I got a chance to check in with Star Anna. Turns out she's got smarts as well as chops.
It seems to me like you're heavily influenced by grunge. Can you speak to how your hometown has influenced your musical tastes? What's it been like to work alongside some of your heroes?
Growing up in Ellensburg, I was lucky enough to be a teenager when Mark Pickerel (Screaming Trees, Truly, Mark Pickerel and His Praying Hands) had Rodeo Records open. I spent most of my teen years and allowance at that record store. Mark turned me onto all sorts of music that I may have missed or taken a lot longer to find. Also I think my biggest inspiration has to be Mark Pickerels hair.
How did you begin writing music? Did you take a class, did you teach yourself music theory, did you rip off other peoples' songs?
I started writing music by just writing down the words. I never took classes for it, don’t know shit about music theory (which is a blessing and a curse), and I don’t know if ‘rip off’ would be the right word for it. If you love something, if it inspires you, then it’s going to creep its way into your work. Sometimes I would strive to capture something specific while writing a song, a certain feeling, theme, style. That only works out ¼ or less of the time.
What sources do you turn to for inspiration?
Well, I guess most obviously, my own life experiences. Part of my coping process is writing about trying times, hard experiences. I think that’s why I don’t have a lot of happy songs. I don’t need to work through ‘why am I so happy?’
I have written some songs that I have no literal experience with (Gold and Silver, Restless Water) but I later realize that parts of those songs are metaphors for something else going on in my life. If you just listen to the words of Restless Water, it’s about a serial killer making a confession. But on a less obvious level, it’s about being an outsider, being resentful and angry about it at times.
Also, Mark Pickerels hair.
You mix elements of punk, rock, and Americana together flawlessly. What is it about these three different genres that speaks to you, and how do you see them fitting together?
It’s not really an intentional thing. I would say those three genres are nearest and dearest to my heart (as well as soul, blues, r&b) so it gets embedded in me over a period of time and seeps out into my own writing.
Punk rock and rock and roll got me through high school. It was about freedom and growing up and fucking up and trying new things (good and bad). It’s what led me to being a drummer that idolized Animal and Keith Moon, and falling head over heels for a guitar player that was a year older than me. It was the ripcord to my formative years.
I remember hearing Elliott Smith and Damien Jurado my junior year of high school, Cat Power, Uncle Tupelo, Jesse Sykes, that opened my eyes up to music that could have a folk/Americana, even country, without being bright and shiny and polished. It wasn’t the big hair and rhinestones I’d always associated with Americana. It was visceral. It tapped into a place that the screaming, speeding, rebellious chants of punk rock couldn’t. It’s right around that time that I picked up the guitar.
What do you think was the most surprising outcome of Go To Hell? (Sonically, emotionally, artistically -- I'll let you take that where you will.)
Honestly, the fact that we actually got it done and out to the world. It was real touch and go for most of it. In a nutshell it was this:
Record an entire album in the winter of 2011 (The Sky Is Falling: unreleased), break up the band, record three demos with a different band, realize it’s the start of the record that SHOULD be coming out next, find out my music partner/boyfriend is an insane con artist, cry for five days straight, stop crying for three months straight, in which time decide to blaze forward and finish the record (sans criminal), not have enough money, raise enough money, finally (almost two years after beginning the recording of what was supposed to be my solo record) Go To Hell is released.