Interview with Anjali Rose

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Anjali Rose’s new album ‘‘Shadow Works’’ is out now 

 
Anjali Rose recently released an album called “Shadow Works” where she openly talks about the trials and tribulations of past trauma, heartbreak, and self-love. Anjali is a multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and producer, who dedicated multiple years to developing a peculiar sound.

HELLO ANJALI, WELCOME HERE. TELL US MORE ABOUT YOUR ALBUM ‘SHADOW WORKS’ AND YOUR STORY SO FAR.

Shadow Works is my debut album. It’s rather personal, almost like a journal entry and conversation with listeners about the trials and tribulations of past trauma, heartbreak, and self love. The album’s initial release has been exclusively on bandcamp and home made cassette tapes ending each side with the albums most positive affirmations “Amigues” and “Beautiful”. On October 1st it will be out on all streaming platforms. It’s called “shadow works” as many of songs are dealing with parts of my subconscious that I’ve hid from over the years out of self protection and fear…especially songs like “Lingering Loves” which is painted as a heartbreak song but is really a song about self love in a way…I guess all love goes back to that, and the reflections we see or want to see within ourselves in others. 

For the past 6 years I’ve been working on my “sound” as a multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and producer. At 6 I started studying piano in Kingston New Jersey and sang in school choirs but it wasn’t until like 19 or 20 that I shared original songs with friends. That started to happen when I was in Northampton Massachusetts studying at Smith College and got very inspired by the sounds I was exposed to in the local music scene, nature, and friends. I attended and volunteered at a women’s music rock camp called The Institute For the Musical Arts founded by Ann Hackler and June Millington (from the band “Fanny’). Here I learned more about recording and production through mentors like Roma Baran, the producer for “Laurie Anderson”. I also took a music production class at Hampshire College with electronic artist Dan Werner and fell in love with the concept of “musique concrete” and also played in various bands as both a band leader and accompanist. Before leaving Mass I shadowed Jared Libby, a live sound engineer for various artists performing in venues across Western Massachusetts. Here, I was able to see the backside of music while honing a critical ear. In 2018 I moved to southern Spain to teach english, study spanish and learn classical guitar from a local flamenco teacher and eventually toured alone across mainland Europe using the money she saved as a teacher. Now Ive found myself in Brooklyn NYC as there are lots of artists here, and my family is close by in NJ. I came here in hopes of learning more about music business so I can really turn this into my career, however I entered during covid…so far I’ve found a ton of like minded artists and joined a music collective called The Sound Mind Collective which has been rewardings…we have a Womxn’s Music Forum that invites womxn in music from around the world to talk about their experiences as artists in the music industry. I’m still learning the business side to be honest, it may be a while before I’m totally sustaining myself off of my music but I’m staying hopeful and determined. 

YOU RECORDED THE SONGS OF THIS ALBUM MULTIPLE TIMES, HOW MUCH DID IT TAKE TO BE COMPLETED AND HOW DID YOU FEEL WHEN IT WAS FINALLY DONE?

Yeah, some of these songs were recorded on my iphone to be honest, like Miedo and Lingering Loves…All of the songs have been recorded over the course of many years going all the way back to when I was 20 (6 years ago) with the song “Great Expectations” which I mixed on Garageband. I’d guess each individual song takes a few days worth of work but I chip away at each slowly so it’s not overwhelming and I enjoy the process. As I keep doing this, it’s definitely going faster and getting easier. The last song was originally recorded on my iphone but it was only the first verse …I made a little music video with that version which some friends really liked on instagram so I felt inspired to redo it to flesh it out and add more lyrics, synths, bells, harmonies… I initially released the album only on bandcamp on my birthday so with the self inflicted deadline I knew it had to be done…to be honest, even after I released it I edited some of the tunes…especially with the mastering as I have never mastered an album before and it took a ton of work and learning with ableton (the editing software)…some friends asked if it would be on spotify so I decided to do an official release on October 1st on all platforms. And now I know for sure it’s done and am not going back…can only go forward haha. I actually have another album I’m working on and am now trying to focus on just that. 

YOU KEPT A VERY NATURAL SOUND IN MOST OF THE RECORDING, WHICH CONVEYS A MORE HONEST PERFORMANCE. HOW MUCH IS IMPORTANT FOR YOU TO KEEP RECORDINGS REAL, AND WHAT KIND OF EMOTION DO YOU TRY TO CONVEY DURING THE RECORDING PROCESS? 

That’s awesome you picked up on that…it is very important to me…especially with acoustic music and music of this nature which is so intentionally personal and vulnerable. The emotions are whatever comes naturally, I’m not trying to convey them or manipulate them so much as just express what’s coming out through me…it almost feels out of my control. I think a lot of these songs came from a place of deep sadness, loss, grief, depression…some of the songs were written during covid and others written while I was solo touring and recovering from break ups and feeling utterly alone, lost…it didn’t help I was abusing and experimenting with a lot of substances like alcohol, weed, mdma, cocaine… The second song on the album was a first take and totally improvised, I then went back and added more piano sounds, bass, and the summer frogs. 

It definitely matters to me that my music sounds authentic and “real”. I often use animal and bug sounds in recordings to make an atmosphere….recently I’ve been getting into electronic music but I hope to maintain some element of nature within this heavily processed world as well.

HOW WAS IT FOR YOU TO PRODUCE, MIX AND MASTER THIS WORK ALL BY YOURSELF?

It was fucking hard, haha. I love mixing, it feels like painting to me…I also make films and feel similarly towards video editing…but I don’t want to always be doing this alone. Nonetheless, it’s been an empowering process, especially as a woman considering so many sound engineers are men right now. The album I plan to release after this was done by a friend who turned a church into a music studio in Quebec…that recording journey was awesome but I didn’t love giving someone else my music so I think this album was a nice message to me that I don’t need anyone…..but I still feel like I have a long ways to go on the engineering side. I felt good enough about “Shadow Works” to release it but I know that the road is long and never ending! I had to watch a lot of youtube tutorials and also welcomed tutorials from friends who are producers. I also find that when I’m recording alone I can over do it on the perfectionism, I’ll take tons of takes of what is essentially the same damn thing and if I was with someone else I may have way less time and takes and could finish the job much sooner….with time I’m seeing this all get easier. The last song “beautiful” only took one day of recording, maybe just a few hours…that was the most recently recorded song off the project. Going forward I definitely want to hire mastering or rather “mothering” engineers but I have so much music to release and not enough money or time and since lo-fi is a niche aesthetic some folks appreciate I thought…f it…I’ll just clean this up myself…it will be good enough… 

WHAT ARE THE MUSICIANS AND PRODUCERS THAT INSPIRED YOUR MUSICAL STYLE THE MOST?

Oh so many, I listen to music all the time. I hope I don’t go deaf early. Musicians who inspire this particular sound are… Karen Dalton, Laura Marling, Haley Hendryx, Tracy Chapman, Billie Holiday, Justin Vernon, my friend “Youyourself & I”(based in canada), Feist, Thom Yorke, Moses Sumney, Nai Palm, Lianne La Havas, Corinne Bailey Rae

WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE NEW ACTS FROM BROOKLYN AND WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT ITS MUSIC SCENE?

I’m still getting to know the scene, I’ve been here a little over a year but came during covid when shows were mostly showcased illegally on rooftops. My friends The Narcotix make some great original music that blends rock with african rhythms and folklore, its fronted by two bad ass women who also somehow full time jobs outside of music…they inspire me tremendously, they also have a really special connection…I’d love to see them perform as just a duo one day tbh! 

Other acts are my friend Lollise who is making afro futuristic electronic music that’s so intentional, thoughtful…her writing is sublime and her band is fleshed out by two friends Morgan Greenstreet and Elenna Canlas and they sound wonderful together. Very original work…

I also love the band Walk Talk…mostly for its lead vocalist Mayteanna Morales who is an absolute Queen! 

There is this guy Jonathan Scales who plays steel drums and has an intensely amazing and hard working band that is very professional, some of the most skilled instrumentalists I’ve seen in a while. 

My friend Omar Wiseman aka Whyzman is a genius beat maker and producer and songwriter.. also my friend Dontay Downer, Maya Carney… Some close friends of mine recently moved out of brooklyn but one is Oli D Remembers and he makes profoundly well written work, also my friend Charmie Chandler is a wonderful indie-soul musician.the list is long…there’s a lot of good artists here…all at different stages but all immensely talented.

I would say the scene feels a little vast and scattered to me…it’s like a variety of ecosystems, worlds, and orbits that sometimes intersect and sometimes don’t…I meet people though the music collective “The Sound Mind Collective” as well as dating apps haha like tinder, and then through friends of friends and on bills and through other shows. Some folks are totally “making it” in the sense music is their full time job and others are getting there and others only want to do it sometimes and it seems like the longer I stay here the smaller it will feel but also larger haha …cuz its so huge…and CONSTANTLY changing…people move away and come in often.

WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THE REST OF 2021? 

I hope to finish my next album that will most likely be called “The Worlds That Disappear” and am praying to find a label to help me distribute that one…I also plan to pay a friend who is also a woman engineer to “mother” (master) that one. I’m also developing an electronic set that involves DJing and live mixing some new tunes I’m developing…I’m hoping to turn DJing into a side hustle to pay the bills and also add some fun and dancing into my life more regularly. 

ANYTHING ELSE YOU WOULD LIKE TO ADD?

Just want to give you a huge thanks for taking the time to listen to my work and have this conversation with me. 

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