London-based singer-songwriter and producer Grand Pax – real name Annie Pax – has been honing in her brand of hazy, nocturnal indie pop for a while now. Born and raised in Kentish Town and educated at Goldsmiths, she first emerged in 2018 with her dusky debut single ‘Comet’, followed by the similarly evocative Phase EP later that year. She continued fleshing out her idiosyncratic, vaporous sound with two one-off tracks in 2019, ‘Bunk’ and ‘Lapse’, before returning with her second project, the somewhat more effusive PWR, this June. Now, she’s already back with a new 3-track EP, fittingly titled Wavey, where the lights are dimmed a bit lower and the vibe is more subdued, but the result is just as intoxicating: on opener ‘Wavey’, Pax’s elusive imagery is wrapped around one of her catchiest melodies yet, while ‘Trip’ sounds like being lulled into a subconscious state. Though reminiscent of acts like Warpaint and the xx, both of which she’s cited as major influences, her music reminds me more of a particular feeling or place – catching the Tube home on an especially quiet night, getting lost in your own thoughts, the rhythm of the city. It might be a different night each time, a different web of thoughts, a different city – but that’s what makes you want to keep coming back to these songs; they have a way of casting a light in the dark and revealing something you didn’t realize was there before, be it outside or within.
We caught up with Grand Pax for this edition of our Artist Spotlight series, where we showcase up-and-coming artists and give them a chance to talk about their music.
When did you realize music was a passion of yours?
For me it came in the package of wanting to write. I wanted to speak through it. If a song made me feel something, I wanted to know it, really understand it.
When I would hear something I liked, I would want to go explore that same process, fuck with it. I remember the feeling of being taken by a piece of music, and that idea that it was speaking to me, and I wanted to get in it. I wanted to understand the art of expression. Or the trickery of it I guess. Sometimes you control what you’re saying, and sometimes you don’t.
There’s music that makes you feel good, there’s music that encourages you to reflect, that’s the shit you just feel like playing when you are in a room making something. I always felt like if it made me feel something, I wanted to know it, really understand it. It takes a lot of energy.
Could you talk us through the process of making your new EP? How do you feel it compares to your previous releases?
I think if this EP is different in any way it has to be because I’m more solid in what I’m doing at the moment. I’ve been exploring new ideas, with the same producers for a minute now, and we really just work well together. I say that ’cause I’m pretty easily swayed, I’m like a sponge, It takes a lot of discipline to keep to the same process, or stay true to key elements in your work. That has to be a decision because it’s so easy to keep exploring, to go mad and lose yourself. Nothing wrong with it either. But in this case, I was pretty clear on the imagery I was seeing, and the sounds I wanted to create.
You’ve said that you have an improvisational approach when it comes to writing lyrics. How has the meaning of the songs on Wavey changed since you first wrote them, if at all?
Good question. I remember running a lot during the summer, and I was listening through the demos exclusively. I always do that. to try and figure out what I mean, if I can clarify the ideas in any way.
Wavey was clear at the beginning, and then got a bit vague, ’cause once I put the initial idea down, I had to work on it a lot, and in a way the more you think about it, the more clouded the ideas can get. I see the images the same, but I don’t really know if they have altered yet. It’s too soon to say, I think.
‘Trip’ finds you reuniting with producer Josh Crocker. What was it like working with him again, and what do you feel he brought to the track?
Working with Josh is always easy, I found my sound with him, so it’s natural for me. I’m sure though he facilitates the same ease for everyone he works with. He’s a talented guy. The track really speaks of what I was thinking about at the time, which was just a dark sequence of thoughts, it wuz quite a visual experience. I think in that way it was kind of written in my head before I put it down, ’cause I could see it.
There’s a cinematic quality to a lot of your songs, and you’ve said that ‘Trip’ was inspired by the film Drive. What are some other non-musical influences that inform your music?
The colour of the sky, the tone of the world outside, the stillness you get after you have exhausted yourself feeling something. Other people, ideas of life. Wanting shit I can’t have. Wanting shit I could have but shouldn’t want. All the normal things I think.
Could you talk about the experience of making the music video for ‘Wavey’?
I went in not knowing what to expect. I was nervous. But it was super fun working with Silence. The use of movement and colour were the focus, the track is super vibey so we wanted that to be reflected in the elements in the video. The dancer was amazing and basically stole it and blew my fucking mind.
This is already your second EP of 2020. What are your plans for next year, is there anything you’re excited to share in the near future?
I’m writing a lot, I can’t wait to put out more tunes and keep doing this shit!