March 20, 2019 Interview – Anna Friedberg of FRIEDBERG
Sometimes the best laid plans are the ones not made. There is something to be said for spontaneity, and in many ways, Austrian Singer-Songwriter/Actress Anna F. feeds off the flames of unpredictability. Earning the attention of Lenny Kravitz a decade ago, Anna would support him on his European tour, as well as achieve two gold selling solo albums in her native Austria, Germany and Italy.
Now working independent of a big label constraints, Anna takes on a new challenge with the recent development of her new project FRIEDBERG, a band all her own which recently released their debut single “BOOM” in February. An exciting time for Anna, she looks at the future as an open book yet to be written, and still, takes each day as it comes. Recently, she sat down to talk about her career in music, the development of FRIEDBERG, working under the wing of a big label, plus much more.
Cryptic Rock – You have been involved in music professionally for over a decade now. Having toured with Lenny Kravitz years ago, you would go on to attain two gold-selling records. Briefly tell us, what has your journey in music been like to this point?
Anna Friedberg – I’m not someone who makes big plans or has a super concrete vision to follow up on. I have always started doing something that felt good and right in that very moment and found my way as I went along, meeting fellow travelers on each journey. So in a sense it was and is an open road with new adventures around every turn.
Cryptic Rock – Sometimes when things are unexpected they are most exciting. As mentioned, you did in fact tour Europe with Lenny Kravitz as a supporting act back in 2009. What was that experience like for you and have you two stayed in contact in the years to follow?
Anna Friedberg – That was totally unexpected. I had only one (my first) single out back then and was supposed to only open one show for Lenny Kravitz. Surprisingly after that, he asked me to support him throughout the rest of his European tour. It was a logistic nightmare since we had to organize everything within 2 days – a tour bus, hotels etc. including raising money for the whole trip, since of course I had to pay for everything myself.
We didn’t get a working visa for our American guitar player on time, so he even got arrested at Stansted Airport. Luckily I knew someone who used to work in the Austrian foreign ministry who helped us convince the immigration staff in London to release him after he’d been arrested for 12 hours. Just on time for our first UK show. Yeah we are still in touch, and he likes “BOOM.” (smiles)
Cryptic Rock – Wow, that sounds like it was a interesting but very fun time. With your 2010 album For Real and 2014’s follow-up, King in the Mirror, you topped charts in your native Austria, Italy, Germany, and Switzerland. Now you are back with a new band called FRIEDBERG. What inspired this project?
Anna Friedberg – This kind of happened. After I had written the first bunch of songs on a journey through California, I came back and decided to move to London. In London I met some really great people in the music industry who introduced me to some wonderful musicians who eventually happened to become my new band – my first all-girl band. Again, it just happened to me as I was moving along, but I’m very happy it did happen!
Cryptic Rock – The music sounds great and you began playing some shows in FRIEDBERG in the summer of 2018. What was it like playing in a band format opposed to as a solo artist?
Anna Friedberg – I just love the feeling of having a real band around me, where everyone gives their very best and brings so much to the table. I just knew from our first rehearsal that we have a very unique and great energy together, that just gives us all such a good feeling on stage and feels incredibly powerful.
Cryptic Rock – Very cool. You mentioned FRIEDBERG’s recently released their debut single “BOOM.” A really catchy and great song, how did it come together, and is it a good representation of other music the band has in the works?
Anna Friedberg – I went to Joshua Tree for to write some new songs and poems in isolation. I borrowed some shitty instruments from friends in LA and spent some time in an abandoned hut in the middle of nowhere. After a few days I got scared of the stillness of the night and asked my two producer friends from Berlin – Daniel Brandt and Matthias Biermann – to join me. We set up an improvised studio and enthralled by the vastness of the desert, began to jam out a raw and minimalist guitar-driven sound.
The first song, recorded on the first night was “BOOM.” The lyrics of the song are actually about a cold-hearted and evil person who does whatever it takes to climb up the success ladder. A person exercising complete control over others, kind of like a cult leader.
Cryptic Rock – It is fascinating to hear the origins of the lyrics. Which leads to the next question. Following “BOOM,” will we be treated to a full-length record, or perhaps an EP?
Anna Friedberg – You already know I don’t like to plan too much ahead. But EP and album both sound great, I guess it would be the sensible thing to do. (Laughs)
Cryptic Rock – (Laughs) Yes, some planning is necessary sometimes. With FRIEDBERG the primary focus at this point, will there also be some solo material from you in the future ahead?
Anna Friedberg – If I ever had a vision, it’s me with 60, alone on stage playing super dark and melancholic songs with my guitar. So yeah there might be! But you’ll have to wait for a bit. (smiles)
Cryptic Rock – Fair enough, we will have to see what the future holds, right? Having earned experience through the years, what would you say are the positives and negatives of being signed to a major record label?
Anna Friedberg – The positives are definitely the big budgets. The negatives, everything else I suppose.
Cryptic Rock – (Laughs) That is funny, but kind of sad at the same time. Too bad it has to be that way when it comes to being a part of a bigger company. Beyond music, you have also done some acting over the years. Are there any new films you are working on, and can we expect to see you do more acting in the future?
Anna Friedberg – I don’t know. I’m not really pro-actively working on a career as an actress. Another part of my life that mostly happened just like that: a director showing up at one of our live-shows and inviting me to a casting. Or, another director in Italy, Paolo Sorrentino, saw my music video, and asked me to fly to Rome for a casting.