Our WorldArts Spotlight Artist of the Month is Anahita Skye! This first gen Persian American singer draws on a global range of influences in her music. Check out our exclusive Q&A with Anahita to hear about playing The Troubadour, embracing her own journey, and Pearl Jam (spoiler alert: her fave)!
1) You studied as a classical artist, yet you incorporate many genres into your sound. What influences do you draw on when you create music?
I keep it simple! I am influenced by whatever moves my heartstrings. If I see a band or artist for the first time, I am simply looking to feel or be moved in some way.
2) Tell us about your Middle Eastern roots and your early life in Utah.
My background is Persian (Iranian) and I’m a first generation American. My parents are immigrants and I grew up in a small city in Utah. I was a minority growing up and felt awkward and different all throughout childhood. I wanted to blend in, but it was impossible due to obvious differences in my unusual name, physical appearance and cultural background. Being picked on as a child only helped me grow compassion for others as I grew into adulthood.
I first traveled to Iran when I was seven. I was too young to appreciate the culture at that time. I traveled there again when I was 14 and it had a profound impact on me. I realized how deep the roots of my culture were. I remember watching a traditional Persian ensemble and I was captivated by the sounds of the instruments and the spiritual and emotional trance the music brought about for the players and audience. I purchased an instrument called a “setar” while I was there and immediately started taking lessons for the short remainder of my trip. Traditional Persian music has a place in my heart that runs deep and it had a profound impact on me when I experienced it for the first time.
3) What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever gotten?
“Keep on going, kid. You have something special.” – A simple statement, but it came from someone I admired. This was something a booking agent named Jeff Cahill who worked at On the Rox (Upstairs of the Roxy Theatre) told me years ago. I really looked up to him. He was so genuine and had a heart of gold. He created a safe space for artists to perform and grow. Unfortunately Jeff passed away a few years ago but I will always remember his kind energy and words of encouragement.
4) If you could go on tour with any artist (past or present) who would it be?
Pearl Jam! They are my favorite band since I was 10 years old.
5) What’s your ‘go-to’ karaoke song?
“What’s Up” by 4 Non-Blondes!
6) WorldArts is all about giving tools and opportunities to artists. What advice would you give to aspiring musicians?
Over the years, I have had many people tell me how I should do things and that their perception is the only way to success. I used to believe it. I used to think I needed to do what random people sitting on a panel told me to do in order to be successful. I used to compare myself to others and feel like I needed to do what they were doing or sound like what is trending. It was not helpful to me and only made me feel anxious. It took me a long time to realize that this is my own journey and everyone’s path is unique. Since I have focused on being and sounding authentically me, I feel liberated. I would tell my peers not to “should” on yourself and embrace your own journey.
7) If you could change anything about the music industry, what would it be?
I am missing those artists that have longevity and carry meaningful messages. I would shift the focus of the industry back to the quality of the art and artist.
8) What is the best way you’ve found to market yourself as an artist?
There is a world at our fingertips, and I have found websites such as WorldArts and others such as Soundcloud, Facebook, etc., to provide a wonderful platform of exposure for artists. It’s amazing how easy it is for people to look you up, stream your music, and become a new fan.
9) You recently played the historic Troubadour club in Hollywood. What was that experience like?
I loved every moment. I have been to many shows at The Troubadour and have so much respect for the venue given its history. I am usually anxious about every detail leading up to a show, but I was pleasantly surprised at everything from the sound, the lights, the turnout, and how much fun we had on stage. I had such a supportive crowd and I felt incredibly humbled. It was so cool seeing my name on the marquee too!
10) What next on the horizon for you (shows/new tracks/in the studio etc.)?
I have a batch of new material that I am planning on starting to record for the next EP. I am going to be focused on these new songs for the next few months. As far as shows, we are playing at The Viper Room on October 3rd, opening up for the Sunset Jam. It’s free and I hope you can come!
Listen to “Don’t Cover Up Your Heart”