The inspiration for song writing … hmmm … I think it starts with this capacity to respond to sound, to rhythm, to melodic line, to chordal progressions. And also at the core of it is something about needing to express something. I think that human beings are like sponges for all the externals that are affecting them. Sometimes I get ideas – they just come into my mind and it could be when I’m waking up or it could be when I’m the back of a taxi cab – that’s a very good place to be – why? Or the back of a train – why? Because I think you’re just sitting there and there’s a moving landscape around you where you’re able to be introspective, almost going into the dream world, but not quite. I’m checking out of the logical world and I’m moving into another kind of consciousness.
‘Sweet dreams are made of this – Who am I to disagree? Travel the world and the seven seas …’
If you look at the video for ‘Sweet Dreams’ which was all completely Dave’s – totally his conception – which is, I think, personally I think it’s brilliant. We put ourselves in the core of the music industry. We were in a board meeting room, with a table and chairs all around and the gold discs on the wall. We were just on the cusp of explosion in a way into the international arena of fame.
I don’t know how well we knew that at the time, but certainly that’s where we were poised. There are all kinds of sub-texts, when you look at ‘Sweet Dreams’, what it refers to and the planet and the natural world and taking the cow and having this creature juxtaposed within this … on the one hand it’s like nature and on the other hand it’s industry and the other hand it’s entertainment. ‘Sweet Dreams’ is like a mantra. ‘Sweet Dreams’ is not really like a normal song. It’s a statement about humanity and the human condition and it’s just saying we’re all in this dilemma, we’re born and we exist and we have our motivation which will take you here or it will take you there and everybody’s looking for something. That is a truth. It’s something that will last for ever.
‘Travel the world and the seven seas. Everybody’s looking for something …’
I was trying to figure out, you know, as a performer and as part of a duo with a man – with Dave Stewart – I was trying to figure out how do I present myself? Who are we? And we were very inspired by Gilbert and George – amazing performance artists at the time. I loved the sense that when I stepped on stage there was an ambiguity - can I say about my gender or my sexuality – I’m not sure – but it’s very easy to say ‘Ah, she must be gay’. But I’m not gay and that was interesting to me because I’m wearing a man’s suit it doesn’t mean I’m gay. I’m using this form of clothing to assert myself and to be as good as a man and to sort of neuter down the passivity of my own gender.
I never intended to have an archive, but it started really in the 70s with the tours. We were doing gigs and we were travelling and people were writing some horrific reviews and some great reviews and we’d be in the papers. And I would cut out these little cut outs and stick them in a scrapbook, really just as a keepsake. An archive really is a retrospective – I think that’s what’s lovely because all through my life I’ve always been onto the next, so just to have the opportunity to take stock and have it held in a space that people can come to and see the accumulation of all these things in one space is almost like a big breath for me. It’s like I can look back and go ‘That’s part of the essence – part of my life’. And I can share it with people and that’s quite a unique thing.
Annie Lennox talks about her creative process, and the ideas behind 'Sweet Dreams'.
DISPLAY: This display will reveal the diversity of performance design over the last four years and feature work that defines the edges of this global art-form. It will include designs across disciplines – from opera, dance, theatre, to pop music– and across contexts and platforms.