In the fabric of ‘Sweater’, you’ll unpick the threads that have inspired UNCO[V]ERED feature Bow Anderson her whole life: the passion and bombast of 60s Soul, strong female role models like Beyonce, and the beats and attitude of modern hip-hop.
“Sweater’ is a breakup song, first and foremost,” Bow Anderson says. “My first relationship wasn’t great, but obviously with your first relationship you have nothing to compare it to – so you only realise how bad it got afterwards. ‘Sweater’ is about not being able to get past someone who seems fine without you. I don’t actually still have his sweater, but I liked the image of a sweater being a way of holding on to someone that you can no longer call your own.”
Bow Anderson was born and bred on the east side of Edinburgh, where her no-nonsense outlook and tireless drive to keep moving first found its outlet in sport. Between her studies at a school quite literally falling to pieces – a windy day was known to result in the class being sent home – Bow entered dance classes at the aged of 3 (she still hates ballet), swam, competed in local athletics, and as a teenager was on track to represent Great Britain in Trampolining…until her then-dreams came to a crashing halt. Bow dislocated her leg during a freak trampolining accident, which also severed an artery (“I almost died,” she shrugs today) and saw Bow narrowly avoid amputation. The body she had bet her future on suddenly proved fallible, and it was suggested Bow might never walk or dance again. But like any of pop’s genuine competitors, it’s perhaps telling that Bow Anderson was back in dance classes within 6 months, and didn’t cry once.
It was during Bow’s period of rehabilitation that her passion for song writing (and belief in fate) crystallised. To help distract her from the pain, Bow’s father would sing with her each night to help her get to sleep – in doing so, Bow realised she might actually have a voice, and that it could open doors that injury had shut. And so Bow moved to London, ostensibly to study at college, but principally packing the blueprint for her ideal sound: see the work ethic and musical drama of Motown or Northern Soul, but for girls raised on Rihanna. The ‘Dreamgirls’ soundtrack, if more relatable to small-town Scotland. Bow struck gold with the first song she wrote with this all in mind (‘Sweater’), which was produced by now-collaborator Jamie Scott (Ed Sheeran, Major Lazer, Michael Kiwanuka) & Jonny Coffer (Beyonce, Ragn’n’Bone Man) and further showcases Bow‘s shrewd visual eye – from the sun- kissed video to ‘Sweater’ (where she dragged some Scottish mates to Benidorm) down to the track’s striking art and visuals. Pairing big, blocked Spector-esque colouring, what you see is not the untouchable, beehived pin-up of the past, but a fearless, unfiltered young woman in her trackie-top and trainers, staring right back at you.
Unusually for an artist on their first ever single, Bow Anderson already contains all the feelgood-energy of a Comeback Kid. “I know that it could all be taken away at a moment’s notice, because it’s happened to me before,” she says. “I have no Plan B, as that’s setting yourself up for failure.” What Bow does have, however, is a record that stands out in the same way that her core values – soul, old-school hip-hop, hard graft, hope – also never truly go out of fashion. Shit relationships or sporting careers might end, but Bow Anderson is keeping the ‘Sweater’, and she’s still playing to win.
UNCO[V]ERED premieres on Saturday at 12pm, right after the Official [V] Top 50. Channel 801, only on Foxtel.