Birmingham (UK)-based singer-songwriter Dan Whitehouse and German-American accordionist and singer-songwriter Anja McCloskey release their first joint EP “Still” on Sotones Records on 20th January 2014 and are celebrating with a Canadian Tour in January/ February 2014.
Sotones Records’ first lady Anja McCloskey has teamed up with singer-songwriter and good friend Dan Whitehouse to record a joint EP for the cooperatively-run label. The “Still” EP was recorded in a city centre flat adjacent to Birmingham New Street Station (listen carefully for the platform announcements!) in October 2013 and mixed and mastered by Neil Kennedy at The Ranch in Southampton.
“We have always wanted to record something together, but had so far never found time,” says Anja. The pair first met at London Regent’s Park Zoo in 2002, introduced to each other by John Peel favourite and legendary UK indie singer-songwriter Helen McCookerybook – whilst Dan was playing (rudimentary!) accordion to the animals as part of a school songwriting project. Anja lambasted Dan for his clumsy accordion chops, and a friendship was born. They stayed in touch and whenever they met would talk longingly about collaborating together, but it was not until the autumn of 2013 they finally started writing music together.
Lead track “Stille, Totenstille” is a sombre affair, with Anja's ethereal hall reverb vocals combining well with Dan's chilling ambient guitar effects and solemn spoken word. The song centres on the theme of loneliness, of an apparent disconnection with the outside world. Tracks like “Backseat” and “Railway Stop” are more serene and display a quiet disconcertion, with Anja’s accordion a consistent feature. Closing track “Petals” is an uplifting piece, serenading the listener into a summer spin of emotions.
About Anja McCloskey:
Anja grew up listening to her grandfather playing the accordion, picking up the instrument herself at the age of 5. By 11, she had joined an accordion orchestra in Elmshorn, Germany, where she remained, before spending a number of years in the UK.
With influences including Abigail Washburn, Rufus Wain- wright and Sharon Van Etten, Anja is already a relative veteran of the music scene, having gained a raft of experience playing with avant-garde performance orchestra The Irrepressibles
and folk-rock trailblazers Haunted Stereo. She also regularly collaborates with artists, including Katy Carr, Ana Silvera, Moneytree, Etao Shin and Helen McCookerybook.
Her debut album An Estimation was released on Sotones Records in September 2012 and received the Musicians Benevolent Fund Emerging Excellence Award. She is currently based in Hamburg, Germany, where she is recording her second studio album, set for release in July 2014.
About Dan Whitehouse:
The son of a community radio pioneer, his father's ever expanding record collection fuelled a lifelong passion for music in Dan, and a deep respect for songwriting technique.
Gravitating towards the guitar, Dan cut his teeth in several bands, before finally stepping out under his own name. Tentative early appearances were quickly followed by a trilogy of self-released EPs (2009’s The Balloon, The Bubble, The Box) alongside invitations to support such ‘name’ acts as former British blues guitar legend Peter Green, folk star Jim Moray, the Grammy-winning World Party, and American writers Willy Mason, Josh Ritter, Caitlin Rose, Joseph Arthur and Simone Felice.
While his self-titled debut album was not without ambition - one track, for example, utilised field recordings of Birmingham retail mecca The Bullring - second long-player Reaching For A State Of Mind finds the singer-songwriter upping his game even further.
About Sotones Records:
Sotones is an independent co-operative label based in Southampton, England, which was initially established in 2007. Its artists include Anja McCloskey, Moneytree, Moulettes, Haunted Stereo, Etao Shin, Lonely Joe Parker and David Miatt amongst others. With over 60 releases in 6 years and artist support tours for The Ting Tings, The Holloways, Mystery Jets and Band of Skulls, the label has come a long way since its inception.
Download the new free label sampler Tri-Fidelity here: http://sotones.co.uk/?page_id=1803
- Anja McCloskey