Interview with Anna Mae: Fall In Love With Everyday Life

Rising alt-pop singer-songwriter Anna Mae released her debut album, For The Romantics (FTR), on May 13, 2022.



Although FTR is Mae's first full LP, you may have already heard her music featured on Grey's Anatomy, The Bachelorette, The Bold Type, and in a Toyota Super Bowl commercial, along with numerous other television and film placements. Mae has also found a spot on several major Spotify-curated playlists, including the official New Music Friday, Notable Releases, and Next Gen Singer-Songwriters playlists.


Photos by Bethany R. Reed

For The Romantics is a colorful coalescence of clever lyricism, catchy melodies, and a concept that celebrates the beauty of everyday life. From start to finish, the album highlights the multi-faceted nature of Mae's work. The twang of slightly-distorted guitars recalls her Nashville roots and signature sound, falling somewhere between Kacey Musgraves and Lana Del Rey. Mae takes on the dangerous glamour of a spy movie heroine with "Bond Girl", the swelling synths and reverberating guitar tones giving the song a vintage film feel. The powerful vocals on pop-ballad "Hallelujah" are heavenly; the subtle instrumental and backing vocal builds create new dynamic depth without distracting from the main lyrics and melodies. Musical masterpiece "Picasso" paints a picture of the darker aspects of romance. Heartbreak laces every percussive hit and earworm vocal hook. FTR finishes with the beautifully reflective "Trouble In Paradise"; the blend of string section instrumentation with modern pop pieces manifests into a culminating moment for the album.


We spoke with Anna Mae about her early inspirations, debut album, and future plans. Read the full interview below and check out For The Romantics. Stay tuned for an IG Takeover tomorrow on @intersectmagazine and let us know what you think!


 

How are you today?

I’m doing pretty good, thank you! Emotionally overwhelmed (in the best way) from the response of the release.


Who or what first inspired you to play music?

I think my parents are the ones that probably first inspired me to play music. My

dad has always been a big music fan and I get a lot of my taste in music from him, so I

feel like that was ingrained in me from a young age. My mom was a piano teacher,

would direct the church musicals, and I recently found out that she was recording vocals

on a church album when she was about to go into labor with me–so we can probably

thank her for a lot of it.


At what age did you begin writing music?

I remember writing my first “song” when I was around five. It was called “2

+ 2 = 4, Not 3” and thankfully I've come a long way since then.


What is the first song you learned how to play?

“Collide” by Howie Day... my brothers taught me how to play it on guitar

when I was in 6th or 7th grade.


How would you describe your sound?

Dreamy nostalgia; it’s a mix of the sounds I grew up listening to (which I think

give it the nostalgic feeling) with super dreamy and picturesque imagery.


Your music has been featured in a number of TV shows, commercials, etc… what has

been your favorite placement so far?

This is a tough one! There have been so many placements that have felt really

surreal and special to me. A few favorites have been a Toyota Super Bowl commercial,

multiple placements in The Bold Type (because I’m in love with that show), and the

movie trailer for On The Basis Of Sex.


What is one thing people might not know about you?

I’m currently learning French. I’ve wanted to learn it for years and at the start of

2021, I downloaded Duolingo and have been going strong ever since.


Tell us about your debut album, For The Romantics. Who or what inspired it?

For The Romantics was honestly a culmination of so many different inspirations. The overall

title inspiration came from the idea of embracing the romance of life. I had

noticed that so many of the most romantic moments of life came during

unexpected moments–like sitting alone in a coffee shop or exploring a new city

by myself. There’s so much romance in every facet of life (loneliness,

independence, heartbreak, beauty), not just the fairytale ending moments.


"...so many of the most romantic moments of life came during unexpected moments–like sitting alone in a coffee shop or exploring a new city by myself."

Do you have a favorite song off the album?

Each song on the album was so specifically crafted and picked for the

project, so I truly love them all so much. Some days I gravitate more towards

specific songs. Today I’d maybe say “Chasing The Fame”. It’s so dreamy and

we recorded live strings for it, which was one of the most magical experiences in

my music career.


What are some of the hidden layers or elements fans might not notice at first?

The album artwork was actually made from an oil portrait that the incredible Aaron Nagel painted for me. I had dreamt of having a painted portrait for artwork for years and it was really special to make it happen for my debut album. Another hidden layer is the insane group of people that I got to create this album with. From co-writers to musicians to producers, the roster I worked with couldn’t have been better and I feel so honored to have worked with them. I'm honestly still in disbelief; Joy Williams, Cason Cooley, Aaron Sterling, Nick Lobel, Todd Clark... just to name a few. I’ll let you google them on your own time to fawn over

everything they've done!


"I had dreamt of having a painted portrait for artwork for years and it was really special to make it happen for my debut album."

What was the songwriting and recording process like?

I love starting with titles, so quite a few of the songs began that way. I

wrote a few by myself (either a capella or with my guitar) and then also co-wrote a

few of them. For the album, I really focused on crafting the songs first and waiting

to dive into production until after I knew I loved the melodies and lyrics we were

working with.


Are there any music videos in the works?

So far “Bond Girl” and “For The Romantics (Intro)” both have music videos,

but I’m definitely hoping to set a few more into motion soon.


Share a little bit about the album artwork; how did it come about?

Since I knew I wanted it to be based off of a painting, I did an album photoshoot

way back at the end of last summer, so that we could capture the right photo off of which Aaron could base the painting. Bethany R. Reed took the photos and did an incredible job. Then the painting was made, and after that it was sent over to Zoe Zimmer, who added

the border and text.


What’s next for Anna Mae?

I’d love to tour this album a little bit–I think it would be so special to sing these

songs live with people! That’s next on the agenda and then I’ll be ready to dive in and

keep making some more music. I also adore Christmas music (yep, I’m one of those

people) so I’ve thought about putting together a little Christmas EP that I could

potentially release later on this year… we shall see!


Is there anything else you’d like people to know about you?

This album has 100% been the most rewarding thing I’ve worked on and I think

that’s because I finally got rid of trying to make something that I thought people wanted to

hear from me. Instead, I made what I wanted to hear and what felt natural to me. It’s been so special to see people respond and resonate with the music. All that's to say, I hope people feel more encouraged to make the things they want to make–not the things they think they “should” make.