In search of perfection
Anne Pigalle asks ‘why does it have to be this way?’ Robin Smith thinks it’s beret good anyway.
Anne Pigalle sips delicately on a glass of white wine and soda, bringing a touch of class to a London pub during a busy lunchtime. I must confess that memories of her single ‘Hé Stranger’ linger with me almost as much as Chaka Khah’s ‘Ain’t Nobody’, but now Anne’s back with ‘Why Does It Have To Be This Way’, taken from her debut album, ‘Everything Could Be So Perfect’.
“I think the charts are so predictable at the moment,” she says. “Nothing really seems to be happening, does it? Music has become too comfortable. I don’t think there is much excitement anymore.
“I want to reflect light and shade in my work. You can ask me what my style is, but it’s difficult to describe it because I change so much. I either feel very up or very down in my moods. When I’m feeling low I get very upset and lose my temper.
“I think the French do have a sad quality in their voices. There are some really good singers in France, but the French music business is very traditional. It is really controlled by the older established people, so a lot of young talent does not get through. I felt I must come to England to develop my career.”
So Anne packed her bags, left Paris and caught a ferry. Six years ago she barely knew any English, but living here she picked it up fast.
“I had to learn it quickly to survive. Your attitude here is quite insular. There will always be a rivalry between the French and the English. I think people here have a lot of reservations about the French even after all these years.
“I didn’t have much money when I came here, but I had some friends in England and managed to survive. I was on the dole for a time and it’s amazing how little you need to get by.”
Anne found it difficult to get a record deal until ZTT came galloping to the rescue.
“I knocked on every door and tried everybody with my songs. It was all very depressing, but in many ways the rejections made me all the more determined to carry on.”
Anne likes to write her song in the privacy of her room in Notting Hill. Her album ranges in mood from songs inspired by the frustrations of trying to get ahead, to pure fantasies.
“Everybody sites down sometimes and says ‘oh, why does it have to be this way all the time’ and they want things to be perfect. Everybody has their dreams about things eventually coming right, some people struggle to achieve it, but a lot of people don’t.
“Sometimes old films will inspire me to write a song. They have a class and style which modern films sometime can’t capture. I can’t get interested in modern science fiction material. All those films look the same to me and some of them are very stupid.
“Writing songs is a therapy for me. I’m sure that if I didn’t write down my thoughts and feeling about things then I’d go mad. I need the release of being able to put something down on paper. It’s very soothing.
“I used to play guitar, but then I realised that my voice was the only instrument I really wanted to use. There is no other instrument which matches the quality of the human voice. You have to rely on your own efforts totally.”
Anne says she’d like to tour, but she might have to leave behind the 35-piece orchestra she used on part of the album.
“If I can find the right places I will do it. I want to play venues with character, somewhere warm and responsive.
“I think women are standing up for themselves a lot more now and breaking away. But I also think that perhaps they are still being manipulated and packaged. Stars like Tina Turner have great voices, but on record I sometimes think they haven’t been allowed to develop their full potential.
“I used to dress in an eccentric way, but now I don’t play those sort of games. I like dark colours at the moment. I think they are stylish but they make me stand out.”
Anne, I do agree.