When did you start writing songs?
I wrote my first song aged five when I heard Imagine by John Lennon on the radio. The song was so beautiful it moved me to write some lyrics. I still get inspired by hearing songs - my mind wanders off on a tangent as to what I would say had the song been written for me or if I was one of the people involved in the situation - I get very involved.
Has your upbringing in Yorkshire influenced your music?
Yes definitely, we used to go for long drives and it was pretty much my therapy to listen to music as we travelled and go through a whole host of emotions and dreams. The scenery was both beautiful and full of character - you could easily imagine Heathcliff running around on the moors. Yorkshire has lots of places to escape to if you want to get away from everything and just write.
How long have you been performing your songs?
I have been performing with my rock band for about 18 months now all over London, but we have done shows in Yorkshire and just recently in LA. Before that I busked and played acoustically in pubs across London. Even now when the rest of the band can't do shows I love performing so much that I do solo acoustic sets. Live music is the one area where you can connect to people in the moment and it can be a truly magical experience.
Who are your influences?
In terms of songwriting you have building blocks of The Beatles, The Stones and of course Bob Dylan. Then you have so many great songwriting teams including Motown, Abba, Leonard Cohen, Bacharach and David. Classic songs stand the test of time and can be played on any instrument. Lyrically, I am also influenced by great poets such as Tagore and Maya Angelou, Byron, Baudelaire to name but a few. Singers include Janis Joplin – you can feel every note she sings. Guitarists include Hendrix, he made the guitar a sexy and emotive instrument.
How would you describe your sound?
That's always a tough question - I love the melody and story-telling of folk and acoustic music and the raw energy, power and dynamism of rock - truly telling it like it is - I guess my sound is a fusion of the two.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
I draw my inspiration from many things - listening to songs and thinking up responses, the odd word or phrase can also lead to a song. My own life and people who are involved in it have always been inspiring too.
Do you have a particular method of writing songs?
I used to always start with the lyrics when I wrote songs, I have books of lyrics stashed away. Recently I have been expanding the way I write to include building songs around riffs and musical melodies that appeal to me - the lyrics always have to make sense and match the melody though. I usually write songs on my acoustic or electric guitar and vocals and build the rest of the song around that. The other day I wrote a song around a beat and I came up with a song that was very different but explored another side of my songwriting - that was great and I’d love to do more of it.
What song would you have liked to have written and why?
That's another toughie - what came to mind was Come Together by the Beatles, it is a wonderful song both lyrically with its references to so many things and musically with its dark and moody groove – sometimes I play it in my acoustic sets.
You've recently worked in the studio with Snow Patrol producer Dan Swift, what was that experience like?
Dan was a pleasure to work with, I learned a lot about sound production and arrangement and how to bring out the finer details of the song. Dan was a good listener and he also has a vision for the songs, so I think our combination worked really well.
What is your current most played song on your iPod?
At the moment its Love Bites by Def Leppard as I just heard it the other day and thought 'what a great song'. I have also been listening a lot to Biffy Clyro lately as well and I love Many of Horror – the opening riff is sublime.
What’s next for Anita Maj?
I have just come back from LA where I did a couple of shows at The AC Supper Club and Viper Room. The summer kicks off with a couple of festivals – Lewisham People’s Day on July 10 and Guilfest on July 16, with further festivals to be confirmed. I have also just finished recording the album and our first single Out Of Control will be realeased in physical format during August with the second single and album due for in the autumn.