Annalise Azadian, arriving on the scene with her own version of feel-good R&B sprinkled with soul and modern-day elements, the New York native is a music-lover down to the core and we are here for her raw, unravelling of her new sound.
Currently living in the Bronx, with the ability to play both piano and guitar, Annalise prides herself in writing all her own music. After attending the acclaimed Berklee College of Music as a teenager, a school where legends like Quincy Jones and John Mayer attended, the Irish/American recording artist moved back to New York City at the young age of 18, determined to find her footing in the music industry once and for all. As a result, her Untitled project was born, allowing fans a cool glimpse into the life of Annalise Azadian.
Azadian’s newest release “Life of the Party” speaks volumes to the social anxiety, disconnect and insecurity we all face in life’s socal settings. Produced by Grammy-winning and 4x Grammy-nominated producer and songwriter Swagg R’Celious, the record follows suit after the success of her previous single Bogu$, which hails over 2 million streams on Spotify alone.
On the fashion tip, Annalise has been a ride or die street culture kid since she could walk in sneakers. Flaunt caught up with Annalise via Zoom to discuss her roots on the East Coast, biggest influences, the making of “Life of the Party,” going to Vegas to shoot a scene in the video, learning choreography, her fashion sense, getting a plaque for “Bogu$,” Elton John, and more!
How would you describe your sound?
I’d say it’s R&B/soul, with a little bit of alternative mix.
What was it like growing up in the Bronx?
I’m originally from Middletown, it’s an hour from where I’m at now. Upstate, it was cool. It was a city in a small town, so it was weird. I moved when I was 16 years old, I graduated high school early. I was always in honors classes. I went to Berklee College of Music in Boston for a year, then I dropped out. I made my way to the city because there was all music opportunities back here. I slept on my uncle’s couch for about 9 months, got my feet on the ground, then I got my own apartment.
What made you drop out?
When I first got to Berklee, everybody said “If you graduate from here, you’re doing something wrong.” Unless you want to become a professor or a music teacher, but you can’t really be taught how to be a star. I’ve learned some basic music theory, which I’ve never known. I’ve always been by ear. From there on, I had some studio time back in the city. I said “you know what, I’d rather go be in it than be in a classroom learning.” I wanted to experience it in real life.
Who did you grow up listening to?
When I was younger, my mom always played Alicia Keys and R&B in the house so that’s what I grew up on. As I got older, I loved Paramore and alternative music. Once I started singing, I was getting a lot of comparisons to Norah Jones, Erykah Badu, and Lauryn Hill, who are amazing musicians and artists. I started to really dive deeper into their music. I fell in love with their sound, the soul of their lyrics and the lyrics. I love Amy Winehouse, Erykah Badu definitely.
“Life of the Party” out now! How are you feeling?
It’s an amazing turnout so far. The music video’s my favorite part. Getting to shoot it and having so many people involved, it was my biggest production to date. It was a life-changing experience for me. I’ve been getting a good reaction from people, it’s pretty cool. There’s a remix coming out soon, I’m really excited to give it a new life with the remix.
Who’s on the remix?
It’s a DJ named PS1. He did that song “Fake Friends” with Alex Hosking. It’s a total dance vibe now, I’m excited to have it in clubs.
Bring us back to when you recorded the song.
I started this song about a year and a half ago in the studio. I didn’t think I was going to do anything with it, it was just a hook. I started to talk with Orchard a couple months after that, I showed them it randomly. Swagg loved the hook on it, but he said “Let’s change the production and make it more of a pop/dance vibe to go with the ‘Life of the Party’ title.” Before that, it was a slow neo soul song. It was a change for me. I was nervous to have it change so drastically, but I ended up loving it. We went back in on the verses and it became what it is today. It’s about me being the life of the party, but at the same time it’s a contradiction to not loving to be in the limelight. Wanting to be the wallflower sometimes.
How does that feel being an artist, as you get bigger and gain more attention?
I’m an introvert so I know it’s a little weird to me, but I know it’s where I belong at the same time. Where I shine the most is on stage. I can fit that role but some days, I want to be in the background and not be the center of attention. Being an artist, you have to be that pretty much 24/7.
Where was the video shot?
It was shot close to the Bronx, about 15 minutes away from my house. It was an old school bank that we molded to this house. It was a mansion, so beautiful. I came across it really randomly. Since it was COVID, it was a really hard experience trying to find a place to have about 70 people during the midst of COVID. I got really lucky with that one. There was a bank vault that we turned into this twister room with a black light, it was really cool.
How was it executing your creative vision for it?
Originally, I wanted it to be an abstract theme and go with colors. When I say party, I just think of colors. I’ve been to the Seven Magic Mountains in Las Vegas. They’re these rock statues that are all different colors, it’s really cool. I have a thing with the number 7, so it’s perfect. I wanted the whole video there originally. Once the song changed, I said “Okay this is definitely a party scene where everybody’s having a good time.”
We had the house party, then I got to incorporate the abstract idea in Las Vegas at the end of the video. It summed up the video of me dancing and having a good time with all my friends, but at the end being alone in the desert. Being isolated and by myself. I was really happy I got to fit in that scene. That’s my favorite scene overall. It was funny because it was probably the most expensive. It was a pretty big expense to get to Las Vegas. Me and my videographer went at 6am, we tried to get the sunrise but it was closed. We got there, it was all caution taped off. They said for those 3 weeks, it was closed for reconstruction. I begged them saying “I came from New York, I’m shooting this video.” They let us have 30 minutes, I got really lucky with that.
Best memory from shooting the video?
The best memory was seeing the turnout. The day of the shoot for the party scene, it was downpouring so I was nervous about people getting there. Especially being in a city where nobody has cars, everybody takes public transportation. It was definitely a hike to get there because we had to cross the bridge and all this stuff. Seeing the turnout of how many people came to support was my favorite part, it meant a lot to me to see everybody come.
How was it dancing and doing all the choreography?
It was pretty nerve-wracking for me because I always have my instrument, this was the first time I ever danced in public or in front of anybody. I was training with my choreographer for about 6 months. We were originally training for a different song, then we switched to “Life of the Party.” It was cool. To see it start to trend on TikTok with influencers and them trying their dances, it was cool. I like to stick to my instruments more than dance. [laughs]
How would you describe your fashion sense?
I would describe it as street style. I’ve been skateboarding since I was 7 years old, played basketball since then as well. It influenced my style with Jordans from playing basketball, all the street wear brands. Definitely heavily influenced by Japanese culture. I worked for Billionaire Boys Club in SoHo, we always got shipments from all international brands. I loved their style because they’re always ahead of America, ahead of the times. I love their style, I definitely want to incorporate it. I started to build my own brand, but I definitely get more into designing asI get older.
How does it feel to get a plaque for “Bogu$”?
It was awesome. I‘d just turned 24 too so it felt like my birthday present. [laughs] Once it reached 2 million, it felt surreal. When it hit its first million, I was taken aback because I never thought that song in particular was going to be the one that was my first one million streams. To see it grow so quickly from a million to 2 million is mind-blowing. I didn’t expect that. To see the reaction from people and the organic growth, that was my favorite part. It was all organic. It was one playlist. From there on, it was a domino effect. I’m really grateful.
How’d it feel to get the Elton John cosign? That’s huge!
That was back in 2016. At that moment, I couldn’t even believe that he had heard it. I was confused how the song got to him, but Ebro had played it on his Beats 1 station. Elton John has his Rocket Hour on Beats 1 as well, they heard it from him. To hear him say I was a good songwriter was crazy, I never even thought he’d hear my music. He’s a legend.
Talk about linking with Jooyoung on “About You.”
I never got the chance to meet Jooyoung in person, I definitely want to. He said he really loved the song, it was an organic connection. I loved his voice on it, our voices sounded really great together.
How’d that happen?
My manager knew his manager. She sent the song, he said that he really loved it so he got on it. It’s been great to have that support and have an international fanbase.
Who else do you want to collaborate with?
There’s so many people I’d love to collaborate with. On the top of my list is Frank Ocean, I love his writing style.
What‘re you most excited for when the world opens back up?
Once I put more music out, I’m definitely going to tour. I have a show in LA, I’m performing at the Whisky A Go Go. It’s a really big venue. They had reached out to me to headline which is really amazing because legends have played there. I can’t wait to make that trip out there and start traveling. I’ve done some shows in New York, but never too many anywhere besides New York.
What can we expect next?
I’m excited to make music. I’ll be putting out the best music I’ve ever made soon. I’m excited to see the feedback. I want to grow and eventually tour, hopefully this year. I’d love to go tour and play shows because the past few years with Covid, everything’s been messed up. Hopefully the world will open up and it’ll be safe to play. I want to keep building a fanbase. I’d love to see people’s reaction. When they love something, it makes me feel great because it’s my passion.