Some people will know Anna for her music which has seen her gain airplay on BBC 6 music amongst many other places or for her band management of local acts such as Black Seasons. Plenty of others though will know her as the organiser of Liverpool’s Hope fest. A multi venue music festival in Liverpool, in aid of Liverpool’s homeless that takes the unusual step of not asking people to pay to get in but bring a donation to give to the homeless directly. It was started in March but this time is bigger, with over 80 bands at 5 venues and working with the Whitechapel centre and The Basement in Liverpool.

We meet up for a coffee at the Liverpool One shopping centre, not just the home of an imaginatively named Everton FC shop and a Starbucks but the sign of a city working hard at rejuvenating itself.

Morrissey – Everyday is like Sunday

The first choice is Morrissey, and I can’t hide it, I have to confess I’m not a Morrissey fan. I’ve found his fans can be quite fanatical, “Don’t worry” says Anna, “I’m not one of those, I’m a huge Smiths fan but I’m not fanatical.”

“My dad got me into The Smiths, he was a huge fan. My parents were both from Liverpool but I grew up in North Wales, in Mold and this was one of many songs we listened to on our regular trips to visit relatives in Liverpool. I’m in an all female Smiths tribute band, we’re called Girlfriends in a coma [a Smiths reference for those who don’t know]. We’re still rehearsing and getting it all right but we’ll be gigging around soon so keep an eye out.”

“I’ve always really liked Morrissey’s lyrics and this song in particular it comes across as a depressing song but it’s actually really funny. It’s all very melancholy the way he sings it but it actually comes out really funny along with it. I think it’s beautifully written, the melody and everything. I’m a piano player but I normally work with other musicians so I don’t have to use my playing much. I’m better lyrically, I love Morrissey but I wouldn’t say I write like him.”

“I was going to pick a Smiths song but this is actually one of my favourite songs of all time. I don’t like that much of Morrissey’s solo stuff, but this song I really do love. I’m especially not that keen on his newer stuff, some of it is sounding the same as what he’s done before. I am a big fan but not so much that I’ll say it’s great when it’s not. But this song is beautifully written, he is capable of beautiful writing. It’s hard to think of things to say, other than I love the song!”

Suzanne Vega – The Queen and The Soldier

“This is one we always used to listen to in the car on our visits to Liverpool, I think I’ve still got the cassette tapes we had somewhere. It always brings up nostalgic memories of trips visiting Grandparents near Sefton Park. This is a really great song, Suzanne Vega uses a lot of layers and metaphors in her writing. It’s not directly about a Queen and a Soldier I don’t think. It’s about being scared of committing to something in case you get hurt by it and not going for something you really want to do. I think I’ve done that in my past a little bit which is maybe why I relate to this song. It is scary to risk failure sometimes.”

“I like the way she doesn’t do vocal acrobatics, her voice can be really simple but still getting the maximum impact in the portrayal. Sometimes less is more vocally, I’m not into all that Mariah Carey stuff going all over the place. It makes more contrast and makes it more powerful. Like great guitar players are to know when not to play, knowing when not to use vocal gymnastics can be a sign of a great singer.”

“Suzanne Vega’s on twitter, I’m a bit obsessed with social media, it’s great for keeping current with things – I got a retweet from Suzanne Vega the other day and I was sooo excited.”

I point out that Suzanne Vega is something in a more similar vein to what I’ve heard from Anna’s music “She’s great, she’s so stripped back. But it’s here because reminds me of family and family is the most important thing in the world to me. My dad’s musical tastes have really inspired me growing up. Anything that reminds me of my dad is nice for me. He was a scientist but he always wanted to be a rock star, he didn’t quite make it.”

“It’s a great acoustic song, as is much of Suzanne Vega’s stuff. I live near Lark lane now which is great for open mic nights. I lived down in London for a while before moving back north to settle in Liverpool. The music scene in London felt less accessible than Liverpool, it’s such a great musical city here, the people are so friendly that it made it feel easier to get involved.”

Black Seasons – Maverick

“A confession. This is a band I actually manage. I approached them to ask about managing them after hearing this song. They’re a great bunch and are a Liverpool band, well based in Liverpool. They’re from all over the place, lead guitarist from London, a bassist from Iceland and a singer actually from Mold like me, a coincidence. The drummer is from Skelmersdale so kind of Liverpool. They got together when they were all studying at the SAE in Liverpool.”

“I like to think of myself as the maverick in the song, I consider myself a bit of a maverick treading my own path.”

“There’s a line in it that was inspired by Frank Hedges ‘All f**king day’ it’s kind of his catchphrase, well he says it a lot. Frank’s a bit of a maverick, he’s a great guy who runs the Lomax in Liverpool. He’s a bit of a hero.”

“There’s a new artwork in the Lomax that says

‘The only rule is to be nice.’

That’s a great ethos, Frank’s, and kind of mine as well. To me that can make you a maverick, it’s not always the case that people are nice in the music business, there’s people who are out to rip you off. But for people like Frank and me that’s not how we are”

Interview by : Dave Sparks | First published 8th September 2014

You can find Anna on twitter as @AnnaGraceHenney and you can find out about the upcoming HOPE fest on the HOPE fest Facebook page. If you’re interested in playing in future HOPE fest events then get in touch on the facebook page.

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