anouchka gwen swiss singer beautiful performance at montreux jazz festival 2022
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August 16, 2022
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Seeing Anouchka Gwen at the Montreux Jazz Festival was an absolute delight

We got the chance to meet with the Basel-based singer and songwriter shortly after her enchanting performance. Still thrilled by this long-awaited moment, Anouchka Gwen charmed us with her soft voice and amazing lime green outfit. We discussed her newly formed band, the concept behind her latest and first album, Utopia, escapism, bilingualism, and more. 
It wasn’t a sunny day on the Montreux Riviera but Anouchka Gwen’s euphonious voice could almost have dispelled its clouds. On the outdoor Super Bock stage of the Montreux Jazz Festival, Anouchka Gwen captivated the audience to the point that umbrellas seemed optional.

CHLOE BRUERE DAWSON - How did it feel to perform here at the Montreux Jazz Festival?
ANOUCHKA GWEN - was amazing really, it was so beautiful, everybody was so nice and caring, which is rare. It was so nice being here with the people. It started to rain and people still stood there, and it’s a Monday!

CBD - How did you start, and how did you come up with this band? You’re part of a band of really talented people.
AG - I started my solo projects in 2018. Before that, I was in a band playing bass and singing. The drummer had another group and they were writing their own things, which inspired me to do the same. I started writing my own songs, and when I became more confident, I uploaded them on Soundcloud. And then I was just like, “Hey, maybe let’s just start doing concerts?” And I booked myself a little Basel tour. From there it went just on. 
The band that I played with today is actually quite fresh. We started to play together last summer and had our first concert in November with the new album and the new project. It took time to get to know them and just figure out the kind of people I wanted in my group. I did auditions, talked to them to get the vibe, and I’m so happy to play with them now. They’re just so nice and talented.
CBD - You have such nice chemistry on stage, you can feel it! You released your first album, Utopia, at the beginning of the year. Can you talk to us a bit about it? You came up quite quickly with it if you started in 2018! 
ANOUCHKA GWEN - Yeah, it’s true. Actually, the pandemic helped! Being inside, having a lot of time to think about life, I started to write the final songs of the albums in May 2020 when the George Floyd protests were really present in the media. Like a lot of black people and POC, I was very active on social media. I was trying to educate everyone and just make people aware while we had that stage light on us. We could finally talk about these things and the structural problems we face. I was so exhausted and frustrated and just sad. I was not going to a good place. One day I just sat there in my room and said “Ok, let’s just forget what’s happening in the world. If I had the capacity, if I were god, what would I want in my world?”. Then I started to think about it, to imagine it, and instantly, physically, I felt that I was getting better. It was kind of magical, I was like “Wow, that’s such utopic thinking!” And I started to write the song “Utopia” with that. I took some older songs and wrote new ones. I tried to show that in my Utopia, old things have their space, new things have their space, and the current situation has its space. Everything is fluid and as long as it is consensual, good, and honest, it’s great! Because if think it’s not gonna happen in our lifetime, I called it Utopia. It’s more like dream thinking. It’s like an escape. That’s what I wanted to bring to the album through the songs, that’s why I wanted to change my songs compared to my EP, “Growth”. And I think it worked quite well!
CBD - It definitely did! You know synesthesia, where you feel colors for music. I would give a light purple or a light blue, like pastel. Do you have other comparisons you could make? For example, if Utopia was a movie, do you have an idea of what kind of movie it would be?
ANOUCHKA GWEN - Actually, I do have a movie in mind. It would be “HER” by Spike Jonze. It’s a weird story, but every time I watch it, I can just weirdly relate! I just love the aesthetic of it, the colors, everything is so soft and blurry. You can kind of see through the colors. I like the composition of everything. It’s minimalistic but it’s still a warm world. It’s not in the real world, I can’t really say what year it is, but I can still relate to it. So I think this would be the movie. 
CBD - That’s such an interesting answer, thank you! In the album, you mainly sing in English but you also sing in French. What creative relationships do you have with those languages?
ANOUCHKA GWEN - The album is in English and French, and it was the first time I sang in French. French is my mother language and I mostly speak it with my family. It’s very close to me, it just takes me back to another me, at home, being with my family. I’m really different when I speak French so for a long time, I just didn’t link these two things, my music and my family, because it’s not the same for me. But I wanted to change that because I love French, I think it’s a really poetic language that brings out another side of me. So I tried that with “Le Vent” and partly in “Utopia”. It just fits me and kind of also shows that “hey it’s me, I’m bilingual”. I always write in English. I grew up with English media, and I learned English through MTV, I think everybody my age did! For me it’s just common and kind of easier to explain myself because I also think in English. It switches between Swiss-German, English, and French, but French is when I’m very vulnerable. 
CBD - You had another project called « Utopia », an interview project at the beginning of the year, can you talk a bit about it?
ANOUCHKA GWEN - That was a project very dear to my heart if I can say that, even if it’s cheesy. I only interviewed black people because the idea of “Utopia” (the album) came at that moment when « Black lives matter » was blowing up. That time was horrible for a lot of people. I wanted to give a platform to young black people in my city where they can talk about good things. About what they think, what makes them happy being in a community with black people… Black people in Switzerland never really get the chance to talk about the good things, it’s always to educate people. It’s very exhausting and we don’t get paid for that. I also feel like we don’t have to do that because we live in a time where information is very quick and easy to get. I wanted to show another side of being a young black person living in Europe, to focus more on what they want, what they like, and why BIPOC safe spaces are important living here. I think you can really get lost if you don’t have that, and it’s something magical. I wanted them to tell people what it is like and share these beautiful moments.

CBD - You said your first album Utopia was a form of escapism for you. What would you want to bring your audience through your album?
ANOUCHKA GWEN - I want them to be able to relate. I just want people to sit down and take their time, have this escape and not feel alone anymore with overthinking. I’m an Aquarius so I overthink a lot, and I know many people deal with that too. So I just wanted to give them that space through dreamy soundscapes and a lot of basses. Sounds where you can just lay down and listen to it, that can maybe trigger something to think. A lot of people don’t allow themselves to think, while it’s so important and healing. This is something I also wanted to bring in this album. I want it to be some sort of catharsis, a healing process.
CBD - After Montreux Jazz, you have some shows coming up until mid-august. You said that after that, you’ll stop touring to focus on writing and composing. Could you give us a little teaser? Do you already know in which direction you want to go?
ANOUCHKA GWEN - I don’t really know yet, that’s why I wanted to take some time. I already posted some of the things I’ve been writing on Instagram. I think I will take this time to process things and focus on self-love and healing. Healing is never ending, and I don’t think we talk about it enough. We just suppress a lot of feelings in this society. I’m in a phase of my life where I’m still finding myself, I’m only 25. It’s a very interesting time so I just want to give more space to healing, progressively going through the phases, and bringing people on this journey.

Utopia is available on all streaming platforms. Watch the music video for Utopia down below.

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