With the arrival of the June summer heat in the desert around us, we happily refresh The New Moon Spotify playlist with a special feature by a new favorite of ours, Los Angeles-based Anna Ash. Her rendition of the Lucinda Williams’, “Righteously”, plays like a soundtrack to everything cool. Visions of leather jackets, remote dive bars, and classic motorcycles are conjured up by Anna’s hushed, smoky vocal delivery and chunky rhythm guitar. Find out more about Anna Ash’s songwriting process or buy tickets for upcoming tour dates on her website.
Featured Artist: Anna Ash
Q: Your cover of, “Righteously”, stays true to the Lucinda Williams original but feels fresh and unique to your sound. It’s so good! How did you go about reinterpreting a song by a major influence of yours while still giving it new life?
Aww, thank you! I’m so glad you like it. We recorded “Righteously” and “Fruits of My Labor” on the last night of our Floodlights session in a studio outside of Minneapolis. It was sort of a rugged recording experience — my band drove from Michigan and met me there, we were camping out in the studio, I was cooking chickens all afternoon because we couldn’t start recording until 6pm so I had to get very Mom savvy about time management — and by 10pm on the last night, we were all pretty toasted. I insisted that we do at least two takes of both of the covers. We hadn’t really rehearsed them, and the band was severely doubting me, but I was like, “Drink more wine, smoke a cig, eat a freaking chicken sandwich, because this is happening.” It wasn’t really working until the engineer suggested we try a disco beat, and that was kind of it. Luckily no one had the energy to be precious about the performance. It had character and it sounded like us, and I think that’s all you can hope for with a tune you didn’t write. The band is still peeved at me for releasing something so raw and imperfect, but I think that’s why people like it — it sounds like a real moment.
Q: We read in a previous interview that you don’t shy-away from talking about the financial realities of being a working singer-songwriter in your lyrics. It’s refreshing to hear that honest perspective and get a glimpse into your admirable work-ethic. What changes do you hope to see in an industry that tends to exaggerate success and downplay the realities of the artistic lifestyle?
Oh wow, that’s a hard question. Social media sure is an interesting beast in this whole thing. It’s curious to watch how some people use it to throw themselves up on a pedestal, a sort of glamorous stage, and really push their own image of success, while other artists are so honest and vulnerable with it. Both work. There’s no right way to do it, I mean, the music industry is like a choose your own adventure book, but I think it’s exciting that there isn’t always a PR team separating artists and their fans anymore. There are benefits to building a mystique — there is also power in exposing yourself. But honestly, what’s more exciting to me right now is witnessing the ways in which this industry is changing as more and more women become, and continue to be, a part of it. The fact that people are FINALLY embracing that Mother and Artist don’t have to be two separate life paths that only overlap in a dismal goddamn venn diagram is thrilling.
Q: At any given moment, we have a handful of creative projects going on in different stages of completion. As often as we can, we’ll shut off our devices and get outside to find clarity, inspiration, and connection. With your busy schedule of writing, recording, touring, and waitressing-by-night, how to you create space to reflect on and progress your music career?
I have no idea! I need help! Luckily I live in a really peaceful neighborhood in Los Angeles, so I can throw myself outside and up the mountain fairly easily. I also live with two roommates, who are also professional musicians, which sort of helps me keep my shit together. They’d be very disappointed in me if I was a constant disaster.
Q: The New Moon is associated with new beginnings. When you complete an album, do you move on to writing new material quickly, or do you take a break to recharge?
I’m always trying to write new songs. It takes me so long to finish a record, that if I just stayed with those songs for that long, I’d completely lose my mind.
Q: Growing up in rural Michigan, how has the lively Los Angeles music scene affected your writing and your creative network?
Well, I lived in Oakland for three years before moving to Los Angeles, so for most of my professional life, I’ve been living in (and questioning) California. That being said, Los Angeles feels particularly incredible right now. There are so many talented, passionate folks working and living here—it really kicks you in the pants and makes you want to go home immediately after a show and practice. I love that. But I go back to Michigan at least once a year to play shows, and the scene there is exciting in its own way. There is so much soul and strength in communities there, and audiences are deeply gracious and sincere. But LA will never be where i’m from, so as a writer, I think that sort of stranger mentality will always sticks with me, especially because the contrast is so drastic.
About the New Moon Playlist
On the New Moon, the earth, moon, and sun align making us unaware of the moon’s presence in the sky. Without the visual presence and glow of the moon, other celestial bodies typically hidden now shine brighter. Our chances of seeing the sky clearly are heightened on this day, making it a day of clarity and new beginnings. Creatively it’s the perfect time to set intentions for a new cycle of dreams and goals, and ways of manifesting them.