All Photo Credit: Semuel Souhuwat
Amsterdam-based artist – Anne-Fay – has opened for acts such as Major Lazer in the past and if you went scrolling through her playlist, you would come across the likes of Nina Simone, Lauryn Hill, Sade, James Blake, Anita Baker & Outkast. Avid black coffee-drinker, dinner party host, dedicated concert-goer, and unnecessary buyer for house objects like a duck-shaped phone or a disco ball – I spoke intimately with Anne-Fay post release of her current video for debut single ‘Lioness’.
Of mixed descent, Anne-Fay’s grandfather was born in Suriname, South America, descending from the Hakka Chinese, and half Creole/African. Leaving Suriname for the Caribbean and Holland, to find a ‘better life, Anne-Fay’s musical inspiration reflects deeply on her grandfathers heritage. As a very new artist, more specifically where her new solo material is concerned, it was clear how important her motivations, influences and her mixed heritage were, and how paramount they were in the direction of the decisions she made. She expressed that in 2017 she visited the plantation that her grandfather’s family name comes from – where her forefathers lived as slaves. Anne-Fay explained that “together with my brother (manager, writer and director) we’re diving into the family history. When we find out which African Country we descend from – we want to go there and explore. I have been to South-Africa, Morocco and Sierra Leone so far but want to see and know more of Africa and its history.“
Impossible to overlook, the vivacious, confident and quite literally ready to entertain – once a gospel singer – Anne-Fay is anything but bland. The Surinamese-African-Chinese-Dutch creative leaves you to only do one thing -‘brace yourself’ – and fully prepare for what the artist has in store. With a contradictory beginning to the genre of music she does now, Anne-Fay revealed “I must say, I wasn’t raised with Gospel Music. To me the encounter with ZO! Gospel Choir only enriched my life. I learned a lot about music, harmonies and different ways to use my voice. I got the chance to ‘learn from the best.’ And by the best I mean Kamasi Washington, Glennis Grace, and Oleta Adams but also my fellow choir members. My second single, which I will be releasing at the end of October was recorded with some choir members.”
When you see Anne- Fay on stage you see first hand the fearless, brazen and more significantly “wild and graphic” her performances can be. But when asked if this was something that she always had as part of a mindset growing up, or if this was something learned over time, she had no reservations confessing that it was in fact an attitude that grew over time of being a professional dancer from the age of 14.
On completing her studies at 22, she described the level of dogma, rules and regulations and often being met with criticism and judgmental views. “I got a lot of comments about having to lose weight, which of course wasn’t very good for my self esteem. It shifted my focus from becoming the best dancer I could be to how can I lose as much weight as possible? I have African roots therefore I’m blessed with big thighs, hips and cheeks. But I didn’t always feel this way about them”.
“When I started making my own music and performances I slowly learned to appreciate my body as it is, because people appreciated me as an artist ‘despite’ the way I looked, and actually gave me compliments about my body. And the further I grew as an artist the more proud I got. The prouder I got the more fearless I became as a performer.”
Her latest single presents Anne-Fay organically as a solo artist coming into her own right, conveying the confidence that now permeates through this singer, with a more dark elusivity in her approach to RnB-hip hop-pop-trap sound with a reggaeton-soul twang to her voice.
Met with joy on the some of the compliments she has already received, we spoke in depth about the new single where Anne-Fay described that although the fearless, confident and limitless were “great first labels”, she described her vision for the first song being both real and raw, sharing “I am real about feelings at the time of the writing, real about mistakes I made, real about dealing with them and about knowing my own strengths. Raw in the heavy drops and marching drums, and the raw way of dealing with myself in the video. So yes it was a conscious choice although I see these as initial labels they are not the only ones.”
Revisisting her heritage and discussing her future release, Anne-Fay expressed “The song ‘thighs’ will be released somewhere at the beginning of 2019. The first line is ‘I got thighs the size of Africa, when I sit they expand some more.’ In the longterm I have plans to make an album based on the diaspora of my forefathers. I want to travel back to all the countries, hear the stories and make music and visuals with local artists.”