Anna Mieke has announced her new album Theatre will be released on November 18th, 2022, via Nettwerk.
The stunning eight-song collection envelopes listeners in the warmth of her world, radiating with an intense heat that lies closer to the desert or the jungle than her hometown of Wicklow, Ireland.
Theatre is the surreal soundtrack of a vast personal plain steeped in nostalgia, family, memory, death and dreaming—where gritty reality and romanticism meet. Lush new single “For A Time” and its accompanying Louise Gaffney-directed video, featuring a Disco Yeti, are the perfect showcase of the album’s dream-like visions.
“It’s a song of humid heat, burning summer, a pool. Rotting fruit, flies, the density of a greenhouse in August, carpeted stairs, a diving board. But also loss, and that feeling of fading and forgetting, of passing on,” explains Anna Mieke. “It reflects that feeling of nostalgia for a time you never actually experienced, or a person you never had the chance to meet, but feel you know well.”
Of the video, she adds: “I wanted to depict some sort of character or creature moving through, but at odds with, its surroundings—blending in and disappearing at times, mirroring back the landscape around it. Hence the Disco Yeti that you see in the video, who let us follow them around for a day.” Theatre is now available for pre-order.
Duality is the thematic core of Theatre, which focuses on the conflict between permanence and temporality, the immaterial and material, and how memories of places and people fade, warp, and reinvent themselves over time. Ultimately, though, the album is more about sensation than theme.
“Perhaps the music enables some form of dreamlike movement towards an imaginary place,” Anna Mieke says. “I’m just creating a sound world to escape to, built from moments in time. I hope it reminds someone else of their own experience…memories of youth infused with an intense warmth, like that childhood sensation of summer.”
A captivating artistic statement, Theatre finds Anna Mieke at her most assured and poetic as she contributes a challenging, exciting new voice to alt-folk.
With influences ranging from Talking Heads and The Mamas & the Papas to Orchestre Baobab, Nusrat Ali Khan, West African kora and traditional Brazilian dance, the album’s vivid soundscapes mirror Anna Mieke’s lush and adventurous upbringing. As a child, she cycled over The Pyrenees to Gibraltar, learned Maori songs while living in New Zealand (age 5) and, later, traditional songs in Bulgaria. “It was a surreal time,” she recalls of New Zealand. “Climbing glaciers and an active volcano, trekking through jungles..I remember that otherworldly feeling, somewhere totally alien to all your senses.”
Theatre is a world in bloom with deep evergreens, shocks of red coralline beneath umbered skies, and auburn leaves, all filtered through a terracotta vision that burns like deep heat. Words like ‘asphalt’, ‘tarmac,’ and ‘plastic’ float over delicate guitars, contrasting the beauty as their urban harshness unapologetically highlights day-to-day ugly mundanity. “The lyrics are also fairly rooted in the ugly side of things. I guess that side feels grounded and real to me, because it surrounds me, it is my actual environment,” she says.
Theatre was written in Wicklow, during residencies in a house by the sea just west of Ireland, and in a barn at a former school in Hyrynsalmi, Finland. It was eventually recorded over three intense 4-5 day periods at Dundalk’s Black Mountain residential studio, with Ryan Hargadon’s layered saxophone, clarinet and synth drones, Matthew Jacobson’s textured percussion, and engineer and co-producer Nick Rayner. Long-time musical partner Brían Mac Gloinn (violin, harmonium) also plays on the album, alongside Alannah Thornburgh (harp), Cora Venus Lunny (viola/violin), Lina Andonovska (flute) and This Is The Kit’s Rozi Leyden (bass).
“I really think collaborating made a big difference in the way I approached songwriting,” says Anna. “It became more intentional, cohesive and meaningful. I thought this would be a solo, pared back album, but as I wrote, I imagined it as something much bigger, more spacious. Some people tell me listening to my music makes them picture a landscape, or moving through a landscape…I guess I like that idea of my music giving a feeling of an expanse, of openness.”
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