, practicality and safety relate to your lyric writing?

K : Theres a lot to respond to here. My thoughts are going in all directions, so being the practical person that I am I shall create a list in order to capture them effectively:
-       Firstly, thank you for that compliment (if, indeed, you are using brutally honest as a compliment!). When finding my songwriting voice I realised that, as a listener, I was always drawn to the more conversational/ordinary songs, and so thats how I aspire to write. I think too often songwriters try to be clever or overly poetic, and my feeling is that this can end up making your song's message impenetrable to the average listener. 
-       With that in mind, though, I wouldnt say that my approach to lyric writing is safe’ or 'secure'. Though Im probably a bigger douchebag than I let on, I am still more interested in being human than being perfect. In the back of my mind whenever I am writing is the voice that asks 'will I be comfortable performing this lyric in two years time?', and that normally helps filter out the more wooly, cliche, meaningless lyrics. Occasionally it means that I don't tell the world the minute details of my sexual practices too, which can only be considered a good thing. 
-       This is slightly tangential, but refers to the 'secure' element of your question - Ive always struggled being a musician. I am so unlike all of my musician friends  I am practical, methodical, logical  and this has always felt diametrically opposed to the typical attributes associated with creative types. In fact, Everybodys Moving to Berlin is about this very topic  wondering how my life would have been different if I wasnt so sensible, wasnt relying on knowing the plan, and had trust that the universe would carry me. There are many great things about being practical - those who have a plan are more likely to actually achieve something, after all... But, I've always had multiple plans, just to be on the safe side, and I wonder how different things would be if I had focused all my attention on one thing instead.

Tarot Cat : Being a DIY musician can be such hard work, yet there are so many rewarding experiences that keep us sending those seemingly endless emails and trudging across public transport to get to the next gig. Focusing on the positives of your life with music - the fabulous things that drive you to put your music out into the world - I drew The Star. This is one of the major cards in the tarot, speaking of significant stages in our lives. A cute cat pours away two jugs of water, she has one step in the lake and there’s a massive star in the night sky above her while she smiles. I’ve always related this card to individuality, pouring away the shit that isn’t needed, realising your own potential and going against the grain even if it confuses the hell out of everyone around you. What’s coming up for you here?

K : The thing that confused me most when I was starting out as a performer was the number of people who thought that I was a comedy act. I would go to open mic nights, or acoustic gatherings, and when I'd play my songs I'd get these patronising comments afterwards, implying that I was less serious or authentic than everyone else. And, these comments were coming from the type of overly-earnest singer-songwriters who would rhyme moon and june, and retread familiar themes in a hackneyed way. Perhaps it's because I'm more confident now, or maybe my writing has evolved to the point where people just 'get' it easier. Or, now that I have a beard I look scarier, and people are afraid to say things that may piss me off. Whichever is the reason, it certainly feels that this has shifted. .. So, I'm glad that I just plugged away and did my thing, but there were certainly times when I wondered why others couldn't see what I did. And, I guess it's important to reflect that I went against the grain not because of my extraordinary determination, but because I didn't know how to be any other way. In amongst my many crises of confidence I probably considered writing more safe and familiar lyrical content to my songs so that I could sound like everyone else. It was my complete ineptitude at adapting that helped me stay in the right rut! 

Tarot Cat : Next I drew a simple card to reflect how you’re feeling about your work with music right now and I pulled the Five of Pentacles at random. Again we’re dealing with Pentacles and all of those practical/financial/material concerns, but here we have a chaotic number five; two cats are walking through the snow, one is on crutches and the other wears rags. It feels difficult. The cats are walking past a church with coins in the window, and trudging on past it without looking. How might this image be relating to your feelings around your music life at the moment? Are things perhaps feeling a bit tough music-wise? 

K : I think it always feels tough. My usual cycle is music is too difficult, and no one loves me, and Im wasting my time thinking that I can ever get this to work, to having a break of a few months, and then feeling like why did I take a break? Music is amazing! I need to pick up my momentum again and do more gigs and songs and performances, and after a few months of this Im back at the start. I'm at an age where my idealism isn't strong enough to think that this will ever change, but I've not quite managed to get good at riding or ignoring these feelings. So, I guess, in answer to your question - it's a hard knock life. There's nothing particularly different that I can think of at the moment, but purpose and direction are a constant concern... 

Tarot Cat : You have some really beautiful and unusual cover song videos on youtube - my favourite being Cher’s If I Could Turn Back Timemade super lo-fi with an Omnichord! I drew a card for your cover project and got The Hanged Man - a kitty hanging upside down from a tree, but seemingly finding it amusing. I instantly feel like you enjoy turning things on their head, looking at songs from another perspective, finding another message in well known songs…what are your thoughts on The Hanged Man and your cover project?

K : I think that this a good card to remind me why I am making covers, and that's primarily to have fun. I know that we've talked about this in the past, but with this constant need for approval and attention that comes with the digital age it can really confuse me about my motivation and intention. I love to record cover songs, learning about the composition and creating arrangements, and then I love to shoot and edit videos, finding creative ways to enhance the song. BUT, as soon as I share these creations with the world I have at least a day with a knot in my stomach, convincing myself that everyone hates what I've done and feeling upset that I've only managed to get 50 views in the first hour. So, basically - I see this card as a reminder that I need to get better at having fun (which, admittedly, is something that I should be applying to other areas of my life), and stop trying to second guess or analyse things too much (but, on a side note, I love to geek out at the analytics that come with a youtube account)! 

Tarot Cat : Finally, I wondered what your plans for the future are and I randomly pulled The Hierophant. A religious-looking figure holds up his hand and appears to be teaching two other kitty figures who give him full attention. There’s something fairly conventional about this guy, perhaps he’s relaying some well-known knowledge to others - teaching perhaps? - or sharing the stuff he knows. I’m inclined to ask if you’ve got something else planned alongside your music, maybe something that compliments it (or even not!) that this card is reflecting?

K : I have no idea what this card is about! Ha ha. I am not always patient enough to be imparting and teaching, and I'm not authoritative enough for people to want to listen and learn! I think, reflecting on my character, this card may actually be about letting people in and sharing myself - and, by extension, valuing myself and what I have to offer. I have no problem being honest about who I am in songs, but there's still a large part of me that is terrified by human beings, and I find it easier to be self-deprecating and evasive than to attempt making honest connections. So, maybe that's my takeaway - allow myself to be vulnerable. 

Take a gander at the video for K’s beautiful song Everybody’s Moving to Berlin

Now head over to K Anderson's Bandcamp page for all of your pop needs! His limited edition 'zine/EP releases are real bundles of multimedia creative gorgeousness and a little birdy tells me he's down to his last few...

The Tarot Cat is an underground, DIY, tarot-reading musician based in Scotland. I adore providing tarot reading for musicians and creatives - or just about anyone who wants to look at something in a creative and interesting light! You can find out more about my approach to tarot and book readings on my main website. More tarot-music interviews on the way! Miaow for now! Love Ste xx 

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