Meet Annika Jayne, an international rising star; one who favours social equality over sparkles and glitters, one who admits her own insecurities and turns them into a driving force in her performances. She sings in several languages and very down to earth. Yet, her songs help us elevate, to lift us off from everyday challenges and ease a bit. We had a nice time to talk to each other, creating something important to read in our recent days. So, brace yourself and keep reading on!
(as for her photos © Zippo Zimmermann www.designladen.com)
And while you are at it, listen to Annika Jayne’s Petite Planete:
Music Authentic: Let’s begin with our “site-traditional” first question: How did you sleep last night?
Annika Jayne: I slept well, thank you, but not enough, as usual!
Music Authentic: And what did you last cook?
Annika Jayne: Buckwheat spaghetti with Bolognese sauce.
Music Authentic: During these times when others – right or wrong – but tend to tell how to live our lives, have you felt you are less in the mood for things at home?
Annika Jayne: No. I love being at home! My home is my castle in the truest sense of the word.
Music Authentic: The usual retreats are unfortunately off these days. I’m pretty much sure, music is one of your outlet to harmonize with yourself and be balanced again. What can you suggest the ones without this?
Annika Jayne: I think, everyone has to find their own way of harmonizing with themselves and be balanced again. In my case it is music, for sure, but for others it might be something else. Others are painting, reading, running, doing meditation… whatever it is, we all have to find our own outlet.
Music Authentic: Where do you find strength to gain during these changing and challenging times?
Annika Jayne: In general, my strength comes from my music and also from a deep feeling of inner peace. I stopped stressing myself over every little thing, especially if it’s not in my power to change it. As for my music, it does take some strength and persistence to go on. And yet, I know exactly how I would feel if I didn’t make music. Within no time at all, I’d be very depressed and stare into the world with blank eyes. Also, I don’t want to die regretting I never went on this journey. Yet, I do need to kick myself in the ar** several times a day to make it happen.
Music Authentic: Are you scared of what future might hold for you? Where do you see yourself in a few years from now on?
Annika Jayne: I think I’d be a fool if I weren’t scared. But then fear can also be a good motivation to make the right choices. But really, I try not to think about the future too much. But since you asked, in a few years I see myself as a musician who can make a good income from my music. My goal is most certainly not to become a famous, rich, inaccessible superstar but if I had an extended fanbase that allowed me to continue making music that would be fantastic! In the long run, a 1000 superfans would be nice! Those who wouldn’t think twice about buying anything from me or even sign up to my Patreon – if I ever go there. So far I haven’t.
Music Authentic: Here is a question I usually ask: Do you consider yourself an artist or a musician?
Annika Jayne: To be honest, I have used both terms synonymously for some time but if I think about it, I’d rather say I am a musician. Artists is a wider term and can include painters, designers etc.. However, for me it has always been specifically music. And yet, I am using so many images in my lyrics, I sometimes see myself as a painter, but instead of a brush and colours I am using words and music to paint my landscapes and sceneries.
Music Authentic: How hard is it for you to do everything as an indie? Does it have any pros at all?
Annika Jayne: It can be quite overwhelming at times, actually! The thing is, as I mentioned earlier I cannot yet make a living from my music and who knows if I ever can? So I have to juggle a part-time job, my family (I have two kids) and my music. Pros? Of course! My life is never boring and I simply love exploring all the possible paths there are as an indie musician. I also met so many other like-minded people and musicians during this journey. The community is amazing! I may travel a little slower than those who can do it full-time. But seriously, if I didn’t do all that, I would become quite depressed.
Music Authentic: Fun but real question: Would you rather live in the Earth in 20 years or be the part of the first Mars colony?
Annika Jayne: Well, as long as the Earth is still inhabitable by then, I’d choose Earth. If I left for Mars, knowing, at this point, technology wouldn’t allow me to ever go back, I don’t think I could cope with this. Also, getting used to living on Mars – a totally new environment for humanity – doesn’t sound desirable to me.
Music Authentic: Artists are insecure by nature and tend to over-contemplate on every miniscule thing. How about you? On YouTube you have videos about you and your guitar, no fancy things, just the purity and simplicity. Is it any different at songwriting or studio recording?
Annika Jayne: I am in fact very insecure, introverted and shy and you’re right: I am constantly over-thinking things. It is my second nature, so-to-speak. As for the live performances well, yes, they are very different from the studio recording. In the studio I tend to be a perfectionist and record many difficult passages in a loop whereas in the live performances I try to be more natural and also convey the emotion more.
Music Authentic: Some argues concept albums are over, others insist storytelling is still important. What’s your take?
Annika Jayne: As for me, I have never really believed in concept albums, nor have I really liked them since I often found them a bit overwhelming. My songs all tell a story by themselves. From my point-of-view, you don’t need a whole album to tell a story, you can tell a story within a single song. Each song can take you into a whole new world. And while concept albums aren’t so much my cup of tea, I still believe in albums or EPs in general. I grew up listening to them and music kind of feels more real if it is on an album or an EP. Each song needs to have a home.
Music Authentic: One more fun question, just to keep the younger readers, too: If you had a chance to play a superhero character in a movie or a series, whom would you choose?
Annika Jayne: To be honest, I don’t believe in superheroes in the way they are presented in movies or series. The way I see it, there are many superheroes in real life – however they are not dressed up in costumes. There are those who struggle with mental health issues, those who are physically challenged or are just different in some other way. They somehow cope in a world that is not made for them. It requires a strength that most people cannot even fathom – you might as well call it superpowers. And those who do cope and found who they truly are usually try to help others. Greta Thunberg, for instance, is a true superhero from my point of view. She is autistic and is fighting for one of the most important issues humanity can face. Then there are parents of course. Being a parent is wonderful but also requires a sort of superpower. Then there are those who care, those who give up their seat for the elderly or women well advanced in their pregnancy. They may not see themselves as superheroes, yet for the person who can sit down, they are. So, to answer your question, I wouldn’t want to play any fancy superhero – I don’t like putting on costumes anyway. But I will always try to help if I can; I aspire and try to make this world a better place – even if there’s not much I can do.
Music Authentic: As an artist, as a socially active helper, what do you see in the changing traditional values? Is it really that bad as many say?
Annika Jayne: This depends on how you would define “traditional values”. Like with so many things there is more than one perspective. Some might think of them as made by mostly white men to suppress minorities, women, and the weak. Those who focus more on the word “tradition” than on “value”. For instance, those who believe that women are restricted to go to church, stay in the kitchen and have children. Or those who still see black people or other ethnic groups as inferior. Or those who think that the LGBT movement is invalid. Those who fear change more than anything. If those kinds of “traditional values” are changing, that’s a good thing! However you could also speak of “traditional values” in the sense of moral values like kindness, friendship, empathy, hope, freedom, helpfulness, fidelity, justice, honesty, respect, love. These aren’t less traditional by the way. While the world seems to become a rougher and rougher place and humanity is more divided than ever, you may think that those values are on the decline. And yet, I have great hope that the majority holds on to those values and fights against those who try to destroy them. In fact, scientific research in this field has shown that things have already improved. While many people say: “Things used to better in the past”, the opposite is the case. Many things are better now although there is still a lot of room for improvement. Many more things still need to change and I am pretty optimistic they will.
(the interview continues below the photo, so be brave and read on!)
Music Authentic: Not everyone gets this question: Are you striving or thriving these days?
Annika Jayne: While I do consider my music as work which is exhausting at times, I don’t feel like I am striving. You see, I see this whole endeavour as a journey without ever running after success. I do what I do with passion and enthusiasm! If you only look at the success you become so tense that you lose contact with your music and ultimately yourself. You constantly fight against being a failure which is rather energy-draining. I know, because I’ve been there a few years ago. In the end I hardly knew who I was anymore and had to take a complete break from everything. During this time my mindset changed completely. I went from having a very fixed mindset to having a growth mindset. Only after this break did the songs come back. These days I am writing songs and producing them while exploring the indie music scene. And I never lose my passion for making music. I am even making some money now. It may not be much but it’s a beginning. So – I’d say I am thriving.
Music Authentic: What things would be the greatest achievements for you through your art?
Annika Jayne: Personally, for me, one of the achievements would be that many people listen to my music and gain something from it. Sadly, music doesn’t change the world but sometimes it can help people in certain situations or even heal them. That would be great.
Music Authentic: Which artist do you recommend to listen to from the past or the contemporary era and why?
Annika Jayne: That is such a subjective question! It depends on what kind of music you make and who your idols are. In my case it would be Francis Cabrel, Suzanne Vega, James Taylor, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan and Jim Croce to name a few. These artists are/were so authentic in their music – they never really cared about what others wanted from them and still kept going, no matter what.
Music Authentic: And once again a fun but actually real mind-game question: If you were the Prime Minister, what would be the most crucial to begin a change with?
Annika Jayne: Definitely do something about climate change like abandoning plastic once and for all and finance the research that is necessary to come up with an environmental-friendly replacement. Help those who are weak, by breaking the cycle of working and consuming. Because the way it is now, only those who function, i.e. those who make money and thus keep the “holy economy” running, are worth something in society.
Music Authentic: What have you been up to lately in your art?
Annika Jayne: Right now, I am working on the release of my EP “Time to Spread Your Wings” which comes out on 23 October 2020 only on Bandcamp and on 30 October 2020 everywhere else. The EP contains the songs that have already been released as singles this year, yet, as I mentioned earlier, they need a home. That’s why the EP will also come out as a CD in a lovely gatefold card and other goodies like handwritten lyrics and t-shirts. Also the CD, as well as the digital version on Bandcamp, will have a bonus track which will be available exclusively on Bandcamp. Also, as part of the release, I am planning to record acoustic versions – just voice and guitar – of those songs. Those won’t be on the CD but they will be on Bandcamp as “Name Your Price” songs, so everyone can decide themselves if they want to pay for those. They will also be on all the other streaming platforms, of course, so people can include them on their playlists if they wanted to. This project is precious, since it is my second milestone in my career after the release of my first album Fabulous Sceneries in 2010. Every album/EP is sort of like a child you bring into the world.
Music Authentic: You are singing in several languages. Yet, it is widely accepted that the main language of contemporary music is English. Have you ever felt it is easier to express something in another language, risking the audience won’t understand it?
Annika Jayne: To be honest, my most important aim is to be authentic. While often English is the language that comes to me naturally when it comes to songwriting, some ideas just come in French or in German. It just happens. And in these cases I am not translating them just to fit a certain image. It’s who I am and what I do and anything else wouldn’t be authentic in my case. By now, my audience knows and respects this. Some Americans have told me that my French songs are their favourites, even though they don’t understand them. However, during a live performance I always explain what the songs are about and I also plan to put up translations on my website.
Music Authentic: You seem so relaxed in your live performances. Do you still get stage freight sometimes?
Annika Jayne: Oh wow, I am so glad you say that, lol! The truth is, it makes a huge difference whether there is just a camera looking at me (even during a live broadcast) or whether I sing in front of people. In the latter case I get stage freight all the time and I need some Jedi mind-tricks to calm down. Like imagining a beach with calm water. It helps to calm down the nerves a little. Also, with each song I get more and more relaxed.
Music Authentic: Was there any song you thought would be well received yet another turned to be an audience favourite?
Annika Jayne: This is happening all the time, lol! Mostly it happens the other way around though, Songs that I think of as “ok” turn out to be an audience favourite and I have no idea why! Nice problem to have, actually.
Music Authentic: Your songs are alive without electricity, stage or big lights. A lot of artists and industry people tend to say, listeners need all the bells and whistles. What is your take?
Annika Jayne: I think you cannot generalize. Some people may need all the bells and whistles, while others don’t. I don’t. I prefer an honest, simple performance. For instance, one of my favourite German artists is Reinhard Mey. He’s had a tremendous career over here and even though his albums come with fully arranged songs, he has never performed with a band. He just stands there on stage alone with his guitar. And he’s amazing as are his live albums. Of course I have also listened to musicians who are accompanied by a band, but usually I listen to artists who perform in a very minimalistic set-up. In the end it all comes down to the content of a song. The best songs are those you listen to with your eyes closed. All those big lights would be pretty distracting.
Music Authentic: Have you ever thought that musician might be replaced my AIs?
Annika Jayne: That would be truly horrible. AI is pretty useful in some cases but it lacks a soul. Who would want soulless music?
Music Authentic: Whose story had a great effect on your life?
Annika Jayne: Emmanuelle Laborit’s story. She’s a French actress who is deaf. I read her biography and it is amazing how much she had to struggle in her life, yet became very successful.
Music Authentic: Have you ever used your stage as a platform to help out others?
Annika Jayne: If you mean stage as my overall presence on the Internet, then yes, I try to help where I can. Mind you, many others are helping me, too. We are all in this together. I often like to think of us as music-tiers – all for one and one for all!
Music Authentic: What do you think the hardest challenges are in society these days?
Annika Jayne: Apart from climate change, a real challenge is to be yourself, no matter what others may think of you.
Music Authentic: If you find any slot for some peace and tranquility on your own, how do you like spending it?
Annika Jayne: Reading. There is so much joy that comes from reading a book. It can be quite inspirational, too.
Music Authentic: Thank you for taking your time to share and inspire. What would be your message to encourage others with?
Annika Jayne: Don’t ever give up and believe in yourself because your music matters. There is an audience and fanbase for all kinds of music. Most importantly, don’t look for success too much and never – never! – lose the joy and the passion that comes from your music. The more authentic your music, the more people will find it. And last but not least – do the work and be persistent! No one will do it for you. I forget who said it but still it’s 1% talent and 99% perspiration.