Anna Wise has a new record out today on Alpha Pup; titled As If It Were Forever, it features an impressive collab roster (incl. Denzel Curry, Little Simz, Nick Hakim and Jon Bap, to name a few) across a total of twelve tracks. I caught up with Wise last month to talk about how everything came together, and about what it’s been like as a new parent in the music world. We also talked self-care, checking white privilege and more, so read up on all of that below, and obviously grab a copy of the LP here.
Congrats on the record that’s about to be released! What was the timeline like? Do you remember the first sort of “Aha!” moment that you realized this would be a full-length?
I started working on it after a tour that I did about three years ago now, and I started working on jams with my friends Dane [Orr] and Zeke [Mishanec]. We’d just sit in my Brooklyn apartment together and improvise; they’d play various instruments, as would I. I wanted to make something that was reflective of what I do live so that it’d translate better, so I built a lot of the songs with loops using my loop pedal, adding harmonies to it, and then I’d improvise over those loops. I don’t really know when there was an “Aha!” moment. I think every time I begin a project, I’m like, “How did I do this last time? I don’t even remember!” So it kind of just slowly comes together, then there’s a bunch of songs, and you just kind of whittle it down.
There are a lot of great collabs on this one, too. How did you go about reaching out to people you wanted to work with, and was there anybody that wasn’t available?
All of my collaborations are super organic. Whenever I think of it, unless I have someone’s phone number, I’m not going to ask someone to collab. I’m always excited to work with people who I’m really close with. Almost everyone came to my apartment in Brooklyn to work, and we’d just enjoy ourselves. One person I really wanted to work with who comes to mind was Nick Hakim, and we’d been talking about working together for years, and finally one night I was with Jon Bap (who’s also on the record), and we were like, “We’re just gonna call him right now and see what he’s up to.” And he happened to be in the studio, so we went over there and made the song that night.
Amazing! Now, you also recently had a baby; I will preface this question by saying that I ask dudes who are new fathers about it, too, but has your creative process or routine been affected by parenthood?
Totally, yeah. My friend who plays the guitar came to stay with me for like a week before the other girls arrived to kick off tour, because she’s the newest addition to the band. We found that we went through an extreme emotional and musical metamorphosis together, because I hadn’t been creating since I gave birth. I hadn’t really been jamming on my loop pedal or writing or feeling inspired to write; I was just fully in this big, beautiful experience of having a child. I was surprised at how reluctant I was to get started. She also was working through her performance with me, that first gig in Atlanta being her first show ever. So she really helped me, and I helped her. We grew together and became what we are now in that week together. And I don’t think I’d have made it without her, because I planned this tour before I was pregnant, and I thought, “Everything’s going to be the same!” Which wasn’t the case at all. The person who I was before went down kicking and screaming. I definitely had many moments of tears and crying where I didn’t realize that I was going to become this person who didn’t even miss being that other person. But she definitely had to die to give way to the new me, the mom me who has completely different priorities. I just can’t imagine having to go back to work after six weeks of having a new baby.
Totally. Now, you’ve also been a champion of empowerment and femininity in your lyrics. I think it’s such an interesting…interesting is maybe not the right word, but just time that we’re living in right now. It is…a time. How do you stay empowered and not get bogged down? Is there an element of self-care?
Yeah, I do a lot of self-care. I love working with essential oils and having special sprays – smell is so powerful for your nervous system, and can absolutely change your mood. I think the way I stay empowered is through working on my stuff. You know, I’m a woman, but I’m also white, so I have a lot of white privilege. I think it’s important to be aware of where I’m at in my privilege. I believe we’re all connected, every single person on this planet, in ways that we don’t even understand. I think a lot of people understand it, but the frequency of your heart reaches out beyond you eight feet. If you’re walking down the street and you’re eight feet away from someone, you can feel their energy, and even their heart energy. Beyond that, I believe that we can feel everyone on the planet. So I do a lot of self-care, but I’m also trying to see the ways in which I’m failing as a person, and in my white privilege. I think that’s a responsibility that every white person has.
Absolutely. It’s baffling to me how so many people seem to lack basic human empathy.
Well, we live in such an individualistic culture, especially in the US. And not to keep harping on this, but as white people, we have to be vigilant in learning how to not suck. That’s a lifelong process. And it’s also something that’s difficult to talk about, because beyond worrying how to not suck as a white person, you could also be like, “Well I’m one of those good ones, right? I’m one of the not bad white people!”, like, looking for a pat on the back or something. There’s no pat on the back; it’s basic decency, and so it can be awkward to talk about. I want to do that more, privately, but I want to encourage other people to do it as well.
Featured photo by Lissyelle Laricchia