Following is 1999 interview from defunct HEARSAY magazine: which Neil and Ewen exchange musings, observations and dream therapy with divine chanteuse and songwriter ANNA DOMINO in the wake of a new compilation and a new band project, SNAKEFARM (which gently swept the nation in Sept 1999 - we spoke to AD about it three years earlier so never let it be said you didn't hear it here first!). The unexpurgated 'Anna Papers' appeared in Hearsay #14b and The Portable Hearsay.

HEARSAY: Do you think an outsider can unravel the mysteries of America better than a bona fide American, in the way that Wenders manages in Paris, Texas?

ANNA DOMINO: In the sense we can't see what's in front of us, yes. America is a myth. All history is tall tale for that matter. The people here first have to recreate themselves from fragments. The people who followed by volition or violation make a lot of noise right now and live in a very young culture. We get to dress up as a variety of fictional characters and eat deep-fried food, like children. The cowboys out on the range wear those ten gallon hats and them pointy boots as much because they've seen the movie as any larger purpose. Same difference here in NYC - all dressed in skinny black or huge sportswear. The thing you realise once you leave anywhere is how much you're defined by your language, looks, clothes and mannerisms... And though you aren't the sum of those, how little you'd have without them. That desolate thing is America. It's not hard to find your metaphor in or of it, but can you see how big, how huge it is? USA is for whatever you want to find, or don't. We need new meanings for these letters (universal symbol approximator? under sun anything? utterly slavish acquisitiveness?). There's simplicity here, at least single-mindedness, that will be clouded in time with increasing, and relevant, gripes. Bye bye, empire... Hello, civil strife (and adulthood?). ...But you asked me a question. I think America is a great place to hide and certainly someone from elsewhere would find it easier to turn over a rock, unafraid of what they'd find, because they can retreat from it, unlike someone who must call it home (except David Lynch and Primus and...). I predict that in a hundred years the USA will be three countries, or six, each heavily armed against its immediate neighbour.

Tell us a little about the Snakefarm covers project; the band you've assembled and the choice of material...

Years of research have led me to the obvious. When I was twelve I took guitar lessons above a shop called The Blue Note from an old looking man who sat and smoked and had me listen to the classics. Scratchy old blues and folk records; songs of drunk wives and trains and murder and trains and jail and heroes, on trains. Michel and I arranged it and invited a band called Lazy Boy to play on it, as well as other old friends. We aren't quite done. Early 1997 I'd say.

The appeal of the folk songs you cover with Snakefarm is traditionally oneof reflective melody and yet, from the tracks we've heard so far, you seem to have taken a dramatically different approach, playing down the melodic lines and constructing your performances around rhythms or grooves. Was it important to you, when recording well -known songs, to reinvent them? What of yourself do you hope to invest in the songs?

These songs have been around. Some go back to British street ballads. Others came down from the Appalachian hills. They have dozens of verses and different melodies and everyone who sings them changes them a little, makes them theirs. My grandfather sometimes sang after dinner, same melody for every song and often a new verse or two. You are, no doubt, familiar with some renditions provided by saints: Woody Guthrie, Huddie Leadbetter, Cisco Huston, Barbara Dale and Odetta. What do I hope to invest? "NOW" These songs remain relevant, moving and scary. To keep them from becoming relics they get reinterpreted every few decades. I used a strong rhythm section because I love that and don't get much chance to with my own melody-centric music. Mostly the songs adapted themselves, some got a little bent, but not irreparably. One lullaby went over a Black Sabbath drum loop, but it works. They're unusual arrangements but they're still just variations on our ancient themes. And it is so much fun!

We first heard your voice emanating from The The's Infected album. And, most recently, you've worked with Stephin Merrit on the 6ths release. How did both of these collaborations come about and what are your memories of working with Matt and Stephin?

They each called me out of the blue, I sang the parts and wished there was more, I love collaborating. For The The we were in a tiny, fancy, recording studio here in NY. You could watch yourself on a big screen in front of the control board which we thought was hilarious. For the 6ths Stephin sent an ADAT tape, I worked alone, then we came over and we talked for hours about other things. There was one 6ths performance which was fun, but exhausting for Stephin (12 singers!).

I sent Snakefarm to Matt after I heard his Hanky Panky tribute to Hank Williams. He liked it enough to tell me so. These days he's just down the street, working and worrying about the hardest part of his record, the words. We will meet next week to discuss lyric strategy (good idea don't you think?)... Stephin, when in town, stays with relatives and doesn't give out the number. He is shy and knows, whether he knows it or not, the importance of keeping to yourself. He appears fragile but is really focused on what counts - work and love - and that takes a lot of concentration.

Who or what has had the profoundest influence on you, artistically? Do you take inspiration from fields outside of music such as cinema, literature and art, as well as music?

Influences aren't the same as inspiration are they? They're hard to separate. NYC is my biggest inspiration, followed by everything else. I don't get out much because when I do it takes a while to get back. Movies are hardest, especially scary ones. A week after seeing one I'm still dreaming it. A friend told me recently she thinks frightening films are replacing our myths - yet more work for the analyst who must trace the patients' dreams to Hammer horrors and Hellraiser. I have to be careful about music sometimes. The same way movies slip into your dreams and actors seen on the street are mistaken for people you actually know, someone else's sound can change my mind. I work on instinct and don't question my motives when writing so it's only later I'll realise I've lifted a passage from something I heard at the time. This is a fine way to start (arranging puzzles) but I'm after my own sound now. And then major influences are like exposure to the sun: whether or not you get melanoma once you're grown up has more to do with what you soaked up as a child. All I know is only music is strong enough to take me out of myself and make me glad - and it's time I wore my own hats - wouldn't you say?