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Monday, May 17, 2010

Conversation with Anya Marina

Photo 6

If you are up to date on your pop culture, chances are you've heard Anya Marina's music. She has a song on the Twilight: New Moon soundtrack and her music has provided the backdrop to shows such as "Grey's Anatomy," "How I Met Your Mother," "The Real World," "United States of Tara," "Gossip Girl," and "The Vampire Diaries." Often her tunes are placed in that pivitol dramatic moment to provoke a little extra emotion from the viewer. Despite all this mainstream commercial acceptance, Anya remains a talented musician true to her indie roots. Let's see what she's up to now.

AM: I'm excited about this EP idea.

CL: Yes, let's talk about that. Nice segue.

AM: I'm thinking of doing a collection of duets and/or co-writes with my favorite dudes.

CL: Everyone loves a duet.

AM: All the guys are so unique and lovely and different, and I love co-writing, so it's been fun to work on. So far I have a song called "Ordinary Dude" with my pal Eric Hutchinson. It's a classic pop song a la Randy Newman or Paul Simon or Sir McCartney.

CL: So, this is more than just an idea you're tossing around? This is going to happen?

AM: If I have my way. And I usually get my way.

CL: (Cat sound!)

AM: Let me mention the others. Because I'm excited.

CL: Please.

AM: I also just finished a Kelis-inspired joint with my dear friend--and head of my email songwriting group--Bob Schneider. it's called "Summa That," and it is what the kids call "sick." I'm working on one with Courtney Taylor-Taylor from The Dandy Warhols this week. It's called "A Mean Wind."

CL: I hear much raving about Bob Schneider.

AM: He's incredible. Such a prolific songwriter and really, really great live. Also a good friend and the guy responsible for getting me back into ichatting. He has a problem. It's kind of a dependency.

AM: I hope to do one with Brian Karscig (Nervous Wreckords, Louis XIV), too. I am lagging on finishing that one. Then there is the song I did with Britt Daniel from Spoon ("Drop Dead Blues"). I might re-release that and then there are some other wonderful men I have on my short list if there is time but the big priority is finishing the songs for my follow up album. LP3!

CL: Your third LP. How's that coming along?

AM: I'm about 26 songs deep into the writing.

CL: 26!

AM: It's going to be pretty solid. I'm really happy with the choices so far. The hard part will be narrowing it down to a nice short number.

(plays mp3 of new song "Summa That")

AM: For your ears only.

CL: ... My headphones need to take a cold shower. (The lyrics are very provocative.)

AM: It made me blush, to be truthful. Once I heard the finished product.

AM: Note to self: Never play these sorts of sexx jams for your parents who might be visiting.

CL: "Summa WHAT, exactly, Anya?!!!"

AM: Where's the coy emoticon on this thing?

CL: I'm not telling.

CL: Do you have a producer in mind for LP3?

AM: If all goes well, I'll be working with Sir Chris Walla.

CL: Can you offer a refresher on his background??

AM: Well, that's part of why he was at the top of my list. I loved both of the Tegan & Sara records he did.

AM: And of course Nada Surf's The Weight is a Gift and all of the Death Cab For Cutie stuff. Most recently I've gotten into the Telekinesis record he did (TELEKINESIS!), which is hands down one of my top 5 records of the last few years. It's endlessly interesting to me.

CL: All great stuff.

AM: Plus I think my interaction with him at the New Moon premiere gave me an inclination that we would have fun working together. I had to host a red carpet event for MySpace and interview my fellow New Moon soundtrack artists.

CL: That sounds fun.

AM: And he was one of the few who was really ego-less and amiable. Two things which go a long way for me. he acknowledged me as a member of the album which was something no one else had done. That showed that he is able to experience music beyond his own narrow "I'm a musician and a musician only" scope. The sign of a great producer.

CL: Indeed.

AM: Plus, he had all sorts of interesting feedback about my demos which sealed the deal for me. Especially when he mentioned an Astrid Gilberto or Stan Getz connection. I was impressed.

CL: We love Getz & Gilberto. So would you say the sound of LP3 is heading in a darker, slinkier direction? Less poppy?

AM: It could be!

AM: I'm still trying not to stamp labels on the little guys yet, but some of the songs certainly make you wanna dance and french and stuff.

CL: A ha. Frenching and stuff, a possible theme?

AM: Sinister and sexy. Or sexy and sinister. You choose. It's also a big step up for me in terms of confidence as a writer and a rock-lady, so it feels kind of...VARSITY. I've been toying with that as a title.

CL: I like that. And I would definitely agree that you are varsity, now.

AM: Where's the aww shucks emoticon on this thing?

CL: I'm not telling. But you have made the team, so to speak, in a number of ways. I hear your songs in the grocery store, on the radio, on TV, in movies. You're kind of unavoidable, in a good way, of course. The fame monster must be nipping at your heels.

AM: Oh, well, all I know is that I was wearing no makeup yesterday and swearing when I knocked over a bunch of bras at American Apparel and the clerk recognized me then. So, whatever modicum of fame I have is either ill-timed or not enough to get me a discount.

CL: That's perfect.

CL: You recently moved from San Diego, where you lived for a number of years, up to Portland. How's that going?

AM: It's my city! I knew it the moment I laid foot here 5 years ago on a tour stop, and I know it even more now, from my porch or wandering around my garden. I grew up in Northern California which was always a bit too hot, and then I spent years and years in Southern CA and that always felt like a shoe that was half a size too small.

CL: You bought a house?

AM: Barely, but yes!

CL: Are you getting out of this house and playing or seeing any local bands?

AM: I did a bunch of shows at the Crystal Ballroom for KNRK with a bunch of great bands: Metric, Passion Pit, Spoon, White Rabbits, Joe Black Lewis and The Honey Bears. I also saw a bunch of great bands at The Doug Fir (The Clientele, Eux Autres, Ben Sollee) and some at Mississippi Studios (John Roderick and Laura Veirs), but I should get out more.

CL: Sounds like you're doing just fine.

AM: Yes, Britt (Daniel) told me, "Once you have a house you don't ever have to leave. you'll see." and he's sort of right!

CL: It worked for Howard Hughes!

AM: And the coffee here is ridiculous. I'm certain I'm going to rehab.

CL: How many have you had today?

AM: Shit! Busted. Uh... Two, but I was just thinking of having another latte! Blame Atlantic Records and the Italian espresso maker they just sent me! I WILL NEVER SLEEP AGAIN.

CL: Sleeping is for San Diego.

AM: This is true. And it can be a bit of a career cul de sac. All of that sunshine and all of those great fish tacos can keep you mellow.

CL: You need dampness and caffeine.

AM: Yes, and quiet. And I have all of that here. It's amazing how much quiet a songwriter requires. The more I ask around, the more I see I'm not alone. Songs get written at the strangest times (doing dishes, walking, weeding).

CL: Now, there was going to be some big "Gossip Girl" news... but?

AM: Well, I'm not sure that's apropos now, but the big news, or "non-news," really, was that "Gossip Girl" was set to end with my cover of Lou Reed's "Perfect Day," a song I recorded a few months back, which I am very proud of and will certainly find a good home but alas, it is not to be the backdrop for anything Serena-related. maybe an EP of b-sides I'm considering.

CL: I think can hear it in my head already.

AM: Yes, it turned out just as miserable and ironic as I wanted it to sound. Yet, light and hopeful and very sparse. It's sort of MAGICAL, actually. especially his lyrics and his own delivery.

CL: So they're just going with the original?

AM: I'm not sure what they're going to use. I suppose we'll have to tune in. BATED BREATH.

CL: Okay, a closing round of semi-rapidfire. Atlanta: How did you find it last time you played here? What did you do? When are you coming back?

AM: I didn't get nearly enough time there. I loved playing at the Drunken Unicorn and driving around, but I need more time in the durrrty. The people sure are nice. Every time I go there, I get offered all sorts of drugs and pills in a welcome wagon. It's true what they say about the South being more hospitable than other parts of the country.

CL: Do you watch "Gossip Girl?" And if so, more Eric? Less Serena?

AM: I've never seen an entire episode (editor's note: disbelief emoticon), but I'm staring at two box sets of DVDs, so my answer may change soon. Be afraid.

CL: What was TI's reaction to your cover of "Whatever You Like?" (Available on iTunes) Has he heard it?

AM: No word!

CL: Was the Twilight machine as crazy as the tabloids make it look?

AM: The fans are so passionate about the whole franchise, so if you're in, you're IN, but if they don't like you, they sure will let you know. I have 450 angry tweets from irate Twihards to prove it. 94% of them are menopausal, but that's ok. They're hormonal.

CL: Participating in any summer festivals?

AM: Lilith Fair, July 12 and 13th, Salt Lake City and Denver.

CL: Okay! Thanks for your time, Anya.

AM: Thank you!

(photo via Anya Marina)

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