Image: Fraser Taylor
Singer-songwriter Astræa already had millions of streams to her name before she launched her official debut single. Her covers of tracks like ‘You’re Not Alone’ and ‘Mad World’ reached a big audience, but now it is time for her own material to shine. The stunning debut single ‘Anybody Out There’ landed her a spot in A Bit of Pop Music’s soon to be published list of most promising artists for 2019. Astræa tells us all about the music she is working on and her plans for the new year!
First of all congratulations on making it into A Bit of Pop Music’s list most promising New Artists for 2019. How does that make you feel?
“Thank you so much! It really means so much to me to be included in the list and to be recognised in this way so thank you for your support.”
After reaching a big audience with some covers, what is it like to have your actual debut single ‘Anybody Out There’ finally out?
“It is really exciting, because I feel I get to share a different and more personal side of me to the world. There is so much I want to say to people. I love doing covers and arranging great songs in a new and different way, but it is my original material that I am the most personally invested in and excited about.”
Is it more daunting to share something with the world that is your own story written by you, than interpreting someone else’s words through a cover?
“It can be a little scary, but I think I find it more liberating and exciting than anything. For as long as I can remember, I have always turned to music to help me deal with my emotions. I want to be able to do that for people listening to my music and be there for them when they are experiencing struggles in their lives. The most magical thing about music to me is its ability to make people feel less alone in the world when they hear someone singing about something that they’re also experiencing.”
Can you describe to us how ‘Anybody Out There’ came to be?
“‘Anybody Out There’ was one of those songs that just came flying out of me in about 10 minutes. I had already written two songs that day that I just wasn’t feeling, but I decided to keep at it. I keep lyric ideas in the back of a notebook and so I looked there for inspiration. There I found the line, “flowers behind his back, yellow daisies”, which I wrote based on a scene I witnessed from a train window. I saw a guy giving flowers to a lady on the platform opposite me. I remember at the time feeling really lonely in that moment, wishing I was that lady. It made me think about loneliness in general and how universal this experience can be, whether we are longing for a partner, or for friends and family, or just for someone to listen to us and be there for us. We all just want to love and be loved at the end of the day. So I was thinking about all of these things and the song just felt like it wrote itself. I started recording and producing it straight away and it has quickly become one of my favourite songs I have written and produced.”
Now that the single is out, what can we expect next? Are you working towards an EP or album?
“I have a few more singles I’ll be releasing as I gradually work towards a mini-album. I also have a really big headline gig in London at St James’s Piccadilly that I am preparing for at the moment. The venue is a gorgeous Christopher Wren church with a Fazioli grand piano that I am so excited to play! I’ll be performing with my string section and band.
What can we expect in terms of sound from your future material? Any specific artists that inspired your sound?
“One of my biggest influences is Tori Amos. The piano arrangements in her songs are always so interesting and expressive. She also does not shy away from writing lyrics about some really difficult topics. I love left-leaning pop in general, Kate Bush is another big inspiration. Production-wise, I’m inspired by artists like Florence & The Machine and London Grammar. You can expect more piano-led pop tracks, some ballads, and some with more full on electronic and cinematic production.”
Do you think your classical background makes you approach the writing and producing of a pop song differently? Do you still use much of your classical training in your music today?
“I definitely think my classical training influences everything I do whether I’m aware of it or not. I’m really grateful to have the knowledge of theory that helps me instinctively know, for example, what kinds of chord progressions or melodic intervals are going to evoke what types of emotions. My training as a classical pianist means I can come up with advanced piano arrangements if I want to. I also work with strings a lot so it is useful that I can arrange and write out the parts of exactly what I’m hearing in my head. As a producer, I think it makes many aspects of the production come more easily in terms of arrangement and harmony. There’s many similarities to composing a piece of music for an orchestra which is the background I originally came from.”
What are your goals or resolutions for the new year? Where would you like to see yourself in 12 months?
“My goals for this next year are to release several more singles, complete an album, and do a UK mini-tour. I also aim to write and produce as much as possible, always working towards improving my craft. One of my dreams has been to play Union Chapel in London, so in 12 months time or so I would really love to see myself playing there.”