Vibe Check with Annalise Azadian: New York's Rising Superstar
Annalise Azadian, the 23 year old New York native is taking over the arts scene with her electric grip on Soul and R&B music. Since the release of her debut single, "Heartless" back in 2013, Annalise has certainly hit the gas pedal heavy. Gaining over 100,000 active listeners on Spotify, she's racked in a couple of acknowledgeable albums. This self-taught musician engulfed herself in a world of art at a young age, which guided her down a path full of creative opportunities. Think powerhouse: fashion designer, singer/songwriter, model, director and one that's so foreign in the entertainment industry-REAL.
Annalise crossed my radar with her hit release of "BOGU$" from her latest album, Six Weeks of $even. I suppose the gratitude lies in Spotify's talent for curating personal playlists this time around. The instant connection with Annalise's tone and overall energy quickly drew me to listen to her entire discography. It's without doubt the artist is talented, but something more unique co-insides her musical abilities. After the discovery and repeated listening history, I reached out to Annalise to find out how genuine she really is. It's beyond humbling to run into such an immense talent with a wonderful personality under it all. Encounter the details for yourself below in Selectively Social's exclusive interview with New York's rising superstar, Annalise Azadian.
You’ve been working on your craft as a musician for over 10 years now, what age did you initially show interest in music itself? What instrument did you pick up first?
I wanted to play the violin at 7 but I couldn’t really pick it up, so at age 10 I saw my grandmother take out her old guitar from the attic and I wanted one after that. I played the acoustic for a couple months and then my grandmother got me my first electric and passed away a short time after that, so I started writing songs to cope. When I was 14 I picked up the piano naturally.
Drawing off that, did you have eyes for anything else in your adolescence or was it always music for you?
Since I was 7 I played basketball and skateboarded. I played throughout all my school years and considered even playing college to make it a career but my passion was music.
What was your upbringing like growing up in New York?
My upbringing was cool, I was always outside as a kid. I was raised in Middletown and left home at 16. I traveled to LA and then went to college in Boston at Berklee College of Music. Then went to Brooklyn and couch hoped until I could afford my own place. I've been living in the Bronx for about 4 years now.
At the age of 16 you managed to graduate high school and head to LA to try out for American Idol. What was going through your head at that time and what insight did you gain from that experience?
I was ready to get out of school, I was in all honors so I was already a year ahead and was performing, plus my music career started to show promising results. American Idol was a good experience because I got to see how TV worked and how it wasn’t as authentic as it looks. I got to see that I wanted to be my own artist and not an artist from a tv show.
What age did you actually begin your education at Berklee? You stayed for a year before dropping out because some free studio time presented itself in New York-did you gain anything valuable within that first year?
I got accepted to Berklee at 16 and went when I had just turned 17. I learned a lot in that year, mostly about life and the people I met were incredible.
How have your parents reacted to you chasing a career in the music industry?
My parents have been very supportive. They used to take me to all my shows when I first started.
What studio in New York were you working in and how did that opportunity come about?
When I first dropped out I was recording at QUAD studio in times square. For my most recent project I recorded out of Engine Room on Wall Street thanks to my suite 4 fam.
You picked up an accounting job in your transition while living on Dj Enuff’s couch for 9 months during tax season. Without the finance education to back that, how did this come about and what was it like working a 9-5 while building a music career simultaneously?
It was very taxing haha no pun intended. I had to be very on point and learn quickly but without that job I wouldn’t have been able to afford my first own apartment. I also grew up a lot because I had to be very professional, I felt like Hannah Montana dressing up for work and turning into a rockstar on weekends doing live shows. It started to take up too much time and I decided to leave after working two jobs simultaneously. Billionaire Boys Club was my second income.
Who are your biggest musical inspirations that have aided in your own sound?
My biggest inspirations are Erykah Badu, Hayley Williams from Paramore, Amy Winehouse, Lauryn Hill and so many more women with soul. I fell in love with lyrics that made you feel something and little did I know I was being influenced in ways that started to come natural.
I’ve watched your earlier interviews and fashion definitely seems to be a recurring topic. In your interview with Kulture Hub you discussed your desire to own your own brand, “At the end of the day you’ve got to be a brand, because I want to be more than just a singer. I’m an artist, a musician… but I want to have a whole brand one day-cause I’m not the average girl.” Can you touch on your own style and the direction you’d like to take on that design venture?
I'm definitely into fashion because its a way to express yourself differently from everyone else. Your swag can almost tell your aura. I want to have my own brand because I feel like I have always worn things differently and had my own style that people tended to gravitate towards. I started with my merch capsule from my project six weeks of 7. Pharrell is a huge inspiration.
Your new EP “Six Weeks of $even” hasn’t left my shuffle and I know you discussed the meaning behind the title with On The Radar Radio-do you mind touching on it one more time? Did you create the cover art yourself?
Aw thank you! The title stemmed from a calendar I drew years ago. I meant to make a regular calendar because I believe its important to have a strong schedule and at the time I was unemployed ready to do music full time so I needed some sort of structure. I accidentally drew 6 weeks instead of 5 like the normal calendar and I said “six weeks of seven“, six weeks of 7 days and I liked the ring to it considering I have a weird relationship with 7s. I then decided the rollout wouldn’t just be the project dropping all at once but a single each week for six weeks revealing a 17 minute short film at the end... a way to stretch content in todays day in age. The cover art was a representation of me making the calendar by my good friend, Omi @stfuyoutalk2much, he's a legend before his time.
I recently watched the Six Weeks of 7 VISUAL ALBUM and was completely blown away by the talent and overall vision. You really did a lot on this movie too-stylist, co-director, co-producer and the music itself obviously. I’m aware you went into this with no budget and ended up spending just about $1k… What was your favorite part of filming for this near 18 minute video? Did you and Steve Muelz sit down together and come up with the concepts per song or did you have creative lead on that?
For the short film, I had this idea a while ago of doing 1 minute pieces that connected into a movie feel. I had started working with Steve about a year ago and we did a bunch of different concept videos but when we grew a strong connection and I knew I could trust him, I suggested the idea and had the music and he was down. I took the lead on creating the experience, how I wanted it to look aesthetically and make a feel with no budget, appear like I was in big production sets. Once I had the base we sat down and fleshed it out a little more on what was feasible and through a miracle we accomplished it while adding some documentary style pieces in so the viewer could get to know me a little better as well.
What song off the EP would you say resonates with you most and why?
I honestly love BOGU$. I had heard this was THE one a few times from people but then from others I didn’t get the same reaction. Now a few months later, it's my highest streamed song to this day marking in at 500,000, a milestone for me. I love it because it embodied raw emotion and got done pretty quickly. I liked the sass behind it. Same thing with Good Girls Gone Wild, but honestly I feel them all when I'm in different moods.
What do you want your audience to take away from your new music?
I want my audience just to resonate with it as much as possible. I hope they enjoy it and feel every word and hopefully it can relate to people and help them through times they feel like no one may understand them.
How would you say your upcoming unreleased music relates/compares to what you already have out?
My upcoming music compares a little with the feel, but constantly working on my writing. I may release a couple more songs this year in that style but also explore different genres that may not come out till 2021.
Where do you draw your inspiration from when writing a new song?
I draw inspiration from my real life and what I'm going through at the time. Sometimes old feelings or new or exaggerated as well. Its vulnerable being an artist.
Are there any artists in particular that you’ve really enjoyed working with? Is there a specific session you look back on when working with another musician that pushed you in your own endeavors?
I have been blessed to work with will.i.am, this session was very inspiring and motivating in the sense that I could potentially be as great one day. It was encouraging working with someone on such a great scale. I recently collaborated with South Korean artist, Joo Young, even though we didn't get to meet, it was amazing to work with an international artist considering I'd love to perform around the world.
What was your initial reaction when Elton John proclaimed your song “Work In Progress” as amazing?
Elton John said I was an amazing song-writer on Live radio in 2016 and automatically I think I shed a tear. He is a legend and one of the greatest musicians of all time. I was still a very new artist as well as a young girl so it was literally an amazing experience for me.
Where would you like to see yourself in 5 years? Referring back to your aspiration of having your own brand and getting into directing-I’m sure there are many doors open on that plane.
In 5 years I see myself headlining my own international tour. I would like to direct videos for other artists as I'm working on my first one currently. I want to have my own brand as well as major brand collaborations by then. I'd like to inspire the youth and make a difference and hopefully I'll be able to sustain that in 5 years and maybe even have won a Grammy!
If you could give advice to 16 year old Annalise with everything you know now, what would it be?
I would give 16 year old me the advice to just focus on me and be the best version of that. Have patience, be kind and take every single opportunity that comes your way. Also take peoples advice with a grain of salt and enjoy the process!
What are you most thankful for on this journey as an artist and what kind of message do you want to spread through your creative channels-whether that’s fashion or music?
I am thankful for simply being able to express myself through my music and being able to grow constantly. I could have never dreamed of where I'm at today and sometimes I forget to realize how far I've really come. My message is for everyone to be themselves and be uniquely you! Because you are enough!!
Can you shed any insight as to what you’re working on now?
I have a new song I just released called “Y Cant I.” Some others things I can't disclose but they're very exciting!!
Are you currently signed to any record labels? What are your thoughts on signing to a label and having creative control? If you haven’t already, is this an avenue you see yourself exploring?
I'm an independent artist and I am that for a reason. I've had many offers in the past as well as current offers, but I've been very selective with what I'll sign that could affect the next 15 years of me as an artist and the music in itself. I have a strong vision that I'm sticking to until I find the right partnership, never ownership! I may sign soon but wherever the wind blows.
What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?
The best advice I've been given is probably to not compare myself and music to others and just focus on my own path. We all have our time to shine and we all have different journeys.
Name one artist you would love to collaborate with.
I would love to collaborate with Frank Ocean. There's so many but he’s my top one.
What artists do you listen to on your own time?
I go through phases, lately I've been listening to Don Toliver, Giveon, Mariah The Scientist and some throwback 60/70's hits.
"I thank my fans for having my back and believing in me. There are some days you feel like giving up or that your hard work is going unnoticed but its the random messages and videos of someone listening to my music that seriously will make my day brighter. Another tip I have to anyone working towards something is if you put the work in, it will come, I promise you!! Have faith."
To keep up with this superstar, feel free to check her out on all major streaming services as well as social media @annaliseazadian on Instagram and Twitter.