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Essex-born Anne-Marie is now officially one of my favourite people in the whole world. A singer and songwriter, who rose to fame singing for the band Rudimental back in 2013, she’s been a familiar voice for almost a decade, but this is the first time I’ve been able to really get to know her, and I mean really get to know her. She’s just released a pretty remarkable documentary with YouTube, called How To Be Anne-Marie, and having now watched the entire thing, and chatted to her about it in real life, I can safely say she is a total delight.
The documentary takes us all the way back to those school days, the same ones that everyone said were going to be the ‘best days of our lives’, remember? Well, things didn’t quite work out that way for Anne-Marie because she once “cheated” on a boy (by being on the phone late at night to another – it was the school days, remember), and the rest was history. Kids can be pretty f*cking mean, and it led to her feeling pretty isolated growing up.
Part of the problem with a negative school experience is the toll it takes on you later in life. “I was a child that never spoke to anyone. I held everything in and I almost became mute because I didn’t want to give anyone a reason to say something bad or have a problem with me,” Anne-Marie revealed to POPSUGAR in a roundtable interview for the film. “I didn’t realise how traumatising that was as a person, to be mute, and not be able to talk until I got older. That’s from what I went through at school and as a result, I had trouble trusting people.”
Making the documentary forced Anne-Marie to revisit those school days, both physically and emotionally, as she takes us on a tour back in Essex. She said the visit made her “speak to my mum and dad about what happened at school, which was really scary.” But she also revealed that it gave her the fear that “people at school might turn round and go, ‘We never made her feel like that.'” Still, she confirmed that “going back there really made me realise that I do have to face it head-on and get through it, like you have to for all your problems really.”
Pop royalty Little Mix also feature in the documentary, chatting to Anne-Marie about the perils of being a woman in the music industry. “I didn’t realise they were going through stuff. After watching Jesy’s documentary, I knew that she went through some stuff and then talking to Jade, I knew she did too. But looking at them from an outside point of view, you just think that they’re absolutely fine. It was mad to me really, that they felt similar to me.”
On her idols and the topic of how times have changed, she noted “growing up looking at people like Christina Aguilera and Britney, I don’t think the media or anyone gave them the opportunity to be how we are allowed to be now. I feel like we are so lucky to be able to be so honest.”
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The topic of honesty is something that Anne-Marie is now even more familiar with than before. At the end of the film, she reveals she’ll be trying therapy and later. When I asked her about how it’s going she said “it’s been good! I actually tried to do it a couple years ago and I had about two sessions and I was like, ‘I’ve got everything off my chest now, I’m done!’ but I slowly realised that maybe that wasn’t the right way of going about it.” And she’s right, it really isn’t!
Finding a therapist, the right therapist, can honestly be one of the hardest things to do because it requires talking to not just one, but multiple strangers and telling them your deepest darkest secrets, if you’re so inclined. But it’s an incredibly important part of the process, if not the most important. For others considering therapy, Anne-Marie said she worries about “people that are trying therapy out and thinking, ‘That doesn’t make me feel good’ or ‘It wasn’t right’ because sometimes you are just with the wrong person and it takes a while to find your right person.”
Ending the documentary in the most unexpected way possible, Anne-Marie ends up doing a killer gig on the top of the O2 for a few select fans, on the stormiest day known to man. On the topic of her music itself, she told us “in every message that I tried to put out in a song, I always try to make people feel okay in the end. Whatever it is, whether it’s about heartbreak or struggling with anxiety, I always try to make someone feel like it’s okay to feel like that by the end of the song.” Talking about her upcoming releases, she revealed “in this new music that I’m making, I’m still trying to be very honest and talk about subjects that may be a little bit weird to hear on the radio.”
Adding to that, she confirmed she’s “been working with different producers and I’m a lot more positive in my brain. So, even if I’m talking about the same subjects as I am on the first album, it will be from a different mindset.”
How To Be Anne-Marie is available to watch on YouTube now.
Image Source: Will Beach