Frisky Q&A: Songstress Anya Marina

Fans of “Grey’s Anatomy” have long been captivated with the pixie-voiced Anya Marina, whose  song “Miss Halfway” wowed everyone on the show’s very first soundtrack. In the past seven years, Anya’s relatable lyrics have been featured everyone from “Twilight: New Moon” to “The Real World” to “How I Met Your Mother.” Oh, and if you’re haven’t heard her cover of rapper T.I.’s song “Whatever You Like,” you’re seriously missing out.  

Anya Marina’s next album comes out on March 13 and The Frisky has a 24-hour exclusive on her single “Notice Me” before it hits iTunes. So give it a listen after the jump and check out our Frisky Q&A with Anya Marina, which she was kind enough to do via email while she’s on tour!

What is the story behind this new song that we’re premiering?

On the outside, “Notice Me” is a song about two high schoolers who are hanging out, smoking pot, laughing and listening to records on a bed together. One of them has a crush on the other and is wondering if there’s a chance:

I wonder if you notice me (notice me! notice me!)
I’m the one in your bed

Underneath all of that is a song about something we’ve all felt at one time or another when falling in love — wondering if the other person feels the same, sees us, really sees us in the romantic glow in which we see them.

Your music really hit the big time when “Grey’s Anatomy” used one of your songs. Has having that exposure influenced your song writing?

I don’t think anything fame-related has made its way into my songwriting. I’m not famous enough to really even think about that as being a “thing” in my life. Plus, I live a very anonymous life in Portland! You can definitely hear strains of feeling “different from” or odd or strange in some way in a song like “Spirit School” which is about living a life as a touring musician/member of a band:

Gimme your tired / Gimme your weak
Gimme the gangly boys / Gimme the girls with the funny feet
We’ll call you Sticks / And you’ll play guitar
I promise you / I promise you’re gonna go far

We’re rubber and you’re glue and no matter what you say we’re gonna stick it right to you
You won’t get expelled and we’ll never tell
I got a pocket full of secrets and a magic pill
We keep it movin’ where everything’s cool
So stay awhile yeah stay here in the spirit school

We’re rubber and you’re glue
And no matter what you say we’re gonna stick it right to you

Lone road, do you think I sold my soul?
won’t see my love for weeks / we’ve miles and miles to go before we–
Sleepy Jean, we’re living out our dreams
Don’t fret your pretty head Just cos we’re looking like the walking dead

On your web site you talk about how you’ve struggled to try and write “the perfect song.”  How do you get over that quest for perfection in your creative life and just let loose?

I have to remind myself that my favorite albums and songs aren’t perfect either. I just listened to one of my favorite records yesterday and realized I had never noticed all of the shitty guitar playing or the poorly recorded drums. I realized it didn’t matter; it made it better. Because the magic is not in the production being “perfect” — the magic is in the spirit and the feeling of the song, in the emotions being transmitted through the strings into the microphones and squished through the cables onto the tape and into the sound file. The magic is in the feeling, first and foremost. So, you have to get over trying for some ideal form of perfection if you ever want to write the perfect song. My most favorite “perfect” songs are always the B-sides anyway.

What other artists would you love to work with?

Well, from the rock / pop world, I’m interested in everything Danger Mouse does. Of course, I love Gorillaz and his work with Cee Lo is really fun, and I just think Broken Bells was fantastic. I love James Mercer in that construct — speaking of James, it would be fun to write with him. He’s so smart and offbeat.

From outside my realm, I have always wanted to collaborate with someone in hip hop and top 40/pop. I have a lot of these little hooks lying around which don’t work in my songs, but would be great with different production. I would love to write with The Dream and write some crossover hit someday like “Umbrella” — what a smash that was! I have a background in radio which I can’t get away from, so I’m still very interested in the science behind what makes a hit song.

I love Cliff Martinez’ work on soundtracks but I don’t know if my voice would lend itself to anything he does in the future. But he’s great. Solaris was amazing and Drive was genius.

Trent Reznor,, Eminem, James Murphy, Mark Foster. I’d like to work with Britt Daniel from Spoon again.

I forgot about the ladies, though. Maybe a barbershop quartet with Karen O, Neko Case, and Feist. We could do acapella covers of Gaga!

As far as touring and traveling all the time, do you have any brilliant skincare or beauty tricks to share?

Take off your makeup every night (makeup removal pads save you on the road — Trader Joe’s makes a decent one), drink more water than you’d like to, don’t sleep with AC or a heater cranked, and moisturize. Right now I’m really into the whole line of Arcona skin care products. I’ve never had so many compliments on my skin since I started. My friend Susan Tompkins (Odessa Boutique in Portland) got me into them. she swears by Arcona and says it’s so healthy you could eat it, so I figure since your skin is your body’s largest organ, I may as well stop putting things onto my skin that I can’t even pronounce.

You’ve got such a bohemian vibe with your clothes.  Where are your favorite places to shop?

The aforementioned Odessa in Portland. I’m obsessed with Isabel Marant, Daryl K, and MM6  and Odessa carries them all.

Hear more from Anya Marina on

Image via Parker Fitzgerald