A lot can change in three years. As Victoria Port, one half of genre-bending Brighton duo Anushka, sits down with a beer to discuss their return, we begin to take stock of the many twists and turns, highs and lows, since our last interview. "So much has changed," she tells me. "I won't lie. It was a little bit scary and daunting."

After signing to Giles Peterson's Brownswood label in 2013, Port and her musical partner Max Wheeler began a two-year rollercoaster of tours and international festivals, culminating in the release of their well-received debut Broken Circuits. "That time was so incredible but so hard. I'm not going to completely look back with rose-tinted glasses." She pauses. "It was amazing and we got to do some amazing things but I was broke. Everything I made I was pumping back into Anushka. That's pretty much all I was doing. Yeah, it was really fun but it was still really hard work. I wish I enjoyed it a lot more than I did. I wish I had relaxed into it."

In the intervening years, both Port and Wheeler have married their respective partners and Wheeler now has two children (the youngest was born four days before this interview, hence his absence today). So, it's left to Port to tell me how despite health problems and a tour that nearly ruined their creativity, Anushka have not only survived but are flourishing with a new-found perspective and a fire in their bellies. With a UK tour and a new EP just around the corner, Port has the past in her rearview and she's not turning back.


A lot has changed since we last sat down to chat.

So much has changed. I won't lie. It was a little bit scary and daunting. We're not with Brownswood anymore which is probably the biggest change. If you've listened to a lot of their latest releases, you'll know they are moving down that real jazz avenue. There's nothing negative between us, it just wasn't a good fit anymore. So, we've gone with Five Missions publishing company and we're releasing on this label – Yossarian Records – which is really good. We're still tight with the Brownswood crew and nice vibes and thing.

You haven't been sending death threats to Giles then?

Well, if I admit to it in this interview then he'll know that all those horses' heads that have been turning up at his house are from me. Sorry, Giles.

Not only have there been some personal changes for you and Max, but the industry has changed too. How do you feel throwing yourself back into the fray again?

I've never had such high anxiety in my life. When we just released 'Do You Have Soul?', I suddenly had this thing like, 'we're been away for so long, I'm an old lady now'. But all these things you think of, especially as a woman, every creative industry has quite an ageist element to it. I was kinda like 'oh my god am I still relevant? Are the kids gon' care?'

I'm interested in the conversations you and Max must have had after everything died down after Broken Circuits and you started approaching the next record. What were those conversations like?

We wrote a whole album near-enough and scrapped it. It just wasn't right or good enough. We just got off tour with Gorgon City and this was when 'Ready for Your Love' went crazy. We toured with them twice. In some ways, as Max and I keep saying, they're incredibly talented boys and lovely, but it almost fucked up our shit a little bit because it was like 'this is what it could be for us'. We need to write this record.

You wanted a piece of that pie.

I saw that pie. I was on that tour bus and I was like 'Mmhmmm! You get THREE dressing rooms? I want some of that!' But we've got two managers and an agent, and when you're a team and your success determines if bitches gon' eat or if they're not gon' eat then you're kinda like, ok, I need to up my game. Not up my game…I guess we tried to write a more commercial record. The feeling we got from people was that we were this crossover act that were straddling left-field and mainstream. So, we tried to write this album that wasn't really who we are and what we're about and it got slightly frustrating and killed the creative process for me and Max. This isn't what we're about.

I think a lot of artists end up chasing after radio hits and I often wonder how much of that was their own decision or if it was forced upon them. Do they really have a passion for it?

I feel happy and passionate about all the songs on Broken Circuit and some of them are real poppy. 'Never Can Decide' is such a radio-friendly pop song. But I wasn't trying to write a radio pop hit or anything like that. I just write whatever comes out of me. And that's what also messed with me as well is that for our first album there was no expectation and then suddenly it was like, right, we need to write these good, happy, poppy love songs or whatever and I was trying to write them and, I think you can tell when something is forced. It was an album of forced songs. We were just like, nah.

What did you end up writing about? What are the main themes that you've been drawing upon?

I had loads of health problems for ages. I'm not one of those people that like to make excuses like 'I'm sick' but I had all this health stuff and I was in and out of hospital. Nobody really knew about it. Not even Max knew the in-depths of all of it. I know this sounds so corny but it just made me re-evaluate so much stuff. It made me think how I view the world spiritually. You'll hear this on the next batch of songs as well but my frustrations with, like, every time I turn on the news. It's not like it's super-political. I always to write ambiguously so it's not ever being shoved down your throat but there's always little, hidden meanings.

You're taking in the world around you as well as your emotional self?

Definitely. And the same old standard story, same with Broken Circuits, but your relationships with others. Realistically, how we interact with other people is, for me, the most important part of your life. I don't mean just romantic relationships but every single interaction is an exchanging of energy, isn't it? It's kinda about that.

It feels like there's a new sense of purposefulness on 'Mountains' and 'Do You Have Soul?' which is also reflected in the production and artwork. I wanted to ask if that's reflective of yours and Max's lives now?

I'm sure he won't mind me saying this but Max went through a really difficult time with his first child – which happened in the middle of us trying to [establish ourselves as] an act - and I think it just opened his eyes. It opened my eyes. Max and I always say about the two of us that a lot of bands break up after a couple of years. We have managed. We annoy each other, we fight, we argue, he does my head in, I do his head in, but we are just really good friends and we've been through a lot together. We've had to see and go through some real shit and still try to make some music throughout that. And that's probably what you can hear.

Definitely. And if you contrast some of the anxiety and uncertainty of the lyrics on Broken Circuits with something like 'Mountains', there's quite a big contrast there. Do you feel that in yourself?

Yeah. Weirdly I don't really listen to my own music ever. But I was driving to work and I thought, 'I'm going to listen to Broken Circuit' and there's so many songs that I haven't listened to in years because we don't play them live. It was like looking at this old version of myself. 'Echo' and 'Fire to Me', and all those kind of songs, it was really cutesy. I got really offended by our review in the Guardian. It was all really positive but the last bit was like 'if somewhat a bit twee at times' and I was like 'twee?' But then I would listen to it and I was like 'oh no I can see'. I had to look up what twee meant. But once I looked it up I was outraged. I was like 'don't come for me bitch. I will cut you' (laughs). I'll start writing poison pen letters to the Guardian.

More horse heads?

Exactly. All those things.

Which song are you most excited about for people to hear?

Out of all the new ones? There's a track called 'Bad Weather' which I just feel like it's gonna be, like, English festival hit. It's about…you know when you're at a festival and it rains but you don't give a fuck? It's that track. It makes me really happy every time I hear it. That's the one I'm quite excited about people hearing.

I'm excited for another Anushka tour. I've had so many great nights at your shows. That Great Escape show when people couldn't even get in, particularly stands out.

That was so good. Yeah. That was a moment. We've had some good moments. Weirdly, I'm my own worst critic. I'm from a family that are like that. Really high achievers and they're never…even if you do something good it's like 'oh great, next thing?' That's like my mum and dad. I remember I said I was playing Glastonbury and they were like 'how much are you getting paid?' That was the first question!

No way!

Yes! Swear down. I remember when I got played on the radio and they were like 'oh ok', y'know? Which is good because it's kept me really hungry. But one of the promoters for the London show wrote a blurb and I was reading it and I was like, yeah, we've done some really good stuff. We live in a world which is like 'next thing, next thing, next thing' and sometimes you forget the things you've achieved. It's nice to look back and think we've achieved all of that. Tick. Gold star. It's all good. Relax. You can move on and do the next little bit of things.


Check out Anushka's forthcoming live dates, along with a stream of their most recent song, 'Hitman'.

Fri 9th March - Patterns - Brighton
Thu 15th March - Vaga - Copenhagen
Fri 16th March - Headrow House - Leeds
Thu 22nd March - Hug & Pint - Glasgow
Fri 23rd March - Underworld cafe - Dundee
Thu 12th April - Pickle Factory - London
Fri 13th April - Rough Trade - Bristol