Annie Williams- Oh So Talented!

Annie Williams is such an inspiration to me. Her music takes you to the mountains in the west, so peaceful, so refreshing, so alive. Her voice is just so mesmerising and calm. I met Annie back when I was playing music as well in Springfield, Missouri, USA. Now Annie lives in Nashville writing music and designing beautifully crafted leather handbags. They are gorgeous. Simplistic and chic. I had a chance to chit chat with Annie and this is what she had to say:

• How did music come about for you? Did you grow up singing and playing guitar, was it just a natural thing or did it develop over time?
 I was raised by a nurturing mother.  She bought me a guitar at a flea market after she noticed me trying to play it while she shopped. My little 9 year old sausage fingers nearly bled. She put me in lessons and I never put it down.
• What inspires your music? You love the outdoors and being out west, does this influence your music? 
Music is my mental release. Making sounds out of an instrument instead of formulating words is such a primal and satisfying action, and then I add words later.  I definitely use western landscapes as metaphors. I draw energy from the mountains and from Wyoming because submerged within the wildness, I gain perspective on life and death. I feel my own mortality pressing in as a freshness to exist more intentionally. 
• Who are your musical influences? Can you remember the first album/Cd you bought? How did this album influence you?
The first tape I got was Stone Temple Pilots 'Purple.' I hid it under my pillow because my conservative parents would've taken it away, so I don't remember it too well because I was afraid to play it. Around that time I started making tons of mixed tapes of classic rock hits off the radio. The first song I learned to play when I got my guitar was The Animals' 'House of the Rising Sun.' I still hear it in my writing. Main inspirations have been wide ranging from The Boss, The Talking Heads, Whiskeytown and Bill Withers.  I've loved J. Tillman's music for a long time now too, and his new record 'Fear Fun' under the moniker Father John Misty is my favorite record this year. 
• I can’t stop listening to your latest album This Mountain, how did this album develop? Does your personal life impact your song writing? 
This mountain developed over my first few years of living in Nashville, TN. I had some intense things happen that jarred my sense of reality- so that's definitely reflected. I recorded it all over the city in different studios I could afford, and then landed in The Smoakstack with Justin March as my engineer. He mixed the record as well. 
• You’re not just a talented singer/songwriter you are also a handbag designer. Tell me about how this started?
In college I worked under my friend friend Josh Helke of Organic Climbing. I watched his company grow and learned far more from him than I did in my 4 years of trying not to flunk out of college. I got an industrial machine in Nashville and started messing around with leather because it was an easier material for me to work with than canvas. After making some clutches for myself and friends, I realized I had a knack for design and textures. 
• What inspired this season’s collection?
F/W 2012 was all original pieces that I first made for myself. I just organized them and gave them their place as the first collection. My platform as a designer is to make a product that a woman will carry her whole life. I believe durability and simplicity equal timelessness. 
• How would you describe your style? Does this influence your collection?
Because my husband and I move and travel for climbing, my wardrobe is small. It's limited to items that can be worn outside to hike/climb in but still look good to go to dinner straight off the trail. My 'uniform' right now consists of black stretch Levis, vintage waffle thermals and cowboy or duck boots. I'm hard on everything I own. One of the only pairs of heels I have are Clarks that look great scuffed up, so it's funny - my life style enhances the clothes I wear and vice versa. I guess as a default, I use myself as my target market. I choose leather because the more you beat it up, the better it looks, and then I keep the designs simple so the bag is versatile.
• Who are your favourite designers? 
My favorite designer is hands down Isabel Marant and I also enjoy the label Humanoid.
• If you could collaborate with anyone musically who would that be? 
Producer Nigel Godrich 
• And who would you love to collaborate with in the design world?
I'd love to collaborate with Carhartt.
• Do you have a favourite café, bookshop, gallery, shop, or website you gain inspiration from? 
I would say the airport and gas stations are my favorite places to gain inspiration and perspective. I'm also mostly alone all week in my studio gaining inspiration and immersing myself in podcasts and NPR. Lately I've been listening to Nocturnal Emotions with Har Mar Superstar. 
• Besides your own music what artists are you listening to at the moment? Does music inspire your collection? 
Damien Jurado's Maraqopa & Father John Misty's 'Fear Fun'  are on repeat. I've also gotten into Summer heart and Washed Out lately. I can't find a direct correlation yet between my music preferences and design inspiration - but I'm sure there's a connection lurking in the bigger picture.
• What’s next for you musically and with your collection?
I have three music projects on my table. My own, a duo band I formed with drummer and engineer Justin March called 'Francis Gila', and then I'm dabbling a bit with the amazing JJ Clark on some long distance electronic songs. The world won't hear these little fetuses until the end of next year. 
The next collection I'm working on is F/W 2013, and it includes some collaborations with a designer named Han Starnes. I'm branching out from leather into other natural textiles, so it's getting wild over in my Nashville studio. 
• Any advice you can give to new designers, musicians, etc?
If you feel compelled to express yourself, do so. If someone notices that expression and praises it, accept it, but don't limit yourself to that praise. If no one notices your mode of expression, keep it up. Hold fast to your convictions. Have a community of truthful people that keep you in line.

To shop her bags:

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