Anker - 10 Questions Music Interview
By night, Anker appears in the form of a working musician. However, by day, he works at the VA for a homeless veterans program. In the live setting Anker is a solo acoustic rock act. He is a mainstay on the NJ music scene & has performed over 100 gigs per year in pre-Covid times. He's a regular at wineries, breweries & opens for smaller acts in smaller venues. In the studio, Anker is a small team of multi-instrumentalists creating guitar based pop rock. When his 2 rescued Pitties aren’t needing a walk, he has expanded his hosting duties with New Jersey’s longest running open mic from the cozy atmosphere of Grover’s Mill Coffee House (West Windsor, NJ) to a weekly nationwide Zoom gathering. Anker has also performed for Princeton, NJ’s “Bayard Rustin Center for Justice” where he has shared programming with John Easdale of Dramarama & Senator Al Franken.
Was there something (an experience) or someone in your life that was the "catalyst" for you to start writing music? Tell us about it.
It only makes sense that I'm playing music now. I've been a ravenous music fan since early childhood listening to 8-tracks & records. My uncle was a studio musician/ drummer during the late 60's & early 70's. He gave me some drum sticks & I would beat the heck out of couch pillows as I listened to the Beatles or Bee Gees. As I came into my own musicianship, he had long exited the industry but he shared so many stories.
Let's get this out of the way. What is the CRAZIEST thing that has ever happened to you in your music career?
I have been involved with the Millennium Music Conference (Harrisburg, PA) for 3 years. During the day, I speak on a panel or 2. At night I am hired to "run a venue". This means I host one of the many venues where the performer showcases take place across the area. It's a great paid gig for 2 nights & I get to play my own set as well for an engaged bar / grill crowd. For the 2020 conference (got to do it before the pandemic shut down), I selected to play the final set on the last night. The venue has been packed for both nights & I was so pumped for an amazing set. The venue agreed to let me play double the normal time since they were staying open & I could play anything I want. Acts 1, 2, 3 were solid great musicians who kept people engaged & brought their own crowd. Then Act 4 came up & something happened: mumbling, unintelligible vocals & strange musical transitions between songs or maybe the songs were the transitions between something else. He cleared a packed room of almost 100 people down to 11. That left me with those 11 plus him & the person who played percussion whenever he remembered to. I couldn't make snarky comments during my set because he was still there & I was still representing the conference. I played my set with the same outlook as when I thought I was going to have a full room. The crowd loved it. I even did a few songs off mic near the bar where most people were hanging. This was the gig that made me realize that crowd size means nothing - it's what I bring to the crowd.
What has been the high point of your music path?
After seeing my performance at the Cape May Music Conference, I was approached by Dr. Louis DeLise who ended up offering to work with me. My last 2 singles have been part of the "deLise Sessions" & we hope to record enough for an EP or full length - after Covid. I was a bit intimidated given his resume & the people he's worked with. But he's turned into a great friend & an amazing music mentor. When I write I now find myself thinking..."What would Lou do ?"
So, how do you approach songwriting or what is your creative process like? CHAOS. There is no set writing schedule or disciplined exercises. If inspiration hits I do my best to scribble down ideas in my note book or grunt some melody lines into my phone.
What do you see as the biggest challenge facing Indie Artists today? Or, if you could ask the music industry to change one thing, what would it be? I think Indie artists see the abundant resources available to them as an excuse to just submit sub-par mediocre material without fine tuning it & being one's own critic to assure a quality project. We have so many places to get our music played and I think it makes people feel rushed to fill profiles & announce how their projects are being accepted or played. I don't own home recording equipment. I have enough to capture my ideas & submit quality recordings of my ideas to my music team. I find it beneficial for me to go out of my room, drive to a studio & create in a creative studio environment.
If you could share the stage with one other artist or band, who would it be and why? I'd love to share the stage with Ed Roland (Collective Soul), Rob Thomas, Colin Hay, Chris Trapper. These are the writers that I listen to when I need a jolt of inspiration & to share the stage would be overwhelming.
What are your rehearsals generally like? Or, how do you prepare for a live show? Rehearsals? I play everyday & never considered what I'm doing as a rehearsal.
Pick one song that was your greatest challenge to write. Tell us about it! NVITE YOUR DEMONS TO TEA is the title of my last album. It had that name before the recording even started but the song wasn't written until the end of the sessions. The title was used with permission from a friend who had an art piece by the same name. I knew it was a great title & a song had to be written but nothing was coming into my mind. As the recording moved along, the theme of the album revealed itself & the title track finally had a reason & purpose to be written. I put a lot of pressure on myself during the sessions to write the song but I learned that it didn't want to be written until I learned what the album was about.
What's coming up in the future? A lot of wishes. I hit a milestone in 2019 with 100+ gigs & finally established really good contacts to maintain that with ease. Some of those venues & businesses no longer exist. They didn't make it through these rough Covid months & I know of a few who will soon close their doors. I have a small accumulation of songs to start my 5th CD but my studio people & music friends are understandably cautious of opening their doors to business despite their need for income. I just need to give my social media more attention & shift focus online.
Tell us where fans can access your music? I prefer people to buy music directly from me so they can take ownership of a tangible music product & support the musician directly. I always give extra surprises in the mailing. ANKERMUSIC.COM & follow at Instagram @ANKERGRAM Connect on Facebook.
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Stream on Spotify
For more infoamtion, please visit Anker's website.