Wednesday, 8 October 2014

INTERVIEW: Eszter Anna Baumann of Ann My Guard


Hungarian heavy melodic rock metal band Ann My Guard released their debut album Innocence Decent back in April.  Lead vocalist Eszter Anna Baumann kindly spoke to us about her music, the band, the album and her influences.

Prior to Ann My Guard you recorded the demo Shards of my Mirror, where you played all instruments (except drums).  How did the decision to create a band around your music come about and how has the band come to life?

It was necessary, so to say: when I went to high school, I was always dreaming about having my own rock band. I came from a small town, and after graduation I moved to our capital city, Budapest because of my university studies. At that time I already had a 4 track demo in my pocket, and I started to search for musicians who would join me in my musical journey. The first rehearsal was one of the best moments in my life: listening to my songs, played by an entire band was absolutely amazing.

Where did the name Ann My Guard come from?

According to a Christian myth, your second name is the name of your guardian angel (I am Eszter Anna). Well, my guardian angel is the music itself (herself) and that's the reason for choosing our name. It is not a cliche I think it describes my relationship towards music.

As the main songwriter/lyricist/instrumentation for the band, you describe your sound as ‘doll metal’. Can you elaborate on this genre?

If you've got a chance to listen to our debut album Innocence Descent, you would probably recognise that our genre is somewhere in-between alternative rock and metal. Although I really hate to categorise anything, I thought that I have to call our style as something different and unique which can separate the band from the others. Moreover, the main themes in my songs define femininity and its perpetual mutations and changings. Therefore I wanted something 'girly' in describing our style. Also doll and metal may sound totally distinct meanings through which I can also represent the pure feminity and loud heavy worlds.

I can hear a definite grunge era influence to your music. What have been your major influences or styles?  Is there one band/artist that you really relate to?

Oh yes, the 90's play an important role in my musical taste and my attitude towards arts. Basically I wrote my MA thesis about female empowerment in the 1990's and about the Riot Grrrl movement. Although I grew up in the 90's I was still a little child who could not recognise how cool is that era in rock music, that is going on right now. I wish I could travel back in time and watch a rock show in Seattle, for example. But I couldn't so I have to strengthen myself with those great bands now, in the present. To tell you a few, I am probably the biggest Babes in Toyland fan from my generation in Hungary, I love Veruca Salt, L7, Bikini Kill, The Breeders and of course, Hole. But please do not categorise them as 'grunge' bands like most people do now, because they are not. As I mentioned I hate to categorise and I also cannot stand the borders of a specific genre. But these female musicians have been outstanding: not only in rock music but as women in history too.


What continues to motivate you to create your music?

I studied classical music for 13 years, so music has been always the most important thing in my life. Because I had to practice 5 hours a day on my flute, I did not have time to create my own music, but I always felt that it would be my path. When I started to play in a nu metal tribute band on my bass guitar, I got the green light to record my first songs. Since that I've experienced an elevating feeling which only music composing and recording can give me. I know that I will never ever quit music and music writing, but unfortunately I do not have enough time for this work right now. However, as soon as a melody gets into my ears I always record it with my phone. I've already got hundreds of ideas for the next record!

You released the album Innocence Decent earlier this year.  The album is beautiful and sounds incredibly accomplished.  Can you tell us more about the album?

Thank you so much! We are always happy to hear kind words about our first record. Well, we are so proud of it, partly because we came out with 13 tracks as we did no want to publish only an EP with three and four tracks. Our aim was to debut with an entire conception and a story behind the songs. Innocence Descent is about losing your purity, discovering your new identities and of course, growing up in our strange world: the Innocence descends like the Moon and settles in her own darkness. I would say it is about losing virginity but not only physically, but mentally and emotionally too. And from a girl's perspective it can be beautifully illustrated in rock music.

Although there are numerous stand out tracks for me on the album. Do you have a favourite track and if so why that song?

My favourite track is the last song called 'Circles'. It is the longest and the most complex track on the album. It is a prayer basically, in which I call for archangel Ariel, who is the supporter of artists and the guardian of nature and purity.

You are currently preparing for a European tour later this year.  Where will you be visiting on the tour?  What do you enjoy about touring/live performances?

I think not only Ann my Guard is the only band, who has experienced several problems with the booking agencies. It is a hard business and everybody wants to make money from your production but won't pay a single penny for you. That's why we decided to find the right team, or organise shows by ourselves, lately. We are starting to work on the tour and probably will be able to play at several festivals, venues all over Europe. Besides Hungary, we have played several shows in the Czech Republic and because of the memorable experiences and audience, we will definitely go back next year. My dream is to play in Scandinavia, Germany and in the UK. Hopefully you will see us live, because we go crazy on the stage. All in all, follow us on the social media platforms and you will be surely updated about the dates for next year!

Photo:Mernyó Ferenc

How do you find the Hungarian music scene on the whole?  Are underground and alternative bands well supported?

I do not want to be pessimistic, but may I say it is the same like in everywhere else? Underground and alternative bands are not supported, only when you play in a hipster pop rock band do you solve the problem of the universe. Basically, if you can gain your audience and you've got a chance to play in front of a bigger band, you will be more popular and known in the business. But until then you can expect almost nothing. You have to be determined, unwavering and also very patient. However, if you want to take further steps, you have to treat your production as something of great concern, find your target audience, build up your goals and produce quality music and videos. At least, I believe it happens like this, we'll see.

In an age of social media, how have you found making contacts both at home and abroad and getting your music out there?

Partly it is easier to communicate, but because of the informational revolution it is hard to get noticed in the cyber-sea. I always learn something new every day and I always want to keep up with the trends and tools that the digital era can offer me. So my answer is merely ambiguous - I enjoy social media, but I often wish it further to hell, because of mass music production.

What’s next for Ann My Guard?

We filmed our newest music video for the track 'Ivory Ballad': I am so excited because it is going to be something different than our previous visual materials. But I do not want to tell more about it, keep following us and we really hope, that you will find pleasure in our music.

Thanks Eszter for taking the time to talk to Femetalism.  The new video sounds really exciting and we loved the album!

Check out our recent feature about the album.

Follow Ann My Guard on:

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Originally posted by Emma Sheridan on Femetalism.