by Will Yannacoulias
Photos By CRytter Photography
May 6th saw the release of Keeping It Real, the debut album from Neudorf, SK’s Anna-Marie. The album is a candid collection of singer songwriter pop songs tinged with a subtle country charm, drawn from personal stories and recollections of the artist’s life. Self produced by the talented multi instrumentalist, the album is the realization of a lifelong dream which Anna-Marie was excited to talk with NSMZ about.
Music has always been a passion of Anna-Marie’s, who started piano lessons at age seven and guitar at age sixteen. Moving to Saskatchewan from Alberta after high school put her in contact with Richard Groulx, an instructor at The Jam Space in Lemberg who she has praised for pushing her as a guitarist and vocalist. Anna-Marie began exploring songwriting at Groulx’s encouragement as well, when The Jam Space hosted a SaskMusic event in 2020. “This cool opportunity came up that February” she remembered. “SaskMusic was hosting their International Women’s Day concert series, and one of the concerts was taking place at The Jam Space. There was a slot available for me to perform, but it was for artists with original music, and I hadn’t much pursued songwriting. Richard told me, ‘I know you’re completely capable of this’ so I went home that night and wrote my first song! The rest is history.”
Once Anna-Marie began writing the lyrics came naturally, inspired and informed by her life experiences; heartbreaks, childhood struggles and the sense of loss the pandemic instilled in so many. “That’s one of the reasons I named my record Keeping It Real” she shared. “Because these songs are 100% authentic, about real feelings and experiences. At the SaskMusic International Women’s Day event I performed at, a fellow musician told me some sage words of advice: ‘when the shit hits the fan, pick up your guitar and start writing. It will always be there for you.’ That’s something I’ve always taken to heart and carried with me through my songwriting journey.”
Inspired by some of her favourite artists such as Hansen, Aly & AJ, Michelle Branch, and Vanessa Carlton, Anna-Marie decided to set up a home studio after her cousin, a recording engineer she collaborated with early on, set out on a new career path. “I’ve always had a soft spot for the basement and garage-band albums” she shared. “The production may not always be 100% polished, but there’s this authenticity, this raw emotion that you can feel when you’re listening.” The process of building a home studio and learning production was a combination of in depth research and hands on trial and error. Anna-Marie recalls that “I started to research and buy equipment, watched videos, read lots of online articles, and asked questions in forums. By September 2021, I had produced and released two original songs entirely on my own. It was a big learning curve, and I’m still learning new things all the time, but it’s so freeing to be able to record and produce music the way I want. There’s this sense of accomplishment knowing, ‘I did this! I’m making my creative vision come to life!’”
Keeping It Real is now available on all streaming services, and Anna Marie is excited for the songs to find an audience, she shared. “This album has been a long time in the making—about a year, actually—and I’m so happy that it’s out for everyone to hear now! I hope anyone who’s reading this takes the time to listen and finds that one song (or maybe more!) with lyrics that relate to them.”