Anna Kairos is part-given name, part-adopted name. Kairos is an Ancient Greek word meaning the right, critical, or opportune moment; a Greek version of the Latin Carpe Diem, if you like. Describing herself as “a child of the early nineties” and simply “a girl who likes music”, her home town is a small one in southwest Germany, though she often commutes to Berlin, a previous home and the location of her record label.
Having studied art, philosophy and music, playing piano and double bass, she takes a highly individualistic line towards creativity; a solitary, personal one which she describes succinctly as “me, myself and I”. Her message is one of a slower pace to life, a greater degree of calmness, and kindness.
Having recently released her first EP, ‘Hosting Time’, Anna Kairos is currently working on her debut album, which she will self-produce, and from which a single will be released over the coming months.
In a fascinating ’20 Questions’ interview, Anna Kairos talks about French and German philosophers, poets, being Moonstruck with Nicholas Cage, favourite artists that range from Björk to Kanye West, a potential alternative career as a nun, and expresses some strong opinions on unearned privilege in society, celebrity, and the contemporary German music scene.
Hi, how are you?
I am feeling good. Thank you. I am just coming from a late swim in the lake around the corner. It is already dark and a cold breeze is finally here.
What’s the weather like?
The weather is really, really hot these days. I am happy that I have this lake around the corner – and some trees around the house, which bring a cold breeze from time to time. I even have the hope that there is rain coming tonight. I am not a person who enjoys the heat particularly, so I am really happy about cold breezes these days…
How do most of your songs start life? A piano part? A chord? Or melody?
Music comes to me, when I sit at my piano. Most of the time, the chords and the words and the melody come at the same time. It is like magic. Sometimes I feel that I have so little or nothing to do with it – it just happens. Sometimes as well I have some words, which sound interesting to me and are resonating with me, so I start to write something around them and then later I sit at my piano and let them find their melody.
Have you ever been star-struck?
When I was in Los Angeles this spring, I accidentally ran into Nicolas Cage at a restaurant. I was surprised that I was not very much star-struck, just a bit of course. But first of all I was really happy to see him and that I got the chance to tell him what a wonderful actor he is and how much I adore his work, especially his role in Moonstruck. It is one of my favourite movies. So I was never really star-struck, but moon-struck in that case for sure!
The Royal Family: should they stay or should they go?
I am not from the UK, but strangely I am very passionate about this topic. I am absolutely against the preservation of the Royals. I can’t even start with it. I am asking myself: why are people worshipping people only because of their birth names and the heritage of a certain family? It is the most undemocratic and backward thing I can imagine. I also think it is – if you really think about it – insanely ridiculous that people still call themselves King or Queen or Duchess – or whatever. As if they are playing a weird game. I also don’t think that the representation of a Royal Family is needed in a political way – the money they have under their belts should be used to serve the public services and families in need.
Nobody needs all these old castles that are still intact. And if so, they should be all open to the public. Why do we need all these old, dark buildings with paintings and old things in them from men and women who lived at the expense of the poor people? We rather need money and resources for a vibrant youth culture and space for art and play!
In my opinion the royals are just a ridiculous form of celebrity – and celebrities are nowadays something like a postmodern religion. People look up to them. So I would say “the Royals are the opium of the people” – like Karl Marx said about religion. Their function is to distract the people from the real problems – and they do it, unfortunately, very well.
In Germany there are as well still families carrying their Royal names and still owning castles and lots of inherited land. It is just as ridiculous and annoying. In Austria in 1919, they established the “Royal Suspension Law“. Since then, royal titles are forbidden – for the sake of the community. If it is really working though is another question…
But ok that’s it for now. As you see I am very passionate about this topic – because it opens up so many other interesting questions we should all think and talk about, like community and how money should serve the people – not the other way around…
If you weren’t doing this, what would you like to be?
Maybe I would be a nun in a Monastery; reading, writing, praying and speaking to God, and helping the poor and the underprivileged. Or I would be a philosopher, publishing books and speaking my mind.
What’s your favourite book?
I have a lot of them. I love the French philosophers. I love to read Deleuze – or more precisely to lose myself in his language! I love to train my brain with new things to read. I read a lot. I love Emily Dickinson, she is my favourite poet, I actually wrote a song “with her“ during a kind of over-time (through time) collaboration. She “lent me” the text of a poem for one of my songs – it just came beautifully together. It will be released on my album.
What were you like at school?
I was a calm and introverted person. I rarely said anything in the classes until college. But I loved to write and some of my teachers saw that and appreciated me in that kind of way. But I never did fit in, in school. I had always a strange feeling about it.
What’s the music scene like back home?
I am not very much involved in the scene. I do my own thing. I think Germany has some work to do in terms of the music scene. There is a lot of mainstream basic cheesy German Pop music going on and a lot of really bad male-dominated German rap as well.
It is kind of embarrassing.
But we also have some rising stars – mostly girls/young women, who write their own music and have a certain vision for themselves and their music – detached from the mainstream music industry. My friend Laura Carbone for example is such a great musician and composer – she is doing her thing very, very well. As well my friend Gordon Raphael, legendary producer of the Strokes etc. is living in Berlin and part of the scene, so to say. He is also a great musician and composer and he just released some beautiful music pieces.
Best gig you’ve played so far?
Every gig is magic for me.
What’s your favourite single?
At the moment, I am oddly enough very much into Kanye West.
What were your favourite artists growing up?
Nina Simone, Ella Fitzgerald, Björk, Kanye West, Michael Jackson. Later on I discovered Tori Amos and Fiona Apple, who I adore very much.
Who would you want to play you in the film of your life?
What a difficult – but so interesting question. I would love to be played by the gorgeous, fascinating artist and actor Maya Deren.
Vinyl, CD, Download or stream?
I think Vinyl is most beautiful, since it is something which has a haptic sensation of its own. I also do love CDs, because I bought my first music on CDs. I love booklets. And I am planning to do a special edition with my EP too. Since I love it and the resonance is quite good at the moment. I would love to create an item you have at home and you can touch and is something special in your collection.
Streaming is interesting, since you see where and how many times people hear your music. But actually I think is very bad for the artist in terms of making a living for yourself. It is like all the other platforms in terms of economic justice, the worst solution for the artist. But you just have to play along – and sometimes it is fun, I have to admit.
What’s the best cover version you have ever heard?
I think Bon Iver’s version of ‘I Can’t Make You Love Me’ by Bonnie Raitt is really good. And I love Fiona Apple’s interpretation of ‘Across The Universe’.
Tell us about your recent release?
It is my first official release in the worldwide music market. Before, I shared my music only on Soundcloud. I had to collect my confidence and try out some things. It is a beautiful platform and I made some great friends there. My EP ‘Hosting Time’ includes four songs I have written in the last two years. I worked with the great producer Guy Sternberg together, which I enjoyed and I think we found a beautiful, unique language for my first EP.
Any hopes for 2018?
I hope to see more peace and happiness – and over all, justice in the world. We live in dangerous times. We need to think and act consciously – every day. Every single one of us.
What would be your dream collaboration?
Collaboration with Massive Attack would be my absolute dream. Their latest release with Hope Sandoval, ‘The Spoils’ was a work of genius, I think. I really love that song. And I would like to collaborate with Kanye West – I really like his new album Ye. I think we would make such great music together.