September 24, 1980 |
Twickenham, England, United Kingdom
|Genres||Art rock, Alternative, indie rock|
|Occupations||Singer, songwriter, musician, guitarist|
|Instruments||Vocals, guitar, violin, bass, piano, sitar,|
|Associated acts||The Invisible, Brian Eno, Johnny Flynn, Cheap Hotel, Cherry Brakewells, Swampus Trio, Lunatic Crash|
Anna Margaret Michelle Calvi (born 24 September 1980) known professionally as Anna Calvi is an English musician who plays in the band of the same name. On 6 December 2010, Calvi was announced as a nominee for the BBC's Sound of 2011 poll. Her debut album Anna Calvi was released in the UK on 17 January 2011, where it debuted at number 40 on 23 January. The album was subsequently nominated for the prestigious Mercury Music Prize in 2011. Calvi was also nominated for Best British Breakthrough at the 2012 BRIT Awards.
Formation and early years 
Anna Calvi was born Anna Margaret Michelle Calvi on 24 September 1980  in Twickenham. She spent most of the first three years of her life in a hospital. "The way I dealt with that was to create my own world. And that's what my relationship with music is – a world of my own creation that I escape into. I was always a dreamer. The early things stick with you," she later remembered. Anna Calvi grew up being exposed to a multitude of genres of music by her music-loving Italian father; this eclectic array ranged from Captain Beefheart to The Rolling Stones to Maria Callas, combined with an early understanding of classical music, "I was so taken by the sound. Whenever I saw an instrument I would get so excited and my heart would beat really fast". Calvi first picked up the violin at 6, and guitar at 8. "Something would take me over whenever I'd seen an electric guitar," she later recalled. By the age of 10 she was using a double cassette karaoke machine to overdub her playing. All the while, attracted "to the impressionistic element of the music", she came to be much influenced by 20th century composers Messiaen, Ravel, and Debussy, the feel of which she would try to recreate on the guitar, an instrument she was compelled to learn on discovering Django Reinhardt and Jimi Hendrix at the age of 13.
Calvi originally intended to study art, but instead opted for a degree in music. She attended University of Southampton where she studied violin and guitar, graduating with honors with a Bachelor of Arts in Music in 2003. Singing, however, was not something that Calvi explored until reaching her mid-twenties. "I had a phobia about it until five years ago. I wouldn't sing in school or even in the shower. I had this emotional block about hearing my voice. So the guitar became my voice when I was a teenager, it was how I could express myself." Striving to find her own voice, Calvi said she locked herself in a room for long periods of time, singing along to records by Edith Piaf and Nina Simone. Calvi formed several bands including Cheap Hotel, which released one download-only single, New York, which did not chart. Calvi then went on to meet multi-instrumentalist Mally Harpaz and drummer Daniel Maiden-Wood, who now form her intimate band set-up.
At an early gig, Calvi caught the attention of Bill Ryder-Jones who urged Laurence Bell of Domino Records to sign her. Early support also came from renowned music legend Brian Eno, who heard about Calvi through a friend. He has since become her unofficial mentor describing her during a BBC 6 Music interview as, "the biggest thing since Patti Smith."
In the autumn of 2009, Calvi recorded a series of filmed Attic Sessions that were uploaded onto YouTube including a cover of Leonard Cohen's Joan of Arc, Elvis Presley's Surrender, TV on the Radio's Wolf Like Me and David Bowie's Sound & Vision.
On 11 October 2010, Calvi released debut single Jezebel, a 1951 song originally written by Wayne Shanklin and made famous by Frankie Laine and French chanteuse Edith Piaf. Both Jezebel and the B-side Moulinette (an original song Calvi co-wrote with drummer Daniel Maiden-Wood) were recorded by Rob Ellis, and released on limited edition 7" and digital download. Live versions of both Jezebel and Moulinette were filmed at The Luminaire venue in London by Emma Nathan, who also created the vinyl artwork, and used as promo for the single.
Debut album 
Anna Calvi was released in the UK and Europe through Domino Records to critical acclaim on 17 January 2011. It entered the official UK charts at number 40. The album achieved success across Europe, charting at 17 in France, 33 in Austria, 40 in Switzerland, 55 in Sweden and 70 in Germany. Calvi co-produced the album with long-term PJ Harvey collaborator Rob Ellis. Brian Eno sang backing vocals on Desire and Suzanne & I. Dave Okumu from the band The Invisible sang backing vocals on the song No More Words. The artwork for the album was created by long-term collaborator Emma Nathan. "I see music quite visually and I like to create atmospheres... I like to try and create a whole world in the space of a song" Calvi stated of writing the album, while discussing in an interview with the Telegraph, "'I imagine the different instruments as colours, and so it feels like painting. I need music to come from a really emotional place. With my music I do like to hypnotise people and take them somewhere else. I like to slowly draw people into a world."
NME gave the album 9 out of 10 stating, "this self-titled collection of 10 songs is perhaps the first great record of 2011." NME described it as "sumptuous, seductive and a bit scary, this velvety debut will stalk your dreams." Uncut magazine said, "This isn't just a great debut. It's a fearless rejection of current pop trends, fashioning a benchmark of intensity and originality that the rest of this year's albums will struggle to match." The Observer described it as a "gutsy and sonorous start" and The Fly magazine called it an "arresting, sparse and darkly captivating listen." The Evening Standard said "the raw talent is undeniable: 2011 is Calvi’s for the taking" while the Independent on Sunday claimed that for "serious lovers of music, Calvi is one to watch." The album was Rough Trade's album of the month in January, described as an "astonishingly confident, expressive and powerful record."
Calvi launched the album to sold out show at the intimate Hoxton Hall in London on 27 January 2011. As part of the album promotion, Calvi performed several times on French TV including a performance of Desire on Le Grand Journal, and Blackout and Desire on ARTE. In France, according to Q magazine, Calvi "has become an overnight star, the album debuting in the Top 20 and the Parisian fashionistas taking her to their hearts."
The album was released in USA, Australia, and Japan on 1 March 2011. Calvi performed on the first show of Series 38 of Later... with Jools Holland that was broadcast on 5 and 9 April 2011. She performed Blackout and Desire. Calvi performed 5 songs on the TV show "Live From Abbey Road" broadcast on Channel 4 on 22 June 2011. Calvi also performed on the Late Show with David Letterman on 27 July 2011.
Domino Records released Blackout as the first single taken from the album on 21 March 2011 : it featured a cover of Elvis Presley's Surrender as the B-side. Blackout was debuted on Pitchfork in the US. "Blackout" was eventually added to BBC Radio 1's playlist in January 2012. Desire was released as the second single from the album on 20 June 2011. The single featured a cover of Leonard Cohen's Joan of Arc as the B-side. Suzanne & I was the third single from the album and was released on 12 September 2011. The B-side was Baby It's You. Calvi debuted Wolf Like Me a cover of TV On The Radio on Stereogum. The album was shortlisted for the prestigious 2011 Mercury Prize.
In January 2012, Calvi was awarded the European Border Breakers Award. To be eligible for the awards, the artists must have enjoyed border-breaking success with their first international release in Europe between 1 August 2010 and 31 July 2011. The winners are selected by music market analyst Nielsen Music Control on the basis of record sales and broadcast frequency and according to votes by European Broadcasting Union (EBU) radio stations and festivals participating in the European Talent Exchange Program (ETEP).
Calvi covered Beyoncé's "Naughty Girl" for BBC Radio 1's Live Lounge in February 2012.
Rider To The Sea was used as background music to the opening sequence (1m28 to 3m50) and end credits of BBC Horizon "How Small Is The Universe" first aired 3 September 2012.
|The Observer||Album of The Week|
|Independent on Sunday||Album of The Week|
|Evening Standard||4* Album of The Week|
|Irish Times||4* Album of The Week|
|Irish Tribune||5/5 Album of The Week|
|Time Out||4* Album of The Week|
|Rough Trade||Album of The Month|
Second album 
Calvi is currently working on her second album.
Calvi took time off recording in November 2012 to sing on a Noah And The Whale song called "Heart Of Nowhere" which was released in May 2013.
Live shows 
Calvi is known for her intense guitar playing and seductive live performance. She has said that she tries to create the sounds of other instruments through her guitar. Visually, Calvi nods to the world of flamenco in her stage outfits. However, rather than wearing the traditional frilly dress, she opts for the high trousers and blouse of a male dancer.
Following her album release show at Hoxton Hall in London, Calvi won over critics with her "performance of superb self-possession and dramatic timing. The Independent called her a "strumming seductress" who was "born to be heard in person" playing "with every ounce of passion."
Anna Calvi sold out all of the performances on her debut European tour, which started in February 2011. She first visited the USA in March. Calvi's show at Le Petit Trianon in Paris on 22 April was broadcast live on the website of ARTE. She headlined the NME tour in May. Calvi was chosen by Ray Davies of The Kinks to co-headline the Meltdown Festival 2011. Calvi continued touring Europe throughout Autumn 2011 which was filmed and released as a 2 part series called "Somewhere Along The Line". Calvi's Shepherds Bush Empire show sold out weeks in advance.
In March 2012, Anna Calvi was invited to play at BBC 6 Music's tenth birthday celebrations. The band's performance at London's Southbank Centre was broadcast live via the radio station, and made available to view online by the BBC.
Style and influences 
Calvi is always seen performing with a Fender Telecaster guitar (90s US) and uses a vintage red Vox AC30 amp both live and in the studio. Calvi is a virtuoso guitarist – although her first instrument is the violin of which she has a university degree in. Calvi also imagines playing guitar as an orchestra and is noted for her particular style of playing which involves hitting the strings in a circular motion, rather than strumming up and down. The result has been described by Q as "the prodigious wash of sound that recall Ennio Morricone, Duane Eddy, even Jimi Hendrix in its fluidity."
Calvi's style has been described as dark, romantic, atmospheric pop. The singer has stated that the powers of lust are an inspiration and her performances are deliberately sexually charged. Calvi has cited Nina Simone, Maria Callas, the rock of Jimi Hendrix and the Rolling Stones, the blues of Captain Beefheart, the stage performances of Nick Cave, David Bowie and Scott Walker as well as classical composers Carlo Gesualdo, Messiaen, Ravel and Debussy as among her influences.
Calvi has stated that the films of Gus Van Sant and Wong Kar-Wai and David Lynch have also influenced her music. She has admiration for "people that make beautiful films where the cinematography tells the story" and tries to do the same in her own work.
On 1 December 2010, Calvi performed at the Colette showcase in Paris as part of The Room Of Curiosities exhibition by Thomas Erber. Calvi was invited to play at the Gucci dinner, hosted by Vogue during the 2011 Haute Couture Paris fashion week. Since then Frida Giannini, creative director at Gucci has chosen outfits for Calvi to wear during the May 2011 US tour. Calvi also opened the new Gucci Sydney store on 30 November 2011.
The fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld has said he is a fan of her music, and has photographed Calvi for the Maison Michel Fall Winter 2011 lookbook. Sir Paul Smith photographed Calvi for the cover of L'Express Styles. Calvi was invited on the Chanel table for the Amfar charity event at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival.
Anna Calvi performed at the amfAR The Foundation for AIDS Research event at Milan Fashion Week in Sept 2012.
Studio albums 
|Year||Album details||Peak chart positions|
|2010||"Jezebel / Moulinette"
|2011||"Blackout / Surrender"
|"Desire / Joan of Arc"
|"Suzanne and I" / "Baby It's You"
|2012||"Jezebel (Version Française) / Wolf Like Me"
Awards and nominations 
|2010||BBC Sound of 2011||Anna Calvi||Sound of 2011||Nominated|
|2011||Mercury Prize||Anna Calvi||Best Album||Nominated|
|2011||UK Festival Awards||Anna Calvi||Best Breakthrough Artist||Nominated|
|2011||European Festivals Awards||Anna Calvi||Newcomer Of The Year||Nominated|
|2012||Eurosonic Noorderslag||Anna Calvi||European Border Breakers Award (UK)||Won|
|2012||The Guardian||Anna Calvi||First Album Award||Nominated|
|2012||Brit Awards||Anna Calvi||British Breakthrough Act||Nominated|
|2012||European Festivals Awards||Anna Calvi||Newcomer Of The Year||Nominated|
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