Going by the moniker ‘I Am Fya’, Anthea who is about to start on her final year of the DMSA course, is a performer and experimental artist who uses field recordings layered with her voice and bold beats. We’re talking to her this month about her work including her recently ACE funded project ‘Heavy Flow’.
Three words that describe you as a creative person?
AC: Honest Badass Explorer
When did you start working with sound and music?
AC: Oh, it feels like a million years ago! I was always writing little poems and songs when I was a kid. I would listen to the radio and record stuff randomly on my cassette recorder. Bits of songs and talking, adverts etc. Then I would re-record bits onto another tape and make these weird little soundscapes. I was sampling but I had no idea what sampling was at that time, I wish I’d kept those tapes. I always knew I would end up singing, which I did for many years over other people’s beats before attempting to make my own beats around 15 years ago. I was gifted a little Zoom drum machine which gave me so much freedom to express, and I’ve been making music with machines ever since.
In what ways has the DMSA course supported or helped you to develop into who you are today creatively and professionally?
AC: The course has been everything I hoped it would be. I applied for uni during one of the early lockdowns. In the first few weeks, I was making the odd beat and singing a little but that eventually stopped. I was spending a lot of time on my own & my motivation to create art dwindled. I also had quite heavy personal problems and I was getting intoxicated daily. I had a moment of clarity where I thought “yo, you are not living up to your full potential”. I felt that although I had achieved lots of amazing things and had awesome opportunities in my life I was once again, stuck in a rut. Having all that time to think made me reassess everything, I did an online search and found this course. It sounded right up my street. I am self-taught and I had been producing my own music for quite some time, but I really wanted to up my game and try new things, get a bit weirder and more experimental. I figured I would be the oldest student on the course, which I am but it felt like a now or never situation. I had some anxiety about academia, so I always told myself that I wasn’t smart enough or, ‘too this’, or ‘not enough of that’ for university. The pandemic really made me realise that I was holding myself back, so I put my fears aside and it turns out I’m quite good at it! The course gave me the confidence to free myself up a bit. The structure, assignments and deadlines are also good for me because I’m ADHD gang and I can procrastinate and become overwhelmed at the thought of getting on with stuff. I have a lot of respect for the tutors who have been incredibly supportive. And the other students are bunch of legends, I have new friends who I would never have met otherwise, I’m grateful for the new connections and the support. It has been positive for me in many ways. This course saved me actually. It sounds dramatic but it’s true.
Can you tell us a few words about your recent project ‘Heavy Flow’?
AC: I sing professionally and I was on tour with another artist, we stayed in a brand new 5 star Hilton Hotel in Edinburgh. I was on my period and this huge ass building did not have any sanitary products. I was so upset, I cried at the reception. The staff (all women) didn’t help and acted like I was asking for some crazy thing they’d never heard of, it was weird. That night I announced to a band mate, “right, I’m gunna write a banger about periods because this ting is not a dirty secret” and started writing Heavy Flow that same night. I was angry, like…..can we normalise talking about this thing that half the population experience once a month? It’s not an angry song though, it celebrates what our bodies can do and speaks of our connection to ancestors, the earth and nature.
So that’s how the project started, there’s only one song about periods though lol but one song led to another, and I made a kind of epic (as yet unreleased) album. I recently received arts council funding to develop a Heavy flow live show, which I have made a start on. But I need more funding to make it a reality so keep everything crossed for me.
What are your plans for the near future?
AC: While I was in Barbados, caring for my parents during the various lockdowns I recorded a lot of sounds on my phone. I used household objects as instruments, secretly recorded my family or friends speaking or singing, documented tons of environmental sounds, nature, birds, noisey a&e waiting rooms and noisey car rides. The first songs that I made from these sounds were created for uni assignments while I was doing my first year of uni online. The songs are really special to me as they document the development of my new direction. The songs are so different to what I was doing before uni.
I am joining forces with Rosehill Records who will be releasing this project which is now called Homeland. I’ve never worked with a label before. I’ve been performing in their venue in Brighton for years, and they are all like family to me now so I’m really excited to see what we can achieve together.
I will also be releasing some merch, t-shirts and vinyl, and as I make clothing, and I’ll be designing and making some super special one-off pieces.
I’m itching to do some collaborations so I’m plotting this with a couple of talented souls. And just do lots more gigs, continue evolving as a human and as an artist and keep making cool shit basically. Oh, and smash the shit out my final year at uni.
Anthea will be releasing ‘Homelands’ on Rose Hill Records
The first single Consciousness is out on 30/9/22