- 11 Sep 18
Anna Calvi’s Hunter tears up archaic notions about gender and identity. She talks to Peter McGoran about embracing a more primal side, working with legendary post-punk producer Nick Launey, and finding the space to create her best album yet.
If ever you wanted to hear what a passionate howl sounds like when it comes from someone who has completely renounced stagnant ideas about gender expectations, have a listen to ‘Hunter’, track two on Anna Calvi’s album of the same name. Sounding like the awakening of some kind of mythic beast, it’s Calvi at her most liberated.
“Music has always been a way for me to escape any sense of gender,” she says, kicking back in London. “My music is quite genderless. And I’ve also always tried to explore my masculinity in my music and my stage persona. This time I felt inspired to go even further in that direction. I sought to be more open and intimate lyrically; I wanted to imagine that if this was the last record I ever did, that it meant something to me and felt very honest.”
To reach the stage where Calvi was able to do this, Hunter required a longer gestation period. While her self-titled debut album was released in 2011 and the follow-up, One Breath, was out two years later, Hunter took the better part of five years. In the intervening period, Calvi was building up an impressive CV for herself, which saw her record an EP of cover songs with help from David Byrne; releasing a track for 2015’s The Divergent Series film; writing music for an opera titled The Sandman; and appearing on an EP celebrating the work of David Bowie (her own contribution was a flawless rendition of ‘Blackstar’, which she described as a “magical moment”).