Meet Anna Pancaldi. Anna’s second self-released EP hit No.3 in the iTunes singer songwriter chart after her debut EP rose to No.6 and 52 in the main charts. Anna has co-wrote with Amy Wadge (of Thinking out Loud, Ed Sheeran fame) and Carassius Gold (co-wrote ‘Worry’ with 2016 Brit Award Winner and BBC Sound of 2016, Jack Garratt).
Anna has had support from BBC introducing, supported the likes of Seafret and has performed at Glastonbury. Her music has also been used for Levi’s ‘Trip of Firsts’ campaign. Alongside music Anna has launched her own signature gin, named ‘Joe’s Gin’, made exclusively by Mason’s, who’s craft gin is sold in stores such as Harvey Nichols and Selfridges. We caught up with her to find out her best kept secrets…
I thought ‘right, I’m going to do this’ so one year later I relocated to London to truly pursue the dream and I’ve never looked back since.
Getting to know Anna
At what point did you decide you wanted to pursue music as a career?
I’ve grown up in a musical background so it’s always been a part of my life. Discovering I wanted to pursue it was a matter of overcoming my own hurdles. When I was younger I had stage fright and would cry when I got up on stage, but when I moved to South Africa in 2001 I had the most incredible music teacher who noticed my potential and couldn’t let it slip away in the name of stage fright. By 2011 I’d come a long way and decided I either had to run with it or not bother, it was all or nothing; there’s no point being stuck in the middle. So I went travelling with my guitar to places like Nepal and South East Asia where I performed my own music and did gigs in amazing places like the Himalayas. This is when I thought ‘right, I’m going to do this’ so one year later I relocated to London to truly pursue the dream and I’ve never looked back since.
What role does disruption and innovation play for you?
I launched Joe’s Gin as an alternative form of merchandise and also because I love gin. Very few artists choose to develop their own beverage brand, so seeing this process through was quite innovative. In terms of executing the idea, it was a matter of approaching a distillery, telling them about what I do and seeing if they be interested. They agreed to do a collaboration. I did the branding myself to keep costs down and worked with a friend who’s an amazing artist on the design. This is the kind of thing you have to do when you’re starting out… if you don’t ask you don’t get. I find people can be scared to ask for things and building relationships, but it’s vital you do.
Which most recent project has changed the course of your career for the better?
My song was recently featured on a Levi Jeans campaign. Being unsigned, unmanaged and starting out can make it difficult to get people to listen to you because they want to hold on to something they recognise, so opportunities like this make the world of difference. In terms of how this happened, I know the guy who works for the creative company that made the campaign video for Levi’s. He contacted me and asked me to write a song and get a group of my friends together to audition. It was between us and one other group; when they heard the track I’d co-written with a friend they didn’t ask to hear anything else and chose us. It was a wonderful moment! Before we knew it we were having a blast across 4 countries in 5 days. It’s incredible to be affiliated with a brand like Levi’s.
What does the future hold for you?
I’m going to be touring Europe and America and my focus is on continuing to write music I’m proud to carry on building of what I’ve made. I feel nervous, but excited! Longevity in my music career is essential, so I’ll be sure to build my career in a way that makes it sustainable. I’ll be investing everything in the journey.
What barriers did you have to break down to make a music your reality?
Sometimes it’s about growing your network to make sure you know the right people who are able to get slots for you and sometimes it’s about being your own boss, applying for things and creating your own opportunities. With BBC Introducing I used their ‘upload’ system where you submit your own track; they listened to it, liked it and played it. Festivals can be very tricky to get into as there’s a huge amount of people fighting for very few spots; the most viable way in is through a booking agent.
Do you aim to always work under your own label and be your own manager?
Everything I’ve achieved so far has been off my own back so when it comes to signing with a label or management it has to be the right fit; it needs to take me to the next level that is beyond what I can do solely. I’m definitely looking for management representation as the networking and admin side of music takes up a lot of my time. Signing with a label is something I’ll consider but again, the relationship is hugely important so it needs to be the right deal. It’s not something you can rush, timing is everything.
What’s your daily routine?
A typical day usually begins with e-mails and I then move on to practising and writing new music. Being a performer and songwriter is why I’m in this business so that part of my day is the one thing that makes me come alive. Some days get crazy busy, for example I did around 38 gigs over October and November so my days were manic, but it was great for growing the fan base. I like to call it team hustle: learning the business side of things and how to stand your own ground.
What mind set have you adopted that can be attributed to your success?
Being passionate, knowing this career is the only one for me and having no backups makes me work in a way that there is no option not to succeed; it’s taken me a long time to actually believe in myself, but it’s crucial! I have to focus on the music, get the ball rolling, give it my all and make sure I’m creating something incredible. I’m always thinking of what’s next in line and make it my mission to educate myself so that I understand how the industry works and can utilise it to the best of my ability. Always asking for help is number one on the list for moving forward and progressing.
What inspires you the most?
Having people believe in what I’m doing; seeing strangers connecting with the music I’ve written, buying my records and attending my gigs. You can’t expect that from anyone and it’s hard to imagine it when you begin, but it continues to be the one thing I am most grateful for.
Rebel Wrap Up
What advice would you give anyone listening to this?
Attend as many events as possible. I can’t explain how important it is to get yourself out there and meet people. I was introduced to Amy Wadge through someone I’d met at an open mic night and she’s just received her Grammy for co-writing ‘Thinking Out Loud’ with Ed Sheeran. Meeting with Carassius Gold, who writes and produces with Jack Garratt, was also the result of from playing a singer songwriter’s night at Ronnie Scotts.