Interview: Anna Akana on Her Musical Influences

Photo: Elizabeth Elder

Anna Akana isn’t just an Emmy nominated actress, she’s also a songstress with a voice to be reckoned with. The songstress describes her sound as dark indie pop. Think emotional and empowering at the same time. While Anna will have a new full length album out soon, she isn’t giving away any details so we’ll need to pay close attention for new information. In the meantime, fans can listen to her new single, “Intervention,” to get a taste of what is to come. Want to know how she stays grounded or her musical influences? Then read on to find out more on this talented singer, songwriter, and actress: a true triple threat.

GLITTER: How would you describe your sound?

ANNA: Dark indie pop with trap rock undertones. Vulnerable, emotional, empowering.

GLITTER: What does being an artist mean to you?

ANNA: To me, being an artist means transforming my emotions into art. Whether that’s painting, poetry, music or even acting, creative expression is how I transmute my feelings.

GLITTER: What can you tell us about your new single “Intervention?”

ANNA: “Intervention” is about empowerment; about realizing where you’re struggling and taking responsibility for yourself to change behaviors that aren’t serving you. I’ve had terrible boundaries with alcohol for a long time. Though I wouldn’t venture to call myself an alcoholic, I definitely abused alcohol and used it as a crutch to avoid my problems. I’m currently halfway into a year of self-imposed sobriety to deal with my issues, and intervention was a huge influence on that.

GLITTER: Do you think you can turn pain into inspiration for others?

ANNA: Haha sometimes I think that’s the only thing I can do! It’s important to me to create art that brings value to other people. I’ve been a suicide prevention and mental health awareness advocate for a long time, and seeing the real, in person effects of that work is the most rewarding of my life. So I’m very intentional with my art in the same way.

GLITTER: Where do your musical influences come from?

ANNA: Taylor Swift, K Flay, Beyoncé, Lizzo, Halsey

GLITTER: Do you play any instruments?

ANNA: I play piano and guitar.

GLITTER: What is the songwriting process like for you?

ANNA: Coming from a film background, I’m all about collaboration. Normally I’ll have a concept for a song, maybe some lyrics. I’ll bring those to my producers Shayon Daniels and Nicci Funicelli with any sonic references that match the vibe I’m going for. Shay will build a track, which I’ll live with for a minute to come up with more lyrics, and we all get together and sit and write. I love being able to bounce ideas or melodies together. They’re the best creative collaborators I could have hoped for.

GLITTER: Will we see a full-length album from you soon?

ANNA: You will.

GLITTER: How do you stay grounded in this business?

ANNA: Meditation, therapy, good friends. I have a great support system and a solid self-care routine in place.

GLITTER: We know you’re an Emmy nominated actress as well. How do you balance life between being an actress and a singer/songwriter?

ANNA: I used to think I was great at time management, but recently I realize I’m just good at attention management. I’m good at knowing when my brain is exhausted on one project, which is a perfect way to pivot to another and feel re-energized. Acting and songwriting feed each other; acting allows me to escape myself, songwriting allows me to know myself.

GLITTER: What positive message do you hope to send women who follow you?

ANNA: I hope women are inspired to create art, to grow, to know their worth. To learn how to love themselves when every single thing in society tells us not to. To be more forgiving of their mental health and mistakes. I hope ultimately we lift each other up and celebrate each other’s success and unique talents.

GLITTER: Many women are coming forward in media and standing up for their rights as women. How important is this issue to you?

ANNA: So important. I think that collectively, women everywhere have an undercurrent of anger/passion right now. Now is the time for change, to speak up for what we want and need, and to hopefully impact society in a positive way that makes it more balanced.

GLITTER: What is the longest a fan has ever waited to meet you?

ANNA: I believe four hours in a meet-and-greet line, but they came from the UK to see a show of mine.

GLITTER: Who is your dream collaboration with?

ANNA: I’d love to collaborate with Lizzo. I love her songs, her message, her empowered stance on being a woman and a woman of color.

GLITTER: Glitter has a Celebrity #SelfLoveCampaign, what’s self-love mean to you?

ANNA: Self-love means forgiving yourself when you’ve fucked up, loving yourself when you hate yourself, of being kind and compassionate towards yourself when your inner voice insists on being critical. I think self-love is the very real, very difficult act of treating yourself as you would your best friend or lover. I find it much easier to give to others than myself (as I’m sure most of us do). But the relationship with the self is the most important one we can cultivate; we have to be our own parents, our own friend, and our own love.

GLITTER: What do you have planned for the upcoming year?

ANNA: The visual album starts releasing one music video at a time this summer. I also have a few TV shows in development, and a feature that will hopefully go into production by early next year. It’s an exciting time!

GLITTER: How can fans follow you?

ANNA: I’m @annaakana on everything