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Introducing: Anushka

After forming in Brighton two years ago, it almost seems that singer & producer duo Max Wheeler and Victoria Port’s relationship has been touched by the candied sweetness of their self-described vocal bass sound, whether it’s consuming cake in the studio on their first hangout session, eating pastries at Giles Peterson’s Brownswood offices, or making honeyed house tracks.

As the group prep for the release of their second EP Distorted Air, we caught up with Anushka to talk Kate Bush, European festivals and – of course – snacks.

Planet Notion: Hello Max and Victoria. Where did the name Anushka come from?
We are both massive Kate Bush fans, and after one too many rum and cokes we thought it would be a really good idea to do a remake of ‘Babooshka’ and rename it Anushka. When we sobered up we realised it was a bit of a shit idea but we loved the name ‘Anushka’ and it stuck.

PN: What’s your group dynamic like?
I’m the songwriter and Max is in charge on the production front. There is a bit of crossover and we do work really closely. Most the time we agree, but a little bit of disagreement is natural in the creative process. We are lucky enough to be close on a personal level, so we are able to be really honest about the music. We both want the same thing at the end of the day, we just have slightly different ways of getting there.

PN: How often do you find yourselves creating new music?
We both write independently all the time and try and bring our best work to the project. We have just finished the album so we are having a little break from writing to recharge our creative batteries. At the moment, we are really enjoying getting out and performing, although knowing us we won’t be able to stay out of the studio for long!

PN: Where do you begin when starting a record?
We always start any session with a coffee and a catch up. This is our first album together, so to be honest we didn’t have a plan or formula. We just started writing and picked the best songs. I think it’s the best way really, not overthinking too much.

PN: You’re signed to Gilles Peterson’s record label, Brownswood Recordings. How did you first get in touch with Gilles?
M: One of our managers knows Gilles from the Talkin’ Loud days and sent him over our first two tracks; ‘Yes Guess’ and ‘I have love 4 you’. Giles played them on his BBC Radio6 show and it all went from there, really. We went to the Brownswood offices for coffee and pastries and I think that sealed the deal for us!

PN: How do you think being signed to a label has affected you?
Gilles is a music connoisseur, so when he gives you advice you kinda know it’s something you should be taking on board. I think being on a label like Brownswood has been pretty amazing for us; they have a great reputation for releasing forward thinking music. The team encourage us to be creative and give us a lot of freedom but also show interest in the project. Their main concern is that we make good music and that’s what we love about being on Brownswood.

PN: You’re playing a lot of European festivals and dates. Do you prefer to play abroad?
We’ve just got back from playing SXSW, and there is definitely a different energy when you play abroad, which is always exciting. Playing on the beach in the sunshine is hard to beat.

PN: Which are your favourites?
Soundwave, Worldwide, Ibiza Rocks and Outlook are standing out to me, but sometimes shows surprise you! I think with festivals abroad especially, everyone just wants to forget about real life back home, so that craziness is something we really feed off. But coming home and playing in London is like being at a party with your best friends, they both have their strong points!

PN: Why should we watch Anushka at a festival, and what do you bring to the line-up?
M: We bring a big party vibe, a lot of energy and good music!

PN: How do you see Anushka’s sound developing in the future?
M: What we love about this project is the freedom. We can go in any musical direction and experiment with tempos and genres. We are both learning and growing as artists. I couldn’t tell you what expect but I’m sure it will be interesting!

PN: I couldn’t help noticing on your Facebook page, that one of you guys asked if peanut butter and Marmite go? Did you try it? What did you try it on? What was the verdict? Or were you just too intimidated by it to go there?
Yes I did try it on pumpkin seed Ryvita, and it was delicious. My tip for anyone looking to jump on the marmite peanut.

‘Never Can Decide’ is available now via Brownswood Records. 

Anushka play Soundwave Festival on 17-21 July 2014 for tickets visit soundwavecroatia.com

Stephanie Parkes

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