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Anna Shoemaker steps into the big apple with mini dresses and big black boots. Her lyrics are not about teen angst, but about everyday sensitive experiences in young adulthood (and womanhood). Her pop rock melodies make her music likable for everyone, and yet they don't cease to convey an introspective message. Whether you slow dance or headbang to any of her songs, an eerie, ethereal atmosphere will always invade you. Anna Shoemaker is a Philadelphia native who is taking NYC venues by storm presenting her newest EP 'Hey Anna.' We sat down with her to break down her work and discuss her likes, interests and inspiration sources.
This is your first release since your debut record. How do you feel about it?
I feel good. It's weird. It's like every time you put out music, you're like, this is who I am now. This is the real me. So I feel like I'm in that phase. I'm really proud of the music that I've made, and I'm really excited about it.
So let's dive into the EP. The opening track is "Hey Anna," named after the record. From my point of view, the lyrics are quite nostalgic, they reference things from the past. What were you trying to portray in the song? Or were you trying to portray any aspects of your past self?
Yeah, I think it's a song, in a way, to my younger self. And, it's interesting, it’s like healing my past self, in a way. Like saying it's all okay, and you weren't wrong. I think it is. It's kind of honoring my past self.
Moving to the next song, "Six Six Six," it has a very eerie, magical sound. So how do you come up with this synth sound for the song?
That was actually the first song that my producer, Constantine, and I worked on. He sent me that and I was like, this is so different from anything that I've done. And it really spoke to me. He had already been singing six six six over it, and so we just kind of went with it and we were talking about how it felt really right in the moment. It was our first song that we wrote together. So it was very exciting and cool and it was a new process for us. I like that song because I think a lot of that newness was captured in it - the freshness of our working relationship.
The opening lines for "Six Six Six" are “I can breathe even when I joke. I got a new band, the old one broke.” The lyrics in this song speak to me about how you always keep coming back. What's the story behind the lyrics and how did you come up with them?
I think it is about being resilient, especially in music. Even when you think things are bad, you can come back from them and try to do music and try to be an artist professionally. It doesn't really make sense because being an artist doesn't really lend itself to being business-minded. Sometimes it feels like everything is kind of a paradox. And I think that this song, for me, was just about that, in a way, and just about being resilient and moving forward. That's a lot of stuff that Constantine and I have really bonded over because we've both been doing this for a while and it never really loses its excitement.
The words to "Holly" are like a universal experience for several girls or young women. And I feel like your music is really speaking about young adulthood. How do you perceive yourself as a woman?
I think in that song, it was very visual for me. When I think of that song, it's a lot of me. When I first moved to New York, I was in a relationship, and I think I was just really confused a lot of the time, and now that I'm looking back, I'm taking that confusion as sort of a red flag. I don't think in a relationship you should really ever be confused for that long or anxious or nervous. And I think for me, "Holly" really captures that really young coming of age naivety. When I look back on it, of course I should have left. Of course this wasn't working. But at the moment, you're like, why isn't this working? Why can't we just make this work? Whereas when you grow up, you realize not everything is going to work, but when you're young, you're kind of just like I don't see why it can't. And sometimes there is no reason, and sometimes it's just because it doesn't work, and that's okay. But it's hard to see that when you're younger, because if you want something or if you want to be with someone, if we want to be with each other, this should work. But sometimes personalities don't work out together.
As an artist, when do you feel on the top of your game? Or when do you feel like you're doing your best to write lyrics?
That's really hard because it's just when it happens. And I think for me, I've learned not to put pressure on myself and that writer's block is a made up thing. And for me, it's whenever I feel safe and comfortable and it's when I can reflect. You know, a lot of times when I'm in the moment, it can be difficult. When I was a lot younger, I would write in the moment and I think now I've learned to kind of step back a little bit sometimes and have some perspective, but there's no time. It's always or never or sometimes.
I read you used to write poetry around the age of twelve. Do you still keep up this habit or is it just the songwriting now?
Yeah, it's funny because I do still write poetry, and for me, it's such a different thing than songwriting. But when I was young, my poetry was very much like trying to be songs. But now I feel that poetry is the information that I can't fit in a song, a lot more like stream of consciousness.
How is the Everything is Fine version of yourself any different from the version that released Hey Anna?
The Everything is Fine version of myself is a lot angrier than the Hey Anna version of myself. And I think the Hey Anna version of myself is a little more understanding and taking responsibility and I want to give that version a hug.
Although you're from Pennsylvania you live in New York City and you've been playing several shows. What has been your favorite venue so far, and what has been your best gig?
That's a hard question. I think the most recent show that I just played in New York at Nublu was one of my favorite shows so far. It just felt really intimate, and I just felt really good about it.
New York City is known for several famous artists and bands. Which ones do you enjoy the most?
I feel really lucky to be in New York right now because there's so many amazing artists. But I think some of the people I've loved the most from New York are probably Porches. I'm a really big Porches fan. And Blonder, my producer, I was a fan of his before I got to work with him, so getting to work with him has been really cool.
How have Constantin, your producer, and you been able to merge your views and make your records work?
This is actually a really good question because I've collaborated with a lot of different people, and I sometimes have a really hard time. I think there's times where I feel intimidated or I don't feel like I could share my opinion because I was scared. And I feel like, for the first time, with the producer I'm working with, I feel empowered to be called out, and I also feel empowered to call him out. And I just feel really grateful that I have this communicative relationship that doesn't feel like anyone's kind of walking on eggshells or I really feel like I can talk to him, and I really feel like he can talk. I mean, I hope he feels like he can talk to me, but I think he does. Communication has been a lot harder than you think. And I really, really respect his opinion and I respect his taste, so I really trust him, and I'm just so grateful to work with him.
"I think the biggest part of an effortless style is effort"
"Who I am as an artist is who I am as a person."
Let's discuss your personal style a little bit. When it comes to fashion, how would you describe your style? What are the main aspects that make the Anna aura?
I like this question. I think for me, it's always been just getting dressed in whatever I feel comfortable and whatever makes me feel confident and good. That's always been true for me. When I was young, I was really shy, and I just felt, kind of jealous of the people who would just be out there with their personalities and be so personable and inviting and warm. And I felt like, for me, always, style has been my way of expressing and my way of being instead of being able to be so personable and cool. And I think that it changes a lot. But I definitely love going thrifting. I love anything that just makes me feel comfortable, especially on stage. I love anything that feels classy and elegant, but still at the same time comfortable, anything that makes me feel confident. So I guess that's not the best answer, but one of the people that I've always been really inspired by, style wise, has always been my grandma because she always looks good and she has swag and she always has perfect accessories and she just puts a lot of thought into it. And I really like that because I put a lot of thought into it too. And I think the biggest part of an effortless style is effort.
Regarding your videos, what are your inspirations? Whenever you're going to shoot a video, do you act like a director in a certain way, or how do you work? What's your process for making your videos?
I work with a director named Josephina Cardoni, and I'm lucky enough that my manager, too, is an incredible creative person. So between Josephina and Sydney, I just feel like we can talk out ideas, and sometimes my ideas are, like, insane, and they're like, no, we can't do that. And I'm like, okay. [laughs]. We kind of bounce off each other. And it's actually really beautiful to have these female forces in my life that we can kind of bounce ideas off each other and share experiences. I love collaborating with them. They're two of my favorite people. But we made all the videos, and for this, I did all the styling by myself, which was very fun.
So, overall, what has been the main influence behind your EP?
You know, I think the main influence behind my EP is reflecting on a lot of the past relationships and a lot of me growing up. I'm not sure that it is about one certain thing. I think it's just reflecting on who I've been because there have been so many kinds of versions of what I'm trying to do. It's interesting because a lot of people are in bands or have stage names or something, but I've always just been myself. And who I am as an artist is who I am as a person which can be really stressful sometimes, but I think most of the time, when I'm growing as an artist I'm seriously growing also as a person. So I think I'm really proud of this EP because it does feel very reflective and it does feel very mature and not as much like, I hate you. It's more like, okay, what was my part in this too? Or maybe it was okay that I did that, but maybe it wasn't okay that I did this. I just think it's a lot more mature which is what I'm sure I said about my album. I'm sure I said it's so much more mature than my other stuff and I'm sure my next album I'll say is so much more mature than Hey Anna [laughs].
What are your upcoming plans as an artist?
So I'm working on an album and I'm playing some shows. I'm playing a show in New York and a show in L.A. Then I'm hopefully going on tour and there's a few other surprises. Maybe some collabs. I guess we'll see...
Who would your dream collaboration be?
My dream collaboration? Honestly, my dream collaboration kind of happened, so stay tuned. But also I would say Taylor Swift. Of course!
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