Indie-pop singer-songwriter Brooke Annibale released her sonically adventerous album Hold to the Light this past June and she’s about to head out on the road with The Ballroom Thieves for an exciting West Coast tour. We chatted with Annibale for our newest NoiseTrade One-on-One to discuss her brand new music video for “Hold to the Light,” her songwriting process and live approach to her new songs, covering The Beatles, and much more!
NoiseTrade: First off, you’re debuting your brand new music video for “Hold to the Light” today. Tell us about your experience filming it in Fort Collins, CO and also about your connection to The Music District residency program.
Brooke Annibale: I visited Colorado for the first time in the fall of 2017 and, like most people, was struck by its unique and stunning landscape. The idea of shooting a music video in Fort Collins, CO came up when I met with the folks at The Music District (https://www.themusicdistrict.org/) a local organization in Fort Collins that helps facilitate the growth of musicians, whether they are local or traveling through. They have a residency program, where out-of-town artists can come and work on a project with them. We brought up the idea of working on a music video incorporating the Fort Collins/Colorado landscape. They hadn’t done a project like that before and took a chance on trying something new. They helped connect us to local videographers and we started brainstorming ideas, which eventually turned into this video shoot in August of 2018.
The song I chose to make the video for is the title track of my new album Hold to the Light. I wanted to draw from the visual aspects of the lyrics and play with different forms of light. The videographers I worked with on this project, EvrGlo Media, really embraced the idea of trying a bunch of things out to see how they would look. We even decided on trying to shoot the Fort Collins sunrise. So, I got up at 4:30 in the morning and drove up to Horsetooth Reservoir, which you will see a lot of in the video. Just in the nick of time, we caught the most amazing sunrise. I mean, it was absolutely perfect. I have to say, I haven’t seen many sunrises in my life, so this was pretty special. To get it on camera was even better. It fit the mood and vibe of the song perfectly.
NT: You’re about to head out on an exciting West Coast tour with The Ballroom Thieves. Since you’ve already been out on a headlining tour following the release of your most album Hold to The Light, how have audiences responded to your new songs in a live setting and have any songs changed in any way from how they appear on the album?
Annibale: Yeah, it’s always fun and interesting to watch songs reveal themselves in the studio and grow into something bigger than where they began. But for most of the release tour, I’ve been taking the songs back to their foundation. I find that audiences respond really well to my songs in that form. Whether it’s just me and my guitar or with a keyboard player, the stripped down versions of the songs really seem to connect with people. I think that’s a pretty solid test of a song, if it can still stand on its own after all that production magic goes into it.
NT: Since you sometimes perform in different settings (solo, band, string accompaniment), what setup do you have planned for your upcoming shows? Also, do those different logistical settings impact how you choose setlists and song arrangements in any way?
Annibale: These upcoming shows will be all electric, me and my guitar. Joining me for most of the set will be Ariel Bernstein, who is traveling with my tour mates (The Ballroom Thieves) as their sound engineer and just happened to have played and engineered on my new record. He’ll be playing a bit of drums & keys on several songs – sometimes both at once, which will be really cool. My set list was heavily influenced by the fact that I’m only traveling with my electric guitar, because that’s where most of the new record was written.
NT: Speaking of different ingredients inspiring different creative approaches, I read that your songwriting for Hold to The Light was inspired by writing on an electric guitar instead of solely on an acoustic guitar like you have in the past. Can you explain how that equipment change affected how your new songs took shape and which songs were most impacted by the switch?
Annibale: I’ve owned my Telecaster for over 10 years but had written on it only a handful of times in the past – mostly for my 2013 EP. For this record, I was really seeking new inspiration for writing and sometimes just picking up a different guitar can spark that for me. Playing around with new effects pedals impacted my writing of the song “Collided,” which you’ll hear on my NoiseTrade sampler and while I’m out on tour. It’s one of my favorite songs to play live, because I just love the vibe and the energy this song gives off. I originally wrote the song “Glow” on my acoustic guitar, and it became one of the most pop-centric electric songs on the record while it grew in the studio.
NT: To close things out, I really enjoyed your recent “Live at Fraser” show that WGBH filmed, especially your cover of “I Will” from The Beatles. When did you first start covering that song and what’s your connection to it?
Annibale: Thank you! I learned that song back in the spring of 2006. My cousin Brad was getting married to his wife Christina and they both had selected songs for each other and asked me to learn and perform them at their ceremony. They kept them a secret from each other until the moment of their vows. Christina had picked Ben Harper’s “Beloved One” and Brad had picked “I Will” by the Beatles. I kept playing “I Will” at shows over the years. Last winter, I had the chance to record for a Valentine’s Day compilation for AmazonMusic and I wanted to put a new spin on it, so I rearranged the song just a bit. After recording it that way, I wanted to start playing it live. I was really honored to be a part of that moment for them, and it’s really special to be able share that story with audiences still.