Ana Patan is a German songwriter, singer and instrumentalist of Romanian origins who blends a variety of cultures and styles in a witty and sophisticated music statement, congenial and familiar, still difficult to place.
Her main instrument is electric guitar, and her style has been described as “world-influenced grooving rock-jazz, alternative inflected, prog-related, at 33 ⅓” (Radio Eclectic).
In her late teens, as she continued with her school into the Economics university and moved to Bucharest, things started to take off in her music and, with the winning of a notable national festival-contest, she ended up in the media’s attention and performing on some of the country’s largest stages, surrounded by many of her music idols.
Following a lifetime dream of exploring the rest of the world, Ana went on to break the patterns of her personal and musical growth by crossing the national borders and getting aquainted for the next seven years with the art of guitar playing, jazz theory, composition and sound engineering, at several academies in Munich, Frankfurt and Berlin. She studied guitar with Mike Stern and Regi “The Teacha” Wooten, amongst others.
Most of her musical knowledge though came from real life interaction and playing with accomplished musicians from across the globe, thus getting an insight into their passion, attitude, behaviour and values.
During this time Ana was active in different music projects, such as Jazzmachine (featuring prominent German musicians Stefan Zaradic, Abi von Reinighaus, Thomas Lui Ludwig, Benno Sattler, Andreas Keller, Christian Felke, Thorsten Skringer, Christoph Viktor Kaiser), with which she recorded an album (Moongroove, 2009) and a live DVD (2005). Ana contributed as a composer in German film production “Rosenstiehl”, as well as on a series of CDs created for the relaxation and preparation of flight pilots, and as a guitarist and songwriter on albums by Vince (Neherlands), John Denner (USA), Harrison Fjord, etc.
Ana Patan was the guitar player and vocalist of Triple Sweet, an all-girls band with a rather eclectic lineup of accordion, blues harp and electric guitar.
As an endorser of Hohner guitars, Ana performed throughout the world with her special white Revelation instrument (pics underneath), and with a prototype model called The Black Prince, initially designed for pop legend Prince (pic above).
At the same time she has been touring with her own songwriting project, on all kinds of stages, from clubs to festivals, local and international.
It was around this period of extensive travelling and long-hours live performances when catastrophe hit: Ana injured her guitar-playing wrist during a concert played on a bad flu with high fever. The diagnose came similar to a death sentence: carpal tunnel syndrome, a painful damage of wrist tendons, and a way-too-common way of ending one’s career as a musician!
A real temptation for depression, in the sudden lack of music in her life, pricey though ineffective treatments, medical experts way too eager to cut the wrist open and amputate finely-tuned reflexors formed during long years of instrument practice, and no social, mental or financial support for a musician in need.
In Ana’s words, “Sometimes you need a good fall to wake up. Since no solution came from outside, I took it upon myself to find my own cure, aware it might take years, if it would even work at all. I started studying anatomy and chemistry, spending my days researching the net for similar cases, and eventually I found a way out. It was a very long healing process, paved with pain and very often hopeless desperation but I kept my eyes on the end rewards. I had promised myself to make the album I had always wanted to make, the one that had always been put away by fears and excuses.”
It took almost two years to start playing guitar again. Piano was picked up as a replacement instrument to build fingers strength and keep the compositional flow going.
The wrist never really got back into the same shape again, but with care and patience it started aquitting itself of its delicate duties. A new musical concept, out of the vision of a stronger and more determined young woman started defining itself. Hundreds of songs were written, recorded as demos, refined as arrangements, wrote down as instrumental parts. The right musicians were carefully sought after, who would care about the concept, understand it and help it grow. The right equipment was put together, even modified or built, if necessary. That meant, over many years, many sessions of trying, failing, readjusting and trying again, an ambitious project without much outside support, at least for the beginning.
“I broke down countless times thinking that I’m not good enough to do it, that somehow life itself is putting up these obstacles in front of me to discourage me from my path. I had to slowly learn to change that mindset, and see all difficulties as practice towards simply becoming a better musician and human being. I had to give up on the very idea of making an album after realizing along the way that this is really not the point of the whole journey, but only a (possible) by-product.”
Long story short, after more than seven years of challenges, the album is finally ready to be released! Self financed and produced, it took a few miraculous turns, like when for example Devin Townsend himself showed his support by playing on it! Bass legend Jonas Hellborg assisted the entire technical as well as the musical aspect, and the drums were played by Zoltan Czörsz of Flower Kings fame.
But what makes it really stand out is its raw, simple, natural sound. It has been recorded entirely analog on 2 inch tape, not without the inherent hardships. The songs are performed as in a live setting, with very simple instrumentation, without metronomes or computerised timing, with only a necessary minimum of compression, EQs or effects. The music breaths in an organic pulse without tiring the ear. And, the best part, all musical content has been delivered without compromise, none of the initial ideas has been sacrificed for cosmetical or commercial purposes along the way.
The album is called “Spice, Gold and Tales Untold” and the first songs have already been released. Click here to see them on Ana Patan’s Bandcamp page.