CW: this interview contains some mentions of family violence
Since her inspiring trip to Nashville in 2018, country chanteuse Anita Spring has been busy recording and producing a series of new songs planned to be released this year, which she says are going to define her as an artist.
The first song to drop, heartfelt ballad ‘This Ain’t Pretty’, was a true labour of love and unflinchingly investigates one of the biggest scourges on society – domestic abuse. With vocals recorded in Sydney, music recorded in London, mixing done in NYC and mastering in Melbourne, the track has certainly done a round-the-world trip to reach our ears. We sat down with Anita for a chat about ‘This Ain’t Pretty’ and what else she has coming up on the horizon.
Can you give us a bit of background about your connection to the Gold Coast?
I moved up to the Goldie with my family almost three years ago, I was born in Perth however, moved to Sydney when I was young. We always came up the Goldie for holidays so living here now is like a dream come true for me and my family, we love it here.
‘This Ain’t Pretty’ is a real global effort! Tell me a bit about the team you assembled and how it came about that the track took such a journey before coming to fruition.
Thank you and yes it is a global effort quite literally! The people I’ve collaborated with, are all dear friends that I’ve worked with in the past and they just happen to be in every corner of the world. They are all experts in their field so it was never any question as to who I wanted to work with when I started this project and being so far apart has had little or no impact on the end result.
There’s a line “I’ve lost my patience and I don’t care if this ain’t pretty” which hit home for me. So often women are looked down on for not absorbing whatever comes our way in life with patience, calm and a smile on our faces, while men are permitted to be angry without it diminishing them. Was that line a result of a personal revelation or some sort of personal growth that you experienced yourself?
You’re spot on with your analogy Natalie, it’s “the elephant in the room” for women on many levels in many areas of their lives and it shouldn’t be that way. I believe that women are extremely powerful, we are capable of achieving anything we set our minds to. However, speaking from my own experience, I have always had a tendency to take things personally and feel insecure if someone inflicts repetitive criticism upon me and as a consequence, start to doubt my own abilities, even when I know I’m capable. And so those lyrics represent a lightning strike moment of confidence no matter what the consequence.
It was a big deal for me to write the lyrics in “This ain’t pretty” and an even bigger deal to actually release the song…The lyrics shed some light on relationships and how hard they can be if you’re with the wrong person like someone who makes you doubt yourself. They may make some people feel uncomfortable and that’s okay, it’s kind of the point. If the lyrics in my song make anyone more conscious of their own actions or of their situation, that can only be a good thing.
I agree with your comments of women having to smile and deal with whatever situation they are in and it’s so true…just recently someone said to me “Anita, just smile and sing” (as they didn’t like the contents of my lyrics and what I writing about) and unfortunately, it’s not the first time I’ve heard that either…Arghhhh! Of course, I’m happy to smile and sing LOL but I have a bit more to say too…
The video tells a fairly confronting, but unfortunately not uncommon, story. Was it confronting to film?
Yes it was…my dear friend Byron Tart (who plays my partner in the video) was an absolute champion for agreeing to be in the clip with me. Neither of us knew what we were in for…I knew how I wanted the scenes to roll out however, neither of us had much acting experience and it was insanely intense to act out the scenes (I have a whole new found respect for actors). We spoke about the filming the scenes with the production team for a while after shooting as everyone was a little shaken by the experience. It took about two weeks to completely unwind from the shoot, it was seriously intense.
The subject of DV is of course an ongoing issue, but obviously COVID-19 and all its attendant stresses, isolation, and financial hardships has seen an increase in issues, globally. Was your release schedule in any way affected by the pandemic, and is there a message within the single that you hope might be heard by victims of DV out there?
I had always planned on releasing the song in April and the COVID-19 pandemic actually made me think twice about releasing it. There was never going to an appropriate time to release this song however, when the news of increased DV around the world started to unfold (due to COVID-19), I decided to get it out there. I still didn’t know if I was doing the right thing when I decided to release it (as I thought it might come across as insensitive) and it made me feel quite sick when I pressed “GO” and so, I thought long and hard about an appropriate approach with regards to the wording in the release, which is why I refer seeking help from Lifeline Australia if people find themselves in any kind of crisis. People should feel safe to leave unhealthy relationships, I believe there’s a lot more work that needs to done in this space for DV victims and it saddens me that COVID-19 has resulted in an increase of DV around the world. The fact that we continue to hear stories in the news re DV almost weekly, clearly means we are not doing enough to prevent such awful situations.
Can you give us some idea of what to expect from your upcoming releases?
I’m hoping to release a song every 2/3 months over the next couple of years and they will all take you a journey of some kind, whether light-hearted and fun (I promise, I do have a light-hearted side of my personality) or in a more serious way where there’s some kind of message I’m trying to get across.
You can keep eye on Anita’s socials over at @anitaspringofficial and fb.com/anitaspringofficial. We’ve also reviewed ‘This Ain’t Pretty’ in our New Music column for this month, so be sure to check it out.
Interview by Natalie O’Driscoll, Words by Simone Gorman-Clark
If you or someone you know is experiencing family violence, phone 1800 RESPECT. For counselling, advice and support for men who have anger, relationship or parenting issues, call the Men’s Referral Service on 1300 766 491.
Check out the video for ‘This Ain’t Pretty’ below: