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26th April 2019

In Conversation with Anteros

Anteros’ Laura Hayden and Harry Balazs on sexism in the music industry, their new album and their dreams of being festival headliners writes Winona Newman.
In Conversation with Anteros
Photo: Winona Newman @ Mancunion

Anteros, who played Soup Kitchen just six months ago, returned to Gorilla with their new album tour. Laura, the band’s frontwoman calling the venue-size step up “scary…it feels like your birthday party, especially when you’re headlining…you don’t know who’s going to turn up.”

This was the seventh night of their UK tour, the bigger venues giving them “more to play around with” in terms of set design and lighting. The band seems to be riding on the buzz of their new album; When We Land released earlier this year, which they’ve played in its entirety each gig.

The album seems to be an embodiment of Laura’s own experience through her twenties and the wisdom she’s accumulated. The album combines some of their most popular singles (such as ‘Breakfast’ and self-titled ‘Anteros’) with new material and is up-tempo, catchy, and uplifting with a few calmer moments such as the new song ‘Let it Out’. Which, according to Laura, was the “first song [she] wrote on her own”.

Laura describes her development as a songwriter, as “when it’s you writing it’s just you, with your heart on your sleeve and you’re critical, it’s a strange space to be in.” But after the release of their album, she’s “finding it more fun…not every song has to sound the same, you can be vulnerable sometimes, you can have moments of sass, that’s alright.”

‘Let it Out’ falling on the more vulnerable side was written by Laura amidst a London heatwave on a keyboard she had no training to play, simply playing the notes “that felt right”. Due to the personal nature of the song and its conception Laura never thought of it as a contender for the album but after taking it into the studio the band realised it was the moment of calm vulnerability the album needed; “It’s a nice moment in the set, it’s a nice moment on the album.” ‘Let it Out’ in particular is “about that fear…when you’re in your twenties you tend to put a lot of your traits to one side because you’re worried about being liked and what that would do to people’s perceptions of you” and despite worries about “how it would translate” on stage, now forms one of Laura’s favourite on-stage moments.

In this way there’s almost a coming-of-age feel to the album which seems to resonate across generations with Harry reflecting on the age-range of their audience; “there’s 40 and 50 year olds talking to teens about music, it’s great.”

But perhaps, in particular, it’s younger women that the band really inspires, a lot of whom join her on stage each time the band play ‘Bonnie’. Despite not being on the album, “Bonnie wasn’t even a question whether that was still going to happen” as “Bonnie’s the one moment where it’s like no this is still for the women” as by getting as many women as possible on the stage and into that space the band hope to reverse the ideas of women as a minority within the music industry.

This ‘Bonnie experience’ has extended past the stage with the band organising “Bonnie-meets” for 6 or 7 of the girls attending each gig to get together beforehand and “talk about things they worry about” and for Laura, it’s an hour escape from the male-dominated world in which she works.

She reflects more widely about the positives of communicating in this way, especially “in an age where social media has us all in our own bubbles. We have all these big ideas but what are we actually doing to put them in practice.” She says this is particularly true of girls who are often taught to be in competition rather than collaboration with each other. Laura suggests that if someone had done the same for her; “sat [her] down and talked [her] through it…there would have been fewer tears, less stress.”

The advice she gives young women starting out is that “it’s better for men to be scared of you…you need to be brave enough to protect yourself.” She says to “play the game” you’ve had to pretend to be unsure, unknowing “aloof” in the past but “in music, you need to be taken seriously and it’s okay to be serious.”

The band are excited to be heading back to both TRUCK and Y Not festival this year, calling TRUCK, last year the best festival they’ve played at, a true “dear-diary moment…one of those times where the stars just align.” This year they’re playing a later slot of 7 pm on the Nest Stage – “we’re not headlining…yet” they laugh. Ultimately that’s their goal and one they’re united in; “The dreams to be headlining Pyramid Stage, hell yeah!”

The energy this band pervade and give back to their fans is admirable and we can definitely see them on that headline spot one day. By their own admission, they’re moving up slowly, taking each step as it comes, and killing each one.

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