Ana Patan is a songwriter, singer and instrumentalist who blends a variety of cultures and styles in a witty and elegant 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 her 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 acquainted 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, getting an insight into their passion, attitude, behaviour and values.
During this time Ana was active in different music projects, such as Jazzmachine (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 features as a composer in the film production “Rosenstiehl”, as well as on an audio series created for the relaxation and preparation of flight pilots. She is a contributor on Devin Townsend’s latest album The Puzzle/ Snuggles, as a vocalist, composer and guitarist. Her guitar lines and songwriting are also to be found 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 electric instrument (photo underneath), and with a prototype model called The Black Prince, designed for none less than pop legend Prince (pic above).
The deep inspirational motor under all these musical adventures has always been Ana’s songwriting passion, that she kept alive at all times, while performing her compositions with a band or as a solo artist, in clubs or festivals, locally as well as internationally.
It was around 2009, during a period of extensive travelling and long-hours live performances, when catastrophe hit: Ana injured her guitar-playing wrist playing a concert 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 very common way of ending one’s career as a musician!
A real depression trap for Ana, by 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 a total lack of social, mental or financial support for a musician in need.
In her 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 to work, if at all. I tried to understand anatomy and chemistry, spent my days researching the net for similar cases, and eventually 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 acquitting 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 simply a practice towards 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 around ten years of challenges, the album is finally here! 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 recorded most of the bass tracks, and assisted the entire technical and the musical aspect, Jonathan Herrera contributed a small collection of amazing bass playing as well, and the drums were played by Zoltan Czörsz, of Flower Kings fame.
But what makes this record 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 it has finally just been released: on Ana’s Bandcamp page