Twenty-something singer-songwriter Anna Rose is not to be clumped into the generalization of being just another hipster indie rocker, or a new pop sensation, or another pretty face singing a song. The musician and artist has a strong musical foundation pushing her forward, and it is propelling her into something unique from other artists. She and band members, Adam Stoler (guitar), Tyler McDiarmid (guitar), Jordan Perlson (drums), and Jamie Bishop (bass) are currently on tour and released the full length album, Nomad, over the summer. Its blend of folk, blues, and classic rock sound bring something relaxing, refreshing, and invigorating to the table. Anna took a moment to discuss music, image, fashion and influence with me.
Is there a stigma attached to being a guitarist and songwriter from California? Or from New York? Which area do you carry with you most in your songwriting?
I'm sure there are stigmas associated with each place, but I try to avoid thinking about those things, which is maybe why I created an album about traveling and trying to disconnect from the concept of "home". Nomad is, in some ways, a reaction to a lot of those stigmas. I am first and foremost a New Yorker, but the calm of California is always with me. I have a tendency to be very Type A, and California ended up being a place where I could focus on what was really important, so I try to carry those lessons with me.
Do you ever feel people expect to hear a certain style from you then?
I actually feel like the expectation comes from what I look like, rather than where I'm from or where I've lived. Short, blonde girls only sing about flowers and rainbows, right!? Audiences are usually surprised by how small I am, for some reason...maybe it's because of my disproportionately large voice, but that's just my Napoleon complex talking!
Do you feel fashion for women in entertainment is unrealistic for women in music? Do you feel there is too much pressure put on women to dress up on the stage? Or does that just come with performing, whether or not you are a female?
That's a really good question...I struggle with that sometimes. My instinct is to dress casually…when I'm on stage, but I do feel the pressure to dress up a bit more and usually throw on a bunch of different "performing" outfits before deciding to go with casual in the end. Conveying a particular image with your clothing is a part of being a performer, but as a songwriter I want the music to stand on its own, but then again I can't deny that I am a performer...this is a very hard question for me because I still fight with myself over what I will wear on stage and what that means in the long run about myself as an artist.
Ok, enough of all the gender talk! Let's focus on music. Your father has contributed a lot to the music world, and you grew up in a very artistic and musical environment. What's your earliest memory of music being something you were especially drawn to?
I can't remember a time when I wasn't drawn to music or performance or artistic expression of any kind. It was always surrounding me. I have a foggy memory of being strapped in a car seat trying to belt out a Barbra Streisand song that was on the radio. My earliest memories are really of singing or being in dance class.
Aside from your family, do you have specific influences? Nomad sometimes sends me a feel of Neil Young, Tori Amos, Grace Potter, Jim Morrison, dare I say Joan Baez? You definitely have a unique sound and quality to your music, and the album has its own statement for sure.
Wow, thank you, that is really flattering! If I go back and listen to Nomad, I can find specific influences for each song, but overall, I think I was listening to a lot of classic rock and folk singer-songwriters. Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, The Doors, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, etc.
Are there any songs you are itching to cover? I see you've covered Jolene...not to mention Manic Depression, and I have to say...thank you for presenting this song in your own way!
I love doing covers! Thanks for liking that Jimi cover, I was nervous to do that one because I love him so much, but it feels amazing to do live. My band and I have a couple of covers in the works that are a lot of fun, but I'm going to keep those a secret! It's more fun that way.
What made you decide to cover "She's Leaving Home" for The Beatles Complete on Ukulele Tribute at Brooklyn Bowl this past winter? I was so happy when I saw that you had performed that, it is such a beautiful song!
Being asked to perform any Beatles song is daunting, but that one in particular...I was incredibly nervous. When the tribute show came about, this song was actually brought to me by the organizer of the event. I wanted to do something heavier like, "Happiness is a Warm Gun" or "Why Don't We Do It In The Road?" because I had been working on some new songs of my own that were in that vein, but those were already taken. "She's Leaving Home" became a welcome breath of fresh air for me. Performing any Beatles song is an honor, in any venue, anywhere in the world, but it became personal for me and I truly loved playing that show.
Is there anyone-alive or dead-you wish you could collaborate with?
Alive- Jack White, Alison Mosshart, Sheryl Crow, Stevie Nicks, Tom Petty, Jackson Browne, Iggy Pop, Joe Cocker...the list goes on and on. Dead…getting me started on this is dangerous…Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, John Lennon, Johnny Cash...those lists are just of performers. Producers? Oh my goodness, I'll become a kid in a candy store.
Your father's music is heavily referenced in the world of theater and even dance. Were you involved in musical theater or dance as a child?
I was involved in both. As a kid, I started taking dance classes as soon as I could walk. Dancing is a huge part of my life and later on I began studying choreography, which is a big creative outlet for me still. Acting was never really my thing when I was younger, so when I would try out for the school musicals, I would end up being the token girl with no name but a whole song and maybe one or two lines. I love musical theater, though, and often think about writing a musical or performing in one if I really took the time to study acting.
What inspired the feel for the album?
Nomad was a collection of the best work I had done from a very early age until about 21, so it's really an introduction to me and the music I write. I just wanted the album to feel honest. Going back and listening to it is like looking at a photo album from my childhood. The feel of it just came from the desire to make a good, honest, first impression, I think!
I see that you are into fashion and have attended fashion benefits, etc. Now we're seeing artists like Lady Gaga take the world of fashion and costume design to a whole other level for the music industry, as many artists have done in the past. How does fashion combine with your work as an artist?
Fashion is a hard subject for me because I don't think I'm very fashionable, but I love fashion! Lady Gaga is amazing because she uses fashion and costuming to her advantage and so clearly loves it. It is an extension of her artistry. I love fashion, but I'm not sure how it plays into my career yet.
Did this inspire the artistic vision for the video for Picture?
The video was really inspired by the album title, Nomad, and the feelings associated with that. I had named the album Nomad because, at the time I was writing and recording a lot of the songs, I felt very unattached and free but at the same time saddened by not having a real home. A couple years later, when the album had finally been mastered and the artwork had been done, the video came about and I wanted to explore those feelings of being truly alone, as well as my insecurities about being very different from most of the people I grew up with. The clothing/fashion in the video was then translated through the lens of gypsies, circus costumes, etc.
What advice do you have for musicians still trying to make a name for themselves? Is there anything you would have done differently so far, or anything you're very glad you did do?
I don't think I'm really in a position to give anyone advice, but I do think following your gut is really important and not letting the business side of the music industry affect how you make the actual music.