A little bit different, today I am featuring another creative person who is in the music industry – Anita Coats.
I met Anita through my brother Yariv, and there is plenty to say about him, but as a summary he is the founder of Udaya, a subscription based online yoga service with amazing cinematic yoga available for people to practice at home. He also runs the film studio, NuBoyana, in Sofia, Bulgaria. Recently I went to Udaya Live, a 5 day yoga and music festival organised by Udaya (in the mountains of Bulgaria) – and Anita was one of the musicians playing along with the yoga classes.
This article is about Anita!
I LOVE Anita’s music, voice, lyrics. What a talent. I love listening to her since, and am an avid fan, like Yariv. We met in LA, at Yariv’s house, and she played and sang for a group of us then. Years ago she came with Yariv to my cousin’s wedding in Greece and serenaded us. One time, she came to sing for the team, and ran a little workshop for us!
Over the years, she has been consistent in working on singing gigs, making music videos, and sharing her music. In other words, marketing herself – and putting the work in!
Oh, there is so much I want you to know about Anita!
So, I interviewed her – I hope you read her lovely words and listen to her songs (available on Itunes!). And if you are judging me for blogging about my friends – I do it because I can and I want to.
I truly believe it’s good for your soul to take a moment out of life and immerse yourself in Anita’s beautiful music and stories – this interview is a great intro to her.
Here is a video of her chosen favourite music video – STAY:
I’ve included the following YouTube links in the questions below as I’m referencing them in my answers
Possibility of Peace – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vrXr0aQYz5c
The Journey – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uJ9NvgpVdNw
She Flies – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qCDwKl-NTAk
Fall Again – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pzOsBJex_AE
Anita’s Interview below:
How do you introduce yourself (singer songwriter? Musician?)
I most often introduce myself as a singer/songwriter and this leads to questions about playing instruments and I break it down: I play the guitar, write my own songs and sing.
When did you start singing and playing?
When I was 17 I was in a summer theater group with a bunch other teenagers. A handful of guys played the guitar and my dad had a guitar that he never played, so I borrowed it. I was taught three chords to a Metallica song and went home later that day and wrote my first song using those three chords. There was something about the process that intrigued me so much. It was incredibly satisfying to create something from nothing, while using my life and my imagination to express. I wrote 11 songs that first year and then next year I started playing at music venues in Hollywood.
What the first song you wrote?
The first song I wrote was called “Greg’s Song”. About a first love named Tom. Well okay, his name was Greg and he was moving away to go to college. I don’t remember the entire song anymore. However, the last lyric and melody is burned into my memory forever. “The boy with the blue room has truly touched my soul. Although I wish I could tell him to stay, I know – he must go.”
What albums have you done so far?
– Anita Coats (2000)
– High & Low (2005)
– The Curse & The Gift (2010)
– To the Inside – unreleased, live, and home recordings (limited release 2011)
What are 3 songs you are most proud of? (change the number if you want)
Possibility of Peace (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vrXr0aQYz5c).
I’m proud of this song because of the impact that it seems to have on others. It’s played in yoga classes, dance workshops around the world, in prisons with the Freedom to Choose Prison Project and someone walked down the aisle to their wedding to this song! I was also invited to play this song at an event for an organization that works to introduce Israeli and Palestinian people in an environment where they can experience ‘the other’ as people, just like themselves. I wrote this song as a gift to my parents, so I feel proud that there love of me inspired something that ripples out into the world.
The Journey (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uJ9NvgpVdNw) The message of this song impacts me when I listen to it. The chorus is ‘Try to be patient. Right where you are. Enjoy this journey. You’ll travel so far’. It’s a wonderful reminder to enjoy the journey of life. There are a number of things in my life that I don’t have yet, but if I am so focused on the outcome then I miss the beauty of what I do have, right now, in this moment.
Chemical (coming soon!) This one’s a heartbreaker. Songwriting is so important to me as a form of expression and healing. This song captures perfectly the level of heartbreak that I experienced. I love singing it and tapping into the emotion that it carries. I love it because it’s raw and honest and heartbreaking and hopefully healing as well. It has been for me.
What type of people do you collaborate with?
When I have worked with other musicians in the past, I really like collaborating with people that bring their own creativity to the mix. I love finding out how they interpret my music. I’ve been very lucky to attract some very skilled and talented musicians. The most important thing is a mutual liking of each other as people. I want to enjoy music and the people I play with.
What was it like being in the Udaya Festival?
I loved playing at Udaya Live. The audience was so present. It’s a treat to play for people that are open and enjoying the moment. I’ve spent many years playing in clubs and bars and the vibe of those places is so incredibly different. Besides the main stage concert, it was exciting to play for Koya Webb’s AcroYoga and Yin Yoga as well as Rudy Mettia’s Vinyasa class. The music created was vastly different in each of these classes depending on the overall pace and energy created by the teacher. I was joined by a extremely gifted cellist named Jeness, who’s ready to improv at any moment. It was a great practice of sensitivity and being present while everyone is striving to be present on their yoga mat.
What was the biggest thing that’s happened in your music career so far – the thing that was the scariest, most challenging, biggest jump forward?
The scariest, most challenging this that has happened in my music career so far was actually deciding to leave a project that I had been working on for a year and a half. This might seem more like a step back instead of forward, but I see this a huge accomplishment. The people that I was working with wanted me to change everything about myself, including the way I looked, what clothes I wore, my body, my guitar and finally my voice and the way that I sang. Their focus was so image driven, it no longer resonated with me. I truly loved the music that we were creating, but when I was asked to sing more like Gwen Stefani, I had to seriously take a step back. My songs, my words and my voice are so important to me. Even if others don’t value my gifts, I still have a choice to value them. Leaving the project was a line in the sand. I learned so much about myself during that time and what I want.
As a musician, you do recording in studios, small gigs, music videos, and you upload your music online. What else? What aspects do you like best/find most challenging?
I love the writing process and performing live most. Sometimes it feels like my favorite parts are the creative parts and business aspects aren’t as exhilarating, but I do my best.
What’s it like filming a music video?
I’ve had some great opportunities with music videos. I actually got to film for three days after Udaya Live Festival in the hotel we were staying at, Hotel Rila in Borovets, Bulgaria. Rumor has it I might be wearing a maid’s uniform. The filming process is fun. I think the coolest thing about the film making process is that there are so many people that come together in the creative process for a common goal. My first music video was created by a class of students from FIDM / Fashion Institute of Merchandise and Design and their teacher Bentley Tittle. We ended up filming a few videos with his classes. Here is one called Fall Again
Tell me a funny story about a concert/music video/gig/etc
I played a show at Genghis Cohen in Hollywood one evening and I invited a great songwriter Sam Cosio to join me on stage for a bilingual comedy song that I wrote called En Espanol. The first lines of the song are “He calls me Anna or Anita when he sings in Espanol. I only understand poquito when he sings en Espanol”. We sing back and forth in this English/Spanish conversation until we reach a fever pitch singing at the top of our lungs. At this point I was doing my best to contain my laughter and sing the next line and then the entire audience started laughing and then I started losing it and Sam was laughing while strumming the guitar until I could sing again. It was a laughing interlude for about 40 seconds and it was priceless.
Tell me about a moment that makes you keep doing it?
I have written 3 songs in the past 7 years and I think that these three are some of the best songs I’ve ever written. Three years ago, my niece past away before she took her first breath. I wrote a song called She Flies about a year after her death. When I’m able to tap into that place inside of me that has the ability to express something beautiful through the toughest of times, I think – this is important work. Songs have the ability to inspire and heal and change our moods. I want to be a part of a positive impact on people’s lives while sharing my gifts. Here is a live performance video of “She Flies”
What do you wish you could tell yourself back in the past (eg what should you have known/what did you procrastinate on)
I would have warned myself that making albums wasn’t going to be as easy as I thought. I would have been more selective of the songs for my first album. I though that after making my first album that I would continue and make the next then the next then the next. I had so much material pouring out of me, I wish that I would have really looked at my very best songs and put them on my first album. Because I haven’t written very much in the past 7 years, it’s given me an opportunity to start recording some songs that I really think deserve to be heard. I’m just now producing some songs that I had written 15 years ago that I think still have incredible viability and purpose.
What style of music do you sing?
I most often will say alternative folk. It’s not traditional folk, although I am a story teller. I think my music is rooted in folk, but more modern and sometimes more edgy.
What do people tend to say about your music (lyrics/words)
Haunting. Heartfelt. Real.
What do you want to do next?
I am currently working on an EP with producer Andy Sharp from Austin, TX. I’m also working on an EP with Seth and Brian of BPG Music in Southern California. I’m also working on an album of more inspirational songs with cellist Jeness. Keeping this in mind, what I really want to do next is finish these three projects and film music videos for all of the songs! Beyond that, I’m signing up for Improv comedy classes because it terrifies me and I’m ready to step outside of my comfort zone a bit more!
How did you meet Yariv?
The first time I met Yariv was about 16 years ago. I was playing a show at Genghis Cohen in Hollywood and my younger brother, who was friends with Yariv invited him to see me play. Little did I know Yariv has a keen taste for heartfelt folk music. I saw him a few times after that and then a few years later I ended up renting a room in his house for a couple of years and that’s when we became great friends.
Tell us a bit more about his support for you?
It’s been a real gift having Yariv as a friend and a solid supporter of my music. I think that creative people need supporters to reflect back to them. It can be vulnerable to create and share. I know he genuinely loves my music, so he is someone that I will always share a new song with. He’s very intelligent and he catches the subtleties and the wit in my lyrics. Another important aspect for a true supporter, which I’ve never thought of until now, is that he never tells me what I should do to make it better. He doesn’t try and add his idea to my creation. He listens and appreciates and always says “amazing”. I’m so glad you asked this question. I don’t think I ever realized this before. Thank you Yariv!