I am back with another interview! This time in with Calgary-based country artist ANNIKA. The singer-songwriter talked to ai love music about her inspiration, being in a duo, her dreams, and the latest releases of two singles: “I Don’t Really Want To” and “It Still Hurts”. Find out how ANNIKA crafted these songs and what were her inspirations by reading on.
Make sure to check out “I Don’t Really Want To” and “It Still Hurts” by ANNIKA down below and let me know what you think in the comments!
Could you please introduce yourself!
Hi! My name is ANNIKA and I am singer/songwriter/pianist from Calgary, Alberta, Canada!
What musical genres and/or artists influence you?
To be honest, it is so hard to choose a few because there are artists from every decade, and multiple genres that have not only influenced the kind of musician I am today, but the kind of writer, and entertainer I am as well. I was born in the 90s, but I’m an old soul and always loved listening to music from the decades before me!
1960s – Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye, The Temptations (I love ANYTHING from the Motown genre!)
1970s – Stevie Wonder!! (He is my favourite artist of all time) I also love The Carpenters and Carole King who have certainly influenced my musical style today.
1980s – Is there anything greater than Whitney Houston in the 80s?? I would dance around my room with a hairbrush singing “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” on a daily basis. And I don’t regret it.
1990s – Shania Twain! This is when I really started to fall in love with country music. At the time, I didn’t realize she was breaking barriers not only as a female artist in a male-dominated industry but also her ability to blend pop and country music together in a way that has influenced artists today.
These are just a few of the many artists that I have listened to all my life and still am inspired by each time I listen to them.
How did you get into music? What has that journey been like?
My musical journey began at the age of 4 when I began playing violin and piano. I am the youngest of 5 children, and my parents had the expectation that each one of us would take piano lessons and learn a stringed instrument. At the age of 4, I chose violin because it was easier to carry than a cello…I was trained classically on both instruments for 10+ years, and eventually, I started taking singing lessons at the age of 11. I fell in love with singing and thought, this is really the only lesson I enjoy going to every week!
My dream was to be on Broadway, but I quickly realized that my voice was naturally very low and I would never get the parts that I would audition for because I couldn’t hit the notes. So, I started writing my own songs!
I auditioned for Canadian Idol when I was 16, made it to the Top 12, then I went on to work on cruise ships, traveling the world (including many stops in Japan!) as a piano bar entertainer, and then entered the country music world as one half of the duo, Leaving Thomas. After five years working on that project, Bryton (my musical duo partner), decided to pursue his other passion of business marketing, and I began my solo career! So here I am, with fourteen songs in my pocket that I’ve written, recorded, and am ready to share with the world!
You used to be in a duo Leaving Thomas. How is being in a duo different than being a solo artist?
There are so many wonderful things about being in a duo. For one thing, you always have a built-in buddy beside you to take on the challenges, celebrate the triumphs, and enjoy the journey! There is no time to be lonely when you always have someone next to you, on the same adventure. I really loved having a partner in writing, recording, and performing.
Despite the fact that I am now a solo artist, I really don’t feel alone because I have a whole team of amazing people that are always encouraging me. My husband is my co-writer, producer, musical director, AND drummer so I do feel very fortunate to have him by my side in almost all aspects of my career.
Let’s talk about “I Really Don’t Want To”. What is it about?
This song was inspired by a line from the movie, “Rumour Has It” with Kevin Costner, Mark Ruffalo, and Jennifer Aniston. At the end of the movie, Jennifer Aniston says to Mark Ruffalo’s character, “I can live without you, I just really don’t want to” and when I heard that, I thought – wow! That’s so cool. I love that her character is being strong and independent, saying she doesn’t NEED the guy, but at the same time, she is showing vulnerability and desire by saying that she doesn’t WANT to live without him.
As someone who has been dumped (a lot), I completely related to the feeling of being so ready to fall in love, without fear, because I knew that if my heart got broken, I would be able to pick myself back up again and move on.
You also released the single “‘It Still Hurts”. What is this one about?
Did I mention I’ve been dumped a lot? Hahaha Thank goodness all of the heartbreak would come in handy one day! This song was written by a co-writer who was going through a tough breakup. At the time, he thought he was over a girl, but then he saw her one day, in person, and realized that the hurt was still there, the sting was still present, and he wasn’t as over her as he thought. He knew she wasn’t the one and that he would get over her eventually, but there were still moments of doubt and hurt on his journey to healing.
How was it producing each single? What was the process like?
Well, as I mentioned, I am very fortunate that my producer, Spencer, is also my husband! I knew Spencer for years before we even became friends or started dating (he produced all of the Leaving Thomas records.) It has been amazing to be able to have a lot of say in this record production-wise and have the ability to express my vision clearly to Spencer and then watch him bring it to life!
The songs were recorded with a live band, so the songs have a very “live show” feel which, I feel is such a refreshing sound to hear during COVID when we can’t go to live concerts! The instrumental tracks for “I Really Don’t Want To” were recorded without any plans for a major jam session between the musicians, but once they got in the studio, I really wanted them to let loose and they did! I’m so grateful for the way everything came together in a very organic way.
What is the most important thing that you want listeners to listen to when listening to your music?
Whenever I write music, I am simply using the creative outlet of songwriting as a way to express myself. I think that surprisingly when you write “for yourself”, you actually end up with songs that fans connect with the most because they can sense authenticity and realness. I feel like I’m at a point in my life where I have no shame being open and authentically “me” and these songs reflect that.
I hope people listening get to know me through music – it is such a gift to be able to share myself through such a creative medium and that by listening, they learn something about themselves! I hope I can help people who need a good cry, a good laugh, or just a reason to get up and dance! I certainly feel it’s a joy to create the music, and I hope listeners feel the same on the other side of it.
What are your future plans?
There are so many exciting things on the horizon – and not just for my musical career, but in my personal life as well! I’m currently pregnant with my first child and due on July 12th, 2021! I am getting more uncomfortable by the day as my bump grows, but thankful every day for a healthy and smooth pregnancy (so far!) I have dreams of touring around the world with my husband and little ones in tow – babies like sleeping on tour buses right?
Hopefully, live music will be back soon and I can make that dream come true! In the meantime, I am so excited to release the twingle on May 7th (two singles instead of one) and then release two more songs in July, ending with two MORE songs in September! So, lots of new music to come even though we can’t be together in person.
Finally, do you have any messages for the readers of ai love music?
I want to say that I am so grateful, Amy, that you are providing a place for people from around the world to learn about artists that they may not have heard about otherwise! Thank you for letting me share my story (I know I can ramble a bit – I’m a chatterbox and so I’ve been missing the ability to chat with people during COVID! Can you tell??)
I am so excited not only to share my music but to read about other artists that you’ve featured on your page! Any of you readers out there are welcome to follow me on social media to join me on my journey (both musical and otherwise)! And someday, Amy, I hope to be back in Japan to meet you in person! Thanks so much!
Make sure to check out ANNIKA at the following sites:
Official Site | Instagram | Facebook | Youtube | Spotify
This Post Has 9 Comments
I love country music- so glad you introduced her to me!
Thank you for introducing the artist to us. I enjoyed your feature and the music.
these are some good tracks , thanks for introducing Annika , It Still Hurts is definitely love
Her music journey is quite colorful! And I envy her for already knowing what to do with her life since the age of 4. Who would think that she has been dumped a lot. I’m glad that she sees humor in such experiences.
Thank you for this interview. It was interesting learning about someone new and learning about her musical influences.
Love how this Calgary-based country artist has some major R & B and Pop influences. I mean it sort of makes sense the Shania Twain influence but Stevie Wonder for a Country Music Artists? Very Cool. Personally I have never heard of ANNIKA but I really dont listen to country music at all. So we are definitely going to have to check her out.
Heartbreaks are a really good inspiration for writing. HAHAHA. I also like singers who play instruments. I wish her all the luck!
It’s always interesting to listen to how an artist talk about their work. Super looking forward to checking this one out for sure
Excellent interview! I love what she said about writing for yourself and connecting with people through authenticity. That resonated with me.