Ana da Silva and Phew
Language Between Islands
An absolutely memorable concert drove part of the audience to an emotion, although it was only the second concert of the two. Five days earlier they had played in London and then travelled to Madeira to play Island: an album edited by Shouting Out Loud and conceived between two islands, the United Kingdom and Japan. Ana da Silva was born in Madeira and is a co-founder of the legendary punk band The Raincoats, Hiromi Moritani aka Phew (vocalist, performer and sound artist) arrived from Tokyo and also belonged to the punk scene having played in several bands with Aunt Sally among them.
Island was conceived among several e-mail exchanges and a sharing of words and sounds between two languages. With the CD in my hand, I looked at the dedication of both Ana’s “Olá” and Phew’s “Konnichiwa!”
Island was made in two different parts of the world. How did you meet each other and how was the working progress of this album?
Phew – The Raincoats came to Tokyo in 2010, I think. I played in the same concert and it was the first time we met. After I went to London to play in 2016 and Ana went to the venue. After that we started to mature this idea and exchanged e-mails. It was a good process and it was fun.
Ana da Silva – It was so much fun because she would send me a new song and that was a complete surprise and it was nice to hear it. Then it was my turn. I made something and sent it to Phew. Then there was something else on it and that was really nice.
Your music reflects friendship and isolation. Why did you choose these themes?
Phew – They are inspirational.
Ana da Silva – We didn’t choose, they just came. I come from an island, Phew comes from an island, I live in an island and she lives in one too. So, we started thinking about the ideas of an island, isolation….
And now you have come to an island to present it. Are you happy with this return?
Ana da Silva – Yes! That’s exactly what we wanted to do and it was amazing that we got this invitation. I hadn’t been here for more than 10 years. I don’t know why. Also because the album is called Island we talked about going on a tour of islands. (smile)
And how is the return to the island? Have you ever played in Madeira?
Ana da Silva – I played with The Raincoats in the mid 90’s, and now, with this new project. Our album came out at the end of September and it just seemed to make sense to play here at MADEIRADiG.
You both live in islands and you both came from the punk area, and the punk opens previews to the feminine world. Now that feminism has returned to be in vogue, with all the issues that have arisen around the gender issues, so many years after, what differences do you notice?
Ana da Silva – Well! It’s much more open for women now to do things and I noticed that MADEIRADiG also invites a lot of female musicians, and for some reason, a lot of women seem to like electronic music. I don’t know exactly why. I just know I like it. It’s a bit more open. But you know, even in the late 70’s when we started bands, we did it and survived in it. You just had to fight a bit more than we do now.
How did you pass from punk to the experimental electronic?
Ana da Silva – I think that with electronics you can do all sorts of different kinds of music and express all sorts of attitudes.
Phew – I call it experimental because it’s an experience. It’s an experience to both, to the audience and to the musician. It’s another concept.
And is it more complicated than punk?
Ana da Silva – Well, I see punk more as an attitude and it’s kind of political. So I think we both wrote that experience. Some people are maybe a bit punk even outside of the time of punk. Just a different attitude and I think we brought that attitude into the music that we’re making. Although it sounds very different but it’s the way we deal with it.
Do you still consider yourselves punk?
Ana da Silva – Yes, in some way. It’s always good to be open. I am not saying this because I’m a punk or something, but I still play with The Raincoats and I love it.
You created a new language in this album between Portuguese and Japanese. Did you create a new code or is this new language a new code?
Phew – Yes. Well, only if we don’t speak the language very well, then it’s another language. I’m trying to learn Portuguese and she is trying to learn Japanese. We didn’t create the language. We just moved on.
Ana da Silva – Also, this communication of different cultures and the fact that you can actually communicate, even though being from different cultures. Being a Japanese person is a very different thing: the language, the way of thinking, the traditions. Everything is very different. But we ended up communicating very well through music. Music has been the common language.
So is the language a virus?
Ana da Silva – Music is the virus, a good virus.
How was your feeling after the result of all this work?
Phew – I feel like we are still teenagers, but we can still progress more.
Ana da Silva – Live, we use some sounds because we can’t do all of them onstage. Then both of us create other sounds, otherwise it’s just too many things to manage and we like to improvise.
Because it feels like you are two kids playing with toys and having a lot of fun. It’s very clear that sensation and you two pass that energy onto the audience.
Ana da Silva – Yes, we do. Because when Phew came and stayed in my flat in London and we rehearsed in the living room, we were just trying things out. But when it’s live, it’s so different. We knew how to do it but then I was telling Phew: “if we did 10 of these, by the 10th there would be a difference”.
Phew – In London everybody loved it. By the end of the concert the audience was completely happy with the experience.
How is your experience in MADEIRADiG? Had you ever come to the Festival before?
Ana da Silva – No, it’s the first time. It’s really amazing, fantastic and brilliant. It’s very varied and it’s good just being here, in Ponta do Sol. We haven’t gone anywhere yet and we don’t feel like going anywhere else!