Every now and again, a release comes along that catches my attention big time. The new album from the Hungarian band ANN MY GUARD (www.facebook.com/annmyguard) is one such album. I decided to catch up with their leading lady Eszter Anna Baumann-Tóth, and here is the result of our little chat when we talked about the album, Eszter's homeland, women, witches and sex. Read on!
Hi from Ravenheart Music here in England. I must admit to thoroughly enjoying your release 'Innocence Descent'. Can you tell me how ANN MY GUARD was conceived and how many of you there are in the band?
Hello Dave! Thank you for having us here! We are a four-piece group, two guitarist by my side, a heavy drummer behind and me on bass and vocals.
And can you introduce us to the members of the band?
Originally, the band was formed in 2007, after I had recorded my very first demo in my home town, Békéscsaba. On that record, I played on all the instruments (except for drums) and when I graduated from high school and moved to Budapest because of university, I was looking for other musicians to play these songs at live concerts. In November 2007, I found my drummer Joci who is still in the band, but on the guitarist front, there have been several (technical and personal) changes. I count our real existence since 2011, the year when we recorded our first professional EP.
Have you been involved in any other musical projects?
Since I founded Ann my Guard, not really. Of course I played in some productions with other bands, but those were only for fun. I remember being a drummer in a rock'n'roll band, that was ridiculous and 'wow' at the same time. Originally, I am a classical musician: I play on flute for 15 years and I really miss the traditional piano-flute set-up. If I have free time, I will probably find a way to play classical music again. But rock music is more relevant for me.
I am interested in how you came about the name ANN MY GUARD?
When I was a little girl, my mum told me a story, - a Christian tale I think – about my guardian angel, whose name is Anna. I think it is a common myth saying that “your second name is the name of your guardian angel”. So because of this (I am Eszter Anna), I named my band as Ann my Guard, because I think music is my guardian angel. That's it:)
And would 'Innocence Descent' be the band's first album?
Yes. We think that in the 21st century cyber-world, not only the HQ music that matters: also, the visual atmosphere of a production, the images, dresses, colors and hidden symbols also have a specific role.That’s why the album has a story behind the songs: the lunar eclipse, which represents the descent of the female soul. Her'Innocence' descends with the Sun, her purity fades in the dark. I think all the young girls have experienced similar phases in their lives and I believe we all have something deep in common. This album is about women and of course, for the great men we've been adoring so much:)
Are you Eszter the main lyricist within the band, and are the lyrics personal in any way?
Yes, and basically I write the instrumental parts too. Indeed, I would say my lyrics are personal in a way, but I always try to focus on universal themes too. I mean that'd be unbelievably boring if I wrote only about lovers, my relationship issues and such.
I see from the band's facebook page that the band's main influences are Women, Witches and Sex - would you like to elaborate? :)
Hahaha, okay! Women, because I try to represent my gender in this male-oriented genre, Witches, because in this genre, women can present their hidden personality effectively (and I'm also inspired by occultism sometimes) and finally Sex, because that's nearly as good as rock music:)
Hahaha, I agree...And the genre mentioned as "Doll Metal" - again would you like to elaborate?
We call our style as doll metal. It's kinda funny, but very catchy category isn't it? Anyway, doll metal means an alternative, melodic girl rock. I came out with this genre idea when I was 17. This kind of music is although ambivalent, because these utopian or fantasy worlds, that I represent in my songs, often work with heavy riffs, screaming or darkness... female duality actually.
I myself like your new release - what was the studio experience like?
We worked with a professional producer, Gábor Vári on our record. And yes, we are satisfied with the result too. Those weekends were the most determining in my whole life. I knew that I will have to do this until I die.
And do you have any fave songs on the album?
I love Crush Honey, Dark Sea Blue and Ivory Ballad as my faves, but Circles means the most for me and makes me the proudest.
If I am correct, you are from Budapest, what is the rock and metal music scene like there in general?
It's a very multi-sided question, because the rock scene in Hungary is divided into two main parts which are totally different: first, there are the "hard rockers" in which category the more heavier bands are included (hard rock, heavy metal, folk metal progressive rock...etc), and the second is the alternative scene. This latest type of music is the most popular nowadays in Hungary, young people are getting crazy about it! Even if you have not recorded a song, or you are not known, still, people go to your concerts and just love your music! Well, this hypster-thing means alternative rock music nowadays, which I can't stand... I remember when Nirvana meant to be alternative! 90s were so cool, I wish I played my music in those days!
And are the gigs well attended?
If you're known of course:) But without good PR, maybe 5 people will come and see you. But I think it's common everywhere.
That seems like the UK then. Do you feel that social networking (Facebook etc) is now a very important medium regards getting your music out there?
Partly yes, because we have the same 'cyber' chance as other big bands. But on the other hand, good music can be easily unseen and unheard, thanks for the mass-production and thousands of shitty bands. I think if somebody wants to get heard, he or she has a more difficult job now in 2014.
And what do you think makes your band stand out from the rest of the crowd?
We are Ann my Guard.
I like it. Musically, what are your influences?
I listened to many Scandinavian (especially Finnish) bands whose melodic, dark and even symphonic music influenced my music. I also like the more heavier stoner riffs and importantly grunge from the 90s. Also from this period, I admire female bands and I also get inspiration from the Riot Grrrl movement both from its musical and aesthetic aspect.
And when you take time to chill out, what music do you listen too?
Amercian old country music and movie themes from the 1940's and 1950's. Really.
Do you have any hobbies outside of music?
I am a journalist at a women's weekly magazine. I like writing, meeting different people and also I am a fashion editor. The art of fashion has been always close to my heart. Also, I love reading and I am also interested in herbalism.
If you could tour with anybody, who would that band or musician be?
Definitely Hole! To be in one room with the goddess Melissa Auf der Maur and Courtney Love would be wondrous.
I agree :) Many thanks for the interview. Is there anything you would like to say to the readers of this website?
Thank you Dave for Ravenheartmusic! I think it is important for us, female musicians to be a part of this project. Keep rockin' girls!
Dave Smith (Jul 21, 2014)