06/ 2004

A Woman In A Men's World... Young, Beautiful And Purposeful

Long has it lasted, but, finally, now I can present the long announced interview with Ana Popovic to you... Good thing just need a while ;-). At the summer of the last year Ana has released her second solo-album "Comfort To The Soul" and was on the road with the legendary Solomon Burke. In this very detailed interview she told to us about her development and how she asserts herself as a young woman in a man's world. I hope you will just enjoy interview how I have enjoyed it.

S: First of all I would like you to introduce yourself as a private person. (age, hobbies, married, birthplace, dayjob, everything like that).

AP: I'm born in Belgrade, Yu , 1976. I'm a full time musician. I'm very happy that I succeeded to have music as my main occupation, and my only job. In the music world that is truely a success, specially if you're able to play and perform the music you like and make no large compromises. When that's your job, and people seems to enjoy it, both your records and you performances, as a musician, there is no better feeling than this, and there is no better job on earth that this! Besides music I love art, such as painting, design etc. I graduated graphic design in Belgrade, and I still love to see what is happening in the world in art. In my free time, which I usually haven't got a lot, I love to see a museum, read, paint, and travel.

S: As second, it would be great, if you could introduce yourself as a musician. (when did you start making music, in which bands have you played so far, discography, your musical influences, etc.)

AP: There was music always where I grew up. My father loves blues, rock, funk, there was always loud and inspiring music in our place. My dad played guitar for hobby, he loved jam sessions and blues and guitars. I started liking those sessions from my very early days. My sister and my mother would go to sleep, I would stay late listening to his friends and him jamming. Those are the moments that connected me with live playing. But I started playing when I was about 15. Seriously I started practising solo guitar when I was about 17 when I started my first band. HUSH was soon formed, and from then on everything went pretty fast. In Yugoslavia we had one record out, "HOMETOWN" and a nr 3 on charts song "Game Of Love" we had more than 100 concerts a year, and when I made a decision to leave, everyone thought it was a silly idea. Unfortunately, by the time record was about to be actively promoted, I wasalready in Holland. I never wanted to lock myself to one place. I need to have challenges, and need to explore new territories and see how people respond to my music. I don't think it will ever change.
I still love to see my band "HUSH" and jam with them when ever I have a chance. Those are still really special moments for me.
Something about my influences: I started listening to the roots blues, Bukka White, Robert Johnson, Elmore James- maybe my biggest influence for slide playing together with Johnny Winter, Sonny Landreth, John Money, R.Cooder. Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Ronnie Earl- maybe the most for solo playing, then Albert King, B.B. King. Later I was into Jazz players J. Scofield, Kevin Eubancs, and maybe the most, George Benson.

S: You came from former Yugoslavia and have still seen the time of the communism. How do you see the political development in your native country?

AP: It's gonna take a lot of time to get things back to the normal, if it ever really was. Communism was present till 1990 and later was a totalitarian regime of Milosevic, which was even worse. In the last 10 years it was specificly hard to do anything if you're not
a member of the party. The system is so strong that you can not win it, you can just live poor or become a part of it, which is a horrifying choice many people had to make. My family was one of the rare that could still live good, and do what they like, without becoming 'one of them' simply because they were so good at what they did.
The last 5 years I've been living in Holland so I don't follow precisely good the politics in Serbia. But since democratic leader Djindjic was killed, Serbia got less and less chances for a fast recover. It really's gonna take time, simply because the system was there for so long that a lot of people learn to live with it ; have and use connections, have their people on all the main places in government, but as well in all the main institutions.
The last elections that happened a few weeks ago, seem to bring something positive; a democratic leader, and hopefully this time he'll be able to make some change.
But I remember my childhood as a beautiful time, filled with joy, travelling, loving family, great music etc. The thoughts of those moments still give me energy even today, and are a base for all the positive living, dedication, and I still have enormous support for everything I do from my family.

S: When and how did you come in contact with Ruf Records?

AP: Bernard Allison sent my first CD to Ruf Records, and soon after that everything was happening. I recorded one song: "Belly Button Window" for the 'Blue Haze' compilation of Jimi Hendrix songs, and soon after that a debut album "HUSH".

S: In autumn of the last year you have accompanied the SOLOMON BURKE BAND on her tour through the Netherlands. Which experience have you done on this tour?

AP: We did a tour in Holland and couple of festivals in France at Nice Jazz, Cannes, Cognac Festival. It was a great experience just to be on stage with Solomon Burke, and see him perform. He is a truly unique artist, he's a legend, I was really honoured to be able to play in his show. And be off stage as well to see how he leads the band, and 'get things done'. He is the boss.

S: You are one of a few women who have done a name to themselves in the blues scene. How do you feel in this man's domain? What's the secret of your success?

AP: I work on myself, constantly. It's never good enough. But I enjoy it all, at the same time, cause no matter how you, later on in your carreer, bring your act and performance close to perfection, the energy from the early days will never be the same. That's the same if you see and hear early Sting - with POLICE; or early Joe Cocker (from "Woodstock") that particular energy of the performance was never seen later, although they became better in their stile, songwriting, or skill. But I'm very demanding, when it's about me. I also train myself to be free, and to bring my ideas out no matter what other people say. I don't want to be put in any category. Especially not musical categories: blues-jazz-rock... I just want to play what I feel at the very moment, and be honest with my audience, they need to get 100% of Ana - her music, her ideas, her doubts, her guitar-playing influenced by Elmore James now, and maybe more of George Benson tomorrow. I want them to live that with me and with my band on every show.
As a woman, and a new coming artist, sometimes you need to make compromises, especially when you work with big names in recording business, and on stage. But I chose my compromises well. There is ALWAYS a limit. You need them to hear what you have to say, even if they don't like it. Be sure you get your idea out there. Sooner or later they'll like it. When there are some hard times, just keep on doing what you do, and
everything comes to it's own place soon.

S: Your solo debut is titled "Hush", your first band was called also HUSH. Is there any certain connection? Is this album still in trade?

AP: Naturally. Leaving HUSH was a very hard step for me to do. We were great musicians even that young. The energy was amazing. I still look at this recording and can't believe it was me there on stage. I love that part of my musical background. And still when I see HUSH in Belgrade, it's like we never parted. The whole city knows the HUSH is in town!
The CD can not be bought in Europe, there is no European distribution, but we'll definitely do it one day for the European market.

S: What's the main difference between "Hush" and "Comfort To The Soul"

AP: I think "Comfort To The Soul" is more mature, it's wild, the guitar work is better, and not so conventional. Some songs have killer solos, some just relax one-take solo. It's not like: I wanna show I'm a guitar hero in every single song. I do it on stage every night. I play, and play, and play. It's maybe a more poppy approach. In the last 2-3 years I listened to more stuff like: Steely Dan (I did one of their songs), Sting etc. and heard that every song is just different, you need to give the character to the song, also in the guitar playing. Steely Dan had always amazing jazz musicians in the studio forcing them to play pop. I liked that idea (not for me, naturally, but it's just- having guts!)
"HUSH" is more song- well thought record. It's very much Memphis influenced, simply because I was so touched by that place, music, people etc. and you can hear it on the record. I like them both. They are just different sides of me. And I love to keep my audience sharp, and everything can be expected, just like on my live concert. I love to play jazzy ballads, and 'JACO' tribute to Pastorius is a real hit, everyone wants to hear it. But then I take acoustic guitar and get back to the roots of blues-playing Elmore James or Howling Wolf. Maybe the most of all is a wish to present all different beautiful sides of music. That all is such a inspiration for me, I want my audience to get a touch of it, too.

S: On "Comfort To The Soul" are several cover versions to be heard. Why did you decide to pack a lot of stranger's compositions on the album?

AP: I just write songs on and on, but I'm open to other people's songs as well. I take all the offered songs, everything that inspired me in the last couple of years together with my songs, and simply make a decision, what will be on the record. What is really what I wanna play to my audience in the next year or two?

S: Which song has been great fun to you mostly as composer/ guitarist/ singer?

AP: Probably JACO - lyrics wise, cord progression and rhythm wise, and definitly live performance wise.

S: In view of your young age you have already cooperated with many stars of the scene. Is there still a desirable nominee?

AP: W.C. Handy nominee will always stay in my memories. I wouldn't mind a couple of more of those, just to be back to the cradle of blues every possible opportunity. There are many artist I would love to work with in the future, Taj Mahal, Sonny Landreth, Cooder..., endless list

S: What are the further plans you got? Any live activities or new album?

AP: Many live activities. It's so difficult to choose. We are going 2 times to the USA this summer and autumn, and we are planning a live album and a DVD.

S: Ana, I thank you very much for this interview and I hope to see you on stage in Bavaria next time.

AP: Thank you so much. Sorry for waiting so long for this interview, but I really don't like internet, and computers, I have to be online way too much anyway. So any extra moment on the net for me is a tricky one. But I really appreciate your time, and waiting spirit! and your interest for my story.

Best of luck, many greetings
Ana Popovic

1. Don't Bear Down On Me (I'm Here To Steal The Show)
2. Love Me Again
3. Comfort To The Soul
4. Change My Mind
5. Sittin' On Top Of The World
6. Night By Night
7. Navajo Moon (instrumental)
8. Need All The Help I Can Get
9. Recall The Days
10. Fool Proof
11. Jaco

"Comfort To The Soul" (2003/ Ruf Records)


"Hush!" (2001/ Ruf Records)
"Comfort To The Soul" (2003/ Ruf Records)

andere Beiträge über ANA POPOVIC
ANA POPOVIC/ Ana! Live In Amsterdam
Comfort To The Soul

"... jetzt schlägt's dreizehn!"

further infos: www.anapopovic.com


Thanks To Katrin @ Ruf Records

Last Update: Sunday, 27. June 2004
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