|Interviews > Ana Free|
After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.
A musician may suddenly reach a point at which pleasure in the technique of the art entirely falls away, and in some moment of inspiration he becomes the instrument through which music flows.
In a world of peace and love, music would be the universal language. --
I think on a night when we're really good, you can come and hopefully you can see your relationships with your parents, brothers, sisters, your town, your country, your friends, everything-- sexual, political, the whole social thing. It should be a combination of a circus, a political thing, and a spiritual event. And hopefully you'll come and your life will flash before your eyes.
An Interview with Ana Free
The thing about Ana Free is her voice. This is a ridiculous thing to say in a review about a singer but as Elvis Costellow said, "Writing about music is like dancing about architecture -- it's a really stupid thing to want to do." And so instead I will feebly attempt to convey the awesomeness of her raw voice. Not too high, more of a husky tenor. Fans have commented that she sounded better than a few of the original musicians she covered ( "You sound even more like the Goo Goo Dolls than they do!").
Discovered on YouTube, she captivated fans with her commanding stage presence. Fans gush about her poise and talent: "your voice is incredible, your guitar playing is effortless, your personality is amazing!"
Born Ana Gomes Ferreira on the June 29th, 1987, Ana Free attended an international school in Portugal, her homeland, and speaks five languages. She maintained a demanding courseload in college studying economics even while performing music and catering to the demands of her growing fan base. I wanted to know how she juggles it all; below is an interview covering her life, music, studies and even favorite foods.
Ana Free Interview:
Did you know what you wanted to do before you went to college?
Before I went to college I was finishing up high school which meant that I already had some kind of idea about what I wanted to do and if I didn't see myself doing music (which is what I always wanted to do because that's my passion) then the only other thing I could see myself in was economics. So that's why I studied economics.
Why did you choose economics?
I don't know, I think I was good at it. It was one of the only things I was good at (well, in business areas and stuff, right, because I'm ok at music! And maths and stuff...) but it was something that I really enjoyed and I was good at it so I figured why not, it's a good all-around course, I'll just take it.
What did you like most and least about your time at university?
Missing home is always a big one -- it's a bummer being away from your family, your friends back home, but you adapt to that kind of thing. It's difficult to learn how to live independently and accept... it was quite an experience of accepting people for who they were and accepting that you were going to be in certain environments whether you liked it or not so you had to learn to adapt. But there were some wonderful things about uni (university), I enjoyed meeting new people, obviously, and living alone was actually a lot of fun. Got to do some things that were good... and bad... and naughty (laughs)... no, but it's fun, and generally I wouldn't have given it up for anything. That's why I went to uni, right?
What kinds of classes did you take, and how did you come up with your dissertation topic?
I took classes very related to economics, surprise! :) No, I did, my favorite classes were International Trade and Game Theory, I really enjoyed those two particular classes. I came up with my dissertation title which was What is the Impact of Technology on the Structure of the Major Record Labels (between 1995 and 2005). Basically I came up with it because obviously I am super interested in the music industry and it was economically-related, so I decided I didn't want to do taxes and I didn't want anything to do with the financial credit crunch, I just wanted to do music so there we go. I just related the two things.
Five years ago, did you think you would be starting your music career at this point?
Five years ago. Yeah, actually. I didn't think it was an impossibility, I just knew that there were some things that had to be done before that was an option that was realistic for me, so yes I did.
Did you always know that you wanted to go into music?
Well it's never been a realization, say where I was young and I was singing into the shampoo bottle, no, I never did that. You know, I just always loved guitar, I've always loved singing, and I've always been alright at writing, so generally I just figured that this would be a passion I would like to follow. It's something I've grown to have more of a drive for it because I realize that it's a gift and I should make use of it.
What inspires most of your songwriting? Traveling? A place? Certain moods?
I rarely write while traveling so no, mostly write at home (wherever home is) and it's generally just sitting cross-legged on my bed with my guitar and just playing around with chords, although it's never really intentional. It's just like you'll pick up the guitar and play what's in your head or just play a chord progression you really like, for example, and it will just come naturally, there's no particular time. Song-writing's definitely mood-related, otherwise nobody would write songs to cure their moods, which seems pretty straightforward.
Which of your songs are your favorites? Or do you like them all?
Uh no, I don't like them all, actually, I don't. The songs I wrote when I was younger I feel I wrote them because it was necessary in order to get over a feeling or worry. Songs I write now are the same type of thing and I'm sure when I look back on them a couple years from now, I'm going to be like, "oh well, that could have been a better song. But I do like "Keep on Walking" -- it's a track off the upcoming album, and I really like that song, it means a lot to me. But it's difficult to keep up the same original love you had for the song when you first wrote it as opposed to when it's been recorded and played a thousand times! But you still love it, it's your music, it's your life... it's your storybook.
When do you hope to release your debut album?
Yeah, debut album is coming up when I'm satisfied with it. So, when I think it's good and I love it, then that's when it's going to come out. And I can't wait!!
You and Mia Rose used to sing together as Audacity, and you have a song together called "Seen Your Face" with some nice harmonies?
They've been better... right, Mia? They have. We've sung better, we've sung that song better before. But you know, we always have fun things to do. We were just like you know what, let's just put it together and put that song out there, whatever. We have more than one it's just that we only put that one up for the time being. It's the most catchy, I think, but it's not the most emotional.
Do you have a favorite guitar?
Yes, I do! My Gibson J200, Emmy Lou Harris. I love her.
One of your fan sites mentions that your father taught you to play guitar and that your brother plays too. Are you a family of musicians?
Ok, my brother does not play. That is incorrect information. It was his guitar, the guitar I learned to play on. He tried, but went on to other things. My dad plays and he's played ever since he was young, just about as young as I was when I began, and yeah, my dad is quite a good musician. He taught me all the basic chords that I know, he really motivated me to learn guitar and he got me hooked on the guitar. So that's why I'm here now! My mom not so much. She loves listening to music but she doesn't actually play any instruments. My grandmother has a beautiful beautiful voice and my great-grandmother actually apparently did too. She wanted to be a singer in the 1920s but it wasn't "correct" at the time. So maybe it's fate! Maybe God wants me to do this. :)
People often seem confused about where you grew up. You grew up in Portugal and went to a UK school at some point?
I went to a British school in Portugal (laughs), how hard is it? No, ok, let's be serious. (smiles)
Has it been easy to get home from university as often as you would like?
It has been easy to get home. It's a two-hour flight, it's fine. I did not row the boat!
What is the farthest you've been from home? Where have you traveled?
I'm actually lucky. I wouldn't call myself really well-traveled but I'd say I'm well-traveled... just without the "really." The farthest I've been? Probably the Carribean. The United States, New York, Florida. It's been good, I've been lucky to travel around, I know a lot of people don't have the opportunity or the means but I think it's getting easier and easier now to travel.
Name yo favorite food, gangsta!
Favorite food! Oh man, that's a tough one. I love sushi. I love sushi, and I also love [arroz de pato?], for those of you, that's "rice duck" -- not appealing, I know. But it's a really good dish. Seriously they make it really well in the country (in Portugal). All the Portugese food that there is, I love it; it's yummy! yum yum! (laughs)
What books have you enjoyed over the past several years (aside from economics books)?
Aside from Freakonomics, I really loved the Count of Monte Christo. I really liked it. It's a very, very, very good novel, I've read it a countless number of times. And also I really liked If this is a Man by Primo Levi. It's about his time in Auschwitz, it's very moving, I would recommend it.
What kinds of music do you like to listen to when you're relaxing?
To relax, chill down? Mm, John Mayer, Jack Johnson... they probably don't like to be in the same sentence together, but that's tough luck. (smiles) And um, who else. I like listening to Greek music. I love Greek music, it's amazing. There's a whole bunch of stuff I listen to. You know I'm really just a kind of "whatever-song-suits-my-mood" [person] so I don't really listen to music when I'm trying to relax. (I generally try and sleep when I want to do that!) But I listen to music to pass the time and when we're chilling out.
Do you have any nicknames? Were you named after anyone?
I have many nicknames, some of which I shall not disclose in this interview. But uh, named after anyone? No. No, really. I like my name actually. A lot of people don't like their names, I do, I like Ana, I really like that name. Yeah -- Ana -- one "n" ok?! Yeah so now you know, not "Rihanna" just "Ana" minus one "N." No, I wasn't named after anyone, and I don't know if I'd ever like to be named after anyone because then I'd have a name to live up to and I'd feel pressured. (laughs)
What is your ideal day?
Ok, I would go and play all the guitars in the guitar store and look at all the cool equipment that my little blessed Emmy could have. Yeah I think I'd like to do that. Just chill out and have loads of music surrounding me. And EAT! Mmmm. I'm really hungry... :)
Do you know any foreign languages?
I do! I do, yes. I speak Spanish, French, obviously English and Portugese and I speak more or less fluent Greek. I love Greek. Greek is amazing. I have French cousins which means I speak French as well and Spanish, well Spanish is another branch of Latin language so it's not too hard.
What did you do for your first paying job?
What did I do? I had this work experience thing when we were in year ten so that's ninth grade? Ninth grade. They didn't pay me! Nope. Oh, I worked for my dad for a little while at the New University of Lisbon just filing stuff. And then I worked in a restaurant at uni (university).
Speaking of working in a restaurant, what do you do to vent frustration?
When I'm frustrated, I'll just be really temperamental. I think my mom would answer that question best. So we'll wait for that one.
What inspires you?
You know what, I was thinking about this the other day on a flight and I figured that inspiration is really not a tangible thing. So there's nothing that (for me) I can really pick up or a place that I can go and be like, "this place inspires me" or "this object inspires me" -- yeah, I can't do that. It's usually moods. Moods inspire me. If I'm in a sad mood, then I'll be inspired to write a song. If I'm in a happy mood then I'll be inspired to write a song. Just a feeling of euphoria, that's what it [the mood] feels like in general when its happy. Obviously when it's sad, its a feeling of a weight and to get that weight off. I'm just lucky that I have a way to deal with the mix of emotions that a human being feels.
Are there any questions people ask you frequently which you would like to answer now? (Such as... where people can find your chords and lyrics?)
My chord's and lyrics. The lyrics are all on Alex's sites, www.anafree.de, and the chords, some of them (if you google them) might come up. Others I hope to get on the website when it's up, which is hopefully soon.
What else do people tend to ask me a lot? How I came up with my name, Ana Free. I don't know. Yes, I like freedom. Yes, my name is Ana. I don't know! It just came together like that.
Why'd I put my first video on YouTube? For fun. Cause it looked fun and I did it... and now I'm so grateful I did it for fun cause now I do it for real! And seriously, so that was good. I'm just glad that I didn't actually make up some ridiculous name and put the video up under a ridiculous name 'cause that's what I'd have to live with otherwise. So for any of you inspired people, you'd better think about it before you do it! Stupid999! [Videographer Blake Brandes: Is that what your alternate name could have been? You could be listening to Stupid999!] I'm just saying! Stupid999, I'm sorry if you exist, it's just... I was just making a reference.... Anyway. Peace love and rock and roll!
[and it wouldn't be an Ana Free video without the outtakes! See video]