Interview: ANISE – “Life is a jungle but I’m the Queen of this one life I got”

Originally from New York, now based in London, R&B singer-songwriter ANISE, unveils the music video for “Obey,” a song about surrender, intimacy, and freedom.

In September, ANISE will drop her debut EP, Black Eve, which encompasses empowerment and intuition.

With the video for “Obey,” ANISE makes her directorial debut. Brimming with lush, sensual visuals complementing the sumptuous flow of the music, the video is highlighted by the voluptuous, bewitching voice of ANISE.

Talking about “Obey,” ANISE shares, “I was raised Catholic and there are a lot of Christian values I still subscribe to, but as I got older, my spirituality expanded past the parameters of religion, so I really like playing with religious metaphor in my songwriting. The chorus, for example, is an allusion to Moses’s parting of the Red Sea: a moment of climax but also a moment of complete surrender. The song is obviously about sex, but it’s about much more than that too.”

Intrigued not only by her sultry voice but by her posh presence in the video, CelebMix spoke with ANISE to find out more about the inspiration for “Obey,” her songwriting process, and her upcoming EP, Black Eve.

If you could date any other musician or celebrity, who would it be and why?

If I’m being entirely honest, I don’t really have celebrity crushes. I think ASAP Rocky is foooine and I love what he brings to his music and his acting. But dating is so much about authentic connection for me so it’s tough to say there’s anyone I admire like that from afar. 

What inspired your new single/music video “Obey?”

When I wrote ‘Obey,’ I was in a relationship that I felt very happy and incredibly safe and secure in. So, I wanted to do a song that celebrated that feeling, and the security you can still feel even when you relinquish control. ‘Obey’ honors intimacy, sensuality, trust — all things that are important to me — while also challenging the norms of how we’re told things ought to be done. ‘Obey’ is a reminder that in relationships, whether it’s the one we have with ourselves or with others, we’re the ones who write the rules.

You directed the video. Did you find it difficult or easy?

It was the first time I’ve ever done any directing, so it was challenging in that it was new, but it was also easy in that it felt natural. That said, the video wouldn’t have been at all possible without the amazing team that went above and beyond to bring together the final product you’re now seeing: Director of Photography, Ilmi Omar; Choreographer and Movement Coach, Alejandro Martinez; as well as Giorgio Tarantino, Junior Alawa, and Yaya Isere. Teamwork makes the dreamwork.

Your debut EP, Black Eve, arrives in September. What can you share about the EP?

Black Eve is an ode to intuition. It’s an Intro and 5 main tracks. Each song has a different vibe from the one that precedes it, but the themes of authenticity and empowerment stay consistent throughout. It’s my very first musical project, one I’ve been nurturing privately through the pandemic, so it’s just wild to think it’ll be public so soon. I’m ready though. I’m eager to see how it resonates. That’s what matters most to me – that someone somewhere feels happier or more seen because they listened to it. That’s my hope for my music.

What is your songwriting process?

I absolutely need music to write. I know some people start with lyrics; they write poetry and then put the words to music, but I need an instrumental for the lyrics to flow. So, I’ll usually come into the studio with a raw concept of the instruments and sounds that are resonating with me, and then the producers and I will build the instrumental track from there. Even if the instrumental doesn’t end up making the actual final song — it’s always the music that evokes the story and the words for me. So I start with that.

Has your sound had a deliberate direction, or did it simply gradually evolve in whatever direction it found?

I think my music, from a lyrical point of view, is pretty deliberate. But as far as my sound goes, I’d say that’s gradually evolving. I mean, I’m just getting started as an artist and there’s a lot of exploration I’m still doing. Life proceeds in seasons, and I think my artistry will grow and evolve in just the same way.

Which musicians/singers influenced your sound?

There are so many artists I adore, but as far as who’s influenced my sound and my approach to songwriting, I’d say, Janet Jackson, Janelle Monáe, Teyana Taylor, Sade, SZA, Sinead Harnett, Victoria Monet, Snoh Aalegra, and Corinne Bailey Rae.

Which artists in your opinion are killing it right now?

Jazmine Sullivan. I love her authenticity. She’s been doing her thing for a while now, but I love her ability to step away, reinvent, and come back harder. She’s beyond talented.

Any advice for young female artists just getting started?

Don’t be concerned with what others are doing and just do what feels right for you. At times, the music industry can feel really saturated, and between social media and streaming platforms, all the “noise” can get really distracting. But the more you focus on yourself, the better you’ll understand what it is you have to offer. No two people have the same journey, and no one will be able to tell your own unique story better than you. So just do you!

What’s the music scene in London like compared to New York?

New York is an amazing city, but I looooove the London music scene. Whenever I get involved in the live music scene in New York, it typically centers around jazz. But the creative scene in London has a certain edge to it that I’ve never experienced. I really credit London for bringing out the artist in me and for inspiring me to explore my creativity in a meaningful and freeing way.

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Written by Randy

Randy Radic is a Left Coast author and writer. Author of numerous true crime books written under the pen-name of John Lee Brook. Former music contributor at Huff Post.