It is no mystery that Goldsmiths’ musical heritage is legendary, and almost intimidating. From Damon Albarn (and the rest of Blur) and James Blake, to Brian Molko and Katy B, Goldsmiths’ list of musicians and artists that changed the game is impressive, and cut across time and genres. Goldsmiths’ pool of talent has influenced and massively shaped some of the biggest phenomena in popular music, and the charts would probably be an even sadder place if it weren’t for some of our amazing alumni.
It sounds almost weird to say that few of these talented musicians have dared to try and shake up the most ludicrous and carefree niche of music: pop. I wish I could say British pop innovators such as Marina and the Diamonds and Lily Allen have become who they are thanks to Goldsmiths, but sadly, they haven’t. Luckily for us, Anna Baines is here to give a full pop makeover to Goldsmiths’ musical traditions.
Anna is one of the brilliant shiny new grads from our uber-famous BA Popular Music (yes, the same one where James Blake wrote and produced Klavierwerke, FYI). After graduating, she decided not to move back to Wiltshire, sticking it out in South East London and making a lot of noise in the boring, indie-music obsessed SE music scene.
As well as performing in an all-female band, working on her own clothes and stage costumes for the band (religiously sequin and gold), messing around with making wearable instruments, Anna is now ready to launch her solo career with a stellar debut which seems to be condensing the best that British pop music has produced over the last 10 years or so.
Today, she’s ready to unveil her first single with the world, and I’m frankly not sure I was ready for this incredible ‘Vanilla Boy’.
Vanilla Boy is quintessentially a song about a boy (what a surprise), described by Anna herself as “boring as fuck, [with] weird eating habits: he drinks milk by the gallon and loves anything high in lactose. […] He is vanilla”.
The magnetic track is the last one produced for Anna’s degree show – a show that drew its concept from her own experience of being a twenty-something woman living in London, and experiencing the tragic and sad life of 21st century disposable dating culture. Each songs describes a different boy – and the Vanilla Boy’s profile is the first one we encounter as Anna starts unveiling her persona.
The glamorous pop piece (written, produced, and mixed by Anna herself and Saint Torrente) is a perfect synthesis of British pop music culture, combining a PC-music influenced synth-line with witty, fast-paced, half-sung/half-spoken lyrics that seem to perfectly combine the coy lyricism of Lily Allen with the DIY synth sound of the Myspace era, something that our pop saviour Charli XCX has been trying to resurrect for quite a while.
Anna said writing Vanilla Boy made her radically change the way she usually composes music. She took inspiration from the movie “Music and Lyrics” – trying to come up with something that encapsulated that aesthetic through sound. And with its 80s bass-line and catchy hook – I’m sure Vanilla Boy would make Drew Barrymore and Hugh Grant more than proud. On the other hand, coming up with the lyrics was an almost immediate reaction from receiving a text (during a lecture – definitely not something to tell your teacher) from a guy she was seeing at the time. Quite obviously, this guy’s favourite things in life were pizza (rigorously margherita!), plain pasta and milk by the gallon – a true Vanilla Boy…
Anna decided to unveil her first single with an incredible video in which she impersonates this Vanilla Boy herself, and the result is hilarious and captivating. Has any of you boys reading ever wondered how you look from the outside when you’re being lazy AF and spend an entire day emptying the fridge? Just click the link below and you’ll find out – we’re not to be held accountable for the possible reactions.
VANILLA BOY BIO Boring as fuck. He has weird eating habits that are impossible to cater to. He drinks milk by the gallon and loves anything high in lactose. He never wants to go out, you only have nights in. He is vanilla.
After this stellar first single, Anna is planning on releasing more songs from her graduation projects, as well as recording new stuff, and performing as much as she can.
We can only wait, blast Vanilla Boy off our sound-systems, and spread the word about this amazing talent that has everything it takes to twist the pop music game a lil’ bit.
Words, Raffaele Buono