Q&A with ANYA MARINA – Talks Upcoming Album: Paper Plane, Podcast: “We Know Nothing” and New Single: “Ordinary Dude”
Posted On 14 Sep 2015
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Born in Ann Arbor, Michigan and raised in Cupertino, California, ANYA MARINA first made waves after relocating to sunny San Diego, renowned as a musical hub city for aspiring singer/songwriters. After earning applause as one of Southern California’s most talented young artists, Anya was personally signed to Chop Shop Records by label founder Alexandra Patsavas, famed music supervisor for such films and TV shows as Twilight, Gossip Girl, and Grey’s Anatomy.
Marina’s full length effort, 2009’s “SLOW & STEADY SEDUCTION: PHASE II” received copious critical commendation. Marina quickly followed “SLOW & STEADY SEDUCTION: PHASE II” with a slyly provocative cover of T.I.’s “Whatever You Like,” which was included on a 2009 episode of Gossip Girl. The track spent nearly two weeks atop iTunes’ “Top Alternative Songs” chart, with sales now in excess of 100,000. The “Whatever You Like” companion video clip became a YouTube favorite, earning close to 2.5 million views at Anya’s official channel. 2009 also saw Marina’s starkly beautiful “Satellite Heart” featured on the RIAA-certified platinum “THE TWILIGHT SAGA: NEW MOON – ORIGINAL MOTION PICTURE SOUNDTRACK.” The inspired “Tiny Stars Remix” of the track (by Interpol’s Samuel Fogarino) was later included on Marina’s 2010 EP, “SPIRIT SCHOOL.” The self-produced digital release found Anya further spreading her creative wings on such new songs as the gritty “Whatsit” (featuring The Dandy Warhols’ Courtney Taylor-Taylor).
A provocative and gifted live performer, Marina has toured nearly non-stop throughout her career, both as headliner as well as in tandem with such artists as Jason Mraz, Spoon, Joshua Radin, Eric Hutchinson, Chris Isaak, Paolo Nutini, Emiliana Torrini, The Virgins, Greg Laswell, Jenny Owen Youngs, Steve Poltz, Rhett Miller, The Plain White T’s, The Dandy Warhols, and Tristan Prettyman.
All Access Music writer, Nicole DeRosa recently had the pleasure of catching up with ANYA MARINA before the release of her upcoming album PAPER PLANE (which you can pre-order HERE). Get to know more about the multi-talented artist below!
Hi Anya! How are you today? What’s on the agenda today besides our interview?
My 8 year old goddaughter is visiting from Los Angeles, so I believe we are going to the Natural History Museum followed by frozen yogurt. We’re going to wind down at the Russian Samovar & Tea Room as an homage to our Russian roots. Her mom, Maria, was my very first friend, I think.
We met when I was 2 so that’s about the youngest you can be when you actually make a friend, right? Our parents were best friends, so we became best friends. There were some years there in our teens where we drifted apart, but it’s crazy that as adults we have, once again, gotten very close—so much so that I have been named the esteemed godmother to her daughter(s).
I put the “s” in parentheses because I don’t really know if I’m the godmother to the second girl. She still qualifies as a baby at 2 years old, and technically I haven’t been asked if I would be godmother…so, dammit, I’m just going to claim that right here and right now, All Access. I am godmother to both daughters. There. Success!
So, first things first, how’s your summer been so far?
Summer has been fantastic. Although I don’t love the heat or the sun—and I’m living in the epicenter of heat and sun and mugginess (NYC)—I’ve really enjoyed this summer.
My best friend came to visit and we spent a week near the ocean in Asbury Park, NJ; I had a nice little California road trip up through Big Sur; I just got back from a fancy weekend in Chicago with my pal / roommate (comedian Nikki Glaser) and now I have my sister in town visiting for a month.
The only thing more fun than living in New York City is when I get to see good friends and family, so this has been pretty much ideal.
You’ve been involved in the radio biz for years: (KSCU, XHRM-FM, Y107, Premium Radio, KBZT FM 94/9) How do you think that has helped you in your music career? Who or what was the catalyst for you to want to live the life of a musical gypsy?
Radio has helped me be a better interview. I’m not a one-word answer type of musician. When I go into a radio station now, I know what it’s like for the person on the other end of the console—they’re just hoping you have a few stories up your sleeve because the truth is, they probably haven’t done much research on you beyond skimming your Wikipedia page.
My radio background has helped me have a lot more humility and to not take myself very seriously. There are hundreds and hundreds of bands passing through that radio station that year and the likelihood of the staff knowing much about your album or song or even how to pronounce your name is pretty low. Most bands don’t have that long of a career either. I just realized that when I started listening to the radio again for the first time in 8 years—I hardly recognized any of the bands because they’re all new baby bands!
The reason I did both—radio and music—was just that that’s the way it worked out. I have always loved both modes of performing (both as a broadcaster and as a singer / songwriter). First and foremost I’m a creative person, so sometimes that manifests itself as hosting a podcast or doing a radio show and most of the time, lately, it manifests as writing and recording music and performing it. I used to think I would be an actor or a comedian but as it turned out I think I wanted to be heard more.
You have worked and toured with many other talented artists including Jason Mraz, Joshua Radin, Tristan Prettyman, Scott Russo (Unwritten Law), Peter King (The Surfers), Brian Karscig (Louis XIV) to name a few. You even covered rapper, T.I.’s “Whatever You Like” Who would you love to collaborate with next?
I love Sia.
Who have been your inspirations growing up that also inspire you today?
Juliana Hatfield, Pixies, Liz Phair, Fiona Apple, Billie Holiday
What did you learn between your previous releases, Exercises in Racketeering (2004), Miss Halfway (2005), Slow & Steady Seduction: Phase II (2009), Spirit School (2010), Felony Flats (2012), collaborations and playing live, that you felt you wanted to infuse into your upcoming album, Paper Plane?
Each record has been a snapshot of where I was musically at the time. This album is the first one that has elements of everything I’ve done—acoustic, electronic, percussive-driven, ballads, dark and whimsical stuff—all in one album. Feels like everything coalesced on this record—like all the identities marinated with each other and came out in the most authentic way.
What was the inspiration for your new single, “Ordinary Dude”?
“Ordinary Dude” was a song I had written a long time ago and then finished working on with Eric Hutchinson. I wrote it backwards—started with the title and worked back. I had the melody and chords for a long time and used to sing all sorts of different things over the same four chords. I think the chorus came first: “you know I do / I love you too / you know I do” and then I wrote the verses afterwards so that the chorus would make sense. Eric helped rework the verses to flesh out the male perspective and wrote a fantastic bridge which is my favorite part of the song.
It’s the perfect single for this album of love songs because the whole crux of the song is the idea of are you in or are you out of this whole ‘love’ thing? Are you going to take the plunge and try being in a real relationship? Are you up for the journey or are you gonna bail? It’s what the protagonist in the song—the guy, the ordinary dude—and the narrator / the singer / me are all struggling with and thinking about. The key lyric is what’s it gonna be: fight or fly?
You have a podcast called We Know Nothing co-hosted by comedians Nikki Glaser, Sam Morril and Phil Hanley. How did that all come about?
Well, Nikki and Phil started it but Nikki left to do a TV show in LA, so now it’s just me, Sam and Phil. We talk to different comedians every week about love, relationships, comedy, writing, fear, depression, and the like. Sometimes we take questions from listeners.
No one is very qualified in anything although we’ve all been through years of therapy, so we try, but at the end of the day we don’t purport to knowing anything. We’ve had some amazing interviews though: Nick Griffin, Bonnie McFarlane, Mike Vecchione, Liza Treyger, Dave Attell, Ryan Hamilton, my mom.
Who is in your current playlist? What artists / bands are in current rotation for you?
I’ve been listening to Petite Meller a lot this week. She’s French and she’s really into Freud and African rhythms and playing up this Lolita thing. I like her song “Baby Love”—it’s been my jam this month. Visually and sonically it’s the most interesting thing I’ve seen in awhile.
I never get sick of Spoon—I think their last record They Want My Soul deserved a Grammy (at the very least a nomination). That song “Inside Out” turned out absolutely perfectly. It’s a gorgeous song and it really gets you into an altered state. Spoon always have a way of making you feel things very deeply without having overtly specific lyrics to get you there.
What’s on tap next for you, Anya? What are you most excited about for this year?
I’m thrilled about living in New York, touring with Joshua Radin in the fall of 2015, and excited for PAPER PLANE to come out in early 2016.
To keep up to date with all things ANYA MARINA , visit her via her social avenues below: