If the title of her latest song is any indication, singer-songwriter Anna Shoemaker is “Sick!” of being pigeonholed as a bedroom artist.
The second in a series of what’s best described as breakaway singles, “Sick!” sees her sound take a more mature direction – one characterized by prominent guitar riffs and gauzy synths.
Yet, the intimacy of her bedroom pop sound isn’t gone. You still feel as if you’re living the emotions with her – she and her feelings have simply evolved, and she’s wearing her heart on her sleeve.
Time to yourself tends to result in rumination. For the Brooklyn-based songwriter and producer, that’s how “Sick!” and its predecessor “It’s Depression” came about.
Spending more time at home presented an opportunity to dive head-first into songwriting – but also resulted in more self-reflection and overthinking, including about the end of a toxic relationship, and all those thoughts that brings.
The result is a departure from how listeners were first introduced to Shoemaker – with a viral mashup of Kendrick Lamar’s “Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe” and Chance the Rapper’s “Cocoa Butter Kisses.”
That effort led to two EPs, East Side in 2018 and Everything is Embarrassing in 2020. Here, Shoemaker takes a more alternative direction while preparing for her full-length debut next year.
We had a chance to speak with Shoemaker about this change of direction and her upcoming album:
How did you get started with singing and songwriting?
Music in general has always been a way for me to process and deal with emotions. But, when I was younger, I was also definitely super into musical theatre and singing.
For your unofficial debut, what inspired you to mash up Kendrick Lamar’s “Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe” and Chance the Rapper’s “Cocoa Butter Kisses”?
I just liked those songs! I was with my sister, and she said it sounded cool, so I posted it. I used to love figuring out how to do covers of songs that wouldn’t typically be acoustically played.
Both “It’s Depression” and “Sick!” represents a more mature turn for your sound. What was your vision for these tracks?
It’s not necessarily that there was an intentional vision – I honestly just think I’ve grown up a little bit and maybe my sound is growing with me. My music is all very much tied to who I am as a person and what I’m going through in my personal life. There isn’t really a divide between my life and my music.
How did you and Middle Part end up working on “It’s Depression”?
We met on a dating app, went on an awkwardly bad first date, and didn’t speak for months—but then I think I saw an Instagram clip of something he was working on and responded asking to work together, and he was like “OK, yeah, come over tomorrow,” and we wrote “It’s Depression.”
You’ve been considered a bedroom pop producer/songwriter up to this point. What did you do differently for “Sick!” and “It’s Depression”?
I definitely have more people working on my new music, so I think that’s why they sound bigger. But honestly, “Sick!” was written in my bed, and “It’s Depression” was written while sitting on Brian (who plays in Middle Part)’s bed.
Both songs also lead into your full-length debut album. What types of sounds or themes should listeners expect?
I think if you’re someone who listens to my music, this album will make sense. If you’re a new listener, I think you’ll know who I am by the end of it!
You’ve released two EPs already. What type of progression is your debut album from your first two releases?
I think it’s a step up just, because obviously I know myself better now and I know how I want things to sound. Honestly, I think it’s just all been a very natural process, though. I didn’t set out to make music better than my old music – I’ve just been writing songs like I always do.
You performed at The Sultan Room this month. Following the pandemic, how have you been getting back into performing live?
Two weeks ago, I played at The Sultan Room in Brooklyn, NY! It was so great to be playing in front of real people again! We had a lot of technical difficulties and hiccups, but I honestly didn’t even care because it just felt good to connect like that again.
What should listeners expect from your live set?
A lot of jumping up and down!!
Ivan Yaskey is a Philly-born EDM and synthpop enthusiast and interviewer who recently relocated to beautiful Boston, MA.