Annie's Room: Embracing Niche and Perfecting Vibe
Meet Annie's Room, a group of dedicated session musicians who've formed a powerhouse of a function band. With roots ranging from the London jam circuit, to touring with One Direction, Annie's Room holds a wealth of experience in their musical arsenal. Read on to learn about their valuable advice on how they moved seamlessly from session to function.
We chatted with Jack Fisher, Annie's Room Bandleader, to learn all about this exciting new addition to the Headliner platform.
Tell us about yourselves. What makes up the heart and soul of Annie’s Room?
In a word; vibe. As a band we are committed to ensuring that all of our client’s requirements are met - whether it may be logistical or musical. But ultimately, the heart and soul of Annie’s Room is built on our love of music and our excitement to perform together. I’m very lucky to have a band full of incredible musicians who love nothing more than to rock out and have fun - and long may that continue!
You all started as session musicians. What made you come together and form a function band?
I met Max when I was in the house band at a jam night in London, years and years ago. We instantly clicked musically, and it wasn’t long before we had set up a session duo. I introduced Max to Sandy, as we needed to record bass on tracks from time to time, and that formed the core rhythm section of Annie’s Room. Sandy was insanely busy with his One Direction tours but always managed to find the time to work with us; we all shared the same work ethos and so the trio clicked pretty quickly too.
When Max and I decided it would be fun to expand the group and add a vocalist, Nika was the first and only name that came to my mind. I had also met her on the London jam circuit and what stuck me most was her insatiable performance. Not only was she constantly note perfect, but she knew exactly how to capture the attention of an audience. I’d wanted to work with her for years and this was the perfect excuse.
Matt is the newest addition to the band. We started up a Bandeoke night a couple of years ago and needed a guitarist. Max recommended Matt and he fit the bill perfectly. It was during those early Bandeoke nights that I realised the full potential of Annie’s Room - and so here we are!
That being said, what do you believe is the key to being a great function band?
I’d say there are many keys, as each band is different. But, a big one for me was to ensure that the band stands out and was not afraid to be niche. Many bands have almost exactly the same repertoire as each other - mix it up a little! A great band can keep the dance floor full regardless of the songs they play. So ditch Valerie, Mercy and Crazy (unless the clients have requested them, of course) and add a bit of variety! Always add new songs to your repertoire - each month aim to add at least five.
Also come up with a memorable name, musically arrange your repertoire so that each song is unique to your sound and look, then make sure the promo videos are outstanding.
The biggest key to success though, is vibe. A band’s job is to not just play songs, its to perform them, to own them and love them. Interact with the audience and they will stay on the dance floor all night.
What advice would you give to other session musicians who are thinking about starting a function band?
Treat the job with the same respect you treat session work. You may not be playing to thousands of people, but you’ll be performing at special occasions. Clients spend hours choosing the right band and if you’re lucky enough to be booked, then be the perfect professional and you’ll realise the performances are just as rewarding.
On the day arrive early, dress smart, know the repertoire, adapt to potential problems, don’t moan, don’t drink, be polite, make sure your gear works and rock out! Sandy followed that exact advice throughout his five years with One Direction - and it served him pretty well!
Do you find it beneficial to have different types of showreel? What would you recommend to other bands who are considering investing in new video?
Absolutely. Each client has different tastes and each booking has different requirements. We have found it works well to split up our showreels into separate categories so that clients can more easily find the songs they would like to hear. Whilst videos can be expensive and time consuming to produce, they are the most important part of promotion and so should be seen as a vital investment.
Who are you influenced most by?
Our music and performances are most influenced by the greats of soul, funk and pop; Prince, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder and James Brown. Their repertoire is vast and rich, the live arrangements are creative and imaginative, and their performances capture an audience regardless of age and gender.
What’s one of your favourite types of events to play at? Why?
We love performing at weddings. Especially when given the honour of performing the first dance. It is such a special moment and the whole day is based around family and friends in celebration. A band has the unique opportunity to enhance their client's special day, and that is something we thrive on.
How did you decide on your band name?
Funny story really, back when Max and I were working as a session duo we had a share in a recording studio in Wembley. We were the resident musicians that would record for artists that needed keys or drums laying down.
An artist from Latvia (whose name is Annie) flew over to do some work, but didn’t want the hassle and cost of booking hotels etc so we let her stay over at the studio. One night we were working through some songs, it was late and she wanted to get some sleep. I joked “Oh sorry, I forgot we were working in Annie’s Room”....and the name just stuck from there!
Tell us a fun fact about your band.
After every performance, Max and I will meet at a service station (usually Beaconsfield or Cobham as they have 24hr Starbucks!) and debrief about the event. We discuss what went well and how we can improve on little things before putting those ideas into action. It may sound silly, but our ethos is that unless you are constantly striving to improve, somebody else should be doing your job.