Anna Straker Used the Uninspiring Pop Scene to Fuel “Serious”
Anna Straker’s tongue-in-cheek response to being uninspired with the current pop music scene is her new track, “Serious,” the title track of her forthcoming EP.
“It’s my sassy way of telling people that I’m a serious, creative artist and I’m not just here to make money or be famous; I’m here to make good music,” she tells Galore.
Anna believes that music should be able to stand on its own, without taking advantage of or exploiting the image of the female body “for the outcome of money/fame” — an idea that may be anti-establishment, but is truly refreshing at the same time.
As for the music itself, Anna says she’s inspired by 90’s R&B greats like TLC and Destiny’s Child. The tune features retro synths, sings tales of industry dissatisfaction, and Anna’s vocals are reminiscent of early Madonna and Kylie Minogue.
The video features Anna looking like the dreamgirl of our 90’s Spice Girls dreams, complete with double mini buns and stacked sneakers — check this one out, and try super hard not to dance along.
Is it true you are classically trained on the piano and that you started as a backup singer?
It is true indeed! I begged my parents to buy a piano when I was 6 or 7 years old and got Grade 8 distinction when I was 16. And I was lucky enough to sing some backing vocals on a few tracks for Rudimental, John Newman and Years & Years.
What inspired you to write the song, “Serious”?
Sometimes I feel like the pop music scene is a little uninspiring these days, and I wrote “Serious” to ignite something more in people than a regular dance tune would. I was feeling fearless that day and fed up with the lack of authentic music in the charts. It’s my sassy way of telling people that I’m a serious, creative artist and I’m not just here to make money or be famous; I’m here to make good music.
You’ve said the song serious is about the music industry — though you won’t name names on who it’s about — tell us more about that and how it translates in the song.
I do not hate when girls use their sexuality for art. The human body, and sex, are beautiful things. As a young woman, I love feeling sexy and I embrace and support other women who do so. I do not wish to dictate what others do, but I feel like when a woman within the industry takes her clothes off to promote herself and her music, for the outcome of money/fame, she is contributing to the misogyny that is still so present today.
Music should be promoted on its artistic merit. Madonna’s “Woman of The Year” speech embodies what I’m trying to say – she has pushed the boundaries of female sexuality in the name of art for such a long time. We should aim to reclaim our bodies back from the patriarchal male gaze. I want to be a role model for girls, and tell them: sex should empower you, do not fear sex and nudity, but do not let it be a form of social control. One of the lyrics in “Serious” is, ‘Is saying something getting tough?’. This is a sarcastic remark for artists who don’t use their platform to say anything of worth. Don’t let someone tell you that you are undesirable “unless you got buns, hun”.
In “Serious,” you reference TLC and Destiny’s Child — what were some of your favorite singers in the 90’s? Did they/do they inspire your sound today?
Totally. I grew up on a lot of 90s R&B; Alicia Keys, Janet Jackson, Lauryn Hill, Usher, D’angelo etc… They definitely have brought a soulful aspect to my music. But also listening to bands like Radiohead, Gorillaz, and RHCP have definitely made my songs sound like a mixture of genres wrapped into one.
The video has some 90’s Spice Girls Vibes, and you do a lot of kind of contemporary dance movement — where did the idea for the video come from? Do you have any dance training or do you just move how you feel?
I wanted a very simple but iconic video for “Serious.” When I shut my eyes and listened to the song I visualized really powerful images of me shouting at the camera and, because of the dance floor vibes of the track, cutting some shapes! I love the aesthetic of that decade, so chose to use the 90s low down camera angles and have Bjork/Gwen Stefani-inspired space buns.
I got in touch with a wicked choreographer (Kendra Horsburgh) who helped shaped the movements for the video. She got me in a room and just made me dance in front of her (which was kinda weird haha!) and we picked out my natural moves and made them more serious! I had so much fun on that shoot.
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You have a strong message in this song, and you seem very confident about your music and who you are — where does that confidence come from?
I’ve always been a very outgoing, confident person. Ever since I was little I’ve had a lot of positive reinforcement of what I was doing, so I’ve always kind of felt unstoppable. One time in school I got suspended for breaking the rules and my head teacher didn’t shout at me, she just said to me “whatever you do in life, you’ll be successful at it.” So I think it stems from all the people around me.
Is there a thru-line to all the songs on your new EP?
The EP has a youthful feel to it. “How We Are” & “Late Night Swimming” are the embodiment of being young and having no responsibility, leaving the house with nothing but the clothes you’re wearing, climbing up to a rooftop in London and being with your friends. “Desert Floor” & “Serious” manifest the other side of feeling 19 years old for me: the rebellious, un-constrainable urge to achieve something incredible in life.
If you could meet and collaborate with any musician alive or dead, who would it be?
The King of Pop, Michael Jackson.
What do you hope listeners/fans will take away from your music?
I hope that people see me as a credible musician, songwriter and producer. I want to transport people into a world where anything is possible. I love saying something through my music, and I hope that my songs resonate with my generation.
Where do you hope to be in a year?
Making more music and inspiring more people to do so.
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