anya marina
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anya marina

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The best kept secret in music


"If The Straightjacket Fits..."

If there are three stages of grief in the female break-up pattern (sadness, anger and “what the fuck was I thinking?") then Anya Marina’s new album Miss Halfway is the perfect accompaniment for all three (or a PT Anderson film). While the typical soundtrack to female heartbreak usually consists of either droney and directionless piano or jv attemps at hard rock by pissy pop-tarts, Anya’s sunny California campfire guitar and pretty-little-girl vocals are a welcome contrast to the lyrical shame spirals and dark plots of revenge. Recalling the folk-punk of mid 90’s alt-radio, Anya Marina uses bright, well-produced acoustics as a silver lining to the familiar dark cloud that is: being dumped. Title track “Miss Halfway” is a stand out, with its lilting harmonies and daily affirmation pep-talk. {Editor’s note: We loved DIG! too.}
- Goldenfiddle

"Anya Marina's Got Two Gigs and a Microphone"

By: STEPHEN RUBIN - Staff Writer

Owning what Preview's Randy Dotinga calls one of the sexiest voices on the dial, FM 94/9 disc jockey Anya Marina is gaining attention for her singing and songwriting. Her recent EP, "Exercises in Racketeering," is a prelude to her forthcoming debut long-player, "Miss Halfway."

Marina says she has been playing guitar and writing songs for five or six years. Among the EP's five tracks are a jaunty song about relationship dependency ("Clean & Sober") and one, "Rommy's Pants," about a French fashion designer that reflects Marina's prickly comedy ("He ran his hands down her back to her butt / Just like a straight guy would / And he thought to himself, 'ooh, American ass' ").

"Exercises in Racketeering" is painted in classic indie colors, where attitude and spunk reign over sparkling musicianship, with '90s-era Liz Phair being one clear reference point.

Marina started performing locally in 1999 and says her live workload has expanded to three to four shows a month.

She is also a trained actress, having studied at the British American Drama Academy and the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Pasadena. And she has an English degree from Santa Clara University.

In a recent e-mail interview, Marina talked about her coming out as a songwriter, her schedule juggling and a bit about boyfriend Steve Poltz.

North County Times: How weird would it be for you to say, "That was Anya Marina with 'Mulder & Scully.' "

Anya Marina: Almost as weird as whenever I hear anyone talk about themselves in the third person. Isn't that the all-time creepiest?

NCT: Do you play your music when you're hosting the local-music show?

AM: I could play myself if I wanted to. It's not like the station has ever told me I couldn't. I just feel like that would be so tacky and weird and self-serving. "Hi, I'm Anya, and here's a block of my music. I know you hear me on the radio six nights a week, but I just can't seem to get enough of me and I know you can't either!" All Anya, All The Time Radio. No. I've played myself once, and it was uncomfortable. I think if I were there as a guest who was a singer/songwriter, I would feel more comfortable doing that. We have guest hosts come in and I encourage them to play their own stuff, but I think it's different for me. I'm there for those two hours to support the local scene and unearth new projects and music, not to self-promote too much.

NCT: You alluded on the phone to how busy you have been.

AM: I guess we can't really complain too much about the pace or status quo of our lives, can we? I mean, we chose the majority of it for ourselves. I've been playing out a lot more, writing a lot more, and yes, there has been an interesting new wave of publicity and "attention," I guess, that comes with all of it. Ever since I appeared on Michael Feldman's "Whad'Ya Know" show on NPR stations all across the country, I've had an inordinate amount of people writing and showing their support through e-mails, show attendance, CD purchases and the occasional odd gift. I just had this one woman come out to my show and unload the contents of what seemed her entire basement on me. I now have enough double-sided sticky tape and graham crackers to last me a lifetime.

NCT: A recent article listed your 10 favorite records. Does your admiration for those artists carry over to how you approach melodies/lyrics?

AM: Let's see, I've forgotten what my top 10 records were, off the top of my head, but I'd say I've certainly ripped everyone off in a sense. ... I like to start my songs in a very organic, almost visceral way. I somehow believe that we keep songs and memories stored in our bodies, almost on a cellular level. So, when I start writing a song ---- most often from a melody I've started up in my head as I drive around in my car ---- I usually feel like I'm singing someone else's song, some jingle, or something I've heard before. It's only after calling all my friends, my parents, my boyfriend, or my radio co-workers that I come to realize that it's something of my own creation. Although, my friend Mike Halloran (music director and assistant program director at FM 94/9) who is a total ADD radio savant, always goes off on how I've ripped off the Jayhawks in verses one and two, and the Buzzcocks in the second half of the chorus. ... Even when I'm done with a song I always have an inkling that I've just cut and pasted 3000 of my favorite songs and melodies together. I'm still waiting to get sued.

NCT: Would you rather have a career like (91X disc jockey) Robin Roth or, say, Steve Poltz in terms of staying power in San Diego?

AM: I'd rather have a career that allows me to be flexible and exercise the various facets of my own personal "entertainer skeletal system," if you will. I was always warned by my dad, growing up, that if I didn't focus on one thing, it might be difficult for me, and that's certainly proven to be true in a sense. On the other hand, I wouldn't be fulfilled if my career were relegated to one set of duties (i.e., strictly being a DJ or solely being an actor). With music, I certainly feel the most fulfilled. I can take my little show on the road and say or play what I want onstage, without being censored or held back. When I was pursuing acting full time, I started fantasizing about a career that would allow me to be more autonomous, not always waiting for someone to call me up with a job, or worse, an audition for a job. With radio and music, I get to do two things I love which allow me to be more in control of my creative happiness and my paycheck.

NCT: You can't belt it out like some singers. Are there people with limited range that you admire?

AM: What are you trying to say, Mr. Rubin? Ahem. It's funny, I struggled with the whole "finding your voice" thing for a long while, and sometimes I think I've settled into it and harnessed it in a good way that works for me. I'll never be a big "belter," if you know what I mean. No Celine Dion, no "American Idol" winner, no Streisand. Recently, an ear, nose and throat specialist told me I had the larynx of a very young adolescent and consequently wouldn't be singing at the Met anytime soon. Seeing as I take a challenge as a dare, I'm looking to prove him wrong sometime soon. I'm a fan of authenticity and a conversational tone in a voice, however, so I'm OK with my eensie weensie larynx. So there.

NCT: I was surprised at the tenor of a recent profile about you in a San Diego publication. I always thought of Anya Marina as cutting, acidic. I seem to recall a festival organizer not being too pleased with your sense of humor?

AM: I was shocked myself after seeing that headline: "The Bright and Shiny World of Anya Marina" and hearing my songs described as "sunshiny." I thought, "Who the hell is this about?!" I think that was a case of the writer spending the afternoon talking and joking around with me rather than focusing on the songs too much, although I have no idea. All my dark and cynical friends mocked me for days on end after that came out. I've lost all credibility with them. You see what San Diego livin' will do to ya? I don't mind it, though. It's interesting seeing what others think of you and just how disparate those opinions can be. Some club owners want to have you back, they get the humor, the sound, the irony. Others have their own issues, are offended, don't view you as a viable artist and forbid you from ever coming through their doors again.

NCT: Would you say "If It Feels Right" (a duet with Steve Poltz) is a change in tone for you; it seems to definitely be a different vibe/mood than songs such as "Lovesick" or "Clean & Sober."

AM: All my songs boil down to love songs, I'm sure. At least they did in the beginning. Now, I'm starting to experiment more with tackling subjects I'm not used to or writing a song on a certain topic or from a different person's point of view as an exercise for myself. "If It Feels Right" was the first song I ever wrote. Steve and I were fooling around with song ideas and I was sort of reluctant and shy about all of mine. He's very brisk and fast with his songwriting, very stream of consciousness. He can write a song in three and a half minutes flat. ... While he's writing, he's actually having fun and sweating and feverishly writing on envelopes and scraps of paper. It's like a tornado hits the living room and he's in the eye of the storm. I, on the other hand, and almost painfully slow and methodical with writing. I wish I could have more fun with it, wish I didn't have to force myself to create that space to write. I'm trying to be less critical of my work and less overwrought these days. It seems to be working. ... Anyway, that song was born out of that. Steve said, "Well, fine. Why don't

I record a song idea and you take it home and put lyrics to it. You don't have to do it now." That was a huge relief to me, and the first time I felt like I found my own rhythm and my own way in the great intimidating world of songwriting. The funny part is that Steve says he screwed up the structure of the song a bit on that tape, didn't repeat the verse the way he was supposed to, but we kept the structure exactly the same.

NCT: Does having a pretty good idea of what it takes for a song to get on-air influence your frame of mind when it comes to your own songs?

AM: It takes so much to get a song on the radio. You have to have a great song, first of all. Hopefully, you have a great following already built up, a real fan base and listenership. Then you need to have the right team of people who make sure that song gets into the right hands. Then you need to make sure the climate is right for your song. It's all about timing, too. If you already have a Jack Johnson-y song on your radio station, it's highly unlikely they'll add yet another song done by a guy with an acoustic guitar who whisper-raps. It's all very complicated and very expensive. In the case of somebody like Pinback, though, you have a band that was embraced by the local scene and built by the fans and the local radio station (at the time, 92/1 was the first station that played the hit "Penelope" and now FM 94/9 does). In that case, you didn't have a team of record people begging us to play it. We just decided to back the band and back the song. Ironically, I don't think the band had any real desire to be on the radio or get the attention they did.

NCT: Mike Halloran has seemingly kept you employed, with jobs at four stations. Does he get a small cut if you make it as a musician?

AM: Wouldn't he like that! The Halloran ego is an insatiable one ---- should I ever start down that path of recompense, it will be a neverending circle of Hell for me. It'll be like paying my bookie, but somehow continuing to incur debt!

NCT: You and Poltz are playing together at Fiesta del Sol. How do you see the set going?

AM: I see laughter, families, kids onstage, hilarity, fun, all the stars in the cosmos aligning themselves for a pinnacle of performance. and then I see confusion, crossing the line, horror, regret, discomfort and pain.

NCT: Have you ever joked with him about when is he going to co-write a big hit for you (as he did with former girlfriend Jewel, the smash "You Were Meant for Me")?

AM: Yes, I lock him up in his room and tell him, "Without that big hit, Steven, you're not leaving this Godforsaken house! Chop-chop! Daylight's a'wastin'!"

- North County Times

"Good Day Sunshiny!"

Anya Marina multitasks her way to the Pacific Beach Block Party

By Chris Nixon
May 6, 2004

They'll be dancin'in the streets
Anya Marina's sweet sunshiny songs and breathy vocals reflect her sweet sunshiny personality. But by a simple twist of fate, the local singer-songwriter and radio DJ almost didn't get to sing her sunshiny songs in sunny San Diego.

Pacific Beach Block Party
9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday; Along Garnet Avenue, Mission Boulevard and Grand Avenue, Pacific Beach; Free; (619) 641-5823.

"I moved down to San Diego and two months later I'm out of a job with a studio apartment I have to pay rent on in P.B," said Marina over a coffee at the Starbucks on Mission Boulevard in Pacific Beach. "I started playing gigs in my unemployment, doing open mikes at Java Joe's.

"I was able to get a little foothold in the great nurturing San Diego music scene. Everybody was so helpful. Mike Halloran has pretty much kept me employed over the years at different radio stations: 92.1 FM, Y107 in L.A. and now FM 94.9."

Marina's patience with San Diego paid off. Balancing her full-time radio gig at FM 94.9, her acting career and her life as musician, the slight singer carves a creative existence out of the local music scene. She DJs Monday through Friday from 6-10 p.m. at the local station, while also holding down the San Diego music show the Local 94/9 on Sundays from 8-10 p.m.

Among the radio gigs, Marina's songwriting career seems about to take flight.

Her debut EP, "Exercises in Racketeering" – recorded with help from Unwritten Law's Scott Russo – won her great local press. CityBeat named Marina as one of the "Best Unsigned" acts in San Diego. She looks to release her follow-up full-length album "Miss Halfway" this summer.

But she's still looking for a label to release the disc. What do you have to do to get music critics and label pundits to help a sister out?

In the meantime, Marina prepares for her first gig at the Pacific Beach Block Party: "I just went to Kono's for the first time, because I'm trying to immerse myself in P.B. culture," said Marina. "I lived in P.B. when I first moved to San Diego. Kono's has an amazing view and pretty greasy, awesome food."

She'll perform on the Local 94/9 Stage at Gresham Street and Garnet Avenue from 11 to 11:45 a.m.

-CHRIS NIXON - San Diego Union Tribune


Exercises In Racketeering (EP)
Miss Halfway (full-length)


Feeling a bit camera shy


"Marina’s stage presence is one of her strengths, as she mixes short soliloquies and anecdotes with catchy, outlandish tunes and her sonorous voice. Behind this charisma stand well-constructed, vituperative lyrics with a humorous, witty bite in songs like "Sociopath," "Millionaire," and "Miss Half Way.”
--R.Van Heertum, San Diego City Beat Magazine

“Marina blends shrewd observations, screwy humor
and crafty musical twists into a sound spiked with quirky promise.”
--Karla Peterson, San Diego Union Tribune

“One of the best unsigned bands in San Diego.”
--San Diego City Beat Magazine

Jason Mraz played her birthday party, Juliana Hatfield called her voice “deceptively soft,” and Rhett Miller (Old 97’s) wants to marry her. Okay, that last one’s not true, but a girl can dream, can’t she? In addition to sharing the stage with the aforementioned and Jill Sobule, Tegan & Sara, Glen Phillips (Toad the Wet Sproket), Folk Implosion, Mark Eitzel, Jolie Holland and Amy Rigby, this singer/songwriter also rocks the mic middays on FM 94/9 (KBZT F.M., San Diego).

Marina dabbles in acting, most recently playing Rhonda, the neurotic eyebrow picker, in 100 Girls. Anya's first release, Exercises In Racketeering (RedRoom Recordings), is a five-song EP showcasing select tracks off her debut full-length Miss Halfway (released in early 2005 on her own Good Rope Records). As a recent nominee in the Best Acoustic category at the San Diego Music Awards, Anya is honored to call San Diego home. Log on to to meet the music geeks behind the mic, get the dish on shows and check the Local 94/9 page for playlists and upcoming guests.

Check out for pictures, song and video samples, lyrics, and booking information.