Interview: Anuhea

Interview: Anuhea

On Valentines Day 2012, Anuhea released her brand new album For Love. In celebration of that release, Anuhea has been on a string of west coast tour dates with SOJA and still had some time for an Exclusive Interview with The Pier! Read below as she dives into the depth of her new album & songs while also collaborating with The Green & SOJA. Enjoy the Interview & Anuhea’s Aloha Spirit. Enjoy…

The Pier: Thanks for taking the time out Anuhea! It means a lot that you are taking the time to talk on tour! To start things off, how was the first shows back on tour with SOJA?
Anuhea: Oh, yeah! Being back with SOJA is great! We have spent a lot time together recording, you know? All of our Hawai’i shows were sold out with The Green, and now the first two nights in Colorado (Denver and Aspen) were sold out. The first one was raging! Denver was out of control! It was trippy to come from Hawai’i and get off the plane and it is snowy and cold with a couple thousand fans raging and ready to have a good time. It was a culture shock for a second there, but it was awesome! The crowd was ready for my acoustic vibe even though it was packed! The second night was the same thing!

The Pier: Are you playing with a backing band on this leg of the tour or flying solo?
Anuhea: No. I don’t. I don’t have a backing band for this tour. I am just going solo. So, it was really great to see everyone really into just me solo! I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from Denver because it was one of the bigger audiences I have ever performed in front of, and it was just awesome to experience! It was only me and my guitar, and everyone was singing and clapping and dancing along to all my songs. So, it was really great to see that from the first response!

The Pier: That’s great! To be able to control the sold out crowd at The Ogden must have been special to start the tour! Now, how many tours across the states have you done? I know you have done a lot of west coast and California shows in the past…
Anuhea: I have done quite a few actually! In 2010, The Green and I booked our own little cross-country tour together in a bus and everything! The Green’s album had just come out. It was super fresh. So, we were both experiencing what it was like touring and spreading the Aloha. I think that one was called The Right Love Tour. Then I returned with The Green again on the Surf Roots Tour and doing little dates here and there. Oh! And, I did the Mishka tour, that one kind of took me from coast to coast. The other ones have mostly been west coast ones, though.

The Pier: You mentioned that these shows recently have been some of your biggest to date, how have the new songs been with the packed crowd? Can you really feel which songs the audience absorbs?
Anuhea: Definitely! My song right now, “Higher Than The Clouds”! I guess you can say it is the “big hit” in Hawai’i right now, and my music video is just finished. So, I like to kind of forward the song with some jokes and get people excited. Because, the song is about the first time I had sex, so… (Laughs) The crowd usually likes that part! When I say that, they listen. That one, and “Simple Love Song” is probably another. If there are Hawaiians in the crowd, they will always recognize my songs on the radio from Hawai’i. Oh, and I usually finish out with this one! I like to play “Redemption Song”, just to get everyone singing! I have been playing a lot of the new songs. Actually, a guy I know last night requested “Big Deal”, so I played that from my first album. With about thirty minutes I try to get as much in as possible and get some stuff out there for people to see, and to get some stuff on YouTube for people to see later.

The Pier: Lets talk about the new album For Love. In an interview back in the summer with The Pier, you said this album was really from the heart and you opened up during the recording sessions. How do you feel now that your heart and emotions are being belted out through speakers across the country?
Anuhea: Oh! Wow! I don’t think it sunk in a lot just yet! It came out on iTunes already, but once it hits the store shelves in Hawai’i, then it will really sink in! It’s probably going to sink in hard! It is very scary because there is a song on the album called “What Am I Doing?” And that song, I couldn’t believe it! Literally, it was like, “What Am I Doing putting it on the album?” (Laughs) It wasn’t more of my style, you know? I like to have fun in my songs. To open my heart like I did was pretty scary, but I get feedback from a lot of people and they say that is one of their favorite songs. I guess that is what it’s all about when you’re an artist, getting to sing a song for someone and they really feel it.

The Pier: For the release date on the album, was it only fitting to release For Love on Valentines Day? It really worked out perfectly because this album was 2 or 3 years in the making, right?
Anuhea: Oh, my gosh! Yeah, the album has been done since August of last year. It was a timing thing. For distribution purposes, for iTunes, you know? Trying and giving the most love for iTunes. Marketing “For Love”. We decided to wait, so it got pushed, pushed, pushed. Finally once the New Year came around, we decided to wait until Valentine’s Day. It worked out really well.

The Pier: Can we get some insight into who produced the album? I know there were a whole host of studs for side work, backing vocals, and some writing with Jacob! Give us the inside track on all of that!
Anuhea: Sure! The album was centered around the first track which was “Come Over Love”. The Green helped me make that song. Pretty much all the members of The Green play on it. I had JP produce it. Every song from then on was kind of like, “Okay, lets add this to the album, and this to the album”. It started out with just JP. He did “Crown Royal”. Then we started having fun and did a dance track “I Wanna Be There”. We also did “Sunday”, a little duet together. The album started off with just JP for one song, but then we started having some fun and ended up recording almost the entire album together, one after one. There were a few other songs I wanted to do and my manager and I went through our rolodex and hooked up with a producer in Austin, Texas named Dwight Baker. We went down there, actually before the Mishka tour, and decided to try one or two songs together and see if our vibes were right. We hit “Simple Love Song” in like a day! Yeah, on the head! Listening to me and what I like, he incorporated the ukulele. It was the first time I ever played the ukulele sine fourth grade! It was so fun! We had fun in there! I knew that it was going to be a real cool experience. The next day we did “Mr. Mellow”, which is a total hip-hop song; the total opposite of “Simple Love Song”. So, I could tell he was into the two extremes that I was trying to play with for this album.

The Pier: What about working with Jacob from SOJA on “It’s Not The Same”. How was that?
Anuhea: Oh, yeah! He had heard “Simple Love Song” on the radio or something. He had Elliot, his manager, write to me on Facebook (Laugh) “Hey, Jacob Hemphill wants to talk to you about music!” So, we were just on the phone, rapping and talking and became friends. He said, “I have this song I really would like you to sing.” He sent the recording from his iPhone and sent it to me, and when I heard I was like, “Oh, my God! I Love it! That’s exactly what I wish I could say!” I love writing my own songs, and I take pride in it, but like I said to him, “I am a huge SOJA fan, and I have been one forever.” When I was 19 years old I went to the club on Maui to go see them. If I am going to be singing another song, it is only good for it to be his song. And, he didn’t record it. So, he wanted it to be heard. It was kind of a win-win for both of us. It was really emotional. I felt like I needed to show that side of me on this album For Love.

The Pier: When I spoke with Jacob a couple weeks back when SOJA’s new album released, I talked to him about the different collaborations he has done with Chris Boomer and Eric from Rebelution, as well as this album with you, he said “The key to writing songs with other artists is looking into their eyes and gauging their interest and excitement for the words through the other artist’s eyes, not whether they are a male or a female vocalist.” How have your experiences been working with different artists in the studio and within the writing process?
Anuhea: Wow! (Laughs) That’s interesting! Just to go back to Jacob’s song, we had the encounter and real connection over the phone. Unfortunately, for that particular song, it was only over the phone and exchanging emails. You have to really connect with the person you are writing a song with or else the magic isn’t going to be there. For me as a songwriter, it is a magical thing to write a song. That feeling has to be mutual if you are writing with another person. When I wrote a song called “Looking For Love” with Bo Napoleon, we both didn’t really plan on it. We did, but we really didn’t. He had a song in mind, but when it happened, we were just laughing, having fun, making videos and hanging out. That vibe is just as affective for writing as anything. In the past, the same kind of thing has worked, even if they are a strange. Like “Big Deal”, we just went out, hung out and got comfortable. You kind of throw yourself out there to a person you don’t know. So, you have to have a real connection with someone you are making music with.

The Pier: Switching up a bit, It seems like so many reggae artists are being more open to making videos for their songs. You have made some of the best videos, whether it was in one day in New York City for “Simple Love Song”, or a well shot video to “Higher than the Clouds”. Give me your thoughts on the music video theory and your likability towards the process! Making one can only help, right?
Anuhea: Yeah! I was actually thinking on the drive today like, “Wow, I have four music videos now!” It’s just a trip to think back about wanting this so bad, and realizing now that you have made this work. But, videos! Yes, videos! I went to school for video production, so I love videos. I love the visualization of a song. I think it’s fun! I have had the two extremes for videos with the one I made on my iPhone, which I get just as much positive feedback, which cost nothing to make, as I do for the ones that I have had with lighting and a full crew. I do think it was appropriate for the vibe of the song. Again, if you’re having fun making the videos, so be it. “Higher Than The Clouds” was so fun to make, though! I got to have my whole family be on set with me. My sister was holding the lighting sheet. All of my friends had big cameos for the party scene we shot in Maui. Videos are fun for me, too, almost as fun as making the song! It is a lot of work, the iPhone videos are more of my style, but I do like to make videos no matter what.

The Pier: Now back to your live shows, do you have a favorite to play live, or one particular track that you love coming out of the studio from the latest album?
Anuhea: I think my favorite to play right now is “Higher Than The Clouds”! I have been kind of experimenting different ways to play it. It’s a reggae song, so it has the skank in it. Lately, I have been starting it out a little eerie with a different groove. Once the little rap part comes up I’ll mix it up and play it as a reggae song from then on. Everyone goes wild during that part. I think it is a cool way to show people that I am reggae when I do that, I guess compared to whatever is not reggae! (Laughs)

The Pier: I watched some amazing footage from one of the shows in Hawaii with The Green and SOJA, and the encore that night was unbelievable. Is there anything special planned for this tour for encores?
Anuhea: On Hawai’i, yeah! The radio shows have been playing all of us! They are going crazy over there! Those were some great shows! It was great to come on and closeout with “Higher Than The Clouds” as they all played. I actually kind of miss that! We don’t have anything like that! I wish I could do something like that for this tour! I’m going to have to say something soon! We’ll work on it!

The Pier: And for this tour, you guys are playing some pretty large venues too, with back-to-back nights at the House of Blues in Hollywood! When I spoke to Jacob, he said all of the Hawaii dates in January were sold out! How humbling is that so many fans are receptive to the music and lyrics you guys are spreading?
Anuhea: If it is anything like Denver, as far as the crowd’s vibe and the amount of people in there, it’s going to be absolutely amazing! I can’t wait! I know two nights, and one of those nights, Gentleman is going to be there. I am such a huge Gentleman fan. So, I am extremely excited to watch his show that night. The tour will be almost over at that point, so I know everyone’s vibes will be real, real good at that point. The fans have been going wild for everyone, not just me! It will be great for a big show in a city like Los Angeles.

The Pier: I know the tour lasts through March, what can fans expect moving forward to the summer?
Anuhea: I’m going back home for a few rounds of dates to support my album release, since it will be releasing in stores in Hawai’i and on the west coast on March 13th. I am doing a lot of all ages shows for the kids to come out and do meet and greets. It is really great and important to me. I actually have a lot of kids who are fans, and it is something that I am realizing more and more. I didn’t really intend to be like Taylor Swift, Miley Cyrus or somebody like that, but some of them look up to me. I still remember when I met Robi Kahakalau, an island singer from Hawai’i. I met her when I was ten-years-old and got her to sign my Hello Kitty notebook when I went to the mall on Maui. I had it posted to my wall forever. I know that I can possibly be that person for someone else. I have to make sure they feel special! After that, I do have quite a few shows in Hawai’i… Some big ones! I am playing with Passafire and the Common Kings, Tomorrow’s Bad Seeds and Tribal Seeds for a festival. It is called the MayJah RayJah! That’s the big one! I am really excited for that! But, we are on the hunt for a tour right now, big time! We are going to look at the different offers we are getting and pick the best one and see what’s going on. I am recruiting a touring band and getting some people together to play with. So, if you have some resumes send them my way, boys! For the next tour, we will see! Possibly I could just add a bass player and a percussionist joining me. Taking one step at a time. Really, to get my singing down, because I don’t know if I am ready for a full nine-person band. It could get really big! I don’t know if I am ready for that big of a production. Baby steps!

The Pier: There is plenty on the horizon for Anuhea! Thank you for taking the time out while on the road, I know what a balancing act it can be, but all the fans and readers will be super appreciative! Really, everyone at The Pier appreciates it BIG TIME!
Anuhea: Thank you so much! You were great! I can’t wait to see you guys again soon!

Anuhea Links:
Anuhea Website
Anuhea Facebook

Anuhea Show Locator

Interview by: Kris Siuta
Photos by: Kit Chalberg

Shot with an iPhone, here is a live, raw & uncut Anuhea performing “Higher Than The Clouds” in Hawaii before her tour with SOJA…

Here is the official music video to “Higher Than The Clouds”