Last night, AnOther held the first Spotlight Salon at the Chiltern Firehouse, with three incredible women, Marianne Faithfull, Anna Calvi and Samantha Morton. The evening marked the start of an ongoing series of intimate, female-led salons and special video commissions, in partnership with Absolut Elyx and André Balazs' beautiful properties across the world.
With a career spanning five decades, Marianne Faithfull will release her new album, Give My Love to London, which was was played for the first time last night to guests at the Spotlight Salon. The publication of a glorious coffee table book published by Rizzoli will follow in November, as well as a world tour.
The album features collaborations with artists including Nick Cave, Leonard Cohen and Anna Calvi who co-wrote the track Falling Back with Faithfull. Acclaimed filmmaker Samantha Morton will work with Martina Hoogland Ivanow for the music video of Falling Back which will be premiered on anothermag.com in August.
Guests including Faithfull's former collaborator PJ Harvey, Gareth Pugh, Bella Freud, Matthew Stone, Sue Webster and Benn Northover, witnessed the three women candidly discussing their working practices, their personal experiences of collaboration and the distinct lack of females in the music production and film director fields, with host Laura Bradley.
Here, alongside photographs by Rosaline Shahnavaz and live illustrations by Helen Bullock, we present key quotes from the evening.
Marianne Faithfull on Give My Love to London: "I was talking to a young girl recently and I couldn't understand what she was saying. I think she was speaking this new language called 'Kardashian'. What she was trying to say was that she thought it was wonderful that I'd written a love song to London, celebrating the wonderful times I'd had in the swinging sixties. I was astounded, and explained that it's actually a very sarcastic song. It's also a very ambiguous song – in some ways I do love London but I know I can't come back. I sort of fell back in love with London again [working on the album] because I had such a great time with the people I was working with."
Marianne Faithfull on collaboration: "When I first met Anna, I could see that she could collaborate. Not everyone can. You really have to leave your ego at the door. My first impressions were that she was very beautiful and that she had a very nice guitar. We ended up having a lot of fun... It's usually fun working with women."
Marianne Faithfull on learning: "I learnt a lot about making records going to the Rolling Stones' and Beatles' sessions. I was there as a pretty-little-fly-on-the-wall but I learnt a hell of a lot."
Anna Calvi on collaborating with Marianne Faithfull: "I was really impressed with Marianne's instincts. And that's something you can't teach – you either have it or you don't. One has to know where a song should go and how to develop a story, and for the two artists to have unity. I never thought I could share the songwriting process because I'm such a private writer. It's very intimate. I close the curtains, I lock the door. The thought of anyone hearing me terrifies me which I know sounds strange because I sing in front of people every night. To share that moment with someone is very special. To work with Marianne in her apartment in Paris, in bright sunlight, was really amazing. We wrote the song in 20 minutes – it was incredibly productive! I remember her speaking the lyrics of her songs and I listened to her voice thinking, 'God, she could make a shopping list sound incredible.' Her voice has so much depth."
Samantha Morton on the importance of working with others: "Over the years, I've mellowed out. I know my limitations better. I know what I'm capable of. I couldn't do what I do without the people I have around me. You have to learn to relent in certain areas. Otherwise you become your own worst enemy. I think if we are gifted enough, we can naturally communicate with others, do other things as well, as women, we kind of have to, it’s inbuilt in us."
Samantha Morton on hearing Falling Back for the first time: "I took myself away to a quiet place to listen to the track. I was in pieces because it felt really personal to me, very familiar. It's funny really – like when you first get into a band or musician or writer and you feel like they're writing for you and you know what they're talking about. It felt like the song had started in the middle of a thought rather than the beginning of a thought. It was like you'd written something that I'd been thinking."