Geek Out & Get Down With Anabot

0 Comments 18 June 2015


Analise Nelson of the sci-fi psych-pop group Anabot talks her love of music, crossing genres, and her Awesome Mix Mondays series.

by Steven Ray Morris



Referring to everyone in the crowd as “time travelers” at her shows, Anabot (fronted by Analise Nelson), takes everyone on a sonic journey through space and time. Her latest EP, Kiss Like A Knife, sounds like a soundtrack to some lost sci-fi spy film from the 1960s. Her era-hopping tunes are anchored by a deep pop core and a vast wealth of music history knowledge. When you are at an Anabot show dancing is the only option. The band will be performing at Howl At The Moon Hollywood this Monday, June 22nd and to prepare for the upcoming show, I sat down with Analise over milkshakes to nerd out about genres, influences, movie soundtracks, and flexing your creative muscles.



Where did Anabot come from and how did you get started making music?
I’ve been making music my whole life. My dad is a musician. I just grew up in a family where music was always happening. In terms of Anabot, I was playing in another band from college, but after it dissolved I realized I wanted to make pop-based music instead of rock. I was working so hard I was calling myself an analog machine. I thought of myself as an analog robot. If you remember in Harry Potter and The Chamber Of Secrets when Harry writes out TOM MARVOLO RIDDLE and the words rearranged to spell I AM LORD VOLDEMORT, that’s what happened with the name Anabot. I’m an analog robot, and then ala Tom Riddle, the “log” and “ro” dropped out to spell “Anabot.” Moments later I realized it also correlated with my name. I wanted to create something that was a mesh between older music and newer music that felt like its own thing.


Your new EP, Kiss Like A Knife, has a blend of electronic, rock, and even some jazz. Do genres even matter anymore?

Right now in music there are people trying to create this a-genre, like asexual meaning a “lacking of” genre type of music, but I wasn’t connecting with it. I also didn’t want to sound like I was just trying to imitate a sound from another time either. So I’m just going to announce, “I’m really recreating this and I will tell you which decade I’m recreating,” but I’m also going to borrow dance music from the future, and have the dance part come from this ambiguous place.
But I’m always working within a framework. So my last EP [Kiss Like A Knife] was my 60s record. I’m slowly going back through time, and you can ask me, “Which decade is this?” and I’ll go, “Oh this is the 50s.” I’d love to go so far back that I’m in the romantic era and I could get an orchestra, but it’s still poppy. Still danceable.



How do you find that right balance between electronics and analog?
It really depends on the song. The challenge is I mostly write mostly on midi keyboards. I am a piano composer, but my band is mostly guitar, drums, bass. I have to go back and translate this for a performance. I feel like anyone can relate, but I don’t really feel responsible for it. When I’m writing I might think, “Oh this really sucks, it’s not good,” but then I’ll get up and there’s a lighting bolt of inspiration. I’m just a vessel and it comes through me. There’s a new song I’m writing now that is like 90s dance Brit-Pop and I’m just thinking, “How the hell am I going to translate this for a four-piece band?”


You just kind of feel it out.

And that’s what makes it fun and the challenge of it all.



What’s your earliest influence and what’s your newest influence?

I always listened to everything growing up. My first favorite song as a kid was En Vogue’s “My Lovin’ (You’re Never Gonna Get It).” I had no idea what it was about at the time. My parents were like, “We tell her NOTHING.” I still hear that song, obviously it has the James Brown sample, and to this day I’m still trying to recreate that vibe in my music. It’s ingrained in me. I also listened to the oldies station. I had a tape deck and would record the radio; Beach Boys, The Shirelles, etc. That’s the earliest stuff, but the stuff that made me really want to do music was No Doubt and Garbage, and seeing these amazing women being so powerful, but in different ways. I love Gwen Stefani, half-rambunctious, half-sexy, but with this childlike energy as she ran around on stage doing push-ups and stuff. I love Shirley Manson too where she just looks at you and you pass out. She owns the stage. I saw a tour in 2002 where The Distillers opened for Garbage opened for No Doubt. I was already making music then, but it definitely left a big impression on me. More recently I’ve gone back to the beginning and The Zombies are the best rediscovery of mine in the last four years. I got really into listening to Odyssey and Oracle. It’s one of the greatest records ever made. Someone more recent is Tov Styrke, the last track or two she’s doing really weird shit sonically, and you are dancing and then stop to think, “Wait this is really weird.” I kind of like feeling tricked by music sometimes. And that’s one reason why I’m trying to find my place in this weird gray area of music.



You perform many covers on YouTube, what’s the appeal in covering other musicians songs?

It’s a way to discover. I feel very limited by what I can do with my instruments sometimes. I’m not someone who can learn a bunch of riffs easily on the guitar. I wanted to do a cover series, playing acoustically, and take it back to basics. I normally do these hugely produced songs, but what if I just sit in front of a camera and just play in the best way that I can? Then one time I was like, “What if I did harmonies?” and then I just couldn’t go back. Usually I don’t have that much time to learn these songs on the guitar or piano, so I just have my voice and my hands and I’m exploring that angle. All these covers come from a weird place in my heart, not to be cheesy. They can be traced back to Anabot one way or another. I started this Awesome Mix Mondays series covering the entire Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack and I’m going to start covering other soundtracks. I don’t make films, but I have a strong connection to cinema. Music in a scene is like a whole other character. Having this outlet is bridging the gap between my two loves of film and music.


You are the creator of Anabot, but you often collaborate with others. What’s the current line-up like?
Austin Farmer is my drummer. He recorded, produced and engineered my latest record. While he doesn’t write the music, I call him my partner in crime. When I made the record with him he had such a great sense of what I wanted sonically. He would always be straight with me, and he’d say, “I think you want this instead,” but he would let me try out my bullshit ideas first. We are really good at communicating with each other. We are both perfectionists. We didn’t finish “Kiss Like A Knife”, until the last minute. I remember listening to it for the last time at 1:48 in the morning. There was a raging party going on downstairs and I had to go to my car. He was sending me drafts all night. He is a very passionate guy and great friend and great to work with.
Even though they’re my songs it feels weird saying they are MY band because all of them are such a big part of it. Ryan Cavin is my bassist. He and Austin have known each other since they were knee high. Luke Duffy, is newer, but he and Austin used to play in another band together. He’s a great guy, and a very talented guitarist. I’m bringing horns back to the show on Monday. Sara Bauzá is coming back to play trumpet. She played trumpet on the record. She’s incredibly talented. She’s bringing on Noelle [Fabian] who is going to play sax.



You’ll be playing Howl at the Moon this Monday, a venue you’ve played before, can you give us a tease of what to expect?

With Anabot shows you can always expect energy. Not to talk up my whole band, but it’s really hard to get bored because your ears are getting hit with different things all the time. Howl At The Moon is a dueling piano bar, so they have their own piano. We are going to be doing a really fun cover with horns that people will recognize that’s very iconic. Maybe some new stuff, maybe.



Purchase the Kiss Like A Knife EP on iTunes or Bandcamp.


Anabot will be performing at Howl At The Moon Hollywood at Universal City Walk Monday, June 22nd at 9pm.


“Come Home With Me”- Official Music Video


Awesome Mix Vol.1 Mondays- “Cherry Bomb” (The Runaways Cover)


Learn more about Anabot on her website.

Subscribe to Anabot’s YouTube channel.

Follow Anabot on Twitter and Instagram.

“Like” Anabot on Facebook.

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- who has written 26 posts on Yay! LA | Arts & Culture Magazine.

Steven Ray Morris is an author, musician, cat owner, and an okapi in his next life. Floating around California with detours living in New Zealand, Great Britain, and Japan, he currently resides in Los Angeles until persuaded otherwise. He is a UC Santa Barbara Film & Media Studies graduate and occasionally cosplays as Carl Sagan. Jurassic Park trading cards are his jam. Follow him on Twitter @StevenRayMorris.

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