Welcome to In the Studio, a feature dedicated to exploring the fantastic independent musicians at Kenyon. This week, we showcase Annie Blackman, an English major, Thrill Grandma, and singer-songwriter from Montclair, NJ, who is known for artfully crafting melodies and lyrics that evoke a sense of forlornness.
When did you start being interested in music or playing an instrument?
Well, I became a pretty serious Taylor Swift fan around 5th grade and, also, really wanted to learn an instrument. I tried out the piano when I was a kid but really wasn’t driven to keep going. Of course, I figured that if I had a steady inspiration like Taylor Swift, I could more easily commit to the instrument, which led me to pursue the guitar and try my hand at songwriting.
Do you recall a specific moment in which you found your sound/voice/personal style?
For a long time, I really didn’t have anything to write songs about. When I was in middle school, I didn’t exactly have any serious enough crushes to pour my heart out about. Things definitely changed when I got to high school as I had more developed teenage feelings. Unrequited love, you know, what it takes for me to write. Once I began to focus on the truth in my own feelings, I was able to create something I was proud of.
Take me through your music making process. Is it something you intensely focus on or is it more spontaneous?
I basically always write my lyrics before I write my music. This usually starts with one line or a rhyme that comes about, usually when I am procrastinating. Then I’ll focus on it more, like a little assignment for myself, and write the rest of the song, adding the melodies once I am happy with the lyrics.
What aspects of culture, politics, art or your environment have been most formative to your music?
I am inspired by the way romantic emotions function specifically at Kenyon, but also, romantic emotions in the greater sphere. I honestly have trouble writing about stuff that isn’t related to loving and liking. I think it’s just the stuff I feel most deeply. Also, it’s especially easy to get wrapped up in crushes and romance at Kenyon because there is no respite from your feelings. You see everyone everywhere and are constantly reminded of how you feel since you are surrounded by the little landmarks you have created for yourself.
What are a few songs or an album that has been important to you?
It feels so cliche, but Pinegrove has been so influential to me. I think Evan Stephens Hall ’11 writes mindblowingly beautiful lyrics.
What are some upcoming projects you are working on?
So, I have enough songs for a new EP! I have been figuring out how to record them while at school. I actually have recorded two songs that are in the works, thanks to my friends at Kenyon and some who have graduated. It’s been tough because I don’t have a band, so I have to gather friends who are willing to be in-studio collaborators.
Check out Annie’s EPs on Bandcamp!
Sweet interview and sound