Ani Glass is the stage name of Cardiff based electro-pop singer songwriter and musician Ani Saunders. Having begun her musical journey as a member of girl bands Genie Queen and The Pipettes, Ani moved back to her home town of Cardiff to join Indie band The Lovely Wars, before releasing her first solo single, the upbeat Ffol (Foolish) in 2015. In the wake of the release of her latest single Y Ddawns (The Dance), and whilst working on her new EP, Ani talks to Michael Eden about her life, her influences and her music.
Did experiences in your early life inspire you or influence you to become a musician?
I sort of fell into music as a bit of a happy accident really. I always felt like a creative person, but I spent most of my early life and teens wanting to work in the fashion industry. Although as a Welsh girl we were always encouraged to perform on stage. I used to perform at all the Eisteddfods, mainly doing folk dancing, singing and poetry readings. I hate to generalise, but most kids in Wales seem to be shoved up on stage by the time they’re four!
That’s just the environment that you’re brought up in. It was only when I went to University that music became a huge part of my life.
I do think my early life had a massive influence on the music that I produce now, without me knowing it at the time. Most of the music I was listening to as a youngster was Welsh and Cornish folk music. A lot of my lyrics are politically driven, and that I can at least partly put down to my mum’s participation in a socialist street choir called Cor Cochion Caerdydd (Cardiff Reds). I learnt a lot of socialist and protest songs, plus a lot of national anthems in different languages.
My mother also introduced me to The Beatles, and in particular Paul McCartney. He was my first and all time musical love. I made my decision on going to Liverpool University based on my love of their music.
Did University help you decide you wanted to be involved in music?
University was where I broadened my musical horizons. I became a bit of an indie chick and there were some great bands out there at the time. In particular, I enjoyed The Coral and The Zutons. I decided to join the pop group Genie Queen. Through my time with them, I worked with Andy McCluskey from Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, which was a fantastic experience. As well as being a great electronic music pioneer, he also penned several hits for OMD and for girl group Atomic Kitten.
When you left University, you moved on to The Pipettes?
I moved to Brighton and joined another pop group The Pipettes with my sister Gwenno, where I worked with Martin Rushent, another great producer who had worked with The Human League and Buzzcocks. We made some great music together and had a lot of fun making our album Earth vs The Pipettes, but didn’t quite have the chart success. My time with these bands has definitely influenced my sound today, and helps maybe give some quite dark music an optimistic pop angle.
Can you tell us about your solo music and your latest work?
My solo music is a mix of all the influences that I have picked up throughout my life. An eclectic mix of pop, of dance electro beats and protest anthems! I’m basically driven by melody first, and then I will try and fit any lyrics around the tune, usually after several attempts deliberating, changing my mind and starting again!
My latest single Y Ddawns (The dance) is inspired my post-industrial Wales and how their communities have been affected. It also celebrates the Welsh culture and creativity that is produced and that rises above the problems and the uncertain times that these communities face.
One of the songs that I have worked on for my new EP, called Ffrwydrad Dawel (Silent Explosion) is a celebration of a great art exhibition by Welsh artist Ivor Davies of the same name. I love his work and his use of the Welsh language in his art really resonated with me and what I was trying to achieve with my music. It was fantastic when he got to hear about it and he invited me to perform at one of his exhibitions at the National Museum in Cardiff. It was a great honour.
Ani has just played at the National Eisteddfod in Abergavenny, and is playing at The Green Man Festival in Brecon on the 20th of August, followed by Hub Fest in Cardiff on the 27th of August and the Gwyl Swn Festival on the 23rd of October.
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Interview and Photography with Ani Glass by Michael Eden.