An Interview with Anastasia Elliot
By: Dennis M. Kelly
DK: Good day Anastasia, thank you so much for taking time out of your day to chat with me. How are you?
AE: I am doing fantastic! I am very excited for the opportunity to do this interview with you! How are you?
DK: I am doing great Anastasia, thanks so much! So, we’re still coming down off of this creative high over here that was induced by your video for ‘The Boy Who Cried Love’ that was released early last month. All I can say is you and your team did a phenomenal job on it! You can tell that you spared no expense when it came to every element of it. Tell me the whole story on the song and video from beginning to end please.
AE: Thank you so much! I am so glad it had such an impact. It was definitely a labor of love for myself and my team. I wrote ‘The Boy Who Cried Love’ several years ago in a late night LA writing session. It has always been a song that has been special to me and influential to the rest of my music because it is the first place that I blended together my classical roots and pop sensibilities.
DK: It works very well, I might add too!
AE: Thank you! I played it for director Ryan Hamblin when we first met and after his first listen, the idea for the video was born and we began working on it right away. Ryan made me a very homespun pre-visualization (that you can see on my YouTube channel), which now when I look back at it makes me laugh, but you can totally see his vision for the video. We custom made every element in the video from the sets to the wardrobe. I also loved having the chance to witness the process of the visual effects. Ryan had the idea to do the effects practically and there is only one brief CGI shot in the entire video. At that point, ‘The Boy Who Cried Love’ was my first video shoot and seeing all of the ideas brought into reality broke my brain open to the possibilities of what can be created.
DK: In this day and age where everything is CGI, that makes this video even more impressive, great job! How was it working with Ryan Hamblin on this?
AE: Ryan is an incredible director. This video was our first collaboration of many that you will soon see. He is so creative in how he goes about the execution of our ideas and we have a wonderful dynamic on set together.
DK: Who did you have to do the makeup and your hair?
AE: Lindsey Ervin was the makeup artist and Lacey Wootten was the hair artist on ‘The Boy Who Cried Love.’ I had so much fun creating my two opposing looks with these amazing artists and building my characters’ looks from the ground up.
DK: Well, give them a raise because everything was impeccable. Tell me where you were at (in your life) when you penned the song?
AE: When I wrote ‘The Boy Who Cried Love’ I was traveling around the country writing tons of songs and honing in on the sound for my record. Although this song is a little removed from the sound of the overall record, I am so attached to it because it was such a big part of my artistic evolution. I wanted it to be everyone’s first peak into my universe.
DK: You’ve done a great job at creating a mystery about yourself. I mean, to come out this strong with your first single/video and keep people waiting and wondering what other masterpieces are to come, that is a great way to entice the interest of new fans and make them lifelong fans. How was recording the song for you, was that one of your first times in the studio?
AE: The writing session for this song was one of my first, but by the time I did the final recording of ‘The Boy Who Cried Love,’ I had logged quite a few studio hours. The process of recording this song was actually very different and backwards than most. We filmed the video using my demo and then I went in after the video edit was finished and redid the song from scratch. I essentially scored the music video.
DK: Interesting, but however it ended up being completed, it worked and will help you with streamlining the process the next time around.
DK: The piano design by Jonathan Parris is amazing, I saw the behind the scenes video for it and what made it even more striking is that it was (more or less) recycled from an existing piano. Was that piano functional before it was disassembled and rebuilt as your (now) trademark piano?
AE: Yes! Jonathan is one of the most unique inventors I have ever met. This piano is such a special piece of art. I prefer upright pianos to grand pianos and loved that he was able to construct my piano out of an old functioning upright.
DK: How does the piano sound compared with other pianos you’ve played?
AE: It sounds pretty silent compared to others as the original piano in the video does not make sound, lol. There is an updated one in the works, though that will trigger midi and break down for transport.
DK: Very cool, I can’t wait to see how that one will look and you anticipated my next question, how difficult is it to transport?
AE: The original piano is quite heavy and we have had many comical experiences taking it to different locations.
DK: Moving on from the piano to your background, you’re currently in Brentwood, TN, right?
AE: I do live in the Nashville area, but started my journey in Houston, Texas.
DK: Do you have a big family and how was it growing up for you?
AE: I have a small family. I have one human sibling and 3 dog siblings. We had a very happy childhood and grew up super close.
DK: Is your family a musical family?
AE: Nobody else in my family makes music, but they do appreciate it. We have no idea where my musical abilities come from, but I grew up around so much art and music. We had an old upright piano in the center of our home, which now resides in my studio. My father had 80’s music playing on the speakers in our house growing up and my mom could always stop my crying as a baby with some Dean Martin.
DK: Who were some of your earliest musical influences growing up?
AE: Pat Benatar, Taylor Dayne, Annie Lennox, Billy Idol, Kate Bush, Enya, and Evanescence are some of the artists who were influential to me growing up. The opera singers I had the pleasure of seeing perform and the composers whose pieces I spent countless hours learning also influenced my love for the dramatics.
DK: Kate Bush! Yes, I’ve definitely been a long-time fan of her work over the years! Did you take any voice or piano lessons? If so, what were some of the most important lessons you learned and how have they influenced you since?
AE: From a very early age I wanted to be like the opera singers and classical musicians that I saw on the stage. They trained, so I trained and I think it’s important to always be improving and studying. I owe so much to my early classical instruction and learned many important lessons that built the foundation for how I work and train now, like the importance of disciplined practice and how to take care of my voice.
DK: I understand you were signed by a major label, but things didn’t work out too well, sorry about that, do you care to discuss your experience and do you have any suggestions for artists who might be at that same point about to sign their record deal?
AE: I had a wonderful experience working with Warner Brothers. I was signed to former president Dan McCarroll and was supported by a great creative team that allowed me complete creative freedom. During a regime change, Dan left and went to Amazon Music. I parted ways with the label and was fortunate enough to take all of my work with me in order to release it a little differently. My best advice for artists who are about to deal with a label is to have strong legal representation and also to make sure they really know who they are artistically before entering into label territory.
DK: Since leaving the label, you forged ahead on your own and it seems you have a very clear and determined nature to make anything and everything happen, have you always been so driven?
AE: Yes, I have always been driven and determined. I have known this is what I wanted to do with my life since a very young age. I have a clear vision for myself and my music and I work tirelessly to achieve that vision and sometimes pull off what seems impossible.
DK: On your YouTube channel, you’ve got a few baking videos there, how long have you baked?
AE: My mother’s side of the family is Greek and my father’s side is Italian so we eat very well.
DK: I would imagine so.
AE: I have always been around great cooking. My own passion for cooking and baking really ignited about 4 or 5 years ago when I became vegan. The only way that I was going to enjoy eating was if I could cook and bake food that tasted even better than what I was used to. It became a fun challenge to take all of the dishes that I knew and loved and make them healthier and tastier. Cooking has really become something that keeps me grounded during the week.
DK: Was creating your own baking show ever a considered career path for you or just fun?
AE: I would say that it is definitely more for fun. I enjoy it as another creative outlet and I love to share my recipes. I have been having a blast integrating my hobby into my profession with my song themed recipes.
DK: You also have a short video for your strangled heart pins which is also very well produced and creative, are these video shorts self-produced?
AE: Thank you very much. All of my video content is a collaboration between myself and Ryan Hamblin. Or in the case of the pin video, Elfastasia and Pom-pom Snowfig.
DK: What else do you do with your time?
AE: I love to learn new skills and explore new hobbies. I am a voracious reader, I love to knit, I’m a henna artist, I am learning to speak Mandarin, I love yoga, boxing, and rebounding, and spend a lot of time on health and wellness research. Keeping myself inspired always ensures that I am creatively fueled.
DK: What have the toughest challenges been for you as a musician?
DK: Why would you say it is so difficult for musicians to make it in this industry?
AE: I think that where we are in music right now is both a challenging and exciting time. Artists have greater access to releasing their content independently, which is a blessing and a curse. Not having to rely on a major entity for a release is a great thing, but there is now over-saturation in the market and it’s harder to make your voice heard. Many of the labels have not caught up to the times and they are focused on recreating what has been successful in the past and are not willing to take creative risks.
DK: What keeps you moving forward and staying positive each day?
AE: I am always encouraged by the positive feedback and fan support that I receive on my socials and by fantastic interviewers and supporters like yourself. I love hearing people’s stories and how my content has connected with them. Also, creating new content and preparing what’s coming next. I am so excited to share everything that’s waiting in the wings.
DK: How would you describe the Anastasia Elliot brand?
AE: I very much like my project to be steeped in an air of mystery so I would rather not define it.
DK: Is ‘The Boy Who Cried Love’ soon to be joined by another single anytime soon or will there be a full length album coming sooner?
AE: Yes, just you wait :)
DK: How often do you perform/tour?
AE: Plans are in the works for performing/touring in 2019 and I am so excited to come play in Chicago!
DK: How would you describe your live shows?
AE: If I tell you, I’ll have to kill you.
DK: Hey now! lol
AE: Haha! just kidding. But you will have to come see for yourself.
DK: Would love to! Do you get to interact with many of your fans at shows or online?
AE: I get to interact with my fans every day online.
AE: I love to answer their messages and hear their stories. I can’t wait to meet more fans at my future shows!
DK: What social media outlet has (so far) proven most effective in spreading the word about you?
AE: I think that each social platform has tapped into a different audience for me and been equally effective. My favorite social media platform to run has been Instagram because I love the visual nature of it.
DK: I am not ashamed to admit that I haven’t been able to make the most out of instagram as much as I’d like to yet, but one day… What else can you tell me about yourself (in general), what would be something about yourself that you wouldn’t normally find in a biography?
AE: Several years ago while on a trip to Africa, Three Maasai tribesmen offered my father 50 cows to buy me. He told them I was worth 75 cows, minimum.
DK: At least, right? (laughs)
DK: Do you have any final items you would like to share with our readers today?
AE: Yes! When you combine something that keeps you moving and something that stops you dead, you will get the combustibility of my next single. If you can figure out the title, message me on my socials and I will send you something very special.
DK: Ooo, a riddle eh? (I stink at riddles…) Thank you very much Anastasia once again for taking the time with me, you truly are impressive and I cannot wait to see where your career takes you… these are exciting times!
AE: Thank you!