Interview: Annie Elise – We Can Pretend

Through a life of seeing sounds and hearing color, 20 year old electronic artist and producer Annie Elise is inspired by her synesthesia. Originally a classically trained violinist, Annie’s interest in electronic music stems from the neurological condition, even referring to herself as a “conductor for color” as she creates music that produces colors that she likes to see. 

Hi Annie, what’s been happening over the past six months?

Oh man, so much! Around six months ago I released my debut single Open Eyes – and I was surprised at the positive response it got within the beatmaking community! I’ve been working with some tech companies, specifically Kilohearts, Baby Audio, and MXL microphones, to develop some production tutorials and other content. It’s been a lot of fun, and the work is really close to my heart as I really wish I had gotten to grow up with visible female music producers to look up to. If I can be that person for someone else, it would be a dream come true. Back in April, I started working as a producer with Dawn Patrol Music in LA and the experience has been awesome so far! But mostly, I’ve just been making music and learning a lot over the past few months. 

Your new single ‘We Can Pretend’ has a great vibe. What was the inspiration behind the song?

I was really lucky to work with some awesome collaborators on the track! Josiah Soren is an amazing producer and our initial idea for the songwriting was to write something inspired by a false awakening – when you’re sleeping and “wake up” in your dream. The first few lines literally start off by describing a false awakening, but we wanted to make it go deeper than that. The song ended up being about the space between dreams and reality, and I think the concept of We Can Pretend has been especially relevant the past many months of quarantine. It’s a bittersweet feeling because being in a dream is nice, but ultimately not as good as reality. That’s the emotion we tried to capture for this song! All of the collaborators for the track and I have never met in person, and we did the whole song entirely virtually in about a month. Josiah Soren produced it, I wrote & performed it, Craig Reeves mixed it, and Piper Payne mastered it. It was a really smooth process from start to finish.

Where are you from and what’s the music scene like there?

I’m from Hershey, PA – the music scene there is definitely more about live music. I interned at this super cool studio, Atrium Audio, over the pandemic and we did a lot of rock and metal music. Very different from the electronic pop sounds that I make! But I can see that the music scene there is shifting. In July, I’ll head to the Central Pennsylvania Music Awards where I have two nominations this year. It means a lot to have your hometown recognize the music that you are making, even while away from home. Currently I split my time between Boston where I go to school and New York where I do most of my music work. This summer I’m working with the Antisocial Producers Club which has been a great way to meet the top NYC producers, writers, and artists in the industry. Excited to continue to do more work there!

What drew you to the music industry?

I grew up in a musical family, my dad taught general music and I begged my parents to let me start violin lessons very young. I actually graduated high school thinking that I would become a professional violinist, but then in my first semester at Berklee I developed a rare neurological condition called focal dystonia that affected my left hand to the point where a playing career was out of the question. Gradually, I shifted to music production and I can’t imagine being anywhere else. In high school, I found out that I had another neurological condition called synesthesia, which causes me to physically see sound and hear colors. I was invited to give a TEDx Talk on the subject and how it influences my creative processes. The talk ended up going viral, and it was cool to see how my condition could be an asset to my production. In addition, I’m really passionate about seeing more women/non-binary figures in the music tech industry. Only about 5% of music producers are female, and we have a lot of work to do. But I’m proud to be among that number, and if there’s anything I can do to help female producers be more visible in the industry, I want to do it.

Any gigs you have coming up that we should know about?

Not necessarily gigs, since many places are still closed, but I have a bunch more releases coming up this summer and fall. You can expect to see a lot from me in the coming months! I also have a Discord server for production & general music topics that I run events in all the time! We have remix contests, beat battles, and listening parties. It’s a super supportive community!

Anything you would like to add?

Thanks for taking the time to chat with me! Super excited that We Can Pretend is out in the world, and I can’t wait to keep sharing more 🙂 

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