Remaining present: Ana Roxanne talks creativity & the simple pursuit of happiness

 
Ana Roxanne_2021_Yuki Kikuchi
Music

Singer and musician Ana Roxanne‘s music invites you to slow down and take stock.

Operating at the intersection between ambient, meditation, dream pop and jazz, her blissful creations are navigated by the choral traditions of her upbringing and the R&B soulstresses that informed her youth.

Orchestrated through a soft and subtle use of bass, texture and voice, at times deviating into jazz and Hindustani singing, Ana finds space and emotion in her compositions that urges one to be in the moment. Having initially self-released her debut EP ‘~ ~ ~’, in 2019 Leaving Records signed the record officially; a prelude to her acclaimed debut LP on Kranky, ‘Because Of A Flower‘, which explored her experience of identifying as intersex.

 

Next weekend she joins the line up at Le Guess Who?, the Utrecht-based festival that puts boundary-blurring sonics front and centre. Ahead of her appearance on Friday 12th November, we spoke to her about her pathway into music, the impact of lockdown on her musical practice and her soft spot for noughties screamo.

 

Taking it back to the beginning of your musical journey, when did you first realise that this was your calling?

I started singing in middle school, but the drive really cemented itself in high school. I was heavily involved with our jazz choir and we were invited to do a festival for high school/college choirs in New York, with a final performance at Carnegie Hall. I was lucky enough to land one of the big solos (a jazz arrangement of “Alfie”) and singing it in that giant hall was transformative for 17 year old me. I think after that moment I knew that I needed to keep finding ways to perform and to do the best I could to make it a serious part of my life.

What does this medium offer you as a vehicle for self-expression that others don’t?

There’s something about the visceral nature of your body as an instrument… singing. I imagine similar to dancers — the inherent emotional vulnerability that comes with it. I find that it is the most effective way for me to access my emotions and express them.

Coming out of a near two year lockdown, personally and professionally, what are your most important takeaways?

It is a reminder that we are not and never will be in control of life, ultimately. Coming out of this difficult time, I think the most important thing is to remain present with what you have, grateful for what’s in front of you and within your reach.

How did the pandemic affect your ability to write and produce? Did you find it was a period of stimulation or did you hit a creative roadblock?

I definitely hit a roadblock. I still feel as though I am in that roadblock. Hoping that can change soon as we are able to re-enter the world and gain new experiences again.

What were your favourite musical discoveries during this time?

Henryk Górecki and Olivia Rodrigo.

Since the release of your debut LP Because Of A Flower, what have you been drawing inspiration from when making music?

I honestly have not been able to write that much of my own music since the pandemic happened. If anything, I have been drawing inspiration from the simple pursuit of happiness. Little moments of peace or joy.

From what we’ve read and through listening to your output, it’s clear you have a penchant for slowness and subtlety when it comes to song. What’s the hardest or loudest your tastes go? Anything headbang-worthy?

I have a soft spot for early 2000s screamo/metal. I was an alt kid in my adolescence and early adulthood and will carry that with me forever. Deftones, System of a Down and much more.

You’re playing Le Guess Who in a few weeks, can you talk us through what you have planned for your performance?

Excited to be collaborating with my friend on some visuals. Have never really performed with visuals I’ve curated myself. Hoping that will add some texture to the musical experience!

If time allows, what other acts are you hoping to catch across the weekend?

Arooj Aftab and KeiyaA.

What can we expect from Ana Roxanne in the future? Any projects you’d like to shout about?

Projects for now must be kept secret… but for the future I definitely want to start working on my next album.

Buy tickets for Le Guess Who?.