PYKM: Please would you tell us your birthday and where your were born?
Anna: October 20, born in Olympia, WA.
PYKM: Since when does “Yet Cut Breath” exist?
Anna: It's existed in some form since about 2007.
PYKM: How was the idea born, to build the band and when? Who was involved in the origin process?
Anna: I'd been playing out alone in nyc under the name "Yet Cut Breath" since around 2008. I had decided that even though the songs were my own, I never wanted the project to be my own name. That seemed limiting and I'd always hoped to pull a band around it and grow it up as a group over time.
The name is actually a quote from Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale. In the play several characters are looking at an amazingly life-like a stone statue. One of them compliments the carver's work and remarking on how real it seems says "What fine chisel could yet cut breath?". That's an enormous thing to say about the artist, that he could create something so real it seems to breathe, that it almost has a life of its own . . . Art that moves you so intensely that your senses forget that it IS art does seem to take on a life of its own, doesn’t it? Music especially, we get lost in it all the time, whether you're playing or just listening. I thought that idea would be an inspiring name to write under and would remind me to try to create songs that seem to breathe on their own, that reach people on a level.
PYKM: Who exactly are the members of Yet Cut Breath (you, Jake, Missy and John – is that right)?
Anna: Yes, me, Jake, Missy and John are the core of the group BUT as everyone has other projects going on as well (The Kissing Club, for example) we don't always get to play together. It's hard to navigate so many lives for one project, you know? So there's a constant shift in who we play with BUT I like to think that it just expands and grows the project in new and different ways. We have to keep our sense of adventure intact somehow, right? Haa :)
PYKM: When and how did you get to know each other?
Anna: At first it was just me playing solo, but then the wonderful Missy Liu joined me on violin for a few shows (at that time we were both playing with Drew & the Medicinal Pen, that’s how we met!) and then she eventually introduced me to cello-extraordinaire John Swartz. John and Missy had played together a bunch during university and do such an incredible job of weaving their melodies around one another, they bring so much to the music, it's amazing. They then introduced me to the lovely Jake Miller (they had all known each other for years) who joined us and added a whole different and dynamic layer of sound. It began slowly, but as it came time to make the record we practiced together in earnest, trying to knit each of these elements together. The drummer on the record is Yahoteh Kokayi who also added his own intricacies and really built his parts around ours. When we toured this last winter Brian Hospital drummed for us. I'd actually known since I first arrived in New York and we’ve been playing on and off over the last three years.
PYKM: How long do you and the other guys play music?
Anna: I’ve been playing music since I was 7 or 8 years old, and guitar since I was about 12. As for the others, I’m not quite sure – certainly since they were very young too.
PYKM: What was your first instrument?
Anna: My first REAL instrument was actually the piano, I took lessons when I was little for about four years . . . before that I remember having a plastic toy violin that would make horrible violin-like sounds when you "played" the strings, I would carry it around and play it like a guitar. I so badly wanted a guitar! And after squeaking around the house with the annoying fake violin sounds for a while, my parents must have got the idea and for my 12th birthday helped me get a guitar.
PYKM: What and when was your first time on stage?
Anna: My first time on stage was probably performing with in the school play when I was about 7 years old. I remember feeling incredibly small, haa AND I probably WAS quite tiny back then! As a singer-songwriter performing solo, I first performed at a high school talent show for a packed auditorium of parents and students. I was performing one of the very first song I’d ever written and was VERY nervous.
PYKM: What inspires you while songwriting?
Anna: Everything and anything. I take a lot of notes . I think I see things differently while writing, I become more aware. And perhaps that’s the best part, pulling together these little inspirations from random places . . . trying to merge different ideas, little thoughts and phrases into something else.
PYKM: Which instruments is every one of you playing?
Anna: Me on guitar and vocals and occasionally bass, Jake on lead guitar and bass, Missy on violin, John on cello and Brian on drums.
PYKM: What does it mean for you, to be on stage and to play your songs for the audience?
Anna: It's one of the most amazing experiences I've ever had and I’m so grateful to be able to do it. Playing music is all I really want to do and that moment of being on stage playing WITH other people FOR other people reminds me of why I love it so much and of why it’s so important. Reminds me of why it’s worth all the effort and struggle it takes to get there.
PYKM: And please would you tell us, what is your favorite book, song, movie, band and Musician ?
Anna: Hmm, favorite book – I feel like that changes every time I read something new! When I was younger it was The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. But I just recently read Patti Smith’s Just Kids and that was pretty amazing.
Favorite song/band/musician, oh my god, I could never choose just one. Any it varies aaaalllllll the time! I’m listening to Beach House right now . . . But earlier I was listening to Explosions in the Sky, Land of Talk and Zoe Keating . . . so it’s kind of all over the place but as for a favorite? Eek. I couldn’t even begin.
PYKM: Do you have a special philosophy of life?
Anna: To live it! To be present, fearless and open (or at least to try to be).