Introducing Interview: Annie Elise

Having recently released her evocative debut EP, Breathe In, Breathe Out, Boston based artist and producer Annie Elise strives to elevate women in music production through the celestial soundscapes she creates. Born with Synesthesia, she is a “conductor for colour” – creating music that produces the colours she likes to see. The result are blissful, electro-driven, R’n’B infused pop anthems showcasing both her rich, sweeping vocals and innovative production capabilities.

We caught up with Annie to find out more about the EP, how she got into creating music and what inspires her… Have a read, and make sure you check check out Breathe In, Breathe Out, which was released in partnership with non-profit organisation Someone To Tell It To, which is dedicated to the power of compassionate listening in today’s society.

Hi Annie Elise, welcome to Get In Her Ears! Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Hey there, thanks so much for having me! My name is Annie Elise, and I’m a producer/artist/A&R currently living in Boston. I really love the colour purple, and I have a kitten named Juno, short for Roland Juno-106 Polyphonic Synthesizer. 

How did you start creating music?
It was a bit of a perfect storm. I was born with a neurological condition called Synesthesia that causes me to physically see sound and hear colour, so naturally I gravitated towards music. I was also born into a musical family – my dad is an amazing music educator. When I was nine, his middle school program was gifted an iMac lab to learn Garage Band, and I became the guinea pig for the new curriculum. I was instantly hooked and would sneak downstairs at night to go play around with some sounds, and that was my first experience with production. Around that time, I started studying classical violin, and later was accepted into Berklee College of Music to study violin performance. But I guess my hands had other plans – about halfway through my first semester, my fingers stopped working as they should and I was eventually diagnosed with Focal Dystonia, which meant a career in violin performance was out of the question. Heartbroken, I had to decide what to do next, and I decided to pivot towards production, and never looked back. Thankfully, it allows me to still be creative without needing all ten fingers working perfectly! And now I’m here, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Your latest EP Breathe In, Breathe Out is out now – can you tell us what it’s all about? Are there any themes running throughout the EP?
To sum it up the best I can, it’s the honest, genuine story of my worst year. It’s filled with grief, loss, doubt, stress, surgeries, hospital visits, and sexism – but also perseverance, finding inner strength, identity and recognition. I think optimism in the face of uncertainty is a big theme for me – starting around the time I lost the use of my finger – and I like to think of this as a personal journey of the healing process. I recorded all the strings on the EP myself, and it was a long and frustrating process to deal with the Dystonia, but it was so special for me to be the one playing my violin. The EP kind of starts in this incredibly dark and overwhelming place with ‘Breathe In’, and then over the course of the record slowly gets lighter and more optimistic until the end, when you end with ‘Breathe Out’, which is all about welcoming peace and letting things be.

You’ve been compared to the likes of Shura and Robyn, but who would you say are your main musical influences?
I’m super inspired by other gender minorities in production who are absolutely killing it – Bad Snacks, Rachel K Collier, and SoWylie to name a few – as well as songwriters who are able to just be 1000% honest and genuine. Matthew Thiessen of Relient K has been a huge influence for me, as well as Devon Again and Lila Drew.

How is your local music scene? Do you go to see lots of live music?
I end up seeing a lot of live music thanks to my A&R work! Going to support and scout artists is all part of the job, and I’ve really enjoyed watching all sorts of acts just be their best selves on stage. It’s really inspiring.

And what can fans expect from your live shows?
Last month, we finished up our first ever Northeast Tour! It was soooo much fun. When I’m performing solo, you can expect a solo beat set. I hook up a vocal mic, my SP404sx, my viola and we have a ball. When I’m performing with my band, the set sounds way more neo-soul than electronic, and it’s way less for me to worry about since there’s no looping, no sampling, no playing while singing… Just me and the band. There’s things I love about both setups, but sometimes it’s just logistically easier to do it one way over another. I love having the flexibility and also the unpredictability of having every show be something different.

As we’re a new music focused site, are there any new/upcoming bands or artists you’d recommend we check out?
I mentioned Bad Snacks earlier – def check her out! She’s one of the reasons I decided to make the leap into production, and I can’t wait to watch her music continue to do amazing things.

And how do you feel the music industry is for new bands at the moment – would you say it’s difficult to get noticed?
Speaking as an A&R, I would definitely say that it can be harder to cut through the noise since making and releasing music is far more accessible these days. Surrounding yourself with the right team and being true to yourself as an artist is the absolute best thing you can do.

Finally, what does the rest of 2022 have in store for Annie Elise?
Lots of new music – both for my artist project, and music that I’ve produced for other people. I’m really excited for it all to be out into the world.

Massive thanks to Annie for answering our questions!

Breathe In, Breathe Out, the debut EP from Annie Elise, is out now.

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