An interview with Annie Elise – music producer

Hi Annie, what is your occupation?

I am a music producer/artist! I produce music for other artists primarily, and inside of the producer project, one of the artists I produce for is myself.

How did you get into music production?

When I first went to music school, I thought that I was going to study violin performance. Halfway through my first semester, one of my fingers kind of stopped working and I was diagnosed with a neurological condition called focal dystonia. That really shook me and I realized I wasn’t going to be able to play violin as my career. Almost out of necessity, I turned to music production – you don’t need all ten fingers to work perfectly to do it! I found my classical training gave me a good ear for recognizing detail in sound, and I just fell in love with the electronic side of production as well. Growing up, I didn’t really see any visible female music producers – the only ones were, like, Imogin Heap and Grimes, which are both better known for their artist projects. But now, I have lots of fellow female producers to look up to and work with, including people like Bad Snacks, Rachel K Collier, Dresage, Dolltrick, and Bryn Bliska. Those women inspire me daily.

You have amassed over 14,000 followers on TikTok, how do you come up with new, engaging content?

My ideal way to work is quickly and be super involved! This is especially helpful for those platforms like TikTok and Instagram where you are encouraged to post new content consistently. Back in January, I took part in the #Jamuary2021 challenge started by my friend Cuckoo. The challenge was to make a song and post it every single day of the month. I took the challenge super seriously and at the end of the month I had posted 31 new songs with a little performance video. I learned so much by pushing myself to do all of that, every day, and in order to do it I had to work super quickly. I’m a huge proponent of not overthinking it and just letting the song be whatever it wants to be. If you’re paying attention, it will tell you! Your job as a producer is to listen.

Who are your favourite producers?

I have so many favorites! In addition to the wonderful ladies I mentioned earlier, I’m also a huge fan of Ariza, Danny Ross, and Davin Kingston. Each one of them makes some truly incredible music and they’ve been so kind and helpful to me on my journey as a producer as well. Grateful to have them as mentors and friends!

What is your greatest musical achievement to date?

I believe that the greatest achievements are still to come! But I do have a few moments that I am especially proud of. One of them was placing in the She Knows Tech Flash Beats Lab, where we had two hours and two sample packs to write and produce a finished track. I was really proud of my track and I placed alongside Dominique and Kilamanzego – two very talented and experienced producers! Another moment was winning the INO Contest and getting to chat with Ill.Gates. That track was an electronic remix of a ton of random foley samples! I also have some sounds coming out in the next Kilohearts content bank release which is a huge, huge honor.

How has the coronavirus pandemic affected your work?

How hasn’t the pandemic affected the music industry? It’s kind of crazy how much our world turned upside down last March. Not only did we lose the ability to do live shows and touring, but we also lost the ability to record music in a studio. My college is only beginning to allow vocalists back into the studio this upcoming semester. Those two things are pretty central to what we do as musicians. We started playing livestream shows or producing music ourselves at home and over zoom. I shifted into the latter option, and it’s been cool to get to work with people all around the world. Last week I had a session with ZYRA who lives in London.

That could have never happened in person, but it was so easy over zoom! I guess to overcome those challenges of having a majority of the industry on hold, I enjoyed looking for ways to try something new. I started a discord server for producers (and listeners!) which has gained a lot of members, and I’ve been doing zoom sessions pretty often as well as keeping up with content online. It’s a lot of work, but pivoting and finding a different way to do things has proved itself an excellent method of pushing through.

Tell us about your latest single?

I’d be honored! The song is called “We Can Pretend” released under my artist alias Annie Elise and features Josiah Soren on the production. Back around February, Josiah had reached out to me to topline a track he was working on for a contest within the Bad Snacks discord community. The goal was to write a song about a false awakening – when you wake up inside your dream – and I loved the idea. I used being in a nice dream as a bit of a metaphor for wanting something you can’t have. Anyway, I sent it back to Josiah thinking it was totally whack and not what he wanted – but he LOVED it! I ended up not even re-recording the vocal take, we just used what I had sent the first time in the final version. Our friend Craig Reeves of VIP Sound Circle mixed it, and Piper Payne at Infrasonic Mastering mastered it.

How can our readers take the first steps to becoming a music producer?

The best thing that you can do is listen to a lot of music and make as many musician friends as you can! Most of being a producer is knowing music and knowing people, and I wish that I had discovered that sooner. If you’re looking to try it out, I recommend taking a class or tutorial series on a DAW like Ableton or Logic Pro X! Then you can dive in and start really finding your own sound and working with other musicians to make something awesome!

Thank you Annie.