Interview: Anna Elizabeth Laube on celebrating her 15 year career

Anna Elizabeth Laube an independent artist who can get 20 million Spotify streams and tracks featured on Netflix

Anna Elizabeth Laube is a West Coast singer-songwriter who has released four independent albums in a 15-year career that has generated interest in Europe and America and whose music has been compared to ‘Blue’ era Joni Mitchell. The albums were produced and engineered by Laube who also has a mobile studio so she can record remotely whenever the mood takes her. COVID downtime in the Mid West gave her the luxury of having time to look back on her career and consider compiling a compilation album that would summarise her career to date. This she did, adding singles and one new song about her visit to Lisbon. Laube’s music ranges from folk to folk-pop, blues and americana with her own rootsy production. Americana UK’s Martin Johnson caught up with Laube to discuss her compilation ‘Annamania’, how blues music can drive away your personal blues, what 20 million Spotify streams can mean to an artist and what it means to be a female artist in 2021.

How are you, I hope you and your family and friends are all OK and coping with the challenges of COVID?

I’m doing well, thank you. I have been lucky to have spent the first phase of quarantine at my aunt’s house in Washington State, we had actually planned beforehand that I could stay there in the spring to self-isolate and finish up some songs, little did I know that the rest of the world would end up also having to self-isolate. So in that sense, I had actually already mentally prepared to quarantine. The rest of the year I have been staying with my parents which has been a really special time.

Why is now the right time to release a compilation album, ‘Annamania’?

I wanted to celebrate these songs and the first part of my career. It’s been about 15 years and that seemed like a nice number. It seems a lot of people are looking back right now and I had some time and space to do that as well.

How did you select the tracks to be included.? Did you have an overall strategy or theme you wanted to achieve?

Honestly, I just chose the ones I liked the best, but they happen to coincide with the ones that have been streamed or watched the most so that worked out. You know, the ones that are mostly in tune and such.

You have included one cover on ‘Annamania’. What does Tom Petty’s ‘Time To Move On’ mean to you as a songwriter?

My version had only previously been released as a single so I thought it would be nice to add it to a collection of sorts. I had the thought to go see him and Lucinda Williams, another one of my very favourite artists, play at the Hollywood Bowl a few years ago, it would have cost a lot and required a plane ride, but I considered it, but ultimately didn’t go. Little did I know it would be his last show. I ended up watching the whole thing online while crying. I don’t think it’s online anymore, but it was for a bit and the way it was filmed made it feel like you were actually right there in the front row. I’d never cried before when a famous person had died, but he was such a special person and I felt a connection to rock and roll through him, and through his lineage, Bob Dylan and Lucinda; I feel that there is a literal, if ethereal, family tree of musicians, and they are all in the same one, very close.

Why did you move to the West Coast to establish your career?

Actually, I moved there to work at Google. I started playing open mics in San Francisco, and my co-workers were very supportive and helped encourage me to take the plunge to quit and do music full-time.

Has the recent Presidential election result made any difference locally on the West Coast?

I’ve been in the Midwest since the summer. I think everyone has their own micro-universes now, and my news mainly comes from Jimmy Kimmel’s (comedy) monologues. It’s surprisingly comprehensive. I think people are a bit more relaxed now that it’s over, at least. All us liberals were very nervous.

How much has the blues influenced your music and where did you get your blues influence from?

My mom loves the blues and she recruited a blues pianist to come and teach me when I was young. He taught me Muddy Waters ‘Deep Down In Florida’ and encouraged me to write songs, which was very special. Last year I was feeling pretty off one day and I took a walk around the city, and I came upon a man busking playing the blues. I sat and listened for a while and afterward felt infinitely better. So basic, but that day I realised what I had was simply the blues, and how music can help relieve it by recognising, feeling, and letting it through.

As a songwriter and musician who have been your biggest influences that have stayed with you?

Aretha Franklin, Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Lucinda Williams, and the Indigo Girls.

Who are the backing musicians on ‘Annamania’ and what have they brought to your songs?

Two of my favourite appearances are Chuck Leavell (The Rolling Stones, John Mayer, The Allman Brothers) on piano and organ on ‘Oh My! (Oh Me Oh Me Oh My)’ and Chris Joyner (Heart, Amos Lee, Ray LaMontagne) on ‘Jardim da Estrela’. They bring their talents and soul and generosity.

What is it like maintaining a career as an independent artist particularly with the challenges COVID presented?

It’s been ok for me but my heart goes out to the touring musicians who have had to do some pretty strong pivots.

I think I read that you have had over 20 million streams on Spotify. From an artist’s point of view, what does that level of streaming mean?

It can mean having a steady income and reaching a lot of people if it can be sustained, being placed/taking off certain playlists can have a profound impact.

How did you place your song on Netflix’s Locke and Key and what feedback have you had?

I placed it through my sync agents, and the feedback has been really positive. It was a great time to have a song on a show, right before the whole world watched more TV than it ever has before.

Critics have complimented you on your singing, songwriting and guitar style. How do you view yourself, as a fully rounded artist or primarily a songwriter?

Primarily songwriter, producer, and businessperson.

How do you find inspiration for your songwriting and how important are the words as opposed to the tune?

The inspiration generally comes from emotions, but I’ve had some success writing from prompts as well. As they say, inspiration strikes every day at 9 am. I can’t say that I’m that disciplined, but it is amazing how the inspiration comes if the dedication and grit is there.

Do you see yourself as being a folk artist with some country twang, primarily a country artist or a pop artist with folk and country influences?

I’ve always thought of myself as a folksinger.

2020 has been a tough year for all musicians, but it seems that female artists were particularly successful during the year. I’m thinking of Emily Barker, Emma Swift and Dianna Jones. Do you think that the climate is changing for female artists and that it is becoming easier to win acceptance for your music?

People have always accepted music by women, it’s just that they haven’t paid them as much, billed them as high, or given them as many awards, and they’ve had to deal with a lot more BS behind the scenes. For example, some dude thinks he can still grab Taylor Swift’s ass in this day and age, and that’s Taylor Swift, and these are the 2000s. So many people were so shocked when some Me Too stories came out, but for every story shared there are at least 1000 not shared.

What do you hope to be doing in 2021?

Releasing a couple of records, connecting with listeners, and hopefully spending some magical time in Portugal.

At AUK, we like to share music with our readers, so can you share which three artists or tracks are currently top three on your personal playlist?

‘Already’ by Beyoncé; ‘Corcovado’ by Gilberto/Gilberto/Getz; ‘Honeybody’ by Kishi Bashi.

Finally, do you want to say anything to our readers?

Thanks for listening! I hope 2021 will be an improvement on 2020 for everyone.

Anna Elizabeth Laube’s ‘Annamania’ is released on 22nd January on Ahh…..Pockets! Records

About Martin Johnson 378 Articles
I've been a music obsessive for more years than I care to admit to. Part of my enjoyment from music comes from discovering new sounds and artists while continuing to explore the roots of American 20th century music that has impacted the whole of world culture.
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