AVA Is A Bold Cinematic Duo Challenging Expectations
“There are certain expectations of what violin and piano/keyboard look and sound like,” Anna Phoebe of AVA tells What We Seee. “I want the viewer to transcend those prejudices when watching the ‘Mulholland’ video. I want them to feel the connection between ourselves and our own instruments, and the connection between Aisling and myself. Those moments where those four energies collide – that’s what AVA is.”
With their raw emotional output and unique sound, AVA — a cinematic musical duo — is certainly transcending prejudices. Violinist Anna Phoebe and pianist Aisling Brouwer come together to challenge expectations of audiences and consistently push boundaries and hone their singular sound. Their debut album, Waves, is a brilliant showcase of that — but these prolific artists have hit their stride in their video for their single “Mulholland”.
This charged, intense, trial-by-fire video is the perfect introduction to AVA, surging with creativity in every moment.
“We’ve spent the last year really exploring what our sound is as AVA and creating this world we immerse ourselves in when we play together,” Brouwer explains. “I wanted to invite the audience to be a part of that and to include elements of the creative process we go through in the studio. Mulholland to me represents the chemistry and adrenaline I feel when we combine forces.”
Although this duo consists of two accomplished and acclaimed musicians, they are so much more. These creative powerhouses compose, produce, record, and mix their own music, drawing from eclectic interdisciplinary backgrounds for a sound that is truly unique. Phoebe is a composer with an extensive history working across genres, including poetry, dance, and science — working with the likes of Roxy Music, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, and the Royal Ballet School. Brouwer is an ambient classical composer, producer, and pianist who also works across genres, notably visual art. She wrote the score for ‘White Riot’, which has just won The Grierson Award for Best Documentary at BFI London Film Festival 2019.
With talents and accomplishments as wide-ranging and eclectic as these, it’s perhaps not a surprise that their sound is really all their own. Their sound is immersive, emotional, and utterly gripping — sometimes bordering on the surreal, other times incredibly visceral.
This raw quality is most apparent in the ‘Mulholland’ video, which seems to almost vibrate through the screen to draw you in.
“I was much inspired by a performance given at the Royal Opera House by Francesca Hayward from the Royal Ballet,” Phoebe explains. “It was an intimate performance in the Clore Studio, exploring the early works of Kenneth MacMillan. Although I’d seen Francesca perform before and have always admired her, I was totally blown away by the power, strength and visceral nature of this particular performance. It’s one of the most memorable live performances I’ve ever been too. I was sitting in the front row, and her emotions, power, beauty and brutal rawness was all-consuming, her sweat was literally flicking into our faces as she pirouetted. That sense of a core emotional strength and power is what I wanted to bring to the Mulholland video.”
With such a strong inspiration in mind, the duo still stayed true to their authentic voices and purpose — capturing the power of their performance to challenge and surprise viewers.
“We wanted to show our instruments in a different context to how they are traditionally perceived, and to reflect the raw energy we feel when performing together,” Phoebe adds.
The stark visuals of the video, paired with the intense lighting and frenetic shooting, encapsulates the feeling of a live performance. One of the most refreshing and exciting parts of AVA is that they never shy away from their boldness, their emotion — they dive deeper and dare you to go with them.
With this talent, energy, and charisma, it’s easy to see why the duo are both such captivating live performers. They have recently been supporting Erland Cooper on tour and have their own headline gig at the Moth Club on Tuesday, December 10 — with more touring on the way.
“Supporting Erland has been such a great experience, the venues have been beautiful spaces to play in, and the audiences have been very warm and responsive,” Phoebe says. “We’ve loved it. With each concert, we’ve refined our sound and our performance. I’m very much looking forward to our headline show at the Moth Club and for AVA to tour in 2020.”
Alongside their live performances, AVA will be working on the follow up to Waves.
“We will be doing a headline tour in the spring and are looking forward to playing some festivals as well as the process of writing our second album,” Brouwer says.
“The writing and recording process for our debut album Waves was a very organic process, where we were exploring and developing our sound,” Phoebe explains. “Since then we’ve done so much writing / producing and touring, both as individuals and together as AVA, I’m very excited to take that knowledge and experience and explore the next phase of AVA both live and in the studio.”