EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Anja Kotar Talks “Poster Child of California”, Feminism, and Fashion

Anja Kotar is back with a summer single we think you’ll love! We first introduced you to her last year, fresh off the release of her debut album NOMAD. In our interview, Anja opened up about her artistic choices, including how her fascination with American youth culture shaped many of the songs on the album. She also discussed her childhood studying classical music in Slovenia and how the move to America influenced her music career. Along with her bold and thought-provoking music, Anja has also branched out into fashion. Her online store Too Cool launched last year and has since expanded to include items corresponding to each song on NOMAD. 

Now, Anja has returned with another single off NOMAD: “Poster Child of California”- an 80’s inspired female empowerment anthem that just oozes summer vibes. She also dropped an accompanying music video that highlights some of Anja’s favourite spots in the state and her killer style. This is definitely a tune you should consider adding to your summer playlist!

We got a chance to catch up with Anja again to ask her about her new single, her experience on American Idol, her thoughts on female empowerment and much more! Catch the full interview below.

Hi Anja! Thank you for answering our questions! What was the inspiration and writing process behind your new single “Poster Child of California”?

Hey there! Thanks so much for having me :)

I wrote “Poster Child” as a female empowerment anthem about the real, raw California girl and not the perfected presentation we so often see in the media. I drew the inspiration from my group of three closest friends – each section of each verse is dedicated to one of them and is a quick summary of their personality and who they are at their core.

California is so diverse and its women comprise so many different cultures and backgrounds so I wanted to pay homage to that in the song. When you listen to the track, it sounds like it’s talking about one girl, but really it’s a puzzle of several unique, incredible women and their stories.

Your first album NOMAD came out about a year ago. Do you have a favorite song from it? What made you choose “Poster Child Of California” as a single?

Yeah! I think “Poster Child” was always secretly my favorite track because it represents my future, both lyrically and sonically. 

The message of female empowerment that’s embedded in it is something I really wanted to emphasize and have it stand alone from the album, especially in this cultural climate. Along with that, the bright synth and tropical beat underneath just screamed summer even when we were creating it in the studio so I wanted to put it out just in time to blast with the windows down in the heat :)

The “Poster Child of California” music video pairs unique outfits and notable locations across California- how did you go about choosing the outfits and locations?

The music video is always a visual representation of the song, its vibes, colors, but it also showcases elements in the music that you might not have noticed by just listening to the track.

In this case, I wanted to point out the multiple women aspect, so me and photographer Jani Ugrin decided to shoot segments in different outfits across California to represent them. We shot in “tableau vivant” – living and moving images that represent ‘posters’.

When I was choosing outfits and locations, it was very important to me to both create visual contrast (in both colors and shapes), but still have the outfit correlate in some way with the location. For example, in Palm Springs, we shot at a pool and I was wearing the brightest neon yellow fur coat over my bikini – we were capturing the over the top vintage glamour of the city. :)

Tell us more about your online store “Too Cool” and your philosophy of connecting fashion with music!

I believe that the future of music lies in multidimensionality – connecting different artists to create an experience for the listeners.

Fashion is a big love of mine and I wanted to add that to my music; I reached out to several designers to create a 10-piece collection for the NOMAD album. Every item in the Too Cool store is connected directly with one of the songs on the album and can be seen in its correlating music video. For “Poster Child of California”, we created a millennial pink cap with a star-shaped sunglasses patch. The star is a recurring theme on NOMAD, and the sunglasses are taken from the lyrics “sunglasses on and she’s on her way to the ‘Poster Child of California’”.

The new single is very 80s inspired! Who are some of your influences from that era, or any other influences for this song?

I absolutely love Prince, Michael Jackson, and Phil Collins. Their sound is so incredibly articulate and thought out in detail – it’s crazy to think how ahead of their time they were.

I’m constantly listening to their music to analyze and learn from them, but I also combine that with some of the contemporary Pop artists like The 1975 and Jon Bellion.

What I admire so much about all of these artists is that they create music where each particle of a song speaks to and compliments another, and I challenge myself to do the same. In “Poster Child”, the track opens with a futuristic synth – it’s always reminded me of an 80s superhero movie; you can just see Wonder Woman making her entrance :) Along with that, the tropical beat in the chorus speaks to the weather and lifestyle in California.

Photo Credit: Jani Ugrin

We also get strong female empowerment vibes from the song! Why is that an important concept for you to include in your music, and who are some female artists you look up to?

Yes, it definitely is! My parents raised me in a household where everyone was equal, your gender or age didn’t predispose you to the validity of your thinking. That’s why I didn’t realize feminism was such an important cause until I moved here in the US and saw the way many women are treated.

Now that this issue is finally starting to receive the attention it deserves, I wondered how I can add something different to the conversation. As a young independent female artist who is navigating a career in music, I believe in standing by your beliefs and letting them be known without reservations or fear of being too assertive. Just as my parents instilled this in me, I want to cultivate that same thinking in young women and inspire them to go after their goals or dreams, no matter how out of reach they might seem.

I look up to a lot of female artists, but Lady Gaga and Beyoncé would be at the top – they have built sustainable careers in which they always retained artistic and business control; they are the ultimate boss ladies :)

Themes of American youth are very present in your music. Do you draw on your own experience to write about this?

Very much so. I grew up in a small European country with 2 million people and the only image of American youth I had was through music and film. Once I moved here, I experienced first-hand both the beautiful and dark aspects of it that I used to only hear about.

Ultimately, music is all about sharing the human experience, so speaking honestly and openly about events in your own life is the best way to relate to and connect with other people.

You auditioned for American Idol this year! Tell us a bit about that experience.

I was contacted by ABC last summer and they asked me if I wanted to be a part of the show. It was the comeback season so I was definitely excited to be on it. Overall, it was a very valuable experience as I learned a lot about myself, the world of reality shows, and handling stressful situations – all extremely useful in both life and my career path. :)


What projects are you working on right now- can we expect more new music soon?

I have some really exciting collabs coming up, and of course more singles and more music videos!

Along with that, I just recently got accepted into Berklee’s Master’s Program so I already have a lot of new music that I’m planning on releasing as part of it throughout next year.

Is there anything else you’d like to say about the new single or a message to listeners?

Believe in yourselves and your abilities – embrace your uniqueness and let it shine! :)

Also, if you’re a cool cat and want to hear this “Poster Child of California” single I’ve been ranting about, you can check it out right here!

We would like to thank Anja for taking the time to answer our questions and congratulate her on the release of “Poster Child of California”. We can’t wait to see what she does next!

Along with the original version of the single, an acoustic version of “Poster Child of California is available to buy or stream now! Be sure to check out Anja’s online store, Too Cool, and her official website. You can also stay up to date with Anja via her TwitterFacebook, and Instagram.

Are you a fan of Anja Kotar’s new single? Let us know your thoughts on this interview by tweeting us @CelebMix!

Written by Annemarie Cutruzzola

Canadian arts & culture writer and journalism student.