Interview with Anna Varga:
Where are you from?
I was born in Detroit, raised in St Louis and Chicago but have been based in New York for quite a while now.
How long have you been making music?
As a band we’ve been together through many incarnations since 2009. I began training as a vocalist at age ten and booking gigs in my teens.
How many songs /albums have you released to date?
We have independently produced two studio albums and are in the planning stages for our third.
Can you tell us about your latest release and the background and inspirations behind it?
The album is Bonjour Tristesse and These Days is the single. We were supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement and the Women’s March. The resistance is rooted in the Civil Rights and Women’s Liberation movements of the 1960s. This album is a tribute to that era. It has a sixties vibe.
How have you ended up in the music industry?
I’ve worked in every facet of the Entertainment industry as a performer. Stage performance is a tough gig regardless of whatever genre. The life expectancy is pretty low whether you sing or dance or play an instrument. I’m happy to be on the production side of the business now. Industry executives have offered me a lot of unsolicited advice. They told me not to be so political. I paid them no mind.
What do you think of the music industry in 2016?
The people never stopped buying albums. The industry stopped making them. The business seems to be driven by greed and fear. We are not motivated by greed or fear at all. We go in the studio to make music, not a killing.
Who do you think the most influential artist?
Hugh Hefner passed away the other day. Now he was a business man, not an artist per se. But he was influential. He started his enterprise with a tiny loan. What was it? Four hundred dollars? He bought pictures of Marilyn Monroe and featured the best artists and literary talent. He was not afraid to get political but never told anyone who to vote for. That is the American dream. I believe in that dream.
Who have you collaborated with so far in your career?
I’ve been really fortunate to work with some of the best Jazz artists in New York and New Orleans. My pianist and arranger, Alex Levin and his trio, saxophonist Stacy Dillard, bassist Bryan Vinson and his groups Vapism and the Thousandaires.
How do you think you differ from other artists?
We record live improvisational Jazz music. No autotune. We hold one rehearsal only. Most artists spend months recording. We spend one night. We could care less about what is trending in the industry. When we were told that our single was “trending” we laughed about it.
Dead or alive, who would be your dream collaboration?
Dreams trancend space and time. What’s great about being an artist is that you can create something timeless. As a producer you can think, “I wish I had a trumpet player who could play like Miles”. Then you meet a kid who knows all the Miles Davis licks but has his own style and you create something classic with a fresh twist.
What was the first album you bought?
Blondie’s Rapture on vinyl
What’s your favourite song at the moment?
The Jazz scene isn’t really about that “hit song”. I do listen to pop music. I tune into DJ Funkmaster Flex’s radio show and go to rock shows too. I’m going to see the band Spoon. But I’m not the type who wants to hear Cardi B’s Money Moves ten times a day.
If you had to sell your music collection tomorrow, what album would you leave in your draw?
Hopefully the struggle will never get that desperate. I collect old Interscope, Stax and Motown records on vinyl. The Interscope releases are priceless.
What is your favourite saying?
I sign off on everything as, “Love, Always”. I try to always come from the heart. My birthday is on Valentines Day. I’m a born romantic.
What other hobbies or interests do you have?
We have a farm in upstate New York with a goat and chickens running around. I want to build a recording studio there. We currently record in Brooklyn.
Do you have any tattoos or piercings?
There is a tramp stamp above my ass, unfortunately.
Tell us more about your upcoming project or this new project?
It’s going to be called L.E.S.
What’s in the pipeline after this project?
Me surfing in Ditch Plains on Montauk. That is what is going to be in the pipeline.
Thank you for your time and may you carry on making great, fresh music.
Thank you. I love your features and interviews and am proud to be a part. The Meth Lab on Staten Island follows you. Much respect! We have a house on Shaolin Island near that recording studio and are huge fans of Method Man and the Wu. When I pay the band I sing, “Baby, I got your money! Don’t you worry!” by O.D.B. That always makes the boys smile.