Philly native Anna Shoemaker felt a common kind of disenchantment with college as she started to realize the disconnect between her lectures and her actual goals in life. But, unlike most of us, she decided to act on these feelings by taking a leap for what she loved most: writing and performing music.
While she decided to finish college for herself and her family (many of whom attended Penn; Anna went to University of Colorado at Boulder), Anna started growing her music into more than just a serious hobby: “I think what really made me driven was kind of doing it all myself, and seeing how much work it would be, and that got me really excited.”
She's another new musician helping to evolve the modern sound with a unique genre–blending. Some have tried to pin her sound down into one category, but she thinks her defiance of these simple labels is what makes the music her own. “I’m not necessarily hip–hop or necessarily pop or necessarily really anything at all,” she says. “Just kind of playing around with those genres and writing in those different styles, I think, has actually helped me find my own voice.”
After rising to fame on Soundcloud for her mashup of Chance the Rapper’s “Cocoa Butter Kisses” and Kendrick Lamar’s “Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe,” she decided to start focusing more on original material.
In June, she released the lead single, “What Am I Doing to Me?” in advance of her debut EP, East Side, which will arrive this fall. The song has stream–of–consciousness lyrics that chronicle a narrative of inexplicable anxiety, leading to the synth–backed titular question of the chorus. Rather than succumbing to the chaos of these thoughts, Anna organizes them into a sonic power that is the mark of every great track.
Now based out of New York, Anna explains the way that her music reflects the formative experiences that she’s had in different geographies. “I’ve lived in all of these random places, and I think that my music is definitely kind of a mashup of that.” She took inspiration from this near constant change of location and wove it into the songs on her upcoming EP. “I wrote almost all of these songs in the transition of moving from Boulder to Philly to New York. I think the main theme throughout these songs is just me trying to figure things out as a young person and me trying to understand myself.”
Her ability to communicate the nervous plagues of adolescence through song is impressive on its own, but Anna also adds another dimension to her art: a visual one. “Whenever I’m writing a song, I’ll know it’s a really good song if I can visualize a music video for it,” she says. The music video for “What Am I Doing to Me?” was filmed in and around Anna's New York apartment, an idea which stemmed from the fact that she wrote most of the songs for her new EP in that same apartment.
This and other qualities of her music exhibit a self–awareness that is alluring. As she recognizes emotions in herself, we can draw parallels in ourselves in a way that feels powerful. And, on top of that, her music is perfect for a party of cathartic dancing—the best way to relieve the frustrations she sings about.
As much as she takes inspiration from modern pop stars like Lorde, she still listens to timeless classics like Frank Sinatra in a wide–ranging palette that will most certainly show through on her new EP this fall. Though no official tour has been announced yet, keep a lookout for her around New York and Philly this fall.