I am Harlequin, otherwise known as Anne Freier, is a German-born, London-based singer/songwriter who’s got one of those sultry, belt-it-out voices that doesn’t quit. She writes indie pop songs on both harp and piano, often adding a spare, electro edge. That places her within the female talent pool of the likes of Joanna Newsom or Bat For Lashes, though Freier’s inspirations, ranging from Russian classical to choral, Sondheim musicals, female folk and pop gives her music its own complex mark.

Freier grew up in East Germany towards the end of the GDR, and when the wall came down, her artistic world opened up. She took an instant liking to the theatricality of opera and ballet and wrote her first English song at age seven. She made her way to London on her own while she was still in school, since that was the place she felt she’d do best. Since then, she’s been eager to release her first album while playing shows and festivals, writing scores and scripts, as well as already working on songs for her second album. Next weekend, I am Harlequin will be among the top talents performing at the UK’s Go.Go Festival, Europe’s “biggest women’s weekender”, along with acts like Uh Huh Her and the Vinyl Black Stilettos.

What year did you start playing out as I am Harlequin?

I started to create I am Harlequin back in 2008/2009. A friend was helping me to mix the tracks, but only on certain weekends… it took a long time to get the songs finished. But I did continue to write music in the meantime and ended up with even more songs in need of mixing. By 2010, I wanted to launch the project and asked another engineer to mix the rest. He did it within two weeks. And I finally got to launch I am Harlequin in November 2010, then cast my amazing live band; we had our first gig together in February 2011… the wait was worth it in the end.

How did you happen to move to the UK from Germany?

London has a fantastic music scene and I knew that I wanted to live here to study music at some point. So whilst I was finishing high school in Germany, I simply booked a flight to the capital and looked for a room to rent. It was a fairly quick decision. I greatly enjoy living here. I have not regretted the decision once.

What is your favourite venue/city to play?

I have not played New York City or Tokyo yet, but I reckon either city can easily keep up with London. So far, London has certainly been a great place to perform, offering excellent venues and great audiences. I’d love to play Germany at some point, of course.

What’s your funniest performance or audition story?

I am still waiting to fall over on stage.

What was the strangest/most interesting thing to happen to you as an artist?

Harlequin life is full of strange events. Seriously though, I thought it was a little odd that my live keyboardist/guitarist has the same birthday as mine.

If you could meet any musical hero living or dead, who would it be and
what would you say to this person?

I would love to have a chat with any of my influences, most of all, Kate Bush. I’d probably have a long conversation about production with her. Ricky Lee Jones would be a real treat to talk to as well. If I’d have to choose a dead musical hero, I’d like to meet Prokofiev or Tchaikovsky.

Since you perform with other musicians when you play live, what’s the downside of being in a band?
My bass player is always fashionably late, but I don’t hate him for it. I reckon relaxation is key when it comes to performing together. Things go wrong, not everyone’s always available, or last minute changes have to be made, but you’ve just got to be able to deal with it. All band members have a responsibility to each other and as long as they’re aware of it, things are good. After all, performing is about having fun and letting go.

What are you currently working on?

I am well into my second album by now. The first one is likely to being launched sometime towards the end of this year. I am also working on a lot of music videos and live performance videos. And when I find the time, I write.

I am Harlequin’s Facebook page

–A Sonicbids Selection