The Internet can be a wonderful and thrilling place as it can inspire the sort of serendipitous discovery that’s necessary if you’re an audiophile or a music blogger; however, the Internet can also be a powerful reminder of the relentless passing of time — and that no matter what, you’re not getting any younger. Now, as a child of the 80s, Nena‘s “99 Red Balloons” or if you preferred the original German version, “99 Luftballoons” was a mega-hit back in 1984 as it captured and evoked everyone’s fear of nuclear annihilation.
Back in 2013, I wrote quite a bit about Anika Henderson, best known under the mononym that she writes, records and performs under, Anika . Initially, Henderson spent her professional career as a political journalist, who split time between Berlin and Bristol, UK when she was introduced to Geoff Barrow, who’s best known for his work with Portishead. At the time Barrow was looking for a vocalist, who would work with his band Beak> for what would be a side project. And as the story goes, Henderson and Barrow bonded over a mutual love of punk, dub and 60s girl groups. About a week later, Barrow, Henderson and the members of Beak> went into the studio to record what would eventually turn out to be Henderson’s 2010 self-titled full-length debut, completely live with Henderson and the band in the same room without overdubs — and in 12 days.
2013 saw the release of Henderson’s self-titled EP, a collection of covers and remixes that included Henderson’s murky, Portishead and The Velvet Underground and Nico-inspired cover of Chromatics’ “In the City.” And what the self-titled EP revealed is that Henderson, Barrow and company have a way of covering a song with a unique take that makes a song their own — and in the case of Chromatics’ “In The City,” their cover feels as though it was always their song. That’s a rare thing, indeed.
Recently Invada Records, run by Barrow released an icy, lo-tech analog synth electro pop and dub-leaning cover of Nena’s “99 Red Balloons” by the mysterious Invada All Stars featuring Anika on vocals as part of this weekend’s Stop Trident National anti-nukes demonstration in London, a demonstration protesting the renewal of Britain’s nuclear weapons system. Proceeds from the digital single will go to the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND).
Additionally Henderson is part of a new project Exploded View which will release their debut single in March and play SXSW. The project’s debut effort is slated for release later this year through Sacred Bones Records.