by Jeff Sawyer on Tuesday October 13 2020
As a Songster Anna Katarina’s voice and stage presence is something else. Accompanied by her red Nord Keyboard and her Gold Top Godin electric guitar, her performances have always been the sort of goose bump raising sonic experience you would imagine in a deep sublime dream state, gently drawing you out of your slumber.
Some would say she has a voice of an angel, while others would liken to her to a modern day female crooner who belongs on the stage, gliding seamlessly through who her vocals with a malleable like quality, as though metal is being pressed and hammered permanently out of shape without breaking or cracking.
However you interpret her talent, the stars shine bright on her. And when she sings her heart out, a wild light emerges and enthrals audiences, and everything starts to become extra sparkly on a moonlit stage.
Hailing from Nelson British Columbia, and as talented as she is, independent recording artist Anna Katarina knows the hard work and dedication it takes to carve out and navigate a career in the ever-evolving music industry. Whether she is applying for grants, booking studios, writing, arranging, recording, mixing, producing or promoting, she literally does the job of 10 people, focusing on every facet of her craft. For Anna is an artist with a broad diversity of musical skills. A studied vocalist, pianist, guitarist and songwriter, she genre-bends pop, soul and folk into her own unique sound.
She performs live as a soloist, in a duo, trio or full-band, and brings an unctuous style and dynamic element when collaborating with other artists.
Anna is also one half of the Indie Pop/Folk band Rumour Mill with partner Aline Daigle (violin, vocals). Lifelong friends, Anna and Aline blend their classical jazz training with modern spirits to create an effervescent cocktail of indie-pop with strong twists of folk and country, influenced by the likes of Fleetwood Mac, Haim, The Bros Landreth and Maggie Rogers.
As a collective whether performing as a duo, trio, or 5-piece, hallmarks of their distinct sound include plush vocal harmonies, violin, keyboard, and driving grooves, with lyrics that weave the listener through an exploration of timeless themes, such as heartache, joy, love, and adventure.
Their debut EP ‘Daylight’s Free’, released in April 2019, quickly earned respect and attention on the International stage – leading to a nomination for Artist of the Year at the 2019 Kootenay Music Awards, Top 100 in CBC Searchlight, and a full scholarship to the 2020 Folk Alliance Conference in New Orleans. Together they have released two original EPs that charted in the top 100 of US College, while their catalogue has also been licensed by 13 USA Film and TV networks, including Discovery, Oprah, TLC, MTV, A&E, and E!TV.
Their follow-up EP ‘Gone With The Wine’ – which was entirely self-engineered, mixed, and produced was recently released in September 2020. Expect a moodier and more mature sound from this release, ringing with a touch of a broken heartedness, and pivoting slightly from their more upbeat and pop-centric debut.
With catchy melodies, soulful harmonies and skilled song writing, these ladies will sweep you off your feet and will leave you wanting more, as theyconstantly push boundaries with theirsultry and wide-range vocals, catchy songs and irresistible stage-presence.
In this edition of The Daily Dose, Editor Jeff Sawyer sits down with eclectic musician Anna Katarina ahead of the release of her new solo single titled ‘Only Love’ out October 13th to discuss her musical journey and aspirations, the music industry as a whole, and this serious but hopeful track about the current state of our world.
How would you describe your style of music, and what music speaks to your soul?
I’ve always found it hard to label my music under a specific genre, as it is influenced by so many different musical styles. Lately I’ve been describing it as: Catchy Indie Pop/Folk with a splash of soul haha. In the past, I’ve worked hard to write music that fits into a genre-box, but it’s always felt resistant and challenging. Lately, I’ve focused more on writing songs straight from my own unique voice, and letting them run in whatever direction they want to go. It’s been a great learning curve to really lean into what makes me unique as an artist.
So much music speaks to my soul. Generally, if it’s well written, performed and produced, I appreciate it. There’s a lot of musical garbage out there, but also a lot of incredible music that I wish the industry would appreciate more. I’m inclined to listen to songs that are groovy, use real instruments, have strong vocals and unique production. I tend to avoid listening to too many depressing songs (it’s hard enough as it is to stay positive sometimes), and trap.
How is your work as a solo artist different than that of your musical collaboration in Rumour Mill with Aline Daigle?
I’m so excited to be pursuing my solo work parallel to my work with Rumour Mill! Although musically there are a lot of similarities, both projects feed my artistry in different ways. My solo project gives me canvas on which I can paint myself any way I want. I can use this project to showcase all facets of myself as an artist. Rumour Mill is an incredible project, because working with Aline is really special and we really elevate each other, our music and our songwriting when we collaborate. Singing and writing with another person can be a challenge, and I feel lucky it comes so naturally with my best friend. Genre-wise, Rumour Mill hedges a little more on the contemporary Roots/Folk side of things, whereas my solo work has more of a pop/soul tone.
What opened up the opportunity for you and Aline to collaborate together?
We’ve known each other our whole lives! Nelson is our hometown and we are currently back here working on music together. Our collaboration started in high school with a writing 12 project in Robyn Shepard’s class. The two of us wanted to write music rather than poetry, so we recorded our first songs (and spoken word) together. It’s pretty terrible stuff, but one day we may release to the world for a lot of money or wine. A few years later, we were both attending the Selkirk College Music Program and sang in Corazon choir with Alison Girvan. We started our first band “Atlas” in 2015, which was a little more indie-rock. In 2017 we moved to Vancouver, started Rumour Mill and have been making music ever since.
After you attended the Selkirk Contemporary Music Program, how do you think it prepared your approach to playing music professionally together and as a solo artist?
I loved my time at Selkirk. I learned so much about music and still have a strong relationship with many of my teachers. Musically, I developed tools I use everyday. But do I think it prepared me for the industry? No. It’s a wild, wild world out there, and I don’t know what could have prepared me for an industry where it’s: SO hard to make a consistent living, like doing 10 full-time jobs at once, and zero guarantee anyone will listen to your music. If I were to give students at Selkirk any advice it would be: use the resources!!!! There is a beautiful studio, endless help and support and musicians wanting to record for free - take advantage of all this access and record an album!
How has your knowledge of these tools now filter into your creative and recording processes?
I’m always using the skills I learned at Selkirk, whether it’s music theory, learning new instruments, ear training, and recording demos. There is a stigma against women in the music industry (especially vocalists); it’s often assumed that we don’t know anything technical. Having a strong technical base has proven very helpful in being taken seriously and being able to communicate with other professionals. Rumour Mill’s recent EP ‘Gone With The Wine’ was fully produced by us and recorded at home. Aline engineered and mixed the whole EP, which is a huge feat.
What changes would you like to see to the music industry to allow you to make a better living from your music?
Spotify and other streaming platforms have majorly reduced our ability to sell our music. It’s REALLY hard to make money as a musician, and it’s exhausting working a
9-to-5 job to financially support the pursuit. I hope there can be a change in those platforms that allow artists to get paid fairly. Especially with COVID, we have limited options in how to make a living now, and I would like to see these large companies consider artists’ wellbeing. There are so many supportive people and venues, but musician wages haven’t changed much in the last 30 years. It would be great if the rate of inflation was taken into consideration, and have somewhat standardized wages for certain gigs (specifically restaurant, bar, markets etc.)
Earlier this year you went on a musical journey to Nashville with Rumour Mill with the help of a SOCAN housing grant, and you had the privilege of meeting Sheryl Crow. However two hours after you land, one of the worst Tornado’s in the region’s history touches down, and dozens of people were injured and lost their lives. Overall what was this experience like for you? Did you take any metaphorical references away from the uncertainty, and fragility of our world? How did this affect you?
Wow, yes this was a crazy experience. It definitely wasn’t the trip to Nashville we were expecting. We drove in on a Monday night, and two hours later the Tornado hit. We were just going to bed when the city’s storm warning alarms started going off and our phones were blowing up with emergency weather notifications. We had no idea what to do. I was borrowing my dad’s BMW and was about to drive it around to find a covered area, then realized that Tornados eat cars, and my dad loves me more than his car. We called a bunch of people who didn’t answer, and I finally reached out to someone I’d never met via Instagram.
He said, “This is really, really serious. Get into the basement or the middle of the room and cover yourselves with a mattress.” We didn’t have a basement, nor the time to grab the mattress so we made do by huddling together in the kitchen under some pillows. We were watching a YouTube livestream of the storm which counted down the seconds before it hit our neighbourhood. Then the power and wifi went out and everything was silent. All of a sudden it sounded like a giant walking on either side of the house. We were terrified. Thankfully, the tornado missed us, but hit many houses within a 7-block radius of us. As horrible as this event was for the city, we quickly experienced Nashville’s incredible community-spirit. We stayed for a week, did some volunteer clean-up, played a fundraising gig, and met Sheryl Crow.
It ended up being a really cool trip. Sheryl was holding a clothing-sale fundraiser; she is so nice, beautiful and welcoming. We can’t wait to meet her again, and hopefully play some music together. :) We also ended up recording a few tunes with Travis Ball - the Instagram guy I called during the tornado. He’s an amazing producer and you can check out those videos on Rumour Mill’s YouTube channel.
Who are your most influential artists and musicians that you listen to & respect?
I grew up listening to Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Fleetwood Mac, The Band, The Rolling Stones, Etta James, Linda Ronstadt…. So many greats! These are all huge musical influences for me in terms of vocals and songwriting. Lately I’ve been listening to a ton of Sheryl Crow. Her new album is AMAZING. More current influences include: The Bros. Landreth, Katie Pruitt, Brandi Carlile, Billie Eillish, Maggie Rogers, Haim, The Highwomen, Maren Morris, and Miley Cyrus. I love and respect artists who work hard, are unique and write great songs!
Who would you most like to record and collaborate with?
Sheryl Crow, Hozier, The Highwomen, Joey Landreth, Miley Cyrus, Shawn Hook, The Avett Bros, Dawes, Chris Stapleton, Sarah McLachlan, Hey Ocean!, Jann Arden, James Blake, James Vincent McMorrow, John Mayer, Phoebe Bridges and Frazey Ford.
If you could open a show for any artist who would it be?
Smaller-scale: The Bros. Landreth/Joey Landreth Bigger-scale: Sheryl Crow, The Highwomen, The Avett Bros, Haim or Maggie Rogers.
When you are not making music what else do you enjoy doing creatively speaking?
I do a lot of modeling for work, which is a lot of fun! It’s given me many travel opportunities and I’ve worked with some top photographers. I also love acting and dancing, especially in music videos. During COVID, I’ve been doing a lot of sewing, knitting, cheese-making, cider-brewing and writing. I really like writing and it’s something I’ve been looking to develop more in my “spare time.”
What is your classic classic?
What’s a classic classic haha?
So how has 2020 treated you creatively and musically speaking?
2020 has honestly been a blessing in disguise. Despite the obvious global hardships, I am extremely grateful for the time it’s given me to focus on my art. On the negative side, Rumour Mill has had two tours and many additional gigs cancelled due to Covid-19, including an amazing music fest called Utopia Festival in Austin, Texas. On the flip side, this year has been incredible for fostering creativity.
The first three months of the year were spent in New Orleans, Austin, Nashville and North Carolina with Aline. Since March, I’ve been back in BC and fully immersed in music. I’ve been working on my guitar skills, I have written many songs, taken production and songwriting courses online (including an amazing Tiny Lights Festival workshop with Tariq Hussain), I applied for 8 grants, and recorded a whole bunch of demos for my upcoming singles and EP. Fun Fact: I also learned how to make Plexiglass Covid-barriers with Woody at Kootenay Glass, which is a random side-job but I like it a lot!
Do you have an album/EP out now that readers should check out, and can you tell me more about your new solo project?
I do!! I have a lot of music released (it still feels incredible to be able to say that.) Rumour Mill has released two EPs (Daylight’s Free & Gone With The Wine). They are available on Spotify etc. as well as on Bandcamp. We also have band tees for sale!
My solo project is new, and I have two singles released. “Only Love” is an inspirational folk/pop tune that touches on the state of North America and the division politics that’s created through social media. It’s a really cool, catchy tune, and has a hopeful message in the chorus. I think a lot of people will resonate with it. “Blue Jeans” is a Lana Del Rey cover that I recorded with local-artist Tenise Marie. My debut solo EP will be out in 2021. I also have a really exciting single being released next year that was co-written with Chris Sol and is being produced by Kootenay boy and pop music sensation and recording artist Shawn Hook.
Do you have any upcoming shows?
Yes! Rumour Mill will be playing at the Capitol Theatre in Nelson on December 10th 2020. Tickets are $15 and there is a 50-person capacity so we encourage you to BOOK EARLY!
Where you @ online?
Pick your poison and I’m there! (except TikTok, sorry)
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_TL7DlLO8PlCejcmR63wlQ?view_as=subscriberor search “Anna Katarina”
Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/3wUofml5k6dhBcD5OKPLup?si=AJ9pL6tpQ9eBXleF4Lh37Aor search “Anna Katarina”
Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/2Ehy1qL1iqqFumGgwFClw6?si=2rBk-p30QYC2Kz-5v2TBBwor search “Rumour Mill”
With a background in classical piano and voice, Anna Katarina has further mastered her musical repertoire studying jazz and contemporary music. Recognized for her talents of singing, dancing and acting work, she is often described as a Triple Threat. Though Rumour Mill is her number one priority, Anna also performs solo and collaborates with artists from all around the world, and can be occasionally caught on the big screen!
For further booking information click through the links above or contact Anna Katarina directly at email@example.com
Anna Katarina and Aline Daigle pose for the cover of their Rumour Mill single ‘Gone with the Wine’ – Photo credit: Maia DeHann (Film)