Life on the road can be gruelling for artistes, what with the taxing flight hours and irregular sleep times wreaking havoc on their bodies.
Thankfully, British singer-songwriter Anne-Marie, who spent the better part of 2018 and 2019 touring the world in an effort to promote her debut album Speak Your Mind, was able to slip into tour life rather seamlessly.
“I feel like I’ve always gotten into tour life because I’ve never really had a proper sleeping pattern. Ever since I was young, I never used to sleep at the right time,” she shared.
“So now, whenever I go away on tour, I kind of just sync into wherever I was going.”
Her latest stop: Kuala Lumpur. The 28-year-old Essex native was speaking to StarLifestyle ahead of her maiden performance in the country last week.
Anne-Marie shared tour life has made her more adventurous, food-wise. Besides sampling some nasi lemak, she bit into a fiery salad filled with cili padi and had a dessert made of Haw flakes candy at a local restaurant here.
As the sights and sounds (and dishes!) are constantly changing wherever she goes, to maintain some semblance of home, Anne-Marie said there is one thing she always has with her.
“Peanut butter,” she offered with a laugh. “I have it with me because I eat in the mornings with toast every day, and that just reminds me of home.
“And my band and the people that I work with, they’re all my friends. So it’s really great to have them around me. I never feel like I’m alone.”
Besides being on tour, Anne-Marie is currently working hard on her sophomore album.
Is it hard to find inspiration when the singer-songwriter is living from hotel room to hotel room?
“I get inspiration from everywhere. So it can be travelling to the airport, on the plane, in a hotel, in meetings, anything. I constantly come up with melodies and song titles.”
Anne-Marie adds she carves out time outside of her tour schedule to do most of the songwriting for the new album.
Friends, Ciao Adios and 2002 were all massive hits she co-wrote from her first album. Asked if she felt pressured to achieve the same success the second time around, she offers: “With the first album, I didn’t know what was a hit. So I feel like you just have to go into new music not knowing what will happen.
“Because sometimes, you think something’s a hit, and then you put it out and it doesn’t become a hit and sometimes it goes the opposite way. So you’ve just got to enjoy it and hopefully people like it too.”
She teases what’s in store in the upcoming release: “Obviously the subjects that I’ll be talking about is very real, very honest, and very much about real life and what I’m going through and what other people are going through. I don’t think it will ever stop being that way.”
Anne-Marie’s first international hit which catapulted her to fame at the end of 2016, Rockabye, struck a chord with single mothers everywhere.
The collaborative track with British pop band Clean Bandit told a moving story about a single mum trying to make ends meet.
“One of my best friends is a single mum right now. So it resonates a lot with her and I feel like when I’m on stage, I think about her. And hopefully all the single mums out there find strength in it because it’s hard.”
Anne-Marie has been forthcoming about her own struggles with anxiety.
In an interview with Guardian, she revealed: “I have a worry of people not liking me. I get scared walking into a room first, so I have to have people walk in before me so then people are distracted. It’s hard.”
She talks about taking care of herself, especially since her line of work involves being surrounded by people all the time: “I talk to my friends a lot, which is really important for me to do. And I always tell people to talk to others if they’re feeling a certain way because it helps so much, even though it’s quite a scary thing to do.
“I feel like I’ve gotten a lot better. But there are times when I’m really anxious. And funnily enough, being on stage is not one of them. I feel like when I’m on stage and I start singing, it goes away. When I’m off stage is where the anxiety starts,” she says.
“Also writing songs really help. So luckily for me, I get to do that,” she adds.
Anne-Marie also reflects on life as a public figure. She recalls being recognised on the street for the first time.
“I was getting my nails done in London in a store and a lady came in and she was like, ‘I just want to let you know that I love your music.’
“And I was like, ‘Wow, OK, thank you.’ And then she just walked out. She didn’t ask for a picture or a signature. And that’s really lovely.
“I feel like my fans really respect me and know that I get a bit anxious around new people. So they don’t come up to me and scream ‘Ahhh! (It’s Anne-Marie)’. They’re very kind people,” she says.
Anne-Marie talks about realising the influence she wields as a public figure and using it more responsibly.
“I’ve learned that only some people agree with my opinions. So, if I tweet something, I need to know that people are going to disagree sometimes. And
I guess before this, I didn’t really think about that. I would just be like, this is how I feel.
“But now, I have a responsibility. And I take that very seriously. When I’m posting something or saying something, I really want to take care of what I’m doing.”