In February 2010, Nervous Records will be releasing Ananesworld, the new album from vocalist Anané (website, facebook, myspace, twitter, podomatic) and produced by her husband, Grammy Award winner Louie Vega. Effortlessly shifting from Deep House and Dance to Reggae, Rock and World Music, ANANÉSWORLD is poised to become the breakthrough release for the Cape Verde-born singer, translating her commanding stage presence onto record and showcasing an evolving, emotive songwriting skill.
5 Magazine spoke with Anané and Louie Vega just as the first pre-release copies were coming in…
I know this album has been in the works for a long time.
ANANÉ: We’ve been working on it for a few years now. We revamped it, took a few things out and added new songs. Just today, Nervous Records sent me a link to the pre-sale listing on Amazon.com. The journey has been so long that it’s hard to believe that it’s still only beginning!
LOUIE: It really has come full circle. I’ve known Michael Weiss [owner of Nervous] since 1992 or 1993 and however we got here, this is really a great opportunity. Our official release date is February 16th but you can pre-order it on Amazon.
So tell me about the record!
ANANÉ: It’s produced by Louie; I co-produced 4 of the songs and co-wrote 9 of them with songwriters like Lisa Fischer, Duane Harden, Lem Springsteen, Kalu Montiero… It’s been a really interesting journey for me. I think that what we have now is, musically, truly representative of me. I love how diverse it is – there are influences from Club to Reggae, music from Cape Verde… There’s one song, “Plastic People”, which is Rock-influenced with a Rock guitar sound. I even wanted to do music from Cape Verde. One of the songs is a remake of a song that my mother used to sing. It’s another side of me, especially lyrically. And it was so beautifully put together by Louie. It’s really the story of my life in music.
LOUIE: This is definitely an Anané record. All the influences come from her. There are some things on here that I have never done before – different types of music from outside of the club, music from Cape Verde, things I had never been exposed to. This has been a journey for me, too.
What are your plans for a tour?
ANANÉ: We have 19 dates so far. In this first leg of the tour, I’ll be DJing as well as performing songs from the album. I played a lot in Europe this summer, in Italy, and I really liked DJing and then performing in the middle of the set.
Is it prohibitively expensive to bring out the whole band?
LOUIE: It is expensive, and I’ve experienced that myself with Elements of Life. Anané’s DJ and live PA sets have had a good reception and we’re going to be starting with that. We have dates starting January 29th, from Deep LA, Cielo and Pacha in New York, Ministry of Sound in London, some dates in Italy and Greece. For the next leg, we’ve managed to get the band condensed down to five people. So a live show is definitely in the works.
I know you’re also coming to the new Red Dog here in Chicago on February 13th!
LOUIE: Is that the same one as before?
Yeah, it’s the same spot as the Red Dog of the 1990s, re-designed and reopened.
LOUIE: Wow! Yeah, I’m definitely looking forward to that, then. Joey Swanson is great and I’ve had some great shows over at Green Dolphin too.
I’m curious about the DJ aspect for Anané. Do you get any flack from the “old school” when you’re DJing? Do people sort of stand around with their arms crossed like a DJ-heavy crowd in Chicago might, waiting to check you out?
ANANÉ: I’ve been DJing at my monthly residency in New York [at the SubMercer in the Mercer Hotel], and I think it’s the same in New York City. Everyone in New York is here to be somebody – it’s a race and everyone is racing toward it.
I feed off the reaction of the crowd, though. Louie has opened at my residency and that’s nerve-wracking itself! [laughs] When he finishes his set, some people will stand back and watch when I start playing. But maybe thirty minutes into my set, they’ll be right back where they were, dancing and having fun.
LOUIE: How this came about is very interesting. I’m in awe of her selections and her ear for which records go together. In our home, I had set up a new console, two CDJs and an isolator, and I’d hear Anané blending Afro-tech, Reggae, ’80s music, House. She was practicing while I was away on tour. I was blown away when I finally heard her. I actually heard from other people first, saying that man, she’s really good! I figured I had to see this in the club, so I waited for awhile and then on the 3rd month I went.
She was playing some hot tunes! I mean, I have that DJ mentality, right? So my first thought is, “Where did that record come from and why don’t I have it?” [laughs] It happened so fast. So I invited her to play at Roots, my night with Kevin Hedge at Cielo. Everybody heard her and they were freaking out!
I think you have it twice as hard, as your husband is not only a famous DJ but you’re also a woman, and this genre is one of the most male-dominated of any I know of.
ANANÉ: DJing is, in one word, “empowering”. That’s what I’ve tried to convey, especially to women. It is male-driven, but there are a lot of women out there trying to get that respect. Fortunately, Louie has really supported the idea of me DJing. We’ve also put together an event called “Golden Ladies” featuring all female DJs every few months.
So what is it like to have a business relationship with your spouse?
ANANÉ: Louie brings out the best in me. He’s allowed me to be so out-of-the-box, which you can hear on this album. He never said, “Let’s market you like this.” He’s supported everything I wanted to do.
LOUIE: You know, it really started when I was working in our home studio after MAW closed down. My son is running in and out of the room while we’re recording. We created enough music here for two and a half albums. And producing music from her native country really brought us close – like I said, this was all new for me too and working with Anané opened me up to new musical directions I never experienced before.