Exploded View is a Berlin-based collective fronted by the political journalist/musician Anika.
Having previously released material on Geoff Barrow's Invada imprint, Anika opted to work within a group format for her next project.
And Exploded View is most definitely a group - the band's debut album is a mesh of differing ideas, a dubbed out post-punk dystopian realm that goes where others fear to tread.
Anika is a fascinating figure, with the intelligence of her lyrics framed by the intensity of her performances. Her, she opens up about her literary influences and inspirations in Their Library...
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What is your favourite book and why?
I have to say Dylan Thomas, Selected Poems. It’s the reason my radio show on Berlin Community Radio is called Do Not Go Gentle. I love his use of metaphors and the clear presence of the land in his writing. It’s very calming somehow; it grounds me and in a world where our bodies and minds are so often far from the land, we need this reigning in from time to time.
What other authors do you like?
So many: Elizabeth Bishop, Borges, Joseph Conrad, Virginia Woolf, D.H Lawrence, Herman Hesse, Roald Dahl, Goethe, Edith Sitwell and new ones like: Ricardo Domeneck, Hannah Lippard, Black Cracker, Stine Omar.
What draws you to certain books?
The delicate construction of sentences, to transport you to another world; one that fully consumes, letting the emotions run through your veins. I do find books very powerful. I have done all sorts of scandalous things after reading books.
Have you ever discovered a real lost classic? What is it and why?
Isaac Bashevis Singer, The Seance and Other Stories - I was playing a show in Leipzig and they put me up in this hotel that felt a little haunted but in a nice way. There were definitely presences there. Anyhow, they had a bookshelf of old books and one morning one fell out of the shelf and it was this one. I had never read a book of his before and I found his stories filled with so many interesting moral tales that tackle these huge issues in a clever yet witty way. I think humour is very important and not to take yourself too seriously… I highly recommend it.
Do your literary influences have a direct impact on your songwriting?
For sure. No More Parties was influenced by Fitzgerald, as well as our present day and many of the other songs are equally influenced.
What are you reading at the moment?
A multitude of books including: Thomas Hardy poems, Edith Sitwell’s My Eccentric Life in German, The Conference of Birds by Nishapuri, I am the Beggar of the World - A collection of Landays, some kind of Buddhist book as always and some more that I forget.
What is the first book you remember reading as a child?
An illustrated copy of Stories from the Arabian Nights. It was a gift from my mother and the illustrations were beautiful.
Did you make good use of your library card as a child / teenager?
Yes a bit. There was something calming about the library but it took me a while before i had the patience to sit and read through books. I also wasn’t very good in English at school and they used to find my stories disturbing. No idea why but then again my teacher did used to fast-forward through the bloody scenes of Hamlet, when we watched the dramatisation. This didn’t really help us in our exams, these scenes being quite important. Saying that, she was also the teacher that got me interested in English and reading after struggling with the subject for quite some time, so I’ll take back any criticism.
Have you ever found a book that you simply couldn’t finish?
There were a few when I was younger, yes. I forget them now but I just remember that huge emptiness that follows when you finish a book you’ve got really into.
Do you read book reviews?
Sometimes yes and it has lead me to buy books in the past but I mostly ask people I respect and admire to recommend something. It has so much more meaning then and i trust my friends’ opinions plus we often exchange books. I think books should be shared. As someone that travels a lot, there is also a practical side to sharing.
Would you ever re-read the same book?
Yes sometimes for comfort. I also constantly re-read poetry, when I’m in need of words or a certain frame of mind. I find literature hugely inspiring.
Have you ever identified with a character in a book? Which one and why?
Penny Crayon is a total legend. I wish I had her powers. I loved books about magical powers and secret worlds when I was younger, like Narnia and things. There’s something appealing about escape and using the imagination to do so. Often in Berlin, when it’s been snowing for 4 months straight, the buildings are grey, the streets thick with white snow and the trees are bare sticks poking out the ice, I hang out in the tropical house of the botanical garden. Books can give you the same experience in life.
Do you read one book at a time or more than one?
More than one and for different purposes such as: shutting down/escapism, history, philosophy, wording etc.
Is there an author / poet you would like to collaborate with?
Julia Davies who wrote many scripts for radio and TV. I love her dark humour. Otherwise, I'd love to write something with Stine Omar, Black Cracker or Ricardo Domeneck. I once read the voiceover for Stine’s TV series 'Sadness is an evil gas inside of me‘. It’s other-worldly.
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'Exploded View' is out now.