Meet the singer who's ushering in A New Era of music and artistry (get it?).



ANE on 'Bitan', Therapeutic Art, And "All That I Want"

Cathartic art is nothing new in the space of musical artistry: most musicians find some sort of release within what can oftentimes be a painful purge of emotion, and it’s through that process that they are able to find relief. ANE can empathize, but she’s on a new level (or, as she has coined it, “A New Era”), and it shows: embracing (and displaying) all of her lament, passion, and grief, she likens the process to giving birth…it’s simply that life changing (and, obviously, arduous).

It’s this focus on strikingly honest lyrics, a wholly unique sound, and honoring her mixed heritage (she’s Korean American, and damn proud of it) that has set up ANE as one to watch, again and again. She’s our on radar, and delectably poised to explode upon the scene at any moment. We caught up with the artist to talk “All That I Want”, her upcoming Bitan EP, and SXSW; peep the new single, plus our full interview, below.

I would love to start with your new single “All That I Want”. Can you talk about the inspiration behind the track, and what that writing process was like for you?

Yeah, it kind of snuck up on me. I had written it with minor chords in mind, so it’s kind of like a darker, more sad song, and I wasn’t too crazy about the song or anything like that. I almost gave up on it. But I ended up sending it to these producers that I know from San Francisco, and these producers are programmers by day, and music producers by night. One of the guys is like a VP of some really big company, it’s really funny, but he’s also a really talented jazz pianist, so he took my vocals and turned it into a whole different summery song and really put it onto me. So I wanted to release it as a single, because it actually ended up being one of my favorite songs on the EP.

Dope, and can you tell me a little more about the EP?

Yeah, it should be coming out April at the latest. The EP is called Bitan, and “bitan” is a Korean word, and I didn’t know what it meant originally, but I wanted to find a Korean word that I could sell in English, and try to make it look artistic and what not. So I came across the word “bitan” and what it means is lament, passion, grief. And I think considering when I was writing the song, and what I was going through, it fit perfectly. The EP is mostly about the five stages of grief, and it’s just my personal experiences in song, pretty much.

So, were you experiencing grief at the time that you wrote all of the songs?

Yeah, I think so. I had to put them out, I had to write something, to get rid of those emotions and to come to peace with it and that’s why I wrote the EP Bitan.

Yeah, a lot of artists feel that making their art is cathartic.

It’s weird, because most of the times when I write my best material, it’s this nagging feeling almost, where I have to do something about coming to peace with these emotions and it’s almost like giving birth. But there are moments where I sit down and say, “I’m just going to write a really good song,” and work with that. But I definitely think that for most artists, the best work comes when it’s therapy for them.

Why did you feel like it was so important to use a Korean word for the title of your EP?

Well, I do think that in being a Korean American artist for now, you’re kind of in a funny middle ground. There aren’t really aren’t that many Asian American artists that have broken through to the American market, so a lot of people encourage me to go to Korea as if it’s one or the other. But personally, I grew up in Teaneck, moved to Fort Lee; I’ve been living in New Jersey my whole life, so I kind of straddle the life of living with immigrant parents and having secondhand culture. I mean, I am American. So yeah, I thought it’d be interesting to acknowledge my culture.

Did your childhood influence your music a lot? Was it something that you knew from a very young age that you wanted to pursue?

Yeah, actually, I remember growing up as a kid, with my best friend, we’d pretend to be the Spice Girls. I’ve always wanted to sing, I was just scared to tell people. I was embarrassed. I was always paranoid that I didn’t have a good voice and what not, but I remember as a child growing up in a Korean American household, we didn’t even have TV for several years, and my dad listened to strictly classical music, with a few random American albums like Stevie Wonder, I remember, and a Beatles compilation album. But I remember as a child, really wanting to delve into artists like Whitney Houston, LeAnn Rimes, TLC, and being in my room belting.

I know that ANE stands for “A New Era”, but can you talk more about the vision behind that?

So, my real name is Annie, like the musical. I remember when I came up with the name ANE, I was confused because at that time I had just discovered soul music, and I sang in a few cover bands, and I was really into this old school sound. So I want to be able to bring that old sound into today’s era, so I created the name “A New Era”, and if you say the acronym, the individual letters really fast, it turns into Annie. So that’s where the name comes from, but I’ve been using it for so long that I don’t even use it as an acronym now, it has just become my name, but that’s the message behind “A New Era”: I want to fuse the old and the new.

What are your thoughts on the intersection of style and music? Do you feel like your style influences your sound, or vice versa?

My fashion sense? Yeah, it used to be that way. I used to let my fashion sense influence my music, and you know, my fashion sense is constantly evolving, and I think that I’ve toned it down a lot and you can hear that in my music as well. I think that I was reaching too far into the past in trying to be something I wasn’t. But I did have a lot of different fashion eras, at one point I had blue and blonde hair, constantly changing my hair color, wearing six inch platforms, but I have toned it down a lot. I like to use a little bit of classic, timeless fashion pieces and also mix it with a little bit of newer, trendy stuff.

So what’s in the pipeline for the rest of 2017? What are you excited about or looking forward to for the rest of the year?

I’m actually going to SXSW, which I’m really excited about. I’m participating in a showcase called “Welcome to Japan,” but I’m just excited about going to the festival in general because it’ll be my first time. And I’d also love to be able to come up with a summer album, hopefully 8-10 songs. I’m working on it now, but it’s really in the beginning stages, and it will be slightly different from the stuff that I’m coming up with now. I want it to be more of a summery-type of vibe, but yeah I’m trying my best right now so hopefully that can happen.

Images courtesy of Garrett Clare

Stay tuned to Milk for more SXSW artists we know and love.

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