I Am Harlequin is the musical gem of Anne Freier. Multi-talented Anne writes, records and produces all of her own music. Based in London but born in Germany, Anne’s music draws on influences from her classical background and modern day inspiration from the likes of Kate Bush and Joni Mitchell. This mixture creates a quirky musical medley from songs like Because he loves them both with its cutting strings and floating vocals and Ode to a drama queen with its electric beats.
I am Harlequin’s new track Marianne which is available as a free download from her website www.iamharlequin.com, is inspired loosely by a woman Anne used to know,
‘She would eat men up like sushi dishes on a conveyor belt in order to get her way. In the song, she convinces the main character to fall in love with her. He then falls prey to her game-playing and abuse. It is an almost demonic depiction of greed and power; Marianne wanting ‘ever more’, but also a criticism on a misinterpretation of feminism. Marianne gains her power through challenge and abuse. But historical payback is not what I consider feminism to be about.’
I Am Harlequin perfectly captures this story in the song, through its moody but assertive baseline, teasing tinkling harp strings and Anne’s seductive sultry voice.
Anne talks to The Pigeon Note about growing up in the GDR, her inspiration behind I Am Harlequin, and of course Pigeons!
Do you think your experience growing up in the restrictive GDR had an effect on your passion for music?
The restrictions imposed by the GDR definitely effected the way my family experienced music. Back then it was virtually impossible to get hold of international recordings. I mean, it was illegal. I am told there were albums by The Beatles being dealt on the black market, and there were people who wanted a record of theirs so badly they’d spend an entire month’s paycheck to buy it. My dad did things slightly different. He used a magnetic tape recorder to copy the forbidden vinyl that was then being passed around discretely from person to person – something he could have been imprisoned for had the state found out. But even this way of collecting music was impractical, since the tapes he recorded onto cost a fortune. Then the wall fell and international music became available unrestrictedly. My dad started to collect cassettes, later CDs. Now he was free to buy what he’d been denied of in the GDR, it didn’t take him long to build a large selection of music. He would treat CDs with such enormous respect that my siblings and I came to see music as something of great value. Just like travel – which also became possible with reunification – music was now something to be freely enjoyed in my family. My father would play it up and down, over dinner, in the car, wherever possible. It was through him that I was introduced to all of my greatest influences: Kate Bush, Rickie Lee Jones, Joni Mitchell, Grace Slick and Tori Amos. His thirst for music led me wanting to be a part of it.
My first taste of live music was the opera. I remember just having seen Mozart’s Magic Flute and as soon as we came back home, me and my sister started singing the aria “Der Hoelle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen” by the Queen of the Night. Classical music has since been a major passion and influence of mine.
Is there any particular inspiration behind the name I am Harlequin?
Harlequins are performers, so in other words the name suggests that I am a performer. And performance is, of course, one of the many aspects of musical artists.
I had searched for a band name for at least six months. I think I still have the list of names and words somewhere. This one just spoke to me. I liked the meaning and its sound.
Is music something you have always wanted to do? Could you imagine an alternative career?
Absolutely. I knew I wanted to do music since I’ve been five years old. And I never really got off track. Acting has always been my second career choice. I used to do quite a bit of it in school and took drama classes. I am also very interested in writing and lately I’ve become very interested in the world of physics. However, that’s the kind of career choice you’d consider in an alternative universe. In this one it’s always going to be the arts.
What bands do you like at the moment?
I mainly listen to classical music and am particularly fond of Holst’s ‘Planets’ at the moment. In terms of pop I still listen to a lot of my influences, but really like 70s progressive rock e.g. Yes; 80s pop; and on the more recent side bands and artists such as e.g. Kings of Leon or Likke Li.
What do get out of writing and performing music?
Writing music gives me the greatest pleasure (except eating perhaps), and performing that music adds a new dimension to it – the creation then becomes alive.
What has the reception been like so far to your music?
Really good. There’s been such great feedback and things have been moving much faster than I expected.
Finally, How do you feel about Pigeons? Flying Vermin? Or cute bird friend?
I have a great idea for a pigeon story haha. Seriously though, I respect all living things. Wood pigeons make some beautiful sounds and postal pigeons have saved lives before. City pigeons, well, I don’t know, I wouldn’t like to say anything bad since it seems like they’re going to take control of things pretty soon.
You can catch I Am Harlequin this summer on:
June 18th – Kent – GoGo Festival (Headcorn Aerodrome)
June 18th – London – The Big Mix Festival
August 13th – Newquay – Boardmasters Festival
August 27th – Leicestershire – Strawberry Fields Festival
Check her out at: