Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Local Artist Speaks: ANNE ADAMS

I met Anne Adams a couple of years ago at a dinner for women involved in the music industry. I spoke with her a few moments about her music as Grey Anne and the Portland music scene. I later crossed paths with Anne when she agreed to do her amazing dino tarot card reading for our KZME prelaunch party last year (she was spot on!). Not only that, she is a very talented arts & culture writer/blogger for Portland Monthly magazine.

And anyone who uses "Gee whillickers" is alright in my book.

Meet Anne Adams!!!


How long have you lived in the Portland area?

Since 2001.

Give us a brief history of your band/project:

Playing music and writing songs has been a lifelong interest, and it's been an ongoing part-time project for me since I was 16. In Portland, I was in a band called The Persimmons, then I was solo as Per Se. I gigged around town and home-recorded a little under that name. I played PDX Pop Now! the first year, and also volunteered. After that, I brought others on to play with me under that bandname: Rachel Sakry on multi-instruments, and Theo Spanos, then Lindy Wood, then Treva Jackson on drums. Some of these folks and a bunch of other awesome people helped me record my album, Facts N Figurines, but when it became hard to coordinate schedules for live shows, I went back to playing solo. In 2006, I collaborated with Paul Alcott (of Menomena and Ramona Falls) on a 10-track album of electronica songs and did a few live performances and some licensing under the name "Sweater!" We published tracks on PDX Pop Comps '06 and '07, and played at PDX Pop '07. Around that time, I also made a few ukulele radio jingles for friends, including one for local beverage company VISO, and one for a radio called Destination DIY that airs on OPB. In 2008, I changed my booking name to Grey Anne, and released Facts N Figurines under that name at the beginning of 2009. I did my first west coast tour with PWRFL Power and Cap Lori in summer '09. In spring 2010 I did another regional tour with Tim Martin (Brutal Fight/His Name Shall Breathe) and in December 2010 I did a digital release of an acoustic Christmas concept EP, Dickinson's Christmas Carols--Christmas melodies, Emily Dickinson lyrics. Lately, I've pulled back on the live performances to focus more on writing and figure out my next recording logistics.

What’s the first song you ever learned to play?

I started playing piano when I was 5, so I really can't remember the first thing. Early favorites were dumbed-down arrangements of songs from Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker, Beethoven and Bach exercises from early-grade Royal Conservatory books, and the floatiest ballads from 1950's-era Disney, like "The Second Star To The Right" from Peter Pan. I always wanted to figure out my own arrangements, though, and learn songs that weren't in my books, so I made up versions of Muppets' The Rainbow Connection and later George Michael's "Mother's Pride," finding it perversely cathartic to sing and play and cry.

I didn't play anything in high school, and started playing guitar in college.

What’s your favorite local venue to play? To see other bands?

Right now, hands down, The Woods. I might be biased because I have friends in that little world, but a shared aesthetic brought about our friendship. So, yeah. I love The Woods. Ella Street also has an amazing room-vibe, and good acoustics for what I do. Both of those places are former mortuaries, so maybe mortuaries make great venues.

PDX Pop Now! is a great forum in which to see bands, as are house shows. One of my favorite shows was a really sweaty summer house show in a house venue called Baller Tower.

Speaking of other bands, who do you like on the Portland music scene?

I like my friends' bands, like Loch Lomond and Y La Bamba and Sallie Ford. I was on their bandwagon early, and I'm glad they're doing so well. My current favorite up-and-coming songwriters are Padraic Finbar Hagerty-Hammond and Sarcastic Dharma Society, and my fave loop maven is Like A Villain. I like YOUR band--provided you sound good, and have vision, personality and etiquette.

Tell us about a recent “Only in Portland” moment you might have had.

Gee whillickers. I've been steeped in this topic lately, because I am also a writer, and did lots of coverage of Portlandia, and even interviewed Carrie Brownstein. But I guess the "only in Portland" phenomenon that is dearest to my heart is Dino Tarot (a craft I invented and practice periodically at bars, clubs and patios, that uses plastic dinosaurs in lieu of runes or cards, for a kind of ad-hoc divination). Only Portlanders would be so receptive, so delighted, to have me "read their dinosaurs." Portlanders have a fluent dialogue with their inner children that's actually really beautiful.

Finish this sentence: “I cannot live without_____”

Food, water, privacy and freedom. That sounds really cliched, and perhaps I should pick something more frivolous. But I've been in situations younger in life that really limited my freedom, so I relish every bit that I have now. I also do my best work at unstructured jobs where I can choose when to come and go and say what I really think. I also need freedom in music, so I'm not a big fan of genre or typecasting. Don't get me wrong--I love structure--but I want to build it myself.


You can check out Anne's current offering for Portland Monthly about Hand2Mouth's new performance piece, Uncanny Valley, by clicking here. can get up close and personal with the folks of Hand2Mouth on May 19 at Portland Artspark!

Thanks for reading!

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