A music industry obsessed with pre-teen idols and hollow lyrics seems no place for someone who actually has something to say, but Anika doesn’t mind standing apart from the crowd.
In fact, she wouldn’t have it any other way.
Annika Henderson of Surrey, better known as Anika, is known for raising the questions that everyone seems intent on avoiding.
“Yang Yang,” for example, speaks of a fictional character with some disturbing images such as the lines Yang Yang rips his women down to the bones/I own I own you so give us a song.”
“I knew [my record] was a project that some people would [think] was rubbish and some people would say ‘This is cool, you’re doing something different,’ and that was the point,” Henderson said. “I didn’t want to make a record where everyone would [say] ‘This is so nice … I can forget about my troubles.’ That was never its point. Its point was to wake people up. It’s been good to see in England … the young people have started to protest again. They’ve forgotten that they can actually say something.”
Stones Throw Records recently signed Anika to its label.
She will play her first show on American soil alongside Peanut Butter Wolf this Friday at the Natural History Museum as part of the museum’s First Fridays concert series.
After being introduced to Geoff Barrow of the bands Portishead and Beak>, Anika found the ideal sound to accompany her writing.
“Before I found Beak> I was trying to use my stuff with a band in Cardiff but they were a bit more of a rock band and it just didn’t really work. They just drowned out any form of my words,” Henderson said. “For me, the words are quite important. You need to find a band where it allows for the words to have their own space, and that is what I like about Beak>.”
Anika quickly began recording and produced an album in less than two weeks. The final result has its share of imperfections, but the rough patches are what make her album so irresistible.
“The reason we [made the album] in such a short time was because we wanted to keep it raw. If we had done it over a year, we would have gone back and tweaked it so much and tried to fit in the box that everyone else tries to fit their music into these days,” Henderson said.
“I think some of the best things in the past have actually been imperfections that make them so good or make them stand out from everything else.”
Anika has long been interested in writing and music, and her recently released, self-titled album is the perfect blend of both.
Her studies in Cardiff, Wales led her to a career in journalism, but she simultaneously continued to pursue her musical passion.
“I’ve written since I was about 15 but I’ve always had a tune in my head … I’ve always thought of [my writing] to go with music,” Anika said.
For many, a chance to tour the world playing music would be an easy decision, but such was not the case for Anika.
Faced with the decision of accepting a dream job in broadcast journalism or taking time off to pursue her musical talents, Anika decided she would focus on music.
“I felt like banging my head against the wall and screaming because it was my ideal job. It was for chief executive of the broadcast sector and I’ve always worked more in broadcast and I just hated the fact that I had just been given two amazing opportunities,” Anika said.
“There’s a saying in England where you wait for half an hour for a bus and then suddenly three come at once. For ages I’ve been working and working and it’s just been fruitless. Suddenly it’s all coming back now and it’s crazy.”
With as pioneering record a record label as Stones Throw backing her, this album is a first step toward in what looks like a promising career.
“[The music has] so much space to grow, this is the very first stage,” Anika said. “It’s still in its infancy. I just want to observe a bit and decide quite exactly where I want to take it … This is by no means the end of it. I want to keep shocking people.”