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Anisa’s confidence exudes her years – so it should, considering she’s already worked with the likes of Wretch 32. This Mancunian’s got big hair and a big voice to match. Anisa stops by HQ to fill us in on the creation of her new EP, and tells us about a love-hate relationship with piano lessons, crossing to the dark side and why tea is essential to perform...

Your work crosses genres, such as classical and the urban scene, so at the moment are you sticking more to acoustic stuff like your new EP ? Yeah, all my songs start with piano when I’m in the writing process; and then I find it really hard to add anything else to it, because I like that raw sound, but you don’t hear a lot of that on the radio.

Who are your major influences? Probably Alicia Keys, writing-wise Frank Ocean, I love Ne-yo, John Legend, people like that. It’s a mixture. When I grew up, one of my mum’s friends used to look after me and she would constantly play Lauryn Hill, The Miseducation album, so that was the first album that made me want to sing. Then one of my mum’s friend’s sons came round and would play, like, Dr Dre, The Chronic!

You completed your degree – why did you decide that was something you wanted to do? It was like, I’m 18. At the time all I was doing was recording demos at a youth studio in Manchester, but that’s kind of the height of it. So, I either go off and do music full time, but wouldn’t really know where to start... I thought, if I go to uni it would make me more aware of what’s going on. I was under the impression that there were loads of people who wanted to sing and so I needed an edge, even just something to fall back on.

You’ve sung with a lot of big names in the industry – who did you enjoy working with most? There’s a guy in LA who I love producing with, he’s called DJ Camper; we’ve just got that mutual respect that lets you create good music. And Wretch 32, I loved working with Wretch.

What age did you realise you wanted to be a singer? I think it was a gradual process. I started with the piano when I was six till 21, and then somewhere in between I found pop music and singing. I was around eight when I first started singing and I wrote my first song at 15. When I started at six, I had no say. It was like, ‘You will

have piano lessons’ and I hated it. I wanted to quit at every grade, every chance I could. Thankfully my mum forced me to carry on. When you get past a certain stage with classical piano, you actually get to appreciate what you’re playing.

You reached the last round of the UK Songwriting Competition – what do you think about artists who don’t write their own music? I think it’s a choice. Me, personally, I write because it’s about something I’ve been through, so I think it’s easier to sing. I actually inversely admire people who sing and don’t write their own songs because they have to be a bit more creative.

What do you like to write about? Mostly boys, thank God for boys, otherwise there would be nothing to write about. As well as things that anger me, a situation when someone’s ungrateful or illogical.

So do you think it’s easier to write about your struggles than joyful situations? Yeah, I’m not a ‘dark’ person, but when I’m writing I’ll always go the dark way. People have to be like, let’s turn this one around and make it positive.

How did you find your look? I’ve just always had big hair and so that’s what I’m known for. If I’m doing a photo shoot and someone tries to flatten it down, it just won’t, it doesn’t want to.

What’s your ambition, what do you want to achieve in your career? In terms of statistics, like ‘I want a number one album’, it’s not really like that; it’s more I want people to listen to me and feel the things I felt when I was listening to Mariah and Whitney.

What do you find most challenging about your job? Anything that’s not making music or singing it! I don’t actually like the spotlight, being the centre of attention all the time – which is hard in this job because when you’re on stage, everyone’s looking at you. If I could go out on stage and sing with a paper bag over my face, I would.

Do you have any routines or rituals to overcome stage fright? I have tea – I take my own tea everywhere.

Coming from the same camp as Chipmunk, do you feel pressured by that?

No, not at all; it’s inspiring. I’ve seen him grow into the artist he is today.

Any advice for young musicians? Obviously you need to work hard and focus on that one thing you want to do, whatever that might be.

EP is out now Follow Anisa on Twitter @OFFICIALANISA or visit


“Thank God for boys, there’d be nothing to write about”

Interview: Cleo Pearson

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