With Rebecca Need-Menear on vocals, and Jamie Finch on guitar, rising UK rock duo, Anavae, have released their new EP, ‘Are You Dreaming?’; via Better Noise Records / Eleven Seven. Their explosive single ‘All Or Nothing’, the lead track on the EP, kicks off with a formidable sonic punch. Often finding themselves writing about existential and identity crisis, heart aches and personal reflections, Anavae’s music never purposefully follows a theme. It’s not intentional to have a connecting concept, but there is always an underlying sense of relatability.
Named after a book on lucid dreaming, ‘Are You Dreaming?’ is a powerful fusion of edgy alt-rock, pop and electronica. All whilst embodying themes of fantasy and escape. “We wanted to make music that was pure to what we were feeling. We wanted to start loving what we were writing and start living what we were thinking”, explains vocalist Rebecca. “It feels like opening a door, it feels like relief. I’ve never really been very good at writing about things that I haven’t seen or felt myself. I need to feel and believe it in order to write it.
The band bridge the gap between rock and electronica. And in doing so, deliver a fresh and powerful sound loaded with personality. Anavae spoke to me about how this journey began, what they would say to their younger selves, and what challenges they have faced along the way.
“I think like most things, there’s rarely one moment of epiphany”, Rebecca began. “Changes and realisations come in baby steps”. She recalls running around with a colourful, tacky tape recorder when she was a child, and taping every beautiful thing she heard. “That’s when I first started paying attention to music. But I never once imagined that making noises could be a career”.
“I don’t think I ever had a moment where I was like ‘music… that’s what I’ll do’ either”, added Jamie. “I fell into it because I was trying to make friends. Then I continued to do it because people kept telling me I was good at it”. Creating Anavae was a sudden, unexpected occurance. The pair met whilst making music with other people, but as years went by, and people changed, things no longer felt the same. “It no longer felt right”, Rebecca said. “Our tastes and ideas had changed, so we had to start something new in order to explore that”.
The influence for their sounds comes from anywhere, and everywhere. Perhaps a synth sound that they’ve fallen in love with, or a series of chords that will later be rearranged. Their version of imitation is akin to taking a seed from a particular song, and planting it elsewhere to develop into something else. Always striving for something better, they’re their own worst critics. Being in a band means being forced out of your comfort zone though; “I can confidently say we’d be very different people if we hadn’t taken this journey”, Rebecca said. Jamie added that one of his highlights of being in Anavae has been meeting people who enjoy the music. “It still baffles me that people listen to it and enjoy it”, he said. “I think people underestimate how much of an impact it has to go up to someone and say ‘Hey, I dig what you do’. That stuff has fuelled us more than you can imagine”.
But it’s not just the support of people like you and I that shapes artists into who they are; it’s unsolicited advice which fuel their desires further. “‘So, tell me your story?'” Rebecca said. But she wasn’t asking me to sit down and give her my life story. These were a few words that started something she has kept close to her heart. “We went into the studio with Seann Bowe last year after a few frustrating months of writing to please other people”, she continued. “He brought us back down to ourselves. And he reminded us how important it is to write for ourselves. That’s ultimately the reason we started doing this in the first place”. People should be able to express themselves in their own way, right?
“I always remember this homeless guy we met on tour with a band called Violet”, Jamie added. “He told us to always do what we’re good at. Regardless of what ‘bigger’ people tell us to do. I think this relates to writing songs, massively. It’s easy to get caught up with ‘Oh, this part should go like this, that part should sound like that’. Remembering what that guy said helps me focus on what Anavae would do. Especially when writing, which has helped me keep the songs we write feeling right. For us”.
People need to learn from their mistakes though; “I’ve made so many mistakes over the years. I think they’re important to experience”, Jamie said thinking about what he would say to either his younger self, or someone looking to follow a similar path. “Everyone’s path is so completely different”, Rebecca said. “Your path is determined by your mood, your determination. It’s also determined by being in the right place at the right time. There’s no recipe for success, unfortunately. Some incredible artists never get the recognition they deserve. And sometimes awful music unexpectedly soars, but then, everything is subjective”. She thinks for a moment though before adding, “I will say one thing… Read the contracts 20 times. Learn to be patient. Your patience will never be tested so hard”.
Anavae have learnt a lot about patience recently. “As our very (im)patient social media commenters know, we’ve had to sit on [‘Are You Dreaming?’] for much longer than we antipicated”, Rebecca said about the challenges with their new EP. “The complications were out of our control”. The most time consuming part of creating this EP was, notably, the process of narrowing down and deciding exactly what would make the cut; Since recording the EP, Anavae have written three albums worth of music.
“As we have been sitting on this EP for so long”, added Jamie, “it does feel like a bit of a relic. I’m hoping that people like it, and that it will refuel our fire. But I hope that existing Anavae fans really like it. It feels like the next step in sound of what we’ve been doing over the years. So I hope they step into it with us”. And that’s the most you can ask for isn’t it? That somebody likes what you’re creating.