New Music, Dogs, & ‘Bits and Bobs’: Catching Up with Annabel Allum

Annabel Allum © Lieven Bulckens)
Atwood Magazine catches up with Annabel Allum prior to the release of her new EP to discuss everything from her whirlwind past year to what to expect in her new music, touring, festivals, and (of course) dogs.

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Annabel Allum has certainly been busy over the course of the past year. The UK-based artist has released an EP, toured around the UK and Europe supporting artists like Beth Ditto and Blaenavon, and has chalked up enough new material for yet another EP, slated for release this month. She’s also managed to snag several coveted festival spots for the summer as well; a major feat for any artist, much yet an artist not signed to a major label.

Even since our last discussion with Allum, the artist has settled into her unique, shifting sound. Her 2017 EP, All That for What, found her experimenting with a number of sounds, departing from the more strictly lo-fi sounds she’d perfected in earlier music. And as her latest releases prove, she’s unafraid to take her sonic dabbling even further, and more than willing to push herself as an artist. As she told us, it’s necessary to do things that make you a little uncomfortable in order to grow as a musician; or as any sort of artist, for that matter.

Atwood Magazine caught up with Allum prior to the release of her 2018 EP to discuss her whirlwind past year, what to expect in her new music, festivals, and — of course — dogs.

CATCHING UP WITH ANNABEL ALLUM

Atwood Magazine: Hi Annabel, how are you?

Annabel Allum: Hey! Can you hear me all right?

Yes. Can you hear me?

Annabel: Ah, great! I can hear you. How are you doing?

Awesome! I’m good, how are you?

Annabel: Yeah I’m good, I’m good! Oh my gosh. . .

I know, time flies. So it has been a year since we’ve talked, huh?

Annabel: Oh my God, I know, it’s crazy. I think last year you weren’t very well, I think you were ill.

Oh my – I was, I was. I just has this cough and it turned into pneumonia, so I was like really sick. It was awful, I don’t even, oh man.

Annabel: Really?

It was rough. But I am the picture of health, I guess, relatively, compared to then.

Annabel [as both laugh]: Good! I’m glad!

What’s new with you?

Annabel: Things? I don’t know, not a lot [laughs]. Yeah. No. Things, bits and bobs, music, yeah, it’s good, it’s good.

Annabel Allum © Lieven Bulckens

Annabel Allum © Lieven Bulckens

Good! So I heard that you were recording music for your new EP last week.

Annabel: Yes! So obviously, we released a few songs this year already, and the rest of that EP is coming out in May, I think. But yeah, we’ve just been recording some more songs, getting things ready so it just kind of like keeps going, you know? Yeah, it’s good, it’s fun. I love it.

So you mentioned that you released the two singles, and so judging from those, it looks like your EP is going to sound just as sonically varied and awesome as All That for What, which was really cool because it was a blend of more traditional rock sounds and then lo-fi. So how would you describe what your listeners can expect to hear when your new EP is released?

Annabel: Yeah, I think you’re right. It’s like with the last EP I definitely wanted to do that, I definitely wanted to show variation. I think what’s difficult, being a solo artist, is trying to get all your influences in one thing. I think when you’re band, it’s a lot easier because you can just be like “yeah, we’re a rock band,” you know? But I think being a solo artist, I listen to so much different stuff, and I definitely don’t feel like I can put myself under one umbrella, I guess. So I guess the next EP, there’s the hard-hitting rock stuff going on, the slow ambient stuff, there’s a folky tune in there, and I’ve tried to be a bit more experimental, I guess.

Awesome, looking forward to that. The last one was just so good because it had such a nice variation in there.

Annabel: Yeah, I think it’s important, for sure.

Definitely. Alright, so, 'RASCAL' just came out, and that’s such a great song. It’s much more open and vulnerable, really, than some stuff. Do you want to tell us a bit about that?

Annabel: Yeah! I was a bit nervous about putting it out because, obviously, it’s a bit more sad. But I guess, the thing about that song is I kind of wrote it at a point where I was just trying to please everyone and putting everyone else’s expectations above my own and…I guess it’s about having more than one side to you and trying not to hide the negative side. Like, you know, feeling like you can’t really show that you’re sad because you have to make everyone else happy. And it just kind of pinpoints a time where I felt like I was trying to please everyone and therefore my inner self was suffering, I guess [laughs]. If that makes sense.

Watch: “Beat the Birds” – Annabel Allum


. . . 'Beat the Birds,' that was a killer single, too. I really like it.

Annabel: Thank you!

Of course! And I really liked the Rat Boy remix, I listened to it was like, ‘oh this is pretty poppin’, too.’ How did that come about?

Annabel: Oh, it was mental. So, I’m a big Rat Boy fan, I think he’s great. He’s a great musician as well as an artist. And he just put this thing out on Twitter one day and he was like, “yeah, like, I’m just gonna do some remixes, if anyone’s interested send me them and I’ll have a listen cuz I wanna do it.” So I was like, okay, I’m getting on this. And I sent him over “Beat the Birds” and he wanted to do it, which was great. And he did it and he sent it back, and we were just chatting on email for ages and he just produced this remix! It was crazy that he actually wanted to do it, you know? For someone like me that’s unsigned and everything, it’s like, he doesn’t actually want anything out of it, he just wanted to do it [and] wanted to give it a shot, which was really cool.

That’s really cool that fell into place like that.

Annabel: Yeah, it was awesome. He’s a good guy.

“Beat the Birds” (Rat Boy remix) – Annabel Allum, Rat Boy

Okay, so you have been all over in the past year. You were in Germany earlier this year, and then all over the UK. Which performances have stood out most to you and for what reason?

Annabel: I guess what I have to mention is that in October, I was on tour with Beth Ditto all over Europe. And one of the most amazing performances ever which just stands out so hard is in Warsaw, in Poland. Because over there, they don’t have a lot of big gigs. So when gigs like that happen, it’s like a crazy, massive event, you know? So they were all so excited to be there. They were there for the music and just really, really excited, and you could just tell [from] the energy, they were so happy to be engaged as a community and experiencing something together. And all the people were so lovely and they all wanted to talk afterwards, and I don’t think I’ll ever forget that. It was amazing. Definitely a highlight. I’d never been to Poland before either, so it was cool to go there.

Yeah, that sounds like something that would definitely stand out.

Annabel: Mhm. I guess the tour in February was pretty mad as well. That was my first kind of like headline tour, I guess, and we did like four dates. We drove to Berlin and then the van broke down [laughs]. Mental.

What did you do? Was it just on the side of the road or were you already in the city?

Annabel: The van’s still there.

The van’s still there?

Annabel: Yeah! [laughing] It was crazy.

What a time to be alive.

Annabel: I know. At the point, it was like, bloody hell, but it’s fine. It’s…yeah. Things happen. [chuckles]

Annabel Allum © Rob Blackham

Annabel Allum © Rob Blackham

That’s true. . . Speaking of touring, I saw that you’re playing at some festivals: Boardmasters, Great Escape, and Reading, is that right?

Annabel: Mhm, yeah! I know, crazy! Bit of a step up, I’m really excited to play Reading. That was the first festival I ever went to when I was about sixteen, so to be playing it feels absolutely bonkers.

That’s so cool. Who were you most excited to see when you were there as a teenager?

Annabel: Okay, don’t judge me, but I was obsessed with Paramore at the time. And then Foo Fighters played as well, which was massive, you know, seeing Foo Fighters. Who else played that year? It was like Fall Out Boy [laughs].

Oh, Fall Out Boy.

Annabel: All of those kind of, you know, emo bands that were big in whatever year that was. [laughs] But I was like a proper emo kid so it was like the best thing ever, going to this festival.

Good ol’ Fall Out Boy. {laughing} Paramore’s still kind of doing stuff that’s…

Annabel: They’re still good! Yeah, it’s great!

Yeah! It’s still good stuff, it is possible.

Annabel: Yeah, it gives me faith. [both laugh.]

[Reading] was the first festival I ever went to when I was about sixteen, so to be playing it feels absolutely bonkers.

And who are you excited to see perform or catch up with at this festival? I know it’s in a few months, but…?

Annabel: Ooh. . . Slaves, I’m excited to see them. Do you know Slaves?

Yeah, I’ve listened to them a bit.

Annabel: Yeah, they’re like a punk band, they’re really good live because they just get the crowd going. It’s fun. Um, Wolf Alice, obviously, they’re great. I’m just excited to go all around and see the small stages as well…see people that are kind of struggling as much as I am [laughs], to make friends, you know? I’ll be excited to do that because it’s nice to just kind of connect with people and see new music. When I go to festivals, I don’t really go to headliners, really, anymore. So I’m excited to do that. I think Kings of Leon are playing this year, which are a massive band for me, I love Kings of Leon. I might be wrong. If they are, I’ll probably go see them.

I feel like I looked at the lineup, but I just can’t remember for the life of me.

Annabel: The thing is, there are so many festivals and they all get announced at once, so remembering them is just…you know what I mean? It’s hard work! [laughs]

Annabel Allum © Lieven Bulckens

Annabel Allum © Lieven Bulckens

I know! Coachella is these coming weekends, and I live in Southern California, on the way to Coachella, and it’s just . . .

Annabel: Is it this weekend?

I think it’s this weekend and then the second weekend is next weekend. And so I’ve just been seeing a bunch of stuff about that lately.

Annabel: Are you going?

Oh no, no. Not really my scene. Maybe back when I was a teenager, I might have gone, but right now it’s just kind of this whole, massive cultural thing . . . And it’s going to be a million degrees this weekend here, so in the desert it’ll be even hotter, so there’s that.

Annabel: Right, fair enough! [laughs] Cool, I’ve always heard such great things about Coachella. One day.

One day! You’ll get there. And then I’ll go and see you.

Annabel: Sounds good. We’ll hang out, finally.

Definitely, finally. So…this is just a personal question for me, because I saw on Instagram that you have a new dog, and I want to hear all about him!

Annabel: Oh, Milo! Yeah! He’s a sausage dog, and he is eleven weeks yesterday. And he’s great, he’s waking me up at half five every morning at the moment, so, as cute as he is, he is naughty [laughs]. He’s great, I’m taking him to puppy classes at the moment. I’m trying to train him so he’s really good. And then—my plan is, right—that I want him to come on tour and be able to be in the van and stuff. That’s the plan. And then I want to get him to jump through hoops and be a stage dog [laughs]. I’m like one of those mums that’s putting all these expectations onto my child! [Laughing] The mum I said I’d never be.

cider, sun & milo

A post shared by Annabel Allum 🤘🏼 (@annabelallum) on

That’s great, take him on tour. He could become part of the show, have him jump through hoops on stage.

Annabel: Yeah! Just get him a little collar with those lights on it, it’d be great [laughs]. A little passport, it’d be fine [both laugh.] Yeah, no, he’s gorgeous. I’ve always wanted a dog so it’s really nice.

I love dogs, they’re my favorite creatures because they’re always so happy to see you, no matter what.

Annabel: Exactly, and they’ll come and cuddle you no matter what.

Exactly. Now back to music. Anyways… what have you been listening to lately, this festival season, as it were?

Annabel: Ooh, okay. There’s a really good band called BLOXX who—it’s kind of interesting—we’ve been put on the same kinds of playlists, and then we listen to each other and connected online and recently we’ve gone to each other’s shows and stuff. And they’re a great live band, really, really good. Who else have I been listening to? Lady Bird, they’re a punk band. They’ve just signed to Slaves’ label…Happy Meal Limited, they’re really good, they’re really experimental. Rex Orange County, have you heard of him?

Yeah, sounds very super familiar…

Annabel: Yeah, he is absolutely amazing. If there’s one person that I can say check out, from the British scene at the moment, it’s Rex Orange County. It’s like, hip hop, jazz, plays all the instruments, it’s insane. I think he’s playing pretty much every festival this summer.

Being a solo artist… I definitely don’t feel like I can put myself under one umbrella.

That is cool, I will get ahead of the game and look him up. So you performed with BBC Introducing last week, is that right? How’d that go?

Annabel: Yeah, I did a live session, it was great! . . . BBC Introducing is such an amazing thing, you can upload your tunes and then they play them, and it can go up the ladder and it can get up to Radio 1, which is what happened with “Beat the Birds.” And yes, we went and did a little live session on Saturday. It awesome, it was great. Playing on radio is so different to live because there’s so much more pressure. It’s like, three, two, one, you’re live, and then you have to play, so it’s a completely different vibe. But it’s fun to play the songs in that environment because it’s so sterile, and you have to make the energy yourself. It’s really good fun, I like testing myself like that. It’s good.

Cool, it sounds mildly stressful, but also kind of fun.

Annabel: Yeah, you have to do these things, for sure. Makes you stronger as a performer, definitely.

You also said earlier that you were filming some videos last week. Can you talk a little bit about that?

Annabel: Ooh, a little bit! Yeah. We recorded a music video for “RASCAL,” which will be out soon. I’m really, really excited about it because it’s the first video I’ve done where I’m not having to be the main feature [laughs]. So it’s kind of based around a dancer and I’m kind of doing things around her and it’s just really, really cool. I’m excited, because I kind of like directed it and I had this vision, it came to life. And my drummer Emma, she videoed it all, so it’s all really done as a collective, it’s a nice group of people together doing it. It’s awesome. . .

Watch: “RASCAL” – Annabel Allum


Well, I can’t wait to see it when it comes out.

Annabel: Yeah, I’m really excited. Because all the other videos I’ve done have just been, like, me doing something. Which is great, but I think all my songs are, you know, not like pop songs where I need to be mouthing the words all the time. I find that really boring, it doesn’t have a lot of depth. But this video has a lot of signifiers, and you can kind of make up your own meaning about it, and that excites me.

Cool, telling more of a story-type thing? Nice. Because 'Beat the Birds' was a fun video, and that was still you.

Annabel: Yeah, it was like I was cycling along Hove, which was close to where I live.

That was fun. Alright, well I think we burned through a lot of topics real fast, so…

Annabel: [laughs] Yeah, we have!

I looked at my questions and…we’re done! Wow, that was rapid.

Annabel: Just talking, talking, talking! I’ve had a lot of coffee [laughs]. Just going forever. . .

. . . Well, is there anything else you’d like to say, Annabel?

Annabel: Thank you for talking to me.

Of course, as always, a pleasure.

Annabel: I guess we’ll talk again soon sometime.

Alright, yes, I hope so.

Annabel: And yeah, have a lovely day!

You too! Or night, I guess. Evening.

Annabel: Yeah! I’m going out soon.

Alright, have fun.

Annabel: Yeah, speak to you soon, Lindsay! Lots of love!

Creating, Rebelling, & Just ‘Doing Everything’ with Annabel Allum

:: INTERVIEW ::

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Annabel Allum - RASCAL

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📸 © Lieven Bulckens

:: Annabel Allum Tour Dates ::

5.7 – The Castle, Manchester
5.8 – Lexington, London
5.11 – Louisiana, Bristol
5.16 – Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff
5.18 – The Hub, Brighton
5.19 – The Great Escape Festival, Brighton
5.26 – BBC Radio 1 Biggest Weekend, Swansea
7.21 – Westival, Aldershot
7.27 – Siren Festival, Vasto, Italy
8.10 – Boardmasters, Newquay
8.24 – Reading Festival, Reading
tickets & more info @ facebook.com

:: Stream Annabel Allum ::

Lindsay is a Managing Editor at Atwood Magazine. A graduate of Westmont College, she works as a social media manager in the Los Angeles area and is a sometimes-regular contributor at Whilst Magazine. You can typically find her quoting "Napoleon Dynamite," praying for rain, drinking way too much tea while reading Lester Bangs, singing the praises of intersectional feminism, or reading any book, ever.