Anya Marina talks to Steven Lotfin in this exclusive GIGsoup interview. Edited by Natalie Whitehouse.
Anya Marina is probably a new name to you. Her career hasn’t particularly broken onto our fair shores yet, but with her third record ‘Paper Plane’ out now, this could be set to change. The record is a wonderful listen, one that settles nicely between soul and indie, which you can read in our review.
As mentioned, her third record, ‘Paper Plane’, is a romantic montage of sorts. It’s a documentation of the different stages and psyches of love and relationships. This has partly been aided by her father, who was a psychologist. On whether or not this had a direct impact upon her songwriting itself she said, “Absolutely. I think my worldview is shaped in large part by my parents. They were both very progressive thinkers and very encouraging of my imagination and creative life. They let me play for hours on end by myself, talking to myself and my animals. We talked about life and feelings and love from the time I was very little until now. Nothing has changed. I really enjoyed being around them. They’re some of my favorite people in the world.
“The hard part of being the daughter of a psychologist is that you sometimes catch yourself analysing your friends or doing therapy on people unwittingly. I became comfortable being the interviewer rather than the interviewee–as I’ve gotten older I’ve really had to unlearn that and try to participate in friendships in a more egalitarian way. Analyzing is for doctors, not peers, friends or lovers.”
This comes out in the style of her writing which can often cut the crap and tell it how it is, what also helps this is having a part of herself in the songs, “I’m probably most attached to ‘Shut Up’ because it came from the most confessional place. It’s one of those songs that felt like a gift that got placed in my lap. I tapped into something very fleeting and special–I don’t think I could recapture all those elements–melody, phrasing, momentary fearlessness and humor–if I tried.
“I think all the songs on ‘Paper Plane’ are talismans of hope in some way. ‘Go To Bed’ is a testament to my lifelong obsession with fairytales and happy endings–it sort of pokes fun at the idea before surrendering to it as the secret dream of all dreams.”
‘Paper Plane’ is certainly a very solid listen that perpetuates both emotion and soul, a part of this is down to the fact she used Pledgemusic, a website that allows the fans to donate money and have their say in what happens and what doesn’t, on this experience she offered:
“It was a really great exercise for someone like me who operates in a pretty solitary, isolated and internal way. I’m comfortable asking for a lot of support or feedback but as I’ve grown up and gotten out of my own way more, I realise that connection is an essential part of the human and creative experience. Pledgemusic was extremely rewarding and extremely useful. In fact ‘Something Sweet’ never would have ended up on the record had it not been for Pledgemusic fans encouraging me to put it on.”
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When you listen to the album, you find yourself lost in a world filled with memories and things you didn’t know you still contained. That’s until you hear her cover of ‘Power of Love’, it’s unexpected and a perfect addition, if a bit different to the original, with it being moderately jazz centred, “It just sort of came out that way when I was arranging it in my bedroom. I started playing that sort of bossa groove on guitar. One of my favorite piano players of all time is named Erik Deutsch and he lives in Brooklyn. He came in to play on that song and it just immediately took on a new life. ‘Power of Love’ wouldn’t sound like that if it wasn’t for Erik’s jazz-heavy interpretation – I should also note that my father the psychologist is also a jazz musician, so I have always been partial to jazz.
“Anyway, Erik comes from that world and made Power of Love as haunting and gorgeous and amazing as it turned out.”
The future of Anya Marina is looking bright and she already has ideas to get it all started again, “I’d love to do an album or an EP of cover songs next!
“In the meantime I’m going to continue touring ‘Paper Plane,’ writing songs, and working on my podcast, ‘We Know Nothing,’ with comedians Sam Morril and Phil Hanley”
We may also be seeing Anya at some point in the UK, when I asked her about any plans for an overseas tour she replied, “I’d love to. We’ll see how things pan out! I have cousins in England and would love to see them and their children.”
Of course, one of the biggest things happening in music right now is the attitude of sexism, especially when it concerns female artists finally being able to come forward about their experiences, “What I’m thinking right now is Ke$ha’s experience and though I don’t know both sides of that story, I do like that more women are speaking out when they feel they have been abused or mistreated. I like that people are keeping ugly secrets less often and more courageous about advocating for themselves.”