Godmothers of Pop – Annabella Lwin interview
To many, Annabella Lwin – the face and voice behind Bow Wow Wow hits like I Want Candy and Go Wild In The Country – was the first wild child of pop. It was a turbulent story from the start, and it’s been a helluva ride ever since…
How do you look back on the “naked” controversy over the cover of Bow Wow Wow’s debut album, See Jungle…?
I don’t, as it was so long ago now. It’s only when I’m reminded that it brings memories flooding back. I think [photographer] Andy Earl did a superb job – it stands out after all these years.
You were seen as a wild child at the time… is that fair?
Well, it’s true to say I was a ‘child’ in so many ways. I was a 14-year-old teenager, surrounded by adults I did not get along with nor trust. There were a lot of crazy things going on I did not understand, in as well as out of the band. It was one big helter-skelter ride!
Do you think pop stars are as wild now, or has the business become tamer in comparison?
I have no idea who the so-called pop stars are these days, do you? As for being wilder or tamer, is there even a gauge any more? Thanks to the internet (and Steve Jobs, may he RIP) everything is more accessible now. When I was growing up, we had to go to a shop and buy music magazines to find out the latest news or watch TV.
There was a lot of confusion over the break-up of Bow Wow Wow – can you set the record straight?
We had been touring non-stop and I was informed we had one month off to recuperate. The rest I read in the NME saying I’d “stormed off stage” in America! The bass player/drummer and guitarist had decided to kick me out without notice to form another band, Chiefs Of Relief. I just feel bad for those fans that never experienced what Bow Wow Wow were really about.
You stayed very active after Bow Wow Wow finished…
There were contractual obligations. I was informed I had to write a new album and that another band would be put together for me, but things didn’t work out, so I asked the label to let me go as I needed time to think about whether I should stop singing. A lot had happened from 14 to 17, so I was a little overwhelmed and basically needed some anonymity. I formed a band when I signed a deal years later, but the album didn’t officially get released – another bass player I worked with showed their greed.
I picked up the pieces once again, and moved on. I moved to LA because my life as a singer in England seemed to stop. The few labels I saw kept telling me I was too old and should get married or retire – I was aged about 32! I’d spiritually fallen in love with America when I did the I Want Candy video.
How important are your beliefs?
I’m a practicing Buddhist and chant “Nam Myo Ho Renge Kyo” – it’s my daily wake-up call and regime that helps me in this life. I was born a Buddhist in Burma [renamed Myan Mar]. Sadly, it’s now a country full of turmoil and strife, ruled by a military junta. My father lived there, and when my parents divorced, my mother took me back to England.
What have you been up to since living in LA?
Chanting, writing, chanting, eating, chanting, chanting, sweetie, darling!
You regrouped Bow Bow Wow in the late Nineties. Was it a matter of unfinished business?
Not at all. I agreed to work with the former bass player hoping we could make Bow Wow Wow a bigger success, but it wasn’t the same since the lead guitarist passed away in 1995 – he was kind of the leader in that band. I love to sing, so when I was ready to have another go, I continued on this path. I’m always happy to see the fans smiling and clapping and dancing along to the songs, past and present.
Will any new material appear as Bow Wow Wow, or solo?
Since there is no official Bow Wow Wow, any new songs have to be under my name, I guess. I hope the fans still enjoy what I’m doing – whatever that is – but most importantly, I’m evolving as an artist. It’s part of a lifelong process.