Artist Hub Career Profile – News, analysis and comment – performing arts

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ArtsHub | Monday, November 01, 2010


What did you want to be when you grew up?
I never thought about it. I did what I enjoyed and it turned into a career – first it was kinesiology and now it’s music. At one time my ballet teacher did encourage me to take up ballet full time but I wasn’t prepared to have a short dancing career. So ballet was a 16 year hobby.

When did you know you would work in the arts?
I always have – I cannot live without art. Originally I vowed never to be a musician as such because I did not like growing up with parents I never saw due to their own commitments as busy musicians, but that soon changed. Music and writing very quickly penetrated my life in all the areas that mattered. I had an opportunity to put music to my lyrics and melodies and it has not stopped since then. Although my first entry into the workforce was my own business in kinesiology, I still exercised a very creative way of working with clients. I was in a field that served people to live a better life. My “hat” as a kinesiologist is just as creative as the song writing/recording /production process for me and with the music I can see no better way than that serving people in terms of emotion, enjoyment and hopefully giving them something that reflects themselves.

I grew up writing all my thoughts down in poetry form and hung out with old time jazz musicians at my dad’s big band rehearsals. I loved it. Being the designated driver for my dad’s shows rendered me a ticket into the kind of music that made sense and connected me with a rhythm I innately knew. Music re entered my life in a very tangible way after Uni and I started to record and craft my poetry into song lyrics and melodies. In the last two releases I have taken on the role of producer, which has really developed my sound. For the album release and show, I was really happy to bring all artistic elements I am fond of into the mix with an integrated live projection of the album artwork as well as add some aspects of performance /dance.

How would you describe your work to a complete stranger?
A marriage of electronic and organic music, taking the best elements of jazz and soul threaded with emotive imagery and heavy lyrics.

How hard is it to be authentic in the arts nowadays?
I’ve never seen that to be a challenge, so I do not think it’s hard to be authentic. Everyone has their own voice and an ability to express that in a unique way. No one else feels what I feel, or sees what I see – the challenge is more so in delivering that accurately and staying true to that authentic voice.

Is there a mission to your work?
Of course. It ultimately has been intrinsic in my own personal health. Music makes me feel better about many things and if it doesn’t actually take away pain, it helps me laugh at it sometimes or just accept it. Music turns all the ugliness in everything into something beautiful and that’s the bottom line.

It helps me understand what I can’t understand and accept things out of my control. It’s mission: it expresses a message of love, lift the veil of suppression and transform all the ugliness into something beautiful. Even in anger and pain, if I can tap into the pure emotion and accurately express it, then its not that it becomes pretty – just that it becomes raw and pure. It’s message is the power of love and expression, keeping things raw and pure.

Ultimately though the music has a mission, I wouldn’t have a mission without the music. I can only hope that they affect music lovers and listeners. Writing strong songs and music that will eventually stand the test of time and that resonate with me and my listeners is ultimately my personal mission.

What’s your background – are there studies that prepare you for this?
I was interested in music and health, so after my completing a psychology major at Uni and qualifying as a kinesiologist simultaneously I started up a practice. I then started teaching kinesiology in colleges. Both parents are musicians so I grew up around music lessons and at rehearsals as well as hanging out at shows. My mother taught me classical flute and I flunked piano lessons. I struggled through musicianship and hated school orchestra. I never saw my folks (as they were mostly at gigs) therefore had a miserable time under the care of my brother. I vowed never to be a musician and dived into my kinesiology career which was so natural to me. I got to work with peoples’ body and mind helping them transcend physiological and psychological problems and taking seemingly complicated cases resolve with simple solutions. My clinic and work with kinesiology showed me the beauty in the human condition and through the struggles I helped people through really gave me more wonderful insights into the kind of content I was writing about in my lyrics.

Since I believe it is the musicians and story tellers of our time that create awareness and shift consciousness with their sound, I believe that my psychological and musical background have prepared me well. I regret not sticking to piano and persisting with music theory as it would be really beneficial right now to know it all like the back of my hand!

What’s the first thing career related you usually do each day?
I never stop writing. On my iPhone, on my notepad, voice recorder. There’s rarely a day that goes by without me writing, completing or moving forward on some idea or image. Even the process of refining and reviewing files and consolidating them is useful. That is how I nourish my creative brain. I also do my vocal exercises while doing some core energetic exercises most days, which raise my energy levels. I also usually end the day strumming my guitar as it relaxes my mind incredibly and really lubricates the melodies that are floating around in my brain!

Can you describe an “average” working day for you?
I would have to describe a week as I dedicate part of my week to kinesiology where I see clients. The other half I spend rehearsing, writing, following up on management meeting regarding music admins such as marketing, licensing etc. I also spend several 2-3 hour writing sessions every week on working on fresh material or co-writing with other artists. This working week changes when I am in recording mode I stop working with people and just block out a few months of production and mixing. Otherwise it is indeed a balance of doing that which pays bills whilst simmering away with lyrics and songs that marinate and soak in flavour with time. Oh, not to mention I am working on a new film clip right now so doing what it takes to pitch that for funding.

What else do you do to pay the bills?
That would be my kinesiology. Kinesiology has crossed into the music world for me as I help other musicians reach their potential through the one on one sessions. I also record and produce a side project which promotes the power of healing in the human voice and is designed for newborn’s regarding sleep, people with anxiety, sleeplessness and depression that seems to work quite well. It’s a Sound Of Solace CD so that help pay the bills as the feedback so far is that it works. I get the occasional call to produce someone else’s meditation CD. I really cannot complain!

What’s the one thing – piece of equipment, toy, security blanket, – you can’t work without?
My very special wooden glokenspiel. Whether it gets used in a track or not the sound is so pure it always inspires new ideas.

Clearly without my computer, preamps, microphones and kepboard, I would not be able to record a thing so that goes without saying!

What gets you fired up?
All talk and no action.

Who in the industry most inspires you?
Billie Holiday. Currently Im inspired by Leonard Cohen in terms of song writing and am loving all the pop and folk like Angus and Julia Stone or Sarah Blasko.

What in the industry do you despair about?
Where do you want me to start? Probably all the logistics of paperwork, contracts and organizational stuff at an independent level. The trick is in cracking into a really effective area for my very broad genre and style. All I can say is it is 1% inspiration, the rest is perspiration!

What is the best thing about your job?
Im in my element- creating music and having the opportunity to share it with people. Its never boring except for the list I despair about.

What’s the worst?
As much as I love recording, the pressure of getting the timeline down with artwork, mixing, mastering, recoding etc usually leaves me in a very upside down biological pattern. – Nothing my kinesiology collegues can’t help getting back on track rather quickly. It really is a fine balance at this stage.

What are the top three skills you need in this industry?
Talent (material), persistence and conviction. I strive to sing from a place of conviction and deep feeling. I dare say you need patience, but I suppose I shouldn’t advocate for something I struggle with myself.

What advice would you give anyone looking to break into the field?
If after all the projections of the hard work, money, time and commitment it’s gonna take does not deter you and you are still into it, then run and don’t look back. Make sure you build your team players that are dedicated to the vision and believe in your product. Get comfortable with asking for loads of help and remember there is no guarantee. You have to do it for yourself first otherwise the amount of energy you give doing this, would burn you out, leaving you with nothing. I believe that is why first and foremost it has to give you something no one/ nothing else can, then it can give something to the world, then it is unique and that is when it will grow its own body, arms and legs. The relationship with art is very intimate and like any relationship needs work, communication, nourishment and compassion.

How do you know when you missed the mark?
It depends what you are aiming for – but overall I think you can feel it in your gut. Its like when you say something you regret. You know the moment those words fall from your tongue that you missed the mark.

Which of the below phrases best suits your career development to date and why?
I’d have to say choice b because you got to be doing it to keep receiving it. I don’t think things just fall in your lap but when you make the commitment to what you want to do and put in the sacrifice of time, sweat and emotions then opportunities show themselves. You can only dance on the dance floor with the talents you have and if you’ve only got a boring side to side move then you better learn some other cool unique dance moves to start a trend or something! Otherwise I don’t think no side to side stepping action is going to turn many heads! This road is always developing but at least you are “doing it” and not dreaming about doing it!

a. “The road to success is always under construction.”
b. “Opportunity dances with those who are already on the dance floor.”
c. “Success is best measured by how far you’ve come with the talents you’ve been given.”
d. “No one can cheat you out of ultimate success but yourself.”

When do you know you’ve made it?
For me it’s when the project I’m working on takes a life of its own and doesn’t need the umbilical cord from me. It’s when the songs grow their own arms, legs and feet. An example of this is the amazing team that have some together over my music to take it to the next level – from remixes, to video clips etc.

AniKiko – BIO

Giving Bjork and Portishead a run for their money, the quirky and sensuous AniKiko launches her new EP Soul Naked Before You.

Aussie-Czech vocalist AniKiko is one to watch. Compared to Beth Gibbons, the leading lady of Portishead, AniKiko is making a name for herself as the next big thing on Australia’s alternate music scene. Ignore this and you may soon be kicking yourself – this is one singer/songwriter that you’ll soon be hearing about regularly.

Influenced by jazz greats and electronic pioneers, AniKiko effortlessly pushes boundaries with her genre-bending style and luscious performance. “AniKiko is the ‘new’ Portishead of the Y Generation…a crossover of all the best elements of jazz, folk and downbeats” says Departure Lounge, 2SER.

It’s difficult to categorise AniKiko’s music into one neat pigeonhole. Inspired by musical greats of many eras and genres, her sound is at once mellow yet edgy, uplifting yet calming, sexy yet coy. Her voice takes you on a journey of which you have no choice but be carried along; not that you wouldn’t want to be. She can change a mood in a moment simply by altering the pitch of her soothing and honest voice, which always seems to rise above the emotive instrumentals that accompany it.

AniKiko comes straight from recent gigs at prestigious Japan Music Week in Tokyo, and a club tour of Prague, (Czech Republic). With the haunting quality of Portishead, soul of Billie Holiday, passion of Arethra Franklin, romance of Jeff Buckley, beats of the Presets, and quirkiness of Bjork; AniKiko’s unique sound is mesmerising.

No wallflower, AniKiko takes over her performance space, cheekily interacting with the audience and captivating the attention of every person in the room. Said to have a healing quality, her music and lyrics open doors by transporting the listener out of the everyday.

AniKiko has performed Peats Ridge (2007, 2008), Bondi Winter and Summer Festivals, International Harmony Film Festival, and is a regular at Sydney’s Zeta Bar, Opera Bar, The Ivy and Hemmesphere Bar. She has featured on numerous compilation releases including Opera Bar, Artichoke Café, Bondi Music Festival Artists, and Mars Hill Café.

Songwriter/producer, AniKiko has married her love of beats, and soulful vocals yet still has her favourite instruments, the double bass and trumpet in the mix to be a warm bed for her poetry to lay in. She has been exploring the world of production and is headed for a collision of sounds that bend genres in all sorts of directions.

AniKiko’s future is bright with secured co-writing/production relationships that are paving a long future in the music industry as she continues to push her song writing, performance and production skills to new heights.

For more information about AniKiko and her performances, please click HERE.

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