Artist Spotlight: Anna Schulze
Described by Grammy-award-winning producer Glen Ballard as a “refreshing update on the singer/songwriter,” Anna Schulze writes emotional music that urges listeners to feel, to cry, to laugh, to question, and so much more. As a songwriter, she says she aspires to create songs that resonate universally, a goal she certainly fulfills at Songfinch with every original song she crafts from our customers’ stories.
On the outside looking in, the difference between a songwriter and a purely performing artist may seem minimal, but it is a distinction that becomes clear when we discuss Anna’s roots. While most early artists pick up their instruments to learn famous solos and to cover popular songs, Anna immediately began songwriting as soon as she picked up her guitar at 9-years-old.
Once she started, the young songwriter couldn’t stop, and she continuously wrote and released work throughout her youth as she grew up.
“I released my first album in fifth grade and afterwards flew out to my aunt’s place in Los Angeles to record an EP with her friends. Then, I released another album back home in Minnesota in tenth grade and another in college. I released my latest album, Pickford Market, earlier this year.”
Raised in Minnesota, Anna has been in Los Angeles for six years. She attended University of Southern California where she studied in the Popular Music Program. After graduating in 2014, Anna stayed out in L.A. to continue honing her craft as a professional songwriter among the creative network that she built in school.
“We called our program the Pop Family, but I still collaborate with a lot of the musicians and friends who I went to school with. A lot of us live out here in Silver Lake [an Eastside neighborhood of L.A.], so it’s kind of a community of people who are on a similar journey.”
Part of Anna’s journey included the 2016 release of Pickford Market, which features nine emotive tracks that blend the vocal power of pop with the gravelly grunge of rock.
“I consider my last album a snapshot of a period of my life, and all of my albums and my EPs do that for that matter, because you kind of look back and you know exactly where you were based on the songs that you were writing, the stories that you were telling and the rawness of the emotions that come through.”
“For me, it’s been really important to consistently release my material as I grow up and kind of have that be the way I cap a tier in my life and move forward. That way, I can continue to evolve my work as I evolve as a person.”
“It’s probably a little self-serving honestly, but for me music is kind of like my therapy. It’s a way for me to sit by myself and understand how I’m feeling and a lot of times I channel other people’s stories through that. We’re all connected, one way or another, and it’s just sort of about finding the way we relate to each other, and for me that’s through music.”
According to Anna, because she writes from a place of honesty and authenticity, the songs she creates don’t necessarily pair with any one genre. Her many different influences come out in different colors, depending on the song, on the season, on the weather and more, she says. In similar fashion, Anna’s process is rarely, if ever, the same.
“A lot of times I’ll start without an instrument. Today I sat at a coffee shop and kind of wrote a prose-poem to get everything out, see what it all looks like, and then I’ll get out my guitar, play through it, and kind of lock in a melody.”
“Sometimes I’ll be driving and a little line will hit me, so I have all these janky recordings in my phone as voice memos. I try to mix it up. I think it’s healthy to change up your process to get different results and keep it fresh.”
As a member of the songwriting community for Songfinch, Anna Schulze transforms our customers’ stories into original songs that are shared as sincere and unique gifts for all occasions. Some of the stories Anna has brought to life include songs for a family’s grandmother and her first time back home for Thanksgiving; a song from a husband to his wife for the birth of their first child; and a song for a couple’s anniversary.
“I spend a good amount of time reading through the brief and finding ways where I can relate to the family, to the couple, or to the person, to the extend where I feel very connected to them by the time I’m done with their song. I get so deep that a part of me wants to ask for a video of when they play the song for the first time!”
“You have to insert yourself into the scene, into their lives, and really connect with them. And sometimes that’s really hard as a songwriter, because I connect myself to people’s stories. Sometimes they hurt and it’s a hard story to tell, and sometimes it’s happy and sometimes it’s funny.”
The stories that are hardest to tell, because of the hurt within the memories or the love between the participants, are the most important to bring to life. Sharing the extraordinary stories from everyday moments is an invaluable art, and Anna Schulze is one of the gifted few who can do that beautifully.
“I guess I see it as my role in this world to capture the little stories and put them into a form that relates to more people, whether or not that is my own story or someone else’s, and recognize the little things to give them credence as part of the bigger picture.”
“In that sense, I think I’m a storyteller, but maybe moreso a story illuminator for other people. The stories are all out there, it’s just a matter of hearing them.”