Anya Marina Talks "Felony Flats" - watch "Notice Me"
Mon, 26 Mar 2012 10:12:14
Every neighborhood has got its stories.
There are no shortage of tales in Portland Oregon's "Felony Flats". On her debut album of the same name, songstress Anya Marina spins a myriad of sonic stories that are both poignant and powerful. With a knack for a hook and a vivid, vibrant lyrical style, Marina creates songs that come to life with each chord and verse. It's deep, diverse, dynamic, and utterly delightful.
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief, Anya Marina talks Felony Flats and so much more…
Was it important for you to tell stories with the songs on Felony Flats?
I was in Portland at the time of writing Felony Flats, and I was falling in love with the city. I was very much alone and spending a lot of time out in the world walking every day for miles and miles and listening to the demos. Then, I'd go home and woodshed some more. I was surrounded by images, trees, people, and streets so maybe that's why that effect happened.
It's like you built a world people can fall into.
It's cool. It's always weird to hear what other people think of the album especially when it's been so long because I'm not listening to it in the same way I was when I was making it.
Did you approach the album with one vision?
Like a lot of artists, I was just setting out to write as many songs as possible. Then, I saw which ones I liked the most and I paired it down. I feel like the songs that ended up on the record were the most honest. It scared me to put those out. They ended up being the songs that hit the closest to home or were most autobiographical, raw, and revealing in some way. Sometimes, they were a little dark or ugly. At times, the music can be really sexy or sweet. When I listen to it, I still feel like it's a sad or dark album. There are moments like "Flinty" which are really fun and upbeat. A lot of soul searching was happening during the making of the album. I felt isolated yet I needed to feel isolated. I was going through all sorts of transitions. I was moving. There are two B-sides called "Los Angeles" and "Destroy Everything." "Los Angeles" is about moving from L.A. to Portland. You can really hear the loneliness and restlessness I was going through as I was making it. "Destroy Everything" is a tale of two people breaking up. It's that feeling where things are over but they're not quite over. It's like there's a box of something in your attic and you want to get rid of it, but it's not yours, it's your ex's. You want to burn everything or get rid of it so you can take that next step through the threshold of your future.
What's the story behind the title track?
I love that one. That was a riff I kept coming back to. I wrote it on piano, and it's a climbing and descending piano line. I heard somebody in Portland refer to this part of town saying, "I used to live there over by Felony Flats." I was like, "Is Felony Flats a real place or is it an amusement park?" The person said, "Don't you have a Felony Flats where you're from? Doesn't every city have a Felony Flats?" I said, "No, I've never heard that term before." I thought it was a cute alliterative name for this marginalized neighborhood of Portland. It's obviously lower income. I stuck on the name, and I thought it would be great for an album. The song ended up being essentially about how everybody's got this ghetto inside of them. It's a place that's ignored where they pull all of their fears or their histories they want to turn their back on. You have to face that before you can go forward in life. Everyone is from Felony Flats in a way. Whether it's an old relationship you don't want to face or go back to or a part of yourself you're ashamed about, it's there. You have to integrate that within yourself to move forward. You can't shut the door on that story or piece of you. You can't attempt to go forward without it, otherwise you're a fraud.
Do other art forms influence what you do?
I go through phases with reading. I'm really picky with what I read, and I tend to get frustrated with a lot of books. I'm really getting into Joan Didion right now. I love her so much. I love movies. I see a lot of movies. I think there's a lot of great TV on too. It's funny I don't listen to a lot of music. I love talking to my friends though, and I get a lot of inspiration from those things.
If you were to compare Felony Flats to a movie or a combination of movies what would you compare it to?
That's good! It'd probably be something set in New York or something dark. Maybe The Royal Tenenbaums. that has a lot of ups and downs in it. There's that big dramatic thing at the end with the car crash. That could be a good backdrop for "Felony Flats" the title track. Let's go with The Royal Tenenbaums.
Have you heard Anya Marina yet? Check out the video for 'Notice Me':