Anna Palmer tells Stefan Kucharczyk why she likes to hide behind her piano when things get scary.
While the recent monsoon weather doesn't readily inspire images of tropical paradise, one Birmingham singer is currently basking in the glow of sunny acclaim.
Jazz-pop pianist Little Palm, real name Anna Palmer, is quickly emerging as one of the city's hottest new talents.
Impressing audiences across the city with her ensemble of quirky numbers, the Solihull singer is also behind a Piece of Pie, a project to help promote emerging local musicians in the region.
Bringing together artists from around the city, the showcase event, launched by Anna last year, is set for another helping in Birmingham next month.
Although she is happy to celebrate the success of others, after a busy twelve months Anna, 17, is grateful for the chance to savour her own coming of age.
"I feel like I have got my feet on the ladder finally," she said. "The last year has been really crazy."
Shy and intense, Anna is modest about her growing successes even if others are using the string of performances stashed under her diminutive belt as cause for excitement. Seducing audiences with her moody, bluesy charm, she was a star of Birmingham's show case music event Gigbeth last autumn with her performance at the Glee Club.
Indeed, while she has been touring the venues of Birmingham, including slots at Digbeth hotbeds the Rainbow and, more recently, at Barfly, Anna has been forced to balance her love of music with studying for her A Levels at Stratford College.
"I was hoping to get into the studio but I have been busy revising," she admits. "There are only so many days in the week."
"This summer is going to be important for me, though." she said. "hopefully I will have the recording for my album finished by the end of it."
"I am looking really forward to 'Piece of Pie'," she added. "It's agreat opportunity to say thank you to all the bands who have supported me."
After experimenting on the piano at her family's home in Solihull, Anna, a self confessed "little performer", began lessons at the age of seven. A few years later she was beginning to compose her own songs.
Anna began performing as Little Palm in 2007 and in that short period has built a small but loyal local following. With her backing band boys in tow, Anna has a busy summer touring schedule with a slew of gigs in Birmingham including a special guest performance at this year's Local Media Awards at the ICC.
While a good majority of her peers are still chirruping along to High School Musical or the latest transient pop 'sensation', hearing Anna talk passionately about music reveals a maturity and emotional depth that belies her 17 years.
"I do get nervous," she admits. "It's just me and my piano at the front of the stage, so it can be scary. I am not great at talking between songs - I usually start rambling on. Once I have started playing, though, I am myself again. The guys in my band are experienced performers so they give me lots of support."
"I am a very private person, even when I am composing," she said. "I like to lock myself away and nobody gets to hear it until it's finished. Even my family don't get to hear songs until they're played live."
In addition to influences as diverse as blues singer Nina Simone and anarchic pussycat Siouxsie Sioux, Anna draws more than just melodic inspiration from the late American singer, Jeff Buckley.
"I love the way he [Buckley] plays with such a range of emotions," Anna notes. "he has a harder edge but can also sing so beautifully. He wasn't trying to please people - he just wanted to be himself. That is really important to me."
As Anna and her band prepare for the studio this summer, her initial demo recordings should have gig goers scurrying for the superlatives. While 10 Seconds is a beautiful ode to lost love her vocal talent is allowed to shine on Now and the song's showy, jerky piano riff is paired beautifully with some achingly rich vocals.
With a sound that is both beautiful and strange it is perhaps curious that she is often compared to bling-pop starlets Lily Allen and Kate Nash. Although the faux cockney patter and attitude as brash as their costume jewellery may grab headlines and popular airwaves, by its very nature, it is not built to last.
"I can't understand why I get compared to Lily Allen," said Anna. "I would love the acclaim that they she has but we sound nothing like each other. The last thing I want is to be put into a bracket with her. It is just lazy journalism."
Not me, guv. A more accurate comparison can be found buried in the twisted ballads of spiky folk queen Regina Spektor and from the warmer tones of Canadian singer, Feist.
While times are good, Anna is already thinking seriously about the future.
"I am always looking for new experiences to help inspire me," Anna said. "I really want to see the world, go travelling and meet other musicians. It will give me something new to write about. Not everyone is going to want to hear me sing about my first love forever."
Perhaps not forever, but for now, certainly they will. As young performers often disperse when life beckons, so the same must be assumed for this singer. Wielding an accomplished musical knack and emotional astuteness at a relatively young age, this is the time to catch Anna Palmer in her rawest state.
With Piece of Pie a good bet for summer excitement this July and a ten track album just around the corner, this is a singer on top of her game even if Little Palm may just be a fleeting incarnation for Anna Palmer.
For more information, look up annapalmer. co.uk or myspace.com/flyonalittlewing