Anya Marina

Just before the release of her new record 'Queen of the Night'. singer/songwriter(/comedian) Anya Marina had a long talk with QRO....
Anya Marina : Q&A

Anya Marina : Q&A

Just before the release of her new record Queen of the Night (QRO review). singer/songwriter(/comedian) Anya Marina had a long talk with QRO.  In the extensive conversation, Marina discussed making Queen over a few years, her September 25th release day livestream (knock on wood), being the happiest she’s ever been (and feeling guilty about it), her acclaimed web series Anya Marina: Independent Woman (including possible season two), opening/managing comedian Nikki Glaser when everything shut down, making music videos (with or with her or her shirt), wearing a mask before it was cool, staying friends with her old label, Taylor Swift, Kate Walsh, Liz Phair, a famous celebrity she won’t name, and much, much more…

 

QRO: How are you holding up, with everything that is going on?

Anya Marina: [September 23rd] was my birthday, and I was thinking about stuff.  And I was like, ‘I think this is like the happiness I’ve been.’  And I felt almost guilty for saying that, but I was like, ‘I have everything I want right now.  It kind of feels like a dream come true.’

Except for the ease of travel and plan-making, everything else is going really well.  So, I wish I could see my family & get on an airplane without a bunch of stress, but otherwise, things are really good.

I’ve got a record coming out that I’m really proud of.  I’m in love.  I’m living in a great city [Kingston, NY] in a great place.  I have a cute dog I love very much.

I get to see my friends all the time over Zoom, which has been really fun.  I feel pretty connected lately to people, thanks to technology.  So, that’s been good.

QRO: I interviewed [boyfriend/musician] Matt Pond back at the end of July (QRO interview) – I hope the two of you are still good…

AM: Yes, we’re great… [laughs]

I’m trying to avoid too much of the news right now, because I’m so sensitive that I can get upset, lose sleep.  But I’m taking peaks here & there.  I give myself a few minutes a day to get caught up.

A lot of my friends are on social media & Reddit constantly, so I’m getting pretty alarmist stuff.  I woke up today to all these articles.  And I’m like, ‘I need three cups of tea before I can even digest this…’

QRO: I don’t forward anyone political news.  ‘If you want to know about it, you’ll find it yourself.  If you don’t want to know about it…’

AM: [laughs] You’ll get the alert on your phone.

QRO: “ALERT: Democracy crumbling”

AM: [laughs] Totally.

‘HA-HA-HA-HA-HA’ – one final laugh…

 

‘I think this is like the happiness I’ve been.’ And I felt almost guilty for saying that.

 

QRO: Matt said that were on a tour with Nikki Glaser when everything went into lockdown?

AM: Yeah, I was opening up for Nikki in theaters across the country.  We had done a few handfuls of dates.  So much fun; they were virtually all sold-out shows.  I would open for fifteen minutes, and play a bunch of songs.

And then I was also tour-managing, which was really fun.  Matt was tour-managing as well.

We were just having the best time, but we heard about – our last dates were in Texas, and Nikki & her opener Andrew [Collin] were like mocking me & Matt, because we were wearing masks.  I had had a terrible, six-week-long flu in December.

It was, for sure, the strangest flu I’d ever had in my life.  I was bedridden for ten days.  I had fevers for ten-to-twelve days, and then I had another fever four weeks later, which is really strange.

But suffice it to say, I had this weird flu in December-January, and then, in March, we were on tour with Nikki & Andrew.  And so, we were wearing masks, and I was like wiping down the airplane tables & seats – which I used to mock people for, just a few months prior.

They were like, ‘Why are you guys wearing masks?’  I remember, they would corner me after each flight.  Nikki would be like, ‘Are you scared you’re going to get something, or give someone something?’

And I was like, ‘Get off my back!  I’m just wearing a mask.  I don’t want to get this coronavirus I’ve been reading about.  I don’t want to get anything again.  I gotta sing every night, be healthy for another year of touring…’

And then, within a week, we got word that there was this outbreak in the Pacific Northwest, which is where our shows were the next weekend.  We had four sold-out shows in Seattle & Portland combined.  So, that was a huge blow.  And then it just was like, one-by-one.  The next market was Chicago-Cleveland, I think?  And that got cancelled.

And then it was just like, ‘Oh, we’re fucked…’

We’ll definitely go back on the road with her, if it works out, and is safe & everything.  But who knows when that will be?  A year from now, I’m guessing?…

I am playing these livestreams shows with Matt, and we’re doing one on [record release day] in our living room.  The first few were weird, but you get used to just playing into the void.  You see comments & stuff as you go, and it’s kind of fun.  People will do little emojis & stuff.

We’ve even done one where it was a Zoom show, and you could see folks interacting, which was really fun.  You couldn’t hear them, but we would make it so you could – like, while I was playing a song, the guy operating the Zoom show was scrolling through kids dancing.  That really brought a tear to my eye, seeing my god-daughters dancing in L.A., and then family, friends dancing in San Francisco.  It was really cool.

I think it helped me improve as a performer, for sure, being around comedians.

QRO: What’s it like to tour as a musical act opening comedians?

AM: I was first, and then there was a comic opener, Andrew Collin, who I would introduce, and then he would introduce Nikki.

And I guess since I can ‘hold my own’ – I don’t know how to put it.  I’ve been in a hosting role a lot, or I’ve been around comedians a lot; my shows are more entertaining.  It’s not like a shoegazer show; like, I’ll tell stories, interact with the crowd a little bit.  It’s more like, ‘Here’s a song about a terrible relationship I had that went sour,’ or I’ll tell a story about my mom or whatever.

It was challenging.  I was pretty worried at first.  How am I gonna harness 2,000 people into wanting to listen to my songs, when, you know, they can be a little, I don’t know, ‘soft-voiced’?  Nikki’s like a real force of nature.  ‘Hi, here’s this sweet, sad song from the Twilight (New Moon) soundtrack…’ (QRO review)  She actually helped my on a couple of my intros.

But it worked out fine.  Since I started playing, I’ve been really working on the intros of songs, so I can be a bit more of an entertaining show that has a through-line.  It was really, really fun.  I think it helped me improve as a performer, for sure, being around comedians.

And then, there’s that other side of it, too, where comics are so used to giving each other feedback.  They’ll get off stage, like, you know, Jerry Seinfeld will give Nikki a text or something, when they’re at the Comedy Cellar.  They’re all used to punching up each other’s jokes.

So, I would play, and then I would get off stage, and Nikki would be like, ‘Next time, I think you should open with this story and choose this song,’ and I was like, ‘Okay.  This is new.  I’m not used to this…’ [laughs]

She’s like, ‘Cover this song, and then cover this song, and then cover that song.’  ‘I’m not going to play three covers in a row!…’ [laughs]

But it was really fun.  We had a blast.

QRO: What’s it like, being both the opener and touring managing?

AM: I had to learn how to toggle between best friend and then performer and then tour manager.  So, I had to wear about three different hats.  You kind of have to know when to switch into each gear.

Because if you’re late for the plane, it’s your fault.  You have to get everybody out of the hotel on time.  It’s not so kick-back, that’s for sure.

But I think Matt & I have both tour-managed ourselves for so many years, that it was a really natural fit.  I think a lot of musicians can relate.  You do a lot of tours on your own.  And so, you’re booking hotels, rental cars.  You’re doing all the math that comes before soundcheck.

Especially when you’re traveling with a band, so you’re sort of used to being the role of ‘bad cop.’  Like, ‘Alright, guys, get some sleep, cause we got to wake up at six and do an eight-hour drive…’

 

Anya Marina playing “Notice Me” live Joe’s Pub in New York, NY on February 7th, 2012:

 

QRO: How was making Queen of the Night?

AM: It was a very long process, but I didn’t really know I was in it until later.  I was just writing a ton of songs and co-writing with people for my own enjoyment & edification.

It started after the last record, Paper Plane, came out, which I released on my own in 2016.  There were a handful of songs that I didn’t put on that record, that I wanted to work on a little bit.

And I wanted to grow as a songwriter.  So, I started flying to Nashville to do sessions with folks there.  And I worked with all kinds of different people, just every different type of songwriter.

I made a couple of EPs with some really talented folks.  This guy Ian Keaggy – he comes from a real pop background, and I did the Serious Love EP with him, which came out sounding like a Sade-Portishead hybrid.  It was really fun.

I just decided to let myself write with anybody, and write anything.  I had a ton of songs, and, a few years later, I was like, ‘I don’t know what to do with all these, how to release them.’  And I thought about doing a double-album, but then, slowly but surely, I picked the ones that made the most sense together.

When I wrote “Queen of the Night”, the title track, it was just a standout.  I loved the title; I thought it would make a great album title.  And it’s like a really strong song; I love the production too.

It’s about a cactus that blooms in the middle of the night.  It’s a real cactus that I did not know about.

That sort of idea of ‘growing against your will’?  I wrote that song about when you want to stop loving someone.  You do all the right things, you follow your friends’ & therapist’s advice, but nevertheless you wake up in the morning and think, ‘Oh fuck, it’s back!  The crush is back, the feeling is back, in spite of all my best efforts…’

And then I Googled, “What is a plant that blooms in the middle of the night?”  Cause I felt betrayed by my own heart.  I keep waking up in the morning, ‘This feeling is back!  It won’t go away, dammit!’  It turns out the queen of the night is that exacting; it only blooms at night.

That’s kind of the theme of the whole record.  Sort of a transformation, and empowerment, and beauty, and really coming to love yourself, I think, too, is part of it.  So, any song that fit in with that, I put on the album.

I love the sound of it.  It’s one of the few records I’ve made that I actually enjoy listening to on my own.  I keep playing – it’s really good… [laughs]

It’s one of the few records I’ve made that I actually enjoy listening to on my own.

QRO: Was it all made before the current pandemic lockdown?

AM: Oh, yeah.  I was writing from 2016 through, I would say, 2018.  Without a lot of urgency; I just wanted to write really strong songs that were great.

And in some cases, rewrite older songs.  “16 Letters” is a song I wrote, I would say, eight years ago?  I couldn’t get it in the right format.  I couldn’t quite visualize how I wanted it to go.  I kept tinkering with lyrics, but I finally got it to a place that I really love.

I hired a great mixer, Brandon Bost, and he just really transformed it.  There was a lot of going forth, between mixing & mastering.

Without a record label, it takes so long to get stuff done.

I was hearing about Taylor Swift’s album that she made under quarantine [folklore], and I’m just like, ‘I wish every article that wrote about that put a little asterisk that’s like, “You can only do this if you’re working with a whole team of people…”

Like, people don’t realize she has, not only these co-producers & co-writers that are building tracks for her, and e-mailing them back & forth.

Of course, I’m not taking away from Taylor.  She’s an incredibly prolific writer, and she’s very fast.

But also, she’s got a whole team of people that are like making a video for her, hiring all the people for the artwork & the video & the styling & the album, and ordering the CD…

When you’re just one lady, with one assistant – [laughs] That’s all I can afford: one assistant – is pretty exhausted.  It takes a lot longer.

But I did get it all together over the last year, I would say, which I’m happy about.  We were done recording well over a year ago.  So, it took about that long to conceptualize, mix, master, manufacture, come up with artwork, hire a publicist – all that stuff.

“Can’t Nobody Love You” – I wish that was my song!

QRO: Why did you decide to include some covers?

AM: I always love doing them, and those happen to be ones that I was performing live.  When I did them live, people would ask me to release them, so I thought, ‘I might as well put them on.’  And the sound was really similar.

“The Man” is a Taylor Swift cover that I fell in love with, I think about a year-and-a-half ago or so?  Nikki played it for me.  She was just haranguing me to listen to this.  I’m like, ‘Okay, okay…’

She’s like, ‘This song is everything!  Please listen to it & get back to me!’  A week later, she was like, ‘You haven’t gotten back to me.  Have you listened to the song?’  I was like, ‘Okay, I’ll listen to the song.’

And I was really blown away by how well she can get a thought across.  Taylor Swift is great at getting a logical thought across in a really melodic & hooky way.

That song in particular, I thought she really nailed the hypocrisies that go on between men & women, and in our society.  She just did it in such a smart way.

I thought it was really a beautiful song, and what I like doing with covers sometimes is bringing out the lyrics.  For me, that happens to come out in, I don’t know, I guess a ‘sadder’ sound?

I kept the bridge out.  Cause the bridge is a fun little kinda cheek part of her song, and I didn’t think it needed the bridge in my song.  So, I left that out, and really focused on the lyrics and the verses & choruses.  I love how that turned out.

“Ain’t Misbehavin’” (QRO review), I’ve always loved since I was a little girl.  Playing that live at show, I think it’s so funny, the line about, “It’s just me & my radio at home.”  It’s just sort of a sweet, ‘poor me’, devoted love song.

“Can’t Nobody Love You” – I wish that was my song! [laughs]

I was blown away by that song when I heard it.  That was only about a year-and-a-half ago that I first heard that song; I must have heard it elsewhere, but it really struck me.  I think I was just playing a bunch of Zombies songs, and then I covered it.

I love how just confident those lyrics are, borderline crazy. [laughs] Bordering on stalker-ish…

I love that song so much.  It’s great.  It’s such a simple, short, slightly over two-minute song, and it gets across everything.  It’s just all-out love, no games, like, ‘I’m it for you.  That’s it.  It’s me.  And I’m the only one who can love you.’  I love it…

Most of the powerful, famous people I’ve met are wildly disappointing. It’s true – you shouldn’t meet your idols.

QRO: And yet “Pretty Vacant” isn’t a cover…

AM: [laughs] I just love that title!

That was about a famous celebrity who was really mean to me.  I just was inspired to write a song for her. [laughs]

It was a very high school moment.  I had moved to New York.  I was sort of in with this group of people, and she didn’t like me there.  She was just so strangely mean to me; I hadn’t experienced anything like that since junior high or high school.

I was really struck by gossip, too.  That song’s a lot about gossip.  It opens up with a verse about, “Out your mouth and into the window / Her passing car / Two in the wires & crossing signals / News travels far & fast / I never wanted what you had / Can I help it if you’re mad?”  Or whatever.

I was just struck by the gossip that was starting to happen.  It was just very weird.  I was like, ‘I’m too old for this.  I can’t do anything…’ [laughs] Sort of laughed it off and bowed out of that particular drama.

But it gave me a great song, so I’m grateful for that.

QRO: I suppose you can’t tell me who the celebrity was?…

AM: [laughs] No, but she’s very, very famous.  Everybody knows her…

Very famous, and very powerful – and very funny.  And I’m still a fan of hers.

I guess sometimes people, I don’t know, she felt threatened or something by me.  I found it really strange.

But it’s okay.  If she even knew that I was offended by it, she’d probably be shocked.

Most of the powerful, famous people I’ve met are wildly disappointing.  It’s true – you shouldn’t meet your idols.

Except for Liz Phair – she was delightful.  I met her on Nikki’s show.  She was so nice, and so funny, and I was completely starstruck by her.  She couldn’t have been sweeter.

 

 

QRO: Are you busy prepping for your release day livestream?

AM: I am.  Practicing my thoughts, and trying to remember all my chords, and the lyrics.

That always happens to me before a show.  I’m like, ‘How did I play this?’

I’ve emailed two different co-writers this week about like, ‘What are the chords to that song again?’ – which, by the way, I wrote the songs.

In one case, I played the whole song on a guitar that was tuned down, which I figured out an hour later.  I was like, ‘Oh, that’s why it didn’t sound right – I recorded this with a totally different guitar…’

And then, in the other case, this producer decided on some really cool chords that I never would have thought of.  He played my song the way that I wrote it, but he embellished.

That’s where I still feel like, ‘Oh man, I wish that I had started playing guitar younger.’  Because I still have a tough time learning some kind of basic things.

But I’m getting enrolled back in my guitar lessons with my teacher.  I was taking guitar last year, and it was really helpful.  Sure enough, when you don’t practice or take lessons for a few months, you forget everything you learned [laughs] – I gotta get back on the horse…

QRO: Will this be the first time you’ve done some of these songs live?

AM: Well, a lot of them I have been passing out here & there.

I’ve never done “Pretty Vacant” live, which I’m intending to do.  I think maybe I did it once at a house concert in Richmond, Virginia like the day after I recorded it, so I was feeling hot-to-trot on that one.  That often happens.

And then I’ve never done “Nothing”, which I’m hoping to do live.  That’s a fun one.

And then I don’t think I’ve ever done “16 Letters” live.  Except another time that I was pretty jazzed about having written it, and I did it the next night, at a show.

That’s always a weird thing that happens: You write a song, and then you want to play it immediately.

But then you get smart, and you’re like, ‘This isn’t ready yet.  I need a few years to get it better…’

At least three songs.  I’m gonna try to get to “Ain’t Misbehavin’” too, but there are so many songs I wanna get to.  I definitely won’t play them all, because I talk too much at shows.  I think I’m only doing a forty-minute set, so we’ll see how many I get to.

But I’m gonna try to only play songs from this album.

I’ve emailed two different co-writers this week about like, ‘What are the chords to that song again?’ – which, by the way, I wrote the songs.

QRO: How was doing the concert with Matt and Chris Hansen back in March?

AM: So fun!

I mean, really stressful, because we didn’t know how to livestream at all.  I almost had a heart attack that morning.  We were testing things out, and it was like, ‘Great!  You should be ready to livestream within 24 hours’!  It sends you a message, it’s like, ‘In 24 hours, you’re good to go’ – and I was like, ‘No!!!’

I don’t know how we got around it.  I’m not even joking.

I called Bob Schneider, my friend who’s a songwriter in Austin, Texas, cause he’d been doing livestreams.  I had an hour-long phone tutorial with him about how to do it, which only resulted in me feeling like, ‘Great, now I have to go buy a livestream camera, and all this equipment.’  It’s just a huge headache.

Thank God Matt has one of these Google phones.  The audio and the video is incredible on those things.  It’s nothing compared to – and I’m from Cupertino, California, so I feel bad saying this – but it’s nothing compared to the iPhone or a MacBook camera or anything

Those all have a lot of lag in them, for audio.  I mean, I hope I’m not jinxing it, knocking on wood as we speak [knock-knock], but it was great for audio and video.  We’ll see how things go.

We have a couple people coming to do a soundcheck last minute with us.  So, we’re attempt to up our game, but if it doesn’t work, we’re gonna use his Google phone.

QRO: Do livestreams like these somewhat ‘scratch the itch’ a bit of not being able to tour?

AM: Yeah, for sure.

You get just as nervous beforehand.  You get butterflies.

I take a shower. [laughs] I get all decked out.  I put make-up on, I put high heels on – sometimes, not always.  I dress up, which I don’t normally do at home.

I treat it like a real show.  I certainly get nervous beforehand.

It’s fun.  Every time I’ve done it, I always hate every moment leading up to it, and then the second the shows starts, I’m really happy, and I feel connected.  It’s really fun interacting with people on the chat, and taking requests.

And then I find it also really hard to end the show.  Looking back on every show, I’m like, ‘You should have ended that five minutes earlier.’  I was like, ‘Should we do anything else?  It’s just so hard to say bye…’

QRO: [laughs] You don’t have the venue saying like, ‘There’s a hard out at ten o’clock’ or something…

AM: [laughs] Yeah…

Looking back on every show [of mine], I’m like, ‘You should have ended that five minutes earlier.’

QRO: And I’m sure everyone who will watch the livestreams will want to know: Will you read the comments?

AM: Oh yeah.  I live for the comments, so please comment, comment away.

But if people have questions, reserve them for the end, cause it’s hard to scroll all the way up.  But at the end, I’ll try to do a Q&A with Matt.

Two shows ago, the phone lost power, so we got bumped off.  But then we came back.

We’re gonna try to do this livestream until the phone poops out.  I think it dies after an hour & fifteen minutes, so we gotta really concentrate our talking…

QRO: What is the platform you’re doing it on?

AM: YouTube, and we’re selling tickets through Tikly, and I love that company.  Cause they barely take any service charge.  Some of these other ones take a lot of money, and Tikly’s great.

It’s like a mom & pop show.  It’s run by two indie songwriters, I believe.  They’re just great, and it’s no hassle, and it’s really easy, user-friendly.

If anybody’s looking to do a livestream show and sell tickets in an easy way, I highly recommend Tikly.

 

Matt Pond’s video, with Anya Marina & others, for the cover of The Thermals’ “A Pillar of Salt”:

QRO: How was doing the video for Matt’s quarantine cover of The Thermals’ “A Pillar of Salt” (QRO review)?

AM: Oh, that was so fun!

He got inspired by Jimmy Eat World’s video for [“The Middle”], where they go to a dance party and everybody’s wearing underwear.  And so, we thought we would do that.

Nikki & Andrew were always dancing on tour to everything, and we would have dance parties every night on Nikki’s tour, so that was a no-brainer, to get those guys involved.

And then Ian Fidance is such a hilarious comedian.  He was on there, too, on his bike, which was so funny.

But it was Matt’s idea.  He’s really great at conceptualizing videos.  He just came up with a great idea for my next video, for “16 Letters”.  It’s a great idea that I never would have thought of on my own.

I’ll just ‘tease it’ here, so you have to go watch it to see it…

Anya Marina’s video for “Broken Bottles”:

QRO: You’ve put some videos out for Queen of Night, but you’re not really in them.  Was it just that you couldn’t shoot videos?

AM: Yeah, I couldn’t shoot videos.

But I did one in quarantine for “Broken Bottles”, which is a song I wrote with Matt.  It’s mostly shot in Berlin by my friend Scott Coffey, the director.

Anya Marina’s video for “Move You”:

He did a few other videos for me.  “Move You” and “Satellite Heart” from the Twilight movie.

And then he is also shooting the “16 Letters” video.  Again, half of it is in Berlin, and then it’s got a lot of footage of me here in Upstate New York, walking through the forest and burning things… [laughs]

Not in an arsonist way!  I’m burning pieces of paper, in a safe way.  In a fire pit.

Anya Marina’s video for “16 Letters”:

QRO: In the “Pillar of Salt” video, were you disappointed that everyone but Matt took off some clothes for the video?

AM: Yeah, we were like, ‘What the fuck?1?’

But he gets away with it because he’s the lead singer, I guess.

He was sort of like, ‘I’ll leave that to you guys…’

It was funny, in a lot of articles, it would say like, ‘Singer/songwriter Matt Pond is joined by comedians Nikki Glaser, Andrew Collins, Ian Fidance, and Anya Marina.’

And I was like, ‘I’m not a comedian, but I’ll take it.’  I guess they just call me that because I get down to my bathing suit top…

 

Episode One of Anya Marina: Indie-pendent Woman:

QRO: How was making the Anya Marina: Indie-pendent Woman web series?

AM: That was so unexpected, and so fun.  It completely came out of left field.

The writer/director Jonathan Sosis approached me with the idea, and I thought he was kidding.  He was like, ‘I could write a whole series about you,’ and I was like, ‘Hahaha!’  And then he wrote back, ‘I’m serious.’  So, I just wrote, ‘Okay.’

I’ve learned that the best thing you can do in life is say “Yes” to things that feel good.  So, I just said “Yes,” and then he did it.  We shot it, and it was wild.

We ended up winning a ton of awards, and being nominated for even more.  And we’re about to sell Season Two – actually, it’ll be a pilot.  We’re going to networks.  We’re excited.

QRO: Like a ‘show show’?  The lines between web series and TV show are blurred…

AM: Yeah.  We’re working on it now.

QRO: It was his idea?

AM: Yeah, it was his idea.

It was always a dream of mine.  I had watched every episode of Veep, and so I was like ready to play an asshole version of myself, which was really fun. [laughs]

I was like ready to play an asshole version of myself.

QRO: That was the actual Atlantic Records offices, right?

AM: Yes!  Yeah! [laughs]

They were really good sports about it.  In fact, they ended up putting the show on their website, hosting it.  They helped make it happen.  They supported us.

I was like, ‘Do they know this is about me railing on them?’  Jon works for Warner [Brothers, Atlantic’s owner], and he was like, ‘Yeah, they love it.’  ‘Okay, cool…’

That’s my other piece of advice for anyone: If you ever get dropped by a label, stay friends with everybody.  It will come in handy. [laughs] You never know just how.

Episode Three of Anya Marina: Indie-pendent Woman (with Kate Walsh):

QRO: Did you recruit like Kate Walsh?

AM: I did recruit her, yeah.

I mean, I ad-libbed a bunch of that show, and then we all collaborated, and I was a producer on it, too.  I became a co-producer along with Jon Sosis and Bethany Watson.  It’s our baby.

I’m recruiting the cast for the next big episode, too.  It’s kind of fun.

‘Is this all you do when you make a show, is think of your most famous friends?’  A show, a music video, whatever…

QRO: And since you’re playing a version of yourself, you know that they would be playing themselves?

AM: Kate, she was such a good sport about being so annoyed that my character comes on.  I have a rash, and I’m so dumb, I think that she’s a doctor.  ‘You play one on TV…’ [laughs]

We had a really difficult time with the Screen Actors Guild, asking for men with hairy chests.

QRO: In most of it, she was just wearing just a sheet…

AM: And that her idea.  And having a younger man.

She wrote that whole, and I was like, ‘Great, let’s do it!’

She wanted him to be very hairy.  That’s what was so funny.  ‘I think I need to be running my fingers through his chest hair…’

And we had a really difficult time with the Screen Actors Guild, asking for men with hairy chests, because you can’t exploit – you have to be very careful about looking for a particular person.

So, we were like, ‘Can you be shirtless?’ [laughs] Trying really hard to ask people in the most polite way if they wouldn’t mind taking their shirt off.  And then, if they wouldn’t mind taking a picture of themselves without their shirt on, before they were cast.  I was a sticky situation…

QRO: It would be like if you were trying to be like, ‘We need someone with large breasts…’

AM: Exactly.

The actor [Leo Solomon] didn’t end up having a lot of chest hair.  We were like really worried to tell Kate. [laughs]

But he was the best actor for the job.  He blew everybody else away in the audition, so we had to break the news to Kate that her lover would be played by a guy with like seven chest hairs, instead of three hundred…

Episode Five of Anya Marina: Indie-pendent Woman (at Six Flags Great Adventure):

QRO: And what was it like to shoot at a Six Flags Great Adventure?

AM: That was Jon’s idea.  He had an in with them.

It came as a surprise after we had already wrapped.  We thought we had wrapped shooting all the episodes, and then at the eleventh hour, he said, “Do you want to shoot a bonus episode?”  He rewrote it.

That episode is, I’d say 70% ad-libbed.  And it was so fun to do, because they completely made me up in zombie make-up.  We really were there during their Halloween trick-or-treat parade thing.  So, it was fun, interacting with people, playing a zombie. [laughs] It was really wild.  So much fun.

That was our last shoot day, so we had a blast.

Split Single’s video, with Anya Marina & Dave Hill, for “Untry Love”:

QRO: I also saw you in the video for Split Single’s “Untry Love” (QRO review), where you played the drummer…

AM: You’ve really done your research!  That was so funny…

QRO: I actually interviewed [Split Single’s] Jason [Narducy] earlier during the pandemic (QRO interview).  He said that you shot that the day after the election, in 2016…

AM: Yeah, there’s a picture of us, the morning of the shoot, and we couldn’t look sadder.  The looks on our faces are just like, ‘Ugh…’  It was literally November 4th, I think.

We were trying to look as happy as possible, but it was just like, ‘Okay…’  Very sad picture.

It was wild.  I met Dave Hill that day.  He’s so funny.

I was worried, because I don’t play drums at all, but I look back on that fondly, because I fooled people.  Even [Late Night with Seth Meyers comedian/drummer] Fred Armisen, who I know through comedy friends, he text messaged one day and was like, ‘I didn’t know you played drums.  You were great in the Split Single video…’

‘I don’t, but thank you…’

QRO: That’s funny.  Jason said, if you watch that, you can tell she’s not really playing drums…

AM: [laughs] Yeah, I was terrible!  But it was fun.

I kept telling them like, ‘I’m not going to be able to fool anybody,’ and they were like, ‘Don’t worry about it, don’t worry about it…’

He’s great.  He got that whole thing together.  That’s a great song.  He’s good at writing catchy songs.

QRO: Are you bummed that you can’t do a big video with your friends for Queen of the Night, with your friends, because everything’s shut down?

AM: The video for “16 Letters” will be great, with Scott Coffey and Blair Mastbaum, who I love.

Scott wrote & directed one of my favorite movies with Naomi Watts called Ellie Parker.  So, he’s in it, and then he has a bunch of people in it.  They shot it in Berlin.

I kept telling them like, ‘I’m not going to be able to fool anybody,’ and they were like, ‘Don’t worry about it, don’t worry about it…’

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