When one looks at Anna Akana’s resume it is filled with the envy of every artist. She is a Emmy nominated actress, producer, filmmaker, writer and musician. She is an internet star with a YouTube channel with over 2 million subscribers. She been in Ant Man, Comedy Central’s Corporate, and star, executive producer and co-creator of Youth & Consequences.
She is releasing Casualty later this year. The album is about hope and overcoming life’s hardships. Akana is releasing a video for every track on the album. They include “Intervention”, “Alone Together” and “Pretty Girls Don’t Cry.”
FEMMUSIC: What was the biggest challenge making Casualty?
AA: Making it was the easy part. It was pure joy and creativity and a cathartic experience. The anxiety that comes with releasing music and diving into a new art form has been pretty difficult. I’m very anxious to see how people respond to seeing me in a more vulnerable light.
FEMMUSIC: Let’s talk about “Intervention.” What was the biggest challenge making the song?
AA: I’d decided to get sober after realizing I was developing a physical dependency on alcohol. The song was a sort of promise to myself to get my shit together. Though I didn’t feel as empowered at the time when I wrote it, I knew that if I put it on paper I’d have to stick to it. So that leap was a bit terrifying.
FEMMUSIC: On the same line on “Intervention”; What was the biggest challenge making the video?
AA: I actually reshot the entire video. The first attempt was in August 2018, and I just wasn’t happy with the final result. I knew I could do better, so I ate the cost of the video and completely redid it.
FEMMUSIC: What made you decide to do a video for every song on the album?
AA: I come from a visual medium. Filmmaking has been a craft I’ve been honing for the last decade. For me, I always felt like my experience with the music video would make a break or song. I loved the idea that I could elevate everything sonically & visually by bringing what is already my dedicated art to my newfound passion.
FEMMUSIC: Casualty is an album of hope. What songs on the album most describe the journey to get there?
AA: The ballad of the same name, Casualty, is about having integrity and dignity when someone you love leaves you. It’s about knowing your value even when someone else can no longer see it. Though I didn’t feel it at the time, I knew that someday I was going to be okay. Maybe even be grateful that this person left my life. And now I can truthfully say that I 100% stand behind that song and feel the message it’s communicating.
FEMMUSIC: You’re involved in a number of other projects. Why was it important to make this album? What was most surprising to you in making it?
AA: Making art is how I process any darkness or difficulty in my life. At the time that the album was being written, I was going through a terrible period of depression and suicidal ideation. I’ve struggled on and off with chronic depression in my life, and it was a particularly hard one. It was important to me to be able to channel that pain into an album, and into art, so that I could get it the hell out of my body haha. The most surprising thing to me was how much I truly enjoyed it. It was so fun. Nothing felt tortuous about the process.
FEMMUSIC: Can you describe your songwriting technique?
AA: I’ll usually approach my producers/co-writers Shayon Daniels & Nicci Funicelli with a concept for a song, maybe a few lyrics, and reference songs for the vibes I want sonically. Shayon builds out the track and we all work together on a melody. I like to come to the table with a first pass at the lyrics and then hear what they think is working/not working.
FEMMUSIC: What song (not your own) has had the biggest influence on you and why?
AA: “Blackbird” is one I often listen to when I’m sad. It’s such a beautiful song of hope. Every time I hear it, I’m immediately lifted into a better place. It makes me believe that I can fly, that humanity and life are beautiful, and that no matter how scared or lonely you might feel, you can change that at any time.
FEMMUSIC: What challenges, if any, have you faced as a woman in the music industry? And how did you overcome them?
AA: I’m fortunate that as of right now, I have yet to face any. I come from the male-dominated spaces of stand up comedy, self-run businesses & filmmaking. So maybe I’ve just gotten used to taking up my space in the platforms I’m in.
FEMMUSIC: Whom would you most like to collaborate with, or tour with? Why?
AA: I’d love to do a song with Lizzo. Her messages of female empowerment and self-love truly resonate with me!
FEMMUSIC: What one thing would you like to change about the music industry?
AA: I’d love to see more variety on the radio. I get there’s a whole hierarchy and political system going on there, but with platforms like Spotify and Pandora and apple music allowing users to find new music on a regular basis, you’d think radio would catch up.