“I think as an artist and a songwriter you analyse everything, and you have very high highs and very low lows, because that’s how your energy is. That’s how you choose to live your life,” suggests Anna Lena Bruland. Gregarious and chatty, the singer behind EERA’s hypnotic, nocturnal musings is easy company, but within this natural self-questioning you start to see how the shadowy elements of her songs come out to play. “For me,” she continues, “I just find my inspiration when I feel a bit further down. I’d love to learn how to write from my other side as well, but it’s a learning curve, right?”
Classically trained, Anna found her own niche first through the heavy riffs of Queens of the Stone Age’s ‘Rated R’ and its ilk (“I started playing Nirvana covers with these dudes, so I was there singing ‘Rape Me’ when I was 15 – not a good look,” she recalls) and then the more intricate pleasures of Radiohead, Deerhoof and Elliott Smith. Her own output – a potent, all-enveloping mix of the emotional and experimental - feasibly sits at the juncture of these three artists, with a dash of PJ Harvey thrown in. It’s what the singer calls “surprise music”: the kind that unfurls further with every listen. “Everything I like is within that world,” she nods, “something that catches you off guard.”
“I think the whole thing of going from 20 to 30 is some of the toughest shit you’ll go through.”
Anna Lena Bruland
Released this month, debut LP ‘Reflections Of Youth’ is a gorgeous distillation of these elements. Whether in the soft, crackled lullaby of ‘Christine’ - an ode to the healing power of her sister (“Christine, you always tell me I look good tonight / Although I feel like death”), or brooding opener ‘Living’ with its plea to “help me feel alive”, ‘Reflections…’ is a record full of seething humanity, containing those very same highs and lows.
It also encapsulates a period of acceptance for the Norwegian-born, London-based singer. “I think the whole thing of going from 20 to 30 is some of the toughest shit you’ll go through because you’re supposed to have, in society – and in Norwegian society especially – everything figured out by then,” she says. “You’re meant to have a steady relationship and a house and a dog, and I have none of that. It’s a big thing in Norway, and I’m sure it is in most places except London. So I went through a tough time [with that], and that’s when these songs came out. But then I met so many creative people whose lives are so enriched in other ways, and you see you don’t really need to worry about it.”
Sure, EERA might not have the car or the two up/two down sorted just yet, but on her debut she’s hit upon something far more special than mere ordinary pleasures.
Taken from the November 2017 issue of DIY, out now. Read online or subscribe below.
Photos: Mike Massaro