ANNA PHOEBE – Soul Searching

By Carl Begai

At this point in time violinist Anna Phoebe is best known as a member of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, a gig and title she gave up in 2010 in the interest of family and exploring other avenues. During her six year tenure with TSO she made two solo albums, the organic Gypsy (2006) and the raging full-on metal assault Rise Of The Warrior (2008); two releases that offered a look at different sides of Anna’s musical personality. After a long stretch of silence peppered with reports that a new album (or two) was definitely in the works, she closed 2013 with the release of a four track EP entitled Embrace. Like Rise Of The Warrior, the music on Embrace was another unexpected turn and marked the first official studio-recorded collaboration with her friends in UK prog metal band Jurojin; a venture that was long overdue. The EP was also the first big step towards a full length Anna Phoebe record due to be released in 2014, entitled Between The Shadow And The Soul.

Anna Phoebe BAND 1

I recently sat down with Anna and Jurojin guitarist Nicolas Rizzi to discuss the new music and the events that influenced this new chapter of Anna’s career. The first order of business was to clear up a few murky details regarding the collaboration, however. Initially it was reported that Anna was working with Jurojin on her album, which would be followed by a Jurojin album featuring Anna as a guest performer. Now it seems the proposed albums have been mashed together into one production.

Nic: “The idea ages ago was to do a Jurojin / Anna Phoebe album – the typical heavy Jurojin sound with Anna’s playing on top of that – but as we got deeper into the songs and started demoing them, that’s when we decided to go for a much different approach, something a lot more experimental and a lot less heavy. We had some discussions as to how to put the new music out, and even though it’s all of us we decided to go under the Anna Phoebe name, to make it sort of a continuation of her previous two records. We thought it made the most sense to do things this way. We had a 10 track album, and then we removed four tracks for the EP. The idea was to release the EP and spend the time to really develop this new project and new sound. The full length album will be nine tracks, but none of those will be the EP tracks. The only crossover might be a rearranged piano and violin version of ‘Embrace’.”

Looking back on Rise Of The Warrior, which saw Anna take her TSO persona to the next level, she says it was a success even though it may not have sold hundreds of thousands of copies because the album gave her exposure outside the Trans-Siberian Orchestra live spectacle.

Anna: “I guess each album you do is a reflection of where you are in your life at that time. My first album, Gypsy, was made after I’d been touring around the Middle East a lot and had been with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra for a year or two. Gypsy was my world music sound mixed with a bit of rock – I was dipping my toes into it – and by the time I did Rise Of The Warrior, I was fully into the musical pyrotechnics, the loud symphonic rock / metal world. Those were the people I was hanging out with musically and socially. That album is definitely a blueprint of who I was at that time.” Continue reading ANNA PHOEBE – Soul Searching

ANNA PHOEBE – Beyond Siberia

AnnagrassBy Carl Begai

As a professional musician violinist Anna Phoebe puts many of her peers, and certainly the wide-eyed Idol industry wannabe stars, to shame. Known best as one of the major crowd pleasers on the Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s annual holiday season run, she boasts a phonebook-thick resume featuring projects and live shows with a variety of different artists and on her own. Point being, take the Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s massive stage, high tech lights and big budget production away and Anna still delivers a memorable over-the-top performance. Prior to her current run with TSO in North America she trekked across Europe with UK folk act Oi Va Voi, quite happy to do the low-budget old school club grind in support of the band’s latest album, Travelling The Face Of The Globe. The fans weren’t disappointed, and more than a handful of new ones were made along the way. And while Anna was thrilled to be able to get back to business with TSO, she’ll definitely be out and about with Oi Va Voi and solo when things wind down for another year.

“It keeps things fresh, definitely,” Anna says of jumping from one band to the other, in this case quite literally from one day to the next over several thousand kilometers. “I love playing in arenas; it’s what you dream about doing as a musician, playing in front of 15,000 – 20,000 people every day for three months. The Trans-Siberian Orchestra is an incredible opportunity and touring on that level is definitely different from touring with Oi Va Voi, but sometimes TSO is so different from reality. You always forget just how big it really is, so when you first walk into rehearsal it’s like ‘Wow…’ The reality of being in a band is you’ve got 12 people stuck on a tour bus with no money, you’ve got to set up and take down your own gear, you take whatever’s left over from your rider and cram it on the bus because that’s what you’re going to eat for lunch the next day (laughs). Continue reading ANNA PHOEBE – Beyond Siberia