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by Silke Hartung

Anna Van Riel: Boogie In The Lounge

by Silke Hartung

Anna Van Riel: Boogie In The Lounge

The 2016 Childern’s Music Awards will be awarded in Auckland on August 9. Finalist for both Best Song and Best Album, Lake Hawea resident and mother of two,  Anna Van Riel, kindly agreed to answer Silke Hartung‘s questions.

Can you remember your own favourite song from childhood?

Don’t laugh. I remember sitting in the back bench set of Dad’s Holden Kingswood where the radio was perpetually playing, and Joe Cocker came on with that duet with Jennifer Warnes. I was in Invercargill and must have been almost 4, totally fist pumping and rocking it out in the back seat, hollering “love lifts us where belong”, while the smell of car vinyl and Dad’s tools permeated around me. I thought that song was gold!

You’ve previously released music for children, but you’re also a songwriter creating music that doesn’t target children specifically. I’m curious about the difference in approaching new projects between those two areas of music, imagining that it would be hard to sell an album with both types of songs on it.

I’m not really thinking of album sell-ability when I’m writing songs. I just write what comes, and what feels good. All of my grown up music, I now realise, have aspects of children’s music in them because it’s part of me. But it works – especially effective live.

Stylistically, are you following any self-imposed rules when writing for children and if so, what are they?

My rule is to ensure I remind myself of what it felt like to be little and write accordingly.

When writing and performing for children, how much do you think about the grown-ups that will be listening to the music as well?

When I wrote ‘Cooking Up A Song’ I thought it would be cool to create songs that inspired parents and carers to interact musically with their kids. I’ve had lots of feedback about it being the saviour in the car and the family “boogie in the lounge” album which makes me happy.

Not only do you create music that sits in what might be perceived as a niche, but you’re also a mother living in a small town far away from “the music industry”. How do you beat the odds and get your name out there, play gigs and perform?

You do exactly that. You gig lots, and you do what you can to get your name out there and create a buzz. I network lots. Facebook is free and it’s got a broad reach. My local community, radio and papers are amazing too. I have some awesome friends who understand what being an independent artist entails and they’ve got my back. It’s hard work, especially with wee ones, but I love it. I’d love a great manager to share the load with though.

Industry agencies seem to have become more supportive of children’s music over the last few years, recognising more and more that there is a market for it. From your point of view, what’s the current status of the NZ children’s music scene, and what would you improve if you were in charge?

As far as I’m concerned NZ is leading by example. Not only do we have epic advocates like Suzy Cato who truly care, but APRA NZ and Recorded Music value music for our tamariki. I have full pride in our children’s music industry, and at this rate we can only grow and get better.

What are you working on right now?

Stinky songs for kids, a funky pop single for grown ups, and  Doodlebug TV, my YouTube channel for kids. I’ve just picked up a great instrument made by Seagull called the ‘Merlin‘, and am writing new material on that. I have 200 hours of footage from a North American tour that needs editing into music videos if anyone out there wants a project, and I really need to plant my garlic!