Elizabeth Anka Vajagic

Elizabeth Anka Vajagic

The right to be sad

interview by Claudio Fabretti
Elizabeth Anka Vajagic is young, but seems to have clear ideas. During this interview she talks about his early works, her debut album, her songs sadness, but she also says to be hopefully and enthusiastic about her next projects...

 

First of all: many compliments, Elizabeth, our webzine liked your debut album very much, we also awarded you as the best female songwriter of 2004. Can you tell us something about you: your origins above all, you are Croat, isn't it?
Thank you for the compliments, I appreciate you liking the album. I was born in Montreal and I have Croat origins...

 

Your started your career working with Godspeed You Black Emperor and other musicians in the post-rock scene related to the Constellation Records label. What about that experience? How did it help you starting your solo career?
I have been writing songs and singing "solo" for quite some time - I started playing live shows maybe 9 years ago and slowly got to meet other musicians and friends and musical collaborations formed. I have not started my career working with Godspeed... I recorded the album and Constellation released it. Various musicians have collaborated with me on the record.

 

Nevertheless, "Stand With The Stillness Of This Day" seems not so close to the traditional kind of "post-rock". It has been defined as a folk-gothic or blues-gothic record. There is a sense of darkness, loneliness and decadence, as the "cimiterial" cover's artwork seems to confirm. The main moods of your songs are really anguish, desperation and loneliness?
There is an element of loneliness, yes and sadness, it reflects something I can easily relate to, but at the same time, the songs are hopeful and to me express something beautiful where one is allowed to feel such things, because too often it seems wrong and categorized as depressing to show what we can truly feel, as if feeling sad isn't permitted, there is a lot of anguish and desperation around us. As for the "cimiterial" aspect of the artwork, there is something I enjoy in the quietness and the solitude you can find walking throught a city's cemetary. I find it intriguing how we build these little towns, with small alleys and embellished stone homes for the deceased ones to rest in! With gardens and flowers!

 

Is there an autobiographic component in your songs or is it all fiction? Your desperate way of singing almost seems to "exorcise" pain and shadows...
Some parts may be autobiographical only in the sense that I am a witness or an observer, at other times the emotion can be autobiographical; not all within a song is about me. The lines are not too well defined and the voice does reflect a direct connection to an emotion.

 


What do you think about the gothic scene? Do you like it? Do you feel to be, in some way, close to that culture and tradition?
To be honest, I am not very familiar with what is described as the gothic scene, so no I don't feel close or a part of that tradition. Possibly the artwork expresses a gothic tendency, the songs thought... I'm not so sure.

 

You has been compared to great songwriters of yesterday and today, such as Patti Smith, Shannon Wright and PJ Harvey, but also to alternative rock icons such as Nick Cave and Black Heart Procession. Are you proud of it or those comparisons make you feel a bit annoyed? What are your main musical inspirations (if you have them)?
It used to annoy me a bit, but I really don't mind. It's just a natural process to compare, to find references so we can identify and categorize. I think the comparisons stem from the sad tones these artists share musically. I think, very often movies or books can inspire me more than music itself.

 

You are young and you have just debuted. Your record got some positive critics but it was appreciated only by a small and qualified audience. Do you feel more comfortable in this narrow dimension for "people who like good music" or you dream to become much more popular?
I tend to be quite uncomprimising when it involves my songs and I must feel comfortable with what I do. Beyond that, I am fairly happy being able to tour, visit places, meet people and play my music! If I can pay my rent doing that, world domination isn't on my agenda!

 

Your new album is now outcoming. Can you give us some anticipations about it?
It is the extention and the closure to "Stand With The Stillness...". There is noise, it is louder, it is intimate and the packaging is lovely, it's an e.p., it's called "Nostalgia/Pain" and the last song was recorded at home, in the morning, sitting on the floor, in my pyjamas.

 

You toured across America and Europe, and you played some concerts in Italy too. Can you tell us about that experience? It seems that Italian audience has a special attention on your music, isn't it?
Italy was beautiful; the people, the food and the scenery, I can't wait to return!

 

Choose five adjectives to describe yourself...
Humorous and romantic.... two adjectives will have to do!

 

Good luck, Elizabeth!
Thank you!
Discografia
Stand With The Stillness Of This Day(Constellation/Wide, 2004)

7,5

Nostalgia Pain Ep (Constellation/Wide, 2005)

6

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