Anne Estella Interview
When did you decide to get involved in the music scene and when did you get your first job and how?
People often assume I’ve been involved in the music industry a lot longer than I actually have… It all started for me in June 2017 after Guns ‘n’ Roses had reformed and announced a couple of London concert dates. It was G’n’R that first got me into Rock and Metal (Appetite For Destruction is to blame for that) and after they split I thought I’d never them live again. I always said that if they ever reformed (which nobody thought would ever really happen), then I’d go and see them - having first seen them put on an incredible show at Wembley Stadium in 1992. In spite of having been completely out of the music scene for many years, I bought a ticket to see them in London and all those feelings I once had for live Rock music came flooding back...
After that, I decided to find out whether there was any Rock scene left in Manchester, where I had been living since 1995, and stumbled upon the Manchester Rocks website, which seemed to be a good place to start. I contacted them for information on what was going on in Manchester – whether there were any Rock clubs left like the ones I went to in the mid-late ‘90s (Jilly’s Rock World, The Ritz, etc) and where I could go now that I was no longer a student, to meet like-minded (ageing) Rockers and make new friends.
While corresponding with Manchester Rocks, I spotted on their website that they were looking for people to join their team. I had no idea what this entailed so I enquired, thinking it could really help me to get involved in the local Rock scene once more. I found out that they were looking for gig reviewers and as it happened, I’d bought tickets to see one of my old favourite British Glam Rock bands, The Dogs d’Amour (now reformed as Tyla’s Dogs d’Amour) at a City Centre venue I’d never been to called Rebellion. They were being supported by a band called The Main Grains (which featured Danny McCormack who I knew of from another of my old favourite bands, The Wildhearts), and a young local band I’d never heard of called Gorilla Riot.
So, I asked The Manchester Rocks Editor if he’d like me to write a review of the gig – something I’d never done before, although I had previously written professionally, but in a completely different and totally uncreative field. That gig will always stand out for me as the first time I saw and reviewed Gorilla Riot and I wrote a long, gushing review of the whole show. The MR Editor gave me 72 hours to submit this first piece of writing – but I had it fully written, self-edited and submitted within 24 hours, and it was published right away. After that I was brought in as a permanent reviewer and started doing album reviews as well as live reviews. That first gig I reviewed was right at the end of December 2017 and to date I’ve written hundreds of reviews, articles and band interviews for Manchester Rocks, as well as four other print and online publications, focusing almost entirely on up and coming and emerging artists.
What is your favourite genre of music, favourite music act and what song is your guilty pleasure?
My favourite genre (unsurprisingly) is Rock (and most of its sub-genres, including Grunge, Stoner, Southern Rock, Blues Rock, etc). When I first got into the scene in my teens, I listened to a lot of the classic American and British Rock bands of the ‘80s and ‘90s and some of the heavier Metal, Goth and Industrial bands. These days I rarely listen to any music that’s over ten years old, as my playlist and inbox are full of the most fantastic NWOCR and NWORNR bands and artists, just waiting to be discovered and shared.
My guilty pleasure would be something like Britney Spears’ ‘…Baby One More Time’, as I love to sing and dance and it’s a great one to strut to!
Can you tell me 3 things about yourself that people might not already know?
I’m into genealogy! I’m the only child of two only children, with no living parents, grandparents, and no aunts or uncles or first cousins, etc – but, through years of family research I’ve managed to piece together a family tree with over 3,500 names on it, spanning about seven generations spread out across the globe.
As a child I played the flute from about the age of six and did music and theory exams up to grade eight. I stopped playing at the age of 15 and have never played since. I’ve actually completely forgotten how to read music and how to play the flute at all… it’s NOT like riding a bike!
I have a Degree in French and Spanish and spent the whole of my year studying abroad being unbearably homesick. I don’t like travelling even now (not even for holidays) and still find packing, going to airports and leaving home incredibly stressful.
What has been your best achievement to date and what would you like to achieve in the future?
Jointly raising two happy, kind, caring, free-thinking and compassionate children. I don’t really think of the future in terms of achieving a specific goal – it’s what you do on the journey and how you treat other people along the way that matters.
If you were not in the job you are now what would you be doing?
It’s hard to say, as I’ve had a lot of different jobs, from working as a Writer/Researcher in financial publishing, to computer programming (which I sucked at – I’m a technophobe!), and various mundane office and sales jobs that I hated. After graduating in 1998 I couldn’t find a job I enjoyed using my Modern Languages Degree, so after a few years I eventually retrained as a Personal Trainer and worked in several areas of health and fitness, including children’s, post-natal and women’s fitness. I like working for myself and doing things my way, so being my own boss really suited me. I guess I’d be working in the health and fitness industry again now if I weren’t in music journalism. Or maybe I’d be in the fashion industry, as that’s something I’ve always loved too.
What has been the best gig you have been to as a fan and can you tell us about it?
I get asked this a lot and apart from the fact that I’ve been to countless amazing gigs in the last few years, the one that always springs to mind was seeing The Almighty with The Wildhearts back in 1993. I saw them play at the London Forum in Kentish Town, and was jumping up and down at the front of the stage for the entire gig. After the show we managed to get a couple of backstage passes from Stumpy the drummer, so my friend and I were able to meet the bands, which was just the icing on the cake. What an incredible night!
What would your ideal festival line up be and why?
My ideal festival lineup would have to include a lot of New Wave Of Classic Rock bands, although if I had to choose established headliners it would be the original lineups of Guns ‘n’ Roses and Skid Row, with Aerosmith and of course The Wildhearts! The NWOCR/NWORNR bands I’d want to include are too numerous to list here… there are so many stellar grassroots bands out there and thankfully festivals are now recognising them and giving them the exposure they deserve.
What would you say is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
“Try to live the life you want, not the one you have.”
What things make you happy and what things annoy you?
Cute furry puppies make me happy! (I’m very broody for a fur baby right now and haven’t had a dog in my life for 16 years, so I think it’s time).
As for things that annoy me… where do I start?! Bad grammar and spelling… text abbreviations… people who don’t know (or care) when to use ‘there, ‘they’re’ or ‘their’ and ‘your’ or ‘you’re’. And the frequent misuse of apostrophes (and lack of commas or punctuation) drives me crazy!!!
Also, people who don’t show courtesy to others really annoy me. I’ll hold the door open for anyone and certainly don’t have a problem with men holding a door open for me – I don’t find it old-fashioned or sexist, it’s just respectful and manners really don’t cost a thing.
A band once wrote to me with a cover letter addressed to ‘Dear Sir’… that didn’t go down particularly well with me, as you can imagine.
When somebody’s time, skill and talent is devalued to the point where it isn’t considered worthy of payment but their work is good enough to be used for others’ reputation and gain - that annoys me too.
Lastly, not receiving any acknowledgement or response to an enquiry annoys the hell out of me – it only takes a minute to send an email or text message!
Oh, and the lack of an edit button on Twitter! What’s up with that??!
What things do you like to do when you are away from your job?
Spending time with my family, exercising, dancing, watching TV (I’ve been watching the TLC channel way too much during lockdown). I spend a lot of time on social media, especially Twitter, because I love the immediate interaction you get and I’ve met so many cool and funny people on there! And a few weirdos…
Do you think social media and the Internet are a good thing in the music industry?
Definitely – it has enabled so many bands and artists who may never have otherwise been heard, to promote themselves and build a strong fanbase. I always advise bands to be active on as many social media platforms as they can and to interact with their fans personally. Yes, it’s time consuming, but it will pay off ultimately as it helps build loyalty.
How important do you think looks and image is when it comes to being in the music industry?
Image has always been very important to the Rock and Metal industry. Think back to the days of ‘80s Glam and Hair Metal… would those bands have attracted the same sort of following had they worn casual clothes with a short back and sides?! The same goes of course for the Punk and Goth scenes and most genres and sub-genres of Metal… People want to associate with a lifestyle, not just the music. It’s all part of a package, which needs to be attractive to its target audience.
It still applies today, to a lesser extent I think, but image will probably always be an important factor in the music industry, like it or not.
Can you tell us about any tattoos you have and the significance of them to you?
I don’t have any tattoos! I’ve never felt the urge to get any, although I can appreciate them on others, especially if they’re artistic and meaningful, like a human work or art. If I were to get any tattoos it would probably be a large blossom tree on my back, representing my family tree, with old, dried leaves scattered on the ground and baby buds and fruit coming through in the new branches.
If you ran the country for a day what would you change about it and why?
I would redress the balance of power so that the people who do most for the benefit of others and for society’s wellfare as a whole get paid the most – nurses, junior doctors, teachers, the emergency services, etc. I would also ban and shut down all puppy farms and impose much greater penalties on those who are cruel to animals. Less red tape – more action!
What would your ideal day consist of?
Getting up late, having a long, leisurely breakfast, then having a nice lunch out, a nap in the afternoon (has to be done) and going to a party in the evening with awesome people and excellent music!
What has been your experience during the Covid-19 situation? Can you tell us how this has affected you personally, how it has affected you professionally and maybe a story from this time or a message for people out there?
Lockdown has forced me to embrace new technology in a way I had previously avoided. I‘ve learned to use Zoom and Skype and have been conducting all of my interviews remotely for the past few months. I have also been involved in several Webfests, including those hosted by the New Wave Of Classic Rock Facebook group and the Going Solo Down In Isolation online festival and I hope to take this forward once the pandemic has subsided and do remote interviews with bands and artists across the UK and internationally, when I can’t speak to them in person. I have also been doing a series of “In Quarantine With…” interviews for my YouTube channel, so I’m keeping busy!
How would you answer the question: Who is Anne Estella and what are the differences between you as a music journalist and you away from music?
Anne Estella is the ‘real’ me! She’s the culmination of all of the fun-loving, musical and creative elements of my personality. She is definitely my more outgoing, sassy and cheeky side, a bit like an alter ego I suppose. Away from the music I’m a wife, a mother and a real home bird – I love being at home and surrounded by the people I love and all of my favourite things.
What was the first record or song you purchased and why?
Before I was old enough to buy music for myself my Mum bought me some cassettes that I wanted – these included The Kids From Fame (I was a huge fan of the TV series), Billy Joel, The Beach Boys, The Carpenters, Elvis Presley and a bit later on, Michael Jackson and Madonna. While most of my peers were listening to pop music in the ‘80s, I was listening to the Capital Gold radio station, which gave me a very good grounding in Rock ‘n’ Roll from the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s eras. I don’t remember the first record I actually bought for myself. Back then friends used to just copy music onto blank cassettes, or make their own compilation tapes for me.
What would you say to someone thinking about becoming a musician and getting into the music industry?
I’d tell them that it’s not easy to make money in this industry and if they are in it for the money, then they should just forget it. The only reason anyone should be in this industry is if they have absolute passion for the music and the drive to get out there and perform their hearts out night after night. It’s not an easy life being on the road, away from your family, and trying to make it. Only do it if you know you were born to do it, as competition is fierce and it’ can be a cutthroat industry with a lot of harsh realities and egos to deal with.
What things make you uncomfortable?
Questions that I can’t answer…
If you wrote a book about yourself what would it have in it?
A book about myself would have to include a lot of detail about my parents, who have sadly both passed on now. I feel like it’s up to me to keep their memory alive.
What has the rest of the year got in store for you?
I was supposed to be covering about half a dozen or so festivals this year, but inevitably they’ve all been cancelled due to the pandemic. All of the gigs I had in the diary have also had to postpone and it’s unclear at this stage whether the rescheduled Autumn dates will even happen, so it’s just a question of ‘watch this space’.
I will continue doing the Skype interviews and Webfests and my weekly radio shows will still be going ahead on PZR Rock Radio. I’ve recently become an ambassador for the Forge Ahead Initiative (FAI), which is all about mentoring young bands and helping them to get ahead in the industry. I’m keeping myself busy at home but am really looking forward to partying with everyone in 2021!