So at first I did not mind the constant Christmas music on the radio here in the office, but it has only been two weeks and I am all set. The radio is off and I am back to my Skope Radio. This week I am taking a short week but before I go relax I had to introduce a blues musician from Australia named Anni Piper. I caught wind of Anni after seeing her video “Dreamcatcher” on Youtube. I think I account for 200 views of that video, that is how good Anni Piper is. Join me as I talk with Anni from halfway across the globe about her album ‘Chasin Tail’, her love for blues, how she got started, and so much more!
Stoli: Where are we talking from today and what is winter in your part of Australia like?
Anni Piper: I live about an hour south of Sydney, which is the largest city in Australia. Wollongong is my home town, and the name means ‘sound of the sea’. You can see the ocean from my house, as well as the mountains. We have a beautiful escarpment here, which means there are mountains right near the ocean. That’s quite unique in Australia. Winter in nothing like it is in the Northern Hemisphere! I’ve just been outside sunbathing, but it’s still a little cold to get in the water!
Stoli: At what age did you first hear Blues music and decide that you wanted to play as well?
Anni Piper: I was fourteen years old when I first heard the blues. Paul Butterfield Blues Band, playing ‘Born in Chicago’. I had been listening to bands like Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple before, but the blues had something that grabbed me. I started listening to Stevie Ray Vaughan, and worked my way backwards through blues history. I particularly love Freddie King and Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland.
Stoli: Many musicians give up after a year but you never have. What has kept that fire alive in you to create music after so many years?
Anni Piper: I’ve kept touring and recording for the past seven years because I haven’t felt that I’ve peaked as an artist yet. I have better performances in me to come. It’s been a tough journey sometimes, but I think the people who become successful are the ones who don’t give up.[youtube IkMiosvio9k nolink]
Stoli: You recently released ‘Chasin Tail.’ How are you feeling about that album and how long did you work on the music?
Anni Piper: I’m very proud of Chasin’ Tail. It’s not one for the blues purists, because it definitely ventures into blues rock territory. But it’s by far my personal favourite, and features the awesome guitar work of Sam Buckley. Sam co-wrote a lot of the songs on Chasin’ Tail, so there’s a lot of his personality reflected in this album. We spent about twelve months selecting and writing material. It was definitely the most expensive release I have ever made! The artwork wasn’t cheap, and it took a lot of work to organise it, but the results are even better than I expected.
Stoli: I love the song & video for “Dreamcatcher.” What does that song mean to you & when did you write it?
Anni Piper: Most people will listen to ‘Dreamcatcher’ and think it’s a love song. I wrote the lyrics and added the slap bass line, and Sam wrote most of the music. But it’s actually a song about night terrors, you know, awful dreams where you sit bolt upright and scream your head off. I particularly like the ‘dreamy’ instrumental section in the middle of the song, the part in the video clip where the Indian brave is painting my face. Then the slap bass comes in again, and it’s like waking from the dream, coming back to reality.
Stoli: When people say you sound “100% American” you are flattered. Please explain why you feel that way?
Anni Piper: America is where the blues all started, that’s why it’s flattering to hear. I’m very proud of my Australian heritage and I love the country I live in; but blues music is such an important part of American culture, so I definitely take it as a compliment.
Stoli: You are constantly playing out live. What can we expect from your live show and what are some big shows you have coming up?
Anni Piper: Expect to hear songs that will make you want to get up and dance – then songs that will make you want to sit down and cry. Maybe my jokes might make you want to sit down and cry as well! <lol> One of my favourite shows to play in the country is The Blues Train, in the town of Queenscliff, Victoria. It’s almost twelve hours by road from where I live, so I don’t get there too often. It’s a restored steam train with four carriages and four blues bands each night. And yes, it does move, so it’s a challenging show to play. But a whole lot of fun at the same time.
Stoli: Who are some other musicians that you work with on stage & in-studio?
Anni Piper: Sam Buckley has been my guitarist for the past few years, and he’s fantastic. His playing is very intense, but his character is really easygoing. Sam was my co-writer on Chasin’ Tail. He’s just bought a resonator guitar so we might hear a bit more slide work on the next CD. All my albums were recorded at A Sharp Recording Studio in Sydney, Australia. The engineer / producer there is Jeff Cripps from local blues band Mississippi Shakedown, and he’s a fine player himself.
Stoli: ‘Chasin Tail’ was not your first album but your fourth. Do you feel you get better and learn more about yourself every album as a musician?
Anni Piper: I definitely learn something from every CD that I release. I listen back to Jailbait, my first recording, and think about how differently I sing and play those songs live now. If you listen to my CDs in order, I think you can hear the evolution of the sound, particularly my vocals.
Stoli: We are all mourning the loss of Steve Jobs of Apple. How has his passing affected you?
Anni Piper: I grew up with Apple computers. Back in 1984, when I was six years old, we were one of the first families around to have a home computer, an Apple II e. I would sit and play ‘Zork’ – true story! Steve made technology so user-friendly, and he’ll be remembered as a genius of our time for both his technical and business skills.
Stoli: What are two Blues musicians that you listen to now and would suggest checking out?
Anni Piper: I’ll limit my selections to fabulous blues musicians who are alive today. Joe Bonamassa, first of all. He is awesome, and I’ve seen him live in Australia a couple of times now…he always delivers a superb show. Also Ana Popovic; I like that we share the same initials and she sure knows how to play!
Stoli: What is coming up for Anni Piper and where you at online?
Anni Piper: I’m writing a book at the moment and when it’s finished I want to get working on another album. More gigs and hopefully a trip to the USA in mid-2012. Find me at www.annipiper.com or www.facebook.com/AnniPiper.music.