Anya Marina is another one of the highly talented artists to make it out of sunny California and venture over here to the UK in the past couple of months to share her music with a brand new audience. We caught up with Anya to find out what she’s been up to until now:

R13: So how are you doing?
AM: I’m good. It’s still early for me, American time, it’s like one in the afternoon.

R13: When did you come over?
AM: Three days ago. I haven’t been going to bed until seven in the morning. It’s been fine so far because I’ve been doing BBC radio on the overnight shows, so I’m wide awake.

R13: Excellent. So, you’re fairly new to the UK, so how would you introduce yourself? Who is Anya Marina?
AM: I guess I’m an American singer-songwriter, in the pop/indie/alternative/acoustic vein… It’s so hard to label yourself! I guess people who like other independent artists would like my stuff, I hope. Like Liz Phair, or Cat Power.

R13: So what kind of reception have you been getting from your audiences here?
AM: Unbelievably positive. It’s like people seem to really connect with the music and get excited about it. They come to shows, they buy the CD; they’re very supportive. At the end of my last show I had one of the greatest moments of my touring life, which was at Borderline. It was the last song, I think I did ‘Miss Halfway’ last, the title track from my first record, and everybody was clapping and singing along… I almost had to stop in the middle cos I thought something was wrong! I was like, ‘What’s going on?’ That was pretty incredible. I’ve never had that happen before in the States, people singing along and clapping.

R13: Speaking of ‘Miss Halfway’, that song, along with a few of your others, have featured on TV shows like Grey’s Anatomy. In reality, how do you feel that kind of promotion really affects your career as an artist?
AM: Well nowadays, when people aren’t buying CDs so much, it’s really not such a stigma as it used to be. The way that they’ve used my music, I find, has been really cool and artistic, and has really enhanced the listening experience, so I don’t see it as being any kind of detriment. It’s been nothing but helpful. A lot of fans find you because they’ve heard you on the show, so they Google a piece of the lyrics or something, and then they’ll find you that way, or on MySpace or whatever. It’s been great for me that way. Luckily I had approval- everyone has approval- they ask you if they can use a song, and you can always say no. But I was a big fan of the show, so I was happy that they used it.

R13: So if you hadn’t been a fan, would you maybe not have been as happy about it?
AM: If I didn’t like the show, honestly, I probably wouldn’t license the song. But it’s a really excellent way to make a living, in this day and age as a musician, to have your songs licensed. If it hadn’t been for Grey’s Anatomy I certainly wouldn’t be in England right now. I could never afford to buy my plane ticket here, hire a drummer, hire a tour manager, etc etc. Because CD sales just aren’t as high as they used to be.

R13: Back at home you’ve been involved with the Hotel Café- there’s so much good music associated with the place, what was your experience like with it?
AM: Well, Greg Laswell and Jim Bianco are good friends of mine, as is Marco Shafer, who owns the Hotel Café. I just moved into the same building as Max Mamikunian, who is the co-owner with Marco, so it really is just like being with your best mates. I’m lucky that I met them, and it feels kind of like a little family.

R13: It seems you haven’t always had such great support though- you’ve been told from a pretty young age to give up on having a career in music, because of how issues with your throat and nose have affected your voice. How did you find the self-belief and confidence, especially at an age where people are usually at their most insecure, to overcome those kinds of comments?
AM: That’s a very nice question. I’d love to say, ’Believing in yourself!’ and, ’Going for it,’ but, honestly, I think it’s when somebody else believes in you. Those sort of risk-taking, benevolent people that you meet in life. They are few and far between- for me, there were like three, four or five- but one of them hired me at my first college radio show.

Somebody in college said to me, ‘You should do a college radio show,’ and I said, ‘No, I should not do a college radio show! I hate my voice, I have a terrible voice.’ I think it was some random person who said, ‘No, you have a great voice, come on!’ So then, out of sheer fear and excitement, I tried it, and did an overnight show on the radio. That was my first foray into tackling a medium with my voice. Then I think it was my boyfriend at the time who listened to one of my songs and said, ‘That’s pretty good, you should do that live, go to an open mic night.’ So I think it’s having somebody else; for me, anyway, it was having somebody else legitimize my small, hopeful feelings that I might have some talent. And then, of course, you step up to the challenge.

I think it takes a pretty ambitious and optimistic person to do it, so somewhere, I found some sort of, I guess ambition, inside, to do it. So it worked out, but I mean if people hadn’t hired me for a job here or there, or paid me money for something, I probably wouldn’t have continued, you know?

R13: So are you still unsigned at this point?
AM: Actually I’m not. I just got signed. The label’s called Chop Shop Records in America. It’s a little independent label under Atlantic, and the woman who started it was actually the person who first put me in Grey’s Anatomy, she’s the music supervisor behind that show, Alexandra Patsavas. She started a record label, and I was bugging her like a gnat, flying around her head for a year going, ’Sign me! Sign me! Sign me!’ and she finally gave in.

R13: So that was a conscious decision on your part- you felt she would represent your music well?
AM: It was a manipulative thought process, exactly! I was putting my hands together, thinking, ‘How can I do this?’ But yeah, she and I had, I think, a mutual admiration for each other. She had long been coming to my shows, and we’d been keeping in touch. But honestly I hadn’t really tried to get signed with any other labels. I just knew I really liked her, I admired her, she’s a strong woman with character and great taste in music, and I just thought, ‘I want to be on a record label with a cool, smart, snobby woman!’ That’s her, she’s great, she has very discerning taste, and she doesn’t like everything, so having her vote of confidence has really made me feel like I want to be on her team.

R13: So being involved now in the music industry, which can be pretty hard-nosed and cutthroat, how has it been trying to remain an open, impressionable and artistic person?
AM: I don’t really spend a whole lot of time in the business. I spend an inordinate amount of time alone, reading, walking, writing and thinking, so it’s really not that much of a challenge for me to stay impressionable. I think the challenge is when you’re touring so much and travelling so much, not to write about life on the road, but to stay connected with real people. I try to stay in touch with people after shows- as often as you can connect with people, I try to do that. I’m normally kind of shy, so I have to force myself out there a little bit.

R13: So what’s on the cards for the future?
AM: Well I’m going to finish this tour, there’s seven more dates all over England. I’m so excited, I’ve never been to Scotland, or any of these cities, I’ve never played a festival- tomorrow night’s gonna be in front of 25, 000 people at the height of it, so I’m sure I’ll be playing for a few thousand people there. It’ll be the most I’ve ever played for, so I’m really excited about it.

After that I go back to the States, I’m moving into a new apartment in Los Angeles. I just quit my job in San Diego, where I was a disc jockey on the radio for five and a half years, so it’s quite a major time of transition for me. It’s gonna be an adjustment, but I’m really looking forward to it. Hopefully I’ll be involved in the Hotel Café some more, and I’d like to come back to the UK. I’ll be releasing my second album, which I just finished, and I’m really excited about it. It’s out in the States in November, and then in the UK in the beginning of ‘09.