“First thing in the morning when you still have a foggy brain is a good time to write songs. If your brain is too alert you start cutting off your ideas,” she says, “I often think that songs are like dreams. Dreams are a bunch of images that seem unconnected but subconsciously you know what they mean. Songs can be the same.”
Capturing her musical dreams is one technique Coddington has developed to create her sound. She has a crisp, clear voice and her songs are relaxed and cheerful; it’s self-described ‘groovy indie guitar pop’, and it’s easy to keep listening.
Coddington taught herself guitar, and when she was 11 her dad taught her to play the drums. But she was 15 and at school at Hamilton Girls’ High when she began writing her own songs, and with two classmates she began a band, Handsome Geoffrey.
“From that point I knew music was something I’d never stop doing, whether or not it was my job,” she says.
After school she moved to Auckland to study and the band played with up and coming Kiwi acts including Goldenhorse and Goodshirt, then reformed as Duchess. At the same time she was doing her own solo shows, but ‘Anna Coddington’ really got established in 2008 with the release of Coddington’s first solo album, The Lake. She released Cat & Bird, her sophomore album, in February 2011.
“For my second album instead of just writing about my feelings I tried to be more imaginative,” she says, “The title track was a song imagining I was a bird in love with a cat, sitting watching from a tree. It turned out to be about forbidden love.”
While Coddington spends her mornings deciphering her dreams and writing her songs, she spends her afternoons in her studio at home, conveniently recording music at her own leisure.
It’s a way of producing songs that has brought her success. In 2011 she was nominated for three awards at the Waiata Maori Music Awards and won Best Maori Female Solo Artist along with Mina Ripia.
Award in hand, it’s onwards and upwards for Anna Coddington. She’s headed to Europe in March to perform and she plans to write a new album this year. Another project promises to produce more good music: Coddington has just teamed up with New Zealand music heavyweights Anika Moa and Julia Deans to form a new band, with Coddington on drums.
Anna Coddington ‘Little Islands’ tour, San Francisco Bath House, February 12.