Straight out of New York City and into your headphones, Annie Dressner is back with a new single Dance We Do via Dharma Records. After picking up a guitar in her teens, Dressner cut her teeth in the open mic nights and bar stages of the big apple. Now she’s been releasing work since 2011, living in the UK, and she’s giving Indie is Not a Genre a look into her singer songwriter life.
Hello! Thank you for doing this interview for Indie Is Not A Genre. How has this year been for you?
Thank you for having me! This year has been a bit of a whirlwind! It’s been exciting! It started off with a workshop in London via the Americana Association UK during the first week of January, where we wrote with students from Hackney. I followed it up by going to the AMA UK event in association with that workshop, where I met both my now manager and record label, Dharma Records! Whilst there I got invited to join some folks in Kansas City for Folk Alliance International, and so I found myself there. I also had a headline show at The Lexington as part of a project I did with David Ford. In March, I toured the UK with some friends as a Songwriters’ Circle, where we played as a band in the second half. I played keys, a drum and the bass. In the summer, I partook in a few festivals, including Black Deer. I ended the year supporting the The Trials Of Cato on their tour, as well as a show with Phil Beer from Show Of Hands. And very excitingly, a few singles from my upcoming album came out! 2023 was cool!
Can you give us a little insight into the inspiration behind ‘Black and White’ and ’18 Years’?
Both songs are about relationships and the feelings that you have left behind at the end of them. ‘Black and White’ is about an ex. “The thing that made me the saddest is I wanted to know you…” is the chorus of that song. It’s also very true. Suddenly not knowing someone who was a huge part of your life in any capacity is quite devastating. It was nice to write this song, because I finally got to express something that I never really said out loud before. Sometimes the person is more important that the relationship, if that makes any sense – and so to get to have them back as a friend is a really special thing – this song has helped enable that to happen.
’18 Years’, however, does not have such a happy ending. This is about how you feel when you realize that you did not, in fact, mean what you thought you did to someone. It is a much more bitter song, though musically can sound quite upbeat. “You’ll never be who I need you to be, and you’ll never be who I thought you were and you’ve never once been there for me, never really…” It’s coming to terms with the end of what you thought was an important relationship.
Did you have any surprising feelings or revelations while writing these tracks?
Surprising feelings and revelations are what lead me to writing songs. I sometimes write fictionally – but often I write from my own experiences, and songs allow me to articulate what I am feeling as I write them. Writing music is healing for me and it helps me come to terms and understand myself and my own experiences and how they are affecting me.
You’ve been compared to Mazzy Star and Suzanne Vega by critics and fans alike, do you have any favourite influences?
I usually would say Simon and Garfunkel, Carly Simon, James Taylor, etc… but I love Ben Kweller, the Foo Fighters and Belle & Sebastian.
How has your creative process changed over the years?
It’s changed from being analogue to digital — meaning, the first song I ever wrote, I recorded the process on a tape player and now I do it on my iPhone. The music and lyrics tend to come at the same time, and so I record the process when I feel a song might come out in the end. I then write down what I’ve come up with an outline and then keep working on it until it feels like a finished song.
Can you tell us a little bit about the track you are releasing in January?
‘Dance We Do’ is another relationship song — are you sensing a theme? It’s about the complexities of where you stand in a relationship, not knowing if you want to be in it or not. Is love in itself enough? “It’s just like you can’t make up your mind about me. It’s just like I can’t make up my mind about you. What are we gonna do?”
Dance We Do is available now on all streaming platforms.