Interview | FFS5 with Vanessa Anne Redd

British/German singer-songwriter Vanessa Anne Redd created a captivating folk sound of her own, and has just released her second solo album, Zumbo Waxes. Throughout the album, you’ll hear a beautiful variety of string arrangements, classic guitars, piano, and of course, Redd’s rich vocals. Zumbo Waxes is a collection of ten songs that represent the endless changes in life and the journey to find a purpose.

As well as making her own music, Vanessa is helping other artists as co-founder of Sharp Attack Records. We caught up with the person behind it all to find out more.

How did you get started in music? Do you come from a family of musicians?
I was on the piano at 4 and haven’t left. My Mum played a bit of classical guitar and my Dad liked to mess around with some jazz boogie-woogie on the piano. They weren’t professionals but really passionate about music so sent me to lessons at the Royal College of Music on a Saturday in my teens. Both my sisters play music too now.

What was the most challenging part about making the album?
Probably rehearsing beforehand, making sure the songs were as good as they could be. I’d play them over and over because recording onto tape you’re always searching for that ‘perfect take’.
Mostly the recording of the album in itself was pretty simple but making a film to go with it and getting the flow right to work as a record and a film, creating all the sets, devising the story and editing it was the most challenging. The hardest part was getting the album order right alongside the flow of the film. At times it didn’t work how I wanted it to so the music album order would win out in the end, then the idea of the film would change along with that. It was very complicated and I had charts and drawings and colour maps all over the place with the names of the tracks on and the visual ideas and I’d move them around up and down the colour blocks.

What made you decide to produce the album in Italy?
Oo that would have been nice, and I would have said because it’s Italy and the food is amazing! but unfortunately nothing so glamorous, I produced the record in Bow, London, a slightly different but equally glam Gizzard Analogue Studios with Ed Deegan. The record was inspired in Italy inside an amazing museum called La Specola where I saw some Victorian waxworks depicting tiny wax sculptures in glass cases, still lives of scenes of bodies in various states of fragility.

When did you decide to make the film to accompany the album and is there a hidden message behind it?
I had the idea from the start but the music was recorded first.
Of course there’s a hidden message but it’s hidden and that’d be telling. You have to watch it and work out whatever you think it is for yourself.

What do you plan on doing after your tour in Germany, musically and personally?
I’ll finish my next solo album 3, it’s mostly recorded, I did a lot of stuff at Gizzard again, after I spent the Summer in France writing lots of songs, but I still need to write a couple more songs for it. There may be an EP out first then I’ll carry on with finishing the album and making some more visuals for it too. I have some other projects I’d also like to finish, some collaborations I’ve started that need completing and more gigs of course throughout the rest of the year. The label that I co-run, Sharp Attack Records, is releasing Phoebe Coco’s debut record too this year which I helped co-produce. I think it will be a very interesting year. Thank you For Folk’s Sake, its been nice talking to you!

Zumbo Waxes is now available at: Sharp Attack Records

Words: Erin Fitzpatrick (Blog)
Photo: Paul Dixon