Anya Marina keeps busy. Weekdays (9 a.m. to 2 p.m.), she's a DJ on 94.9 FM.; on weekends she's performing at venues from San Diego and Los Angeles to Portland.
She once went to Hollywood to try her hand at acting and later found herself in San Diego. It's here that she composed the songs that would make up her debut CD, Miss Halfway, the title track of which has been featured on Grey's Anatomy.
"Richard Dreyfuss once told my acting class, 'You're never as bad as you thought you were, and you're never as good as you thought you were,' " Anya muses, "which has served useful to me after many a show. If you're a musician who is constantly thinking you just changed the world with your set, it keeps your ego in check; if you err more on the pessimistic side of things, then it also keeps you from going too far into the bad place."
TRICKIEST PROBLEM PLAYING LIVE?
"Figuring out how to achieve that magical moment where everything clicks and something extraordinary happens...when all the songs are sounding good, and I am able to ride that strange wave of chaos, and it's somewhat effortless. You have to harness the energy of the audience and use it to charge your set and maybe even your demeanor. There are so many factors at work during a show -- audience, you, your confidence level, your preparedness, the actual music, the inter-song banter, the band, the monitors, the mix. Sometimes everything technical can be fine, but one thing can topple the whole house of cards. Sometimes you are so prepared and ready and the audience will just be dead or tired or too chatty or timid. Sometimes you don't prepare at all, and it's the best show you've ever had. I still don't entirely understand it -- there is no equation to guarantee a great show."
"All of my guitars are special. Sadie was my first Taylor -- 312 CE -- named after the Beatles' 'Sexy Sadie,' of course. Then I have a baby Taylor that has been held hostage in Greg Laswell's living room. His name is Lil Bow Wow because he is small and brown and produces a nice, warm sound. Then there is the guitar I play most often, which is a koa Taylor guitar. I don't know the exact model, K-12 or something, but it just has the best tone and action and everything. I can't figure out if the guitar seems more male or female, so I gave it an androgynous name, Parker -- after Parker Posey. All my Taylors were gifts from an ex-boyfriend so they sort of have memories in them of that whole time. Right now, though, I am crushing hard on my latest purchase. It's a 1968 Gibson hollowbody, and it sounds amazing. It needed a bunch of work, though, to be playable on a regular basis, and I have to thank Bill at Buffalo Brothers, and especially Fred at the Repair Zone, who has spent almost as much time with her as I have. She is Zooey, after the Salinger story and Zooey Deschanel."
WHAT'S IN YOUR CD PLAYER?
"I am freaking out over the new Inara George project, The Bird and the Bee. It's got this whole '60s Swingle-Singers-meets-the-Postal-Service vibe to it. I am also in love with Emily Haines & the Soft Skeleton, Knives Don't Have Your Back. Emily is in Metric, but she just kills it on this solo album. She is so fucking brilliant with her harmonies and her totally understated, perfect voice. Her late father was a poet, and you can tell he influenced her work a lot."
"I have had weird things happen at gigs, like Shaun Cassidy coming up to sing the 'lick my pussy' part of a song I used to do eons ago. I had a lady call me a slut and a whore before I played my first note. Then she threw up on herself and was escorted out by security. One of the most fun shows I ever did was last year at the San Diego Music Awards because it was the first time I rocked out with a whole band, and my nerves were going crazy, and I ended up winning best recording, so it was an orgy for the senses all around."
WHAT DID YOU DO PROM NIGHT?
"My best friend at the time, Matt Lantz, took me to my senior prom. I just remember wearing a hideous green satin dress with white pumps, and I remember him picking me up in a white sports car, which he proceeded to drive 132 miles per hour...I thought I was going to die. Matt ended up getting into a bad motorcycle accident years later, which creeped me out. I remember telling Matt that he should hit on this cute girl, Stephanie, during the prom -- I was like his wing man. They ended up talking all night and getting married a couple of years later. The very last thing I remember was the huge party at the hotel afterwards and waking up in a walk-in closet, holding a three-foot-long purple bong...two of the biggest stoners in school and I discussed astral projection. I think we solved some important mysteries of life that night."