KEXP Q&A: Star Anna

Interviews, Local Music
11/17/2013
Jake Uitti
photo by Jim Bennett

Star Anna has many inspirations – and that’s a good thing given all the trouble she’s gone through lately, from not knowing whether her new album, Go To Hell, would come to fruition, to going through a difficult, somewhat public break-up. But Star Anna, the woman with the stormy voice, who has worked with myriad local musicians, including most recently Pearl Jam's Mike McCready, has found solace in her songwriting, in absorbing the work of her contemporaries and, of course, in her dog, Forest.

What were your inspirations for your new album, Go To Hell

My main inspiration for Go To Hell was my desperate need for strength and sanity through such a hard few months. Musically, I was inspired by the fellas that play on the record – Ty Bailie, who co-produced it with me and played piano, keys, and organ; Jeff Fielder, who played guitar; Will Moore on Bass; Julian McDonough on drums; Jacques Willis on vibraphone; and special guest Shane Turmarc on back up vocals. Being in the studio with them was amazing and encouraging. And of course Elvis, Nina Simone and Tom Waits helped!

Can you touch on - in any way you feel comfortable - what you mean by your "need for strength and sanity through such a hard few months"?  

I started making this record with Kasey Anderson (my boyfriend at the time) - go ahead and Google Kasey Anderson lawsuit, and that's just the tip of the iceberg of info I had to process in five days. A month went by where we (Ty Bailie and I) didn't know what was going to happen with the record. But we were determined, so I poured myself into it and I think it kept me afloat.

What was the process like putting together each song? Did you have them written already, or were they worked out with the band? 

It was a little bit of both. But mostly the songs were constructed in the studio. Even the covers were reworked on the spot. The first day in the studio I was driving from Ellensburg (from my mom’s) to Seattle. The pass was snowy and my mom heard on the weather report that it would clear up by two pm. I was supposed to be to the studio at one so I had my mom call Ty and explain to him why I was going to be late. In the time it took me to drive there, the band had worked up the song “Go To Hell” and I just jumped in and sang it as soon as I got there. I think we got it in only a few takes.

Growing up in Ellensburg, what was your most musical memory?

Spending all my free time and allowance at Rodeo Records (record store owned by Mark Pickerel from Screaming Trees, Truly). Mark and that record store really shaped me as a musician. Mark would constantly turn me on to music I'd never heard of. He also gave me drum lessons for a while. I just remember thinking he was so rock ‘n roll. His hair, his style, his talent. I wanted to emulate what he was.

Do you hope to be in Mark’s position somehow in the future? 

I've always looked up to Mark. He's managed to take his passion (music) and inject it into everything he does. I would hope to always be able to do that. I've been interested in writing about music in some aspect, articles, interviews, etc. I've also been keen on the idea of getting involved in other musicians records, co-writing, co-producing, that sort of thing.

What’s next for you? 

I've got a tour coming up this November going down the West Coast and back. I've also got a few things up my sleeve as far as releasing more music goes. And as always I am constantly babysitting dogs, mostly Forest.

Star Anna performs at Blue Moon this Saturday, November 23. Check her out the video for her new song "For Anyone" below plus a live version of "Call Your Girlfriend" performed in the KEXP studio last year:

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