Honest singer-songwriter Anahita Skye meets us at Coffee For Sasquatch in Hollywood, CA to discuss finding her artistic voice through the release of her latest single “Gold,” the support that she’s seen in the local music scene, and her thoughts on the definitition of a ‘hit song.’
So to start us off, you had recently released your new single, “Gold.” Would you care to share a little bit of insight as to how the instrumentation and the lyrics came to be?
Anahita: Absolutely! So I wrote “Gold” after a breakup. I was sort of in this dark period, as what usually happens in breakups, where I was still trying to make sense of everything. It was so painful to write lyrically, that after I finished writing that first line I felt a little bit guilty. Because it’s so honest and vulnerable, it allowed me to heal. And for the instrumentation, it’s the first song from an EP that I’m working on and we decided to record that song first. I wanted it to be just as raw as the lyrical content, so it’s pretty stripped down but then hits very hard in the chorus. My producer and I spent a lot of time just layering a lot of different electric guitar parts. I also drew inspiration from what I felt like a California desert would sound like as well as Nirvana.
Cool! And since you mentioned that you’re doing an EP, what made you decide to release “Gold” as the first single?
Anahita: You know what’s funny is that it wasn’t even intended to be the first single. *laughs* The first single I thought I was going to be a song called “Wild Dogs,” but this one just really came together seamlessly. When we were in pre-production we sort of laid down a map for the songs, and because “Gold” fell into place so easily production-wise that’s why we ended up choosing it to be the first single.
And how would you say the recording process for “Gold,” as well as your EP, has been different than that of your past work?
Anahita: It’s different in the sense that I wanted this to sound as authentically ‘me’ as possible because I feel like after all these years of doing this, I know who I am now. It’s my voice, I’m unapologetic, I’m not trying to please anyone anymore, and it’s very much more vulnerable than ever before.
And that’s so amazing to hear that you’re finally comfortable in your own skin as an artist.
Anahita: Thank you so much.
If you had an unlimited amount of money right now at this very moment in time, what kind of music video would you do for “Gold” or for any of the other songs that you’re planning to release?
Anahita: That’s a really good question. *laughs* You know, I actually did want to do a video for “Gold,” but of course the budget was an issue. But to do what I had envisioned for it, I would hire a really creative production team and director to do a black and white, simple story line of two lovers, lots of scenes from the desert, maybe even driving on the highway on a motorcycle. Just focusing on some really beautiful images instead of trying to do a million different things at once just to spend money.
Everything always looks good in black and white!
Anahita: I love black and white!
And it’s so artsy!
Anahita: Yeah, definitely!
So with the way that modern music listening is now being focused on music streaming, do you think that there’s still an audience that will support having a physical, tangible CD? Or anything for that matter? Do you think that would ever go away because of the music streaming?
Anahita: You know, I wish to believe that there’s still an audience that does purchase physical music. But with the way that things have been going in the music industry, streaming services have really changed the listening experience. Because people are so used to receiving it for free now, I feel like it’s really cheapened the listening experience. So unfortunately, I don’t know if I ever see it going back to the way it was before.
Yeah. It really is unfortunate. Gosh, I mean, I remember when I used to get so excited to go to Circuit City to check out the new CDs that came out on Tuesdays. Rest in Peace Circuit City. *both laugh*
Anahita: Yeah! Same, same.
And going along with what the music industry has been doing, singles and even EP releases seem to be more of the norm as opposed to releasing full-length works of recorded material. Do you feel that single based releases or EPs will eventually just take over as the more successful way to release music?
Anahita: Honestly yes, because we have proof that it already has. The industry and even these big named artists are so focused on singles that I feel that the artistic quality of the finished work has declined. Now, the focus is on making sure that the song is something catchy that hits a large audience, and it sucks because the attention span of the listener has decreased dramatically because of that. It also sucks for us as artists when we’re creating and thinking about our releases and what to record, because we might end up throwing out or not recording the more artistically styled songs because of that, and it’s definitely a higher chance that they might not make the cut on an EP. Full-length albums tell a story, and nowadays I feel like people must have a reason to listen to it.
Do you feel that there’s almost a pressure that’s put on the artist to constantly have something new and exciting to put out and promote?
Anahita: Yeah, definitely. Again, it goes along with how the pace of things are and the shorter attention spans that you have to deal with now. There’s a lot of pressure in what you put out because people don’t really want to listen to a slower song, or something that has a little more depth or story. It’s more focused on what’s attention-grabbing.
And because you mentioned how modern listeners have a lack of attention span nowadays, why do you think that there is a smaller listener attention span now for modern musicians to break into? Why do you think that became a thing?
Anahita: I think it all started with music being downloaded for free and the rise of streaming services, because if people aren’t buying music then artists aren’t making money. And because they aren’t making money, the only way to really stand out, or have a chance to make money, is by having a hit song. And having a hit song means that there is a certain way that it needs to be written, recorded, etcetera.
Why do you think that the definition of a ‘hit song’ has to hit a certain amount of bullet points in order to be successful?
Anahita: For the most part, there is a certain formula. There are, of course, songs that everyone is able to relate to, and I think that there’s a magical quality about a beautiful hit song. But in modern pop music, there’s a formula and a structure that a lot of time artists don’t really want to break away from.
Yeah. And it’s unfortunate, because there are people that are looking to be able to relate to these songs. It honestly gets a little tiring listening to all the same dance-y pop songs all the time.
Anahita: Yeah, I feel like there’s been a sense of emptiness and disconnect in popular music in the last ten or more years, at least that’s what I’ve seen.
Definitely agree with you. So as a female singer-songwriter, do you feel that women in the music industry have to portray themselves in certain ways for them to be successful?
Anahita: Yes, absolutely. I feel like, especially in this industry, the way you look and your overall image is the most important thing because it’s the first thing that people see. And then from there, they’ll decide whether or not they want to listen to your music.
And with living in L.A., there’s quite literally music in every nook and cranny. Do you feel that there’s a publicized competition between all of the artists that are out here to make it?
Anahita: I’ve actually have found the opposite to be true, at least for me personally, because once you’ve been at it for long enough you know how hard it is and you know how hard it is to have support. The local songwriter community that I’m a part of here is actually really supportive where they come to your shows and provide emotional support because they know exactly what you’re going through. I found it to be quite comforting in that sense, but I feel like it might be different in other genres. I found the pop world is pretty competitive and less transparent about protecting contacts and who they work with and whatnot, so the competition is very high there. But as far as the singer-songwriter community out here they’re all really lovely. *laughs*
That’s so awesome to hear that there is that strong community aspect! In a way, I feel like that’s what we’re looking for when it comes to music whether you’re playing it or listening to it.
Anahita: Yeah, it’s great to have people around you who know exactly what you’re going through or can relate to your experience.
If you could give your younger self advice in regards the music industry and where you are in your career and whatnot, what kind of advice would you give her?
Anahita: I would tell her to not be attached to any outcome. Numbers don’t mean anything…
Anahita: Especially now! Fame does not equal talent. Talent does not equal fame. The most talented people that I have ever met are not famous in the conventional way.
So a fun question for you, if you could choose three artists to go on a world tour with, who would you choose and what would you name your tour?
Anahita: So, I would love to go on a world tour with Pearl Jam because they are my favorite band ever. And then I would add Sia and Garbage to the tour as well.
Anahita: It’s very eclectic! I don’t know how the audience would respond to it, but I would definitely have a ball! *laughs*
I’m sure there’s an untapped audience that loves all of those artists. *laughs*
Anahita: *laughs* Probably!
And what would you name your tour?
Anahita: Ooh, I don’t know! I’d have to think a bit more on that one to find a name that perfectly represents all of the artists on the tour. *laughs*
And finally, what do you hope that your audience will take away from your music?
Anahita: I just hope that my listeners are able to connect with it and that it evokes some sort of feeling for them. That’s my ultimate goal – an emotional connection.
Check out Anahita Skye on her Website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Soundcloud, and Spotify!
About Coffee For Sasquatch:
cIf you’ve adventured around the Hollywood area, you’d probably know that the Melrose/Fairfax and Hancock Park areas are home to an abundance of boutique style shops and café style restaurants. Smack dab in the middle of all of the excitement lies a cozy shop called Coffee For Sasquatch, so cozy that you could easily miss it unless you were actively looking for it. But when you finally step inside, you are not only greeted by the wonderful smell of freshly roasted coffee, but also welcomed by Sasquatch himself – well, a living plant wall of the hairy legend. Beautiful green plants give the shop a lovely contrast against its white, tan, and marbled interior while modern furniture designs is the whipped cream on top of the clean, sharp, visually appealing latte. The shop is perfectly laid out for reserved solo visitors and intimate conversations, but larger parties (4+) should consider arriving earlier or in the late afternoon as its popularity can make it difficult to find seating to suit your needs.
What Coffee For Sasquatch may lack in size they make up for with their food and drink menu. Traditional comfort foods like sandwiches, quiches, and donuts (or for health-conscious folk, fonuts) are perfectly displayed in the glass case next to the register, and trust me, it’s pretty darn hard to turn down their mouth-watering seduction. Once you’ve decided to either give in to grabbing a snack or are strong enough to only order a coffee, your next difficult decision is what caffeinated beverage you will be sipping on. Their menu consists of a fun mix of classic coffee options (Matchas, Chais, Americanos, Cortados, Cappuccinos) and sweet lattes, which include a Nutella Latte, a Liverpool Tea Latte, and a colorful Cryptid Latte (Vanilla Latte with colored latte art). While I knew that I would be happy with pretty much anything on the menu, I was intrigued by their seasonal menu that included a Cardamom Latte. It was sweet, it was savory, it was creamy, it packed a punch on the caffeine aspect, and the latte art was absolutely adorable – everything that you could possibly want in a moderately priced cup of coffee!
Check out more about Coffee For Sasquatch on their Website, Facebook, and Instagram.