Anna Lena Bruland, the Norwegian artist best known as EERA, has just put out her second album, Speak, and as she says, “is a search for a balance in life, acknowledging myself, and being proud of who I am” and that’s definitely the album’s whole vibe. We had the opportunity to go deeper with Anna to know more about the inspirations for her new album, the strength gained along with it and much more.
You’ve just released your second album, Speak. When did you start working on this new album?
I started writing for it around mid-2018 I think.
Speak is the follow-up to your 2017 debut album, Reflection Of Youth. What do you think is the biggest difference between both albums and what was the most challenging thing about working on Speak?
Biggest difference is that for me Reflection of Youth is a lot heavier and darker in its delivery and lyrics. Speak has a sense of hope and strength about it. Musically I find Speak to also be even more influenced by shoegaze layers.
On Speak, you explore themes of self-love, being braver and accept things the way they are. What led you to write such powerful and inspiring songs?
My thirties! [laughs] Joking aside, it does have something to do with it. I think the older I get the more I accept me for me in addition to not letting people influence me in negative ways. I’ve gotten better at not comparing my life to others and I wanted this new way of thinking be reflected in these songs. I am very glad that they’re getting across in that way. I hope it will inspire others to do the same.
You chose the album’s title Speak for a specific reason. What can you tell us about that?
Yes, I want the album to inspire people to speak up if they feel uncomfortable with something instead of bottling it up; and to not be afraid to do so. It is also related to the political songs on the album, like “Falling Between the Ice”. We need to act instead of keeping quiet.
This new album has elements of shoegaze and you added also synthesisers creating this vibrant and dynamic soundscape. What did inspire you this time around to go into this approach?
I listened to a lot more shoegaze this time round and I really connected to it. After each listen you always discover something new that you couldn’t hear the first time, so I guess this seeped into my writing.
One of the songs you shared from the record in advance of the full release was “Falling Between The Ice” and it’s a song with an important message. Can you elaborate more on that?
It is about the climate crisis. “Falling between the Ice” is referring to ice melting and us falling down with it. I wanted to draw lyrical pictures to remind us of nature and also that we have to stop making up excuses for ourselves. We can ALL do something, at least the ones that are from comfortable backgrounds. Although I do think it boils down to the governments around the world. The big changes have to come from them. For me I’m doing what I can; not eating meat and avoiding large chain stores for clothing. When I can I will always choose the train over flying. I hope that a big investment around the world in the future will go towards trains; for the prices to go down. Doesn’t make sense that flying sometimes costs a third of a train ticket.
Is there a song on Speak that really stands out the most for you?
“My Muse” was an important song for me to write. I can sometimes have my head in the clouds and get lost in it. I also sometimes get anxious and I also sometimes cry. I wanted to write about this as a form of self-acceptance and also tell whoever that can’t handle it to not follow me. Was a nice step for me.
Speak was partly recorded in London, but the majority in Berlin, where you moved to in 2019. What can you tell us about the recording process of this album?
Yes, this album was recorded all over! I couldn’t have finished this album without help from my friends. Fink (musician who’s based in Berlin) kindly lent me his studio to write and record from, I also recorded the majority of the synths at my friends Farao’s studio (also in Berlin). Her synth collection is very special; tons of rare Russian synths alongside a stunning Juno. The record came together fairly slowly since I had to record it in bits and sometimes it could be weeks apart for each session, but I got there in the end.
The artwork for Speak is just astonishing and the colours are so staggering. What was the idea behind that photo of you?
Thank you! I have been a big fan of Richard Mosse for some time now; especially his photo series where he captures the ongoing war between rebel factions and the Congolese national army in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In this series he used aerochrome film, which is no longer produced. This film turns living particles in anything green (leafs, grass etc) into pink. It was used by the US during the Vietnam War to find enemy camouflage, but it was also used for forest surveys and other things.
I love how Richard Mosse made something so dark as a war look so beautiful with such vibrant colours. I’ve always been obsessed with contrast between sad and happy, light and dark, hard and soft. And Richard captured this contrast in such a stunning way; soldiers in pain in front of a stunning backdrop of pink nature.
I knew I wanted a photograph for the album cover since I love photography and I think it is a powerful look to use one photo as the cover. Luckily my boyfriend (Tobias Humble) is not only a good drummer (he played drums on Ladder), but he’s also a fantastic photographer. I told him about Richard Mosse and aerochrome and we both got excited about the idea of making a cover based on this. Luckily, I then found a guy in Germany that bought a ton of aerochrome film before they stopped producing them. We then found different locations around Berlin and ended up with the shot that is on the cover today.
For me it was important that the cover had a powerful colour since I wanted the record to be a strong record. The pose in front of the huge SPEAK letters also shows a sense of confidence I find.
What are you looking forward to in 2022?
I am crossing fingers and legs that I will be able to play some shows with a full band (Corona allowing). I also have a very exciting collaboration happening that I can’t say too much about yet. I’m feeling fairly hopeful about 2022.
What are your favourite records of this year?
At the risk of sounding old I have mainly been listening to old records recently. I’ve gotten an obsession with western inspired songs and singers like Lee Hazlewood, Patsy Cline and Joyce Heath. However, if I am allowed to mention a record I’m on [laughs] then Bright Magic by Public Service Broadcasting is a great record.