British singer and songwriter, and three times karate world champion, Anne Marie, smashed 2017 with her performance at Reading & Leeds Festival. We grabbed her a quick catch to talk about her recent success and journey into the music industry.
Q 1: Thanks so much for taking the time to speak to me on behalf of SPG. How are you? You performed Reading and Leeds Festival last year! How was it?
Thanks for coming to see me. I’m okay thanks! Reading was phenomenal and we all had such a great time on stage.
Q 2: That’s good to know. Let’s start from the beginning with the questions. You were a child star and performed on stage in the West End in a production of Les Miserables, and also alongside Jesse J in Whistle Down the Wind. Tell me about it.
I went to Performing Arts School as a child from the age of two, and then when I was five I auditioned for the role in Les Mis and got it. I decided right then that this is what I want to do! I love musical theatre, it’s a passion of mine. And performing with Jesse means I’ve known her for a longtime.
Q 3: Do you remember much from that time? What did you learn?
I remember feeling nervous for the first time which I still feel probably ten times more these days! But mainly happy memories. I was doing something I loved.
Q 4: You mention nerves. Do you get nervous before heading on stage?
It’s partly nerves, partly adrenaline. But it’s a good thing. It won’t stop me from doing my best. It drives me and focuses me. I’m nervous before all shows.
Q 5: You are an Essex girl. Are you proud of your home county? Do you feel like to represent Essex?
Yes definitely. I was nervous before playing V Festival in Chelmsford last year. It was the first festival I performed at in Essex so there was a good chance people I knew were going to be there. My friends and family came along to see me perform which was lovely. It’s always good to go back there.
Q 6: You are a three times karate world champion in the Shotokan style. Do I need to be careful what I say in this interview?! How did you move into that?
Ha, ha, you’re safe for now! I was into all types of sport when my friend at school introduced me into Karate. Because I was into dancing I could pick up the moves very quickly. Whenever I start something I will always do everything I can to be the best at it. I just went for it and did pretty well!
Q 7: You have described yourself as a musical ninja, is that something I can quote in the tagline for this interview?!
Yeah definitely! I’m so proud of my time in karate and what I achieved. It’s part of me so I don’t want to leave it behind. When you’re called a ninja it’s a powerful thing. I like it!
Q 8: What advice would you give to young girls who are a little nervous about taking up a martial art?
You’ll be stronger than the boys! It makes you feel so confident and strong, which is so important. Go for it!
Q 9: Obviously success is something you always strive for, and achieve. You’ve done well in theatre, in sport, and now in music. It’s going quite well for you! And a single did pretty well. Please tell me about it.
That was with the band Clean Bandit and a track called ‘Rockabye’. Now, you never really know how a song is going to do. When the opportunity to sing on ‘Rockabye’ came up all I knew is I loved the song so much. What it was about and what the message was, and the story. I was happy and confident with it. Then it went big and sold over half a million and ended up being Christmas number 1 here in the UK. Beating Rag’n’Bone Man and Little Mix amongst others to the top spot. It did pretty well.
Q 10: You could say that! It was played a lot on the radio for months and months and currently has millions of YouTube plays! It’s an incredibly catchy song and easy to sing along to!
Ha, thanks. I love performing it and I am so proud to have recorded it and worked with Clean Bandit and the legendary Sean Paul.
Q 11: Before working with Clean Bandit you’ve worked with some other huge names, firstly Magnetic Man, Gorgon City and Raized by Wolves. What did you learn from working with them?
Everyone I met and work with I learn something from. Magnetic Man were the first group I toured with. They taught me how to cope with touring and perform on not much sleep! Then Gorgon City who taught me about the studio side of things. My mind is just full now, and what I’ve learned helps me with new ideas.
Q 12: You spent two years touring with the incredible band Rudimental. I saw you perform with them in 2015 which was fantastic. How was your time on the road with them?
They are just a massive part of who I am now. I learned so much from them including how to maintain my voice across such a high energy show! They introduced me to so much music and I saw so much of the world with them. They are lovely people and I made friends for life. We all had a great time.
Q 14: You must mix with some interesting people. If you could meet anybody, who would it be?
Alanis Morissette for sure, Lauren Hill, Eminem. Artists who inspire me and have made great music that everybody knows. In fact I’m gutted I am going to miss Eminem headline Reading and Leeds last year. My schedule means I miss him twice. I did however get to meet the guys from Queens of the Stone Age.
Q 16: Would you like to be an inspiration to the next generation, and for the kids to identify with your music?
Yes, definitely. I want my music to send a positive message. I love getting Tweets from people to say, for example, how one of my songs has helped in a break up, or just helped them through a tough time. Positive vibes!
Interview by Paul M. Jones