As i announced on my facebook page a while ago that i will be interviewing the top music artists/YouTube stars, stars that have started merely by putting up covers of their favourite songs online.
I hope this encourages and inspires you to make a start, take the first step.
I really thank Ana for opening up to us and sharing such a wonderful story/journey with us.
I would also like to thank her manager Blake Brandes for giving me the opportunity to do this wonderful interview with Ana.
Ana has over 50,000 Subscribers on her youtube channel with over 18,000,000 Hits..
Enjoy the interview
Hello Ana, Welcome to YHP, Thank you for taking the time to do this with me, how are you doing?
I’m great, thank you. It’s nice to be here!
Can you tell our readers a little bit about how you became involved with music to begin with? Did you always know that you wanted to be a singer/songwriter?
Music is something I have always gravitated towards, be it for the purpose of listening or creating. I’ve been singing ever since I can remember and my mother tells me I used to sing in my crib. I learnt to play guitar with my father when I was 8 years old, and he taught me my first chords on my brother’s guitar. Since then, I’ve realised that no matter what I do, this combination of passions will never drift away from me.
The realisation that I wanted to be in music was very natural, and I think that was necessary because I had to grow into the realisation rather than be hit by it. I am in a constant mode of creation, and so it was only a matter of time before I fell into this world.
Do you write most of your songs?
Yes, I write all of my songs. I love doing covers because I find that I can still express my musicality through existing works and I enjoy playing with that realm. There is something very satisfying, of course, about writing my own material. It’s nice to create something that you can call your own out of thin air and thoughts.
What are your immediate music career goals?
I definitely want to finish recording the debut album as soon as possible. It takes a lot of time though, you can’t force creativity. Thankfully, I have all the songs that are going on the album, so that really helps. I’ve found that travel and work can interfere with the creative flow and so I’ve been making an artistic effort to keep inspired and on my toes with writing songs! I’m in the process of shooting my next video-clip for the latest single, “Questions In My Mind”, off the new EP “Radian”. My main priority is to keep putting music out, playing live shows and expanding the Free World with my amazing fans.
How would you define the word “success”?
I think a huge part of being successful is being happy with where you are and what you’re doing with your life. I once read that “the road to success is always under construction”, and I pretty much live by that dictum.
What is the message behind your EP (mini-album) called "Radian", and what can we expect from it?
“Radian” is a collection of stories. Each song on the record was written at a different time in my life, so they embody different states and phases. I wrote “Questions In My Mind” when I was 16 and went on to write “Child” when I was 20, two very different and important times in my life. The feel of the record is still a mash-up of acoustic and pop/rock.
I also wanted to record some of the YouTube “hits” so that my fans could have them everywhere they went, in high quality. EP’s are really attractive to me because they are a smaller collection of songs, and as such, can accommodate the ever-changing artistic world I live in. They take less time to record and so when I feel like taking a different or new direction, I have the EP’s there for the making to express it. I feel like full 10+ song albums require more precision and planning, which is why recording them is more of a long-term experience. I enjoy them in different ways.
Which artists can be found on your mp3 player?
I love so many types of music. The artists on my mp3 player vary every so often. You’ll find artists like John Mayer, Ellie Goulding, Kings of Leon, Evanescence, Nickelback, David Guetta, Eric Clapton, Bob Marley, Lady Gaga, Michael Jackson and Mozart mingling with Chillout artists, Hip-Hop greats and Rock legends. Believe me, it’s a party!
What do you think you’d be doing if you were not a singer?
I like to think that I’d be doing something interesting in Economics (which is why I took a degree in it)! Perhaps I’d be working for the European Union or the United Nations. I’m not sure, but travelling and finding ways to improve the world around us has always been a passion of mine, so I could see myself in anything that fulfilled those criteria.
Which artist would you love to work with that you haven’t already?
I’d love to work with John Mayer, Ellie Goulding and Timbaland (so that I could secretly satisfy my pop soft spot). Having said that, I think I could make some epic tunes with Linkin Park!
What’s your favourite thing to do when you’re not singing?
I love spending my time with my friends and family. I don’t get to see them very often, so whenever I get the chance I’m usually flying somewhere to see them. I’ve become more accustomed to being away from them (on tour, travelling etc.), so I cherish every moment I can hug the people who love me.
Share with us, the moment that you think changed everything?
I think it was in my second year at university. Shortly after the YouTube boom, I was on campus with friends, shopping for food. I was wearing a red hoodie (hood up!), jeans and trainers, and I don’t think I had worried about looking half-decent at all. I was blindsided by a girl, with what I perceived to be a look of panic across her face. She stood half a metre from me, and it crossed my mind that maybe I had something offensive written on my forehead, or had unknowingly done something to annoy her! She asked, “Is your name Ana”? I thought about saying, “No, my name is Caroline”, because I hadn’t the faintest idea what was going on and considered avoiding it altogether. I said, “Yes, my name is Ana”. She smiled and said, “Oh my God, are you Ana Free”? I breathed a sigh of relief and it all made sense. It was an epic moment for me.
How effective do you think doing covers on YouTube are?
I love doing covers because I enjoy reinventing songs. Sometimes I change them up and make medleys out of them, and other times I’ll just stick to the originals and just add my flavour. I always pick songs that speak to me, songs I like. I won’t cover a song just because it’s a hit single, or currently in the charts. I feel like if I don’t connect with the song somehow, then I won’t do the cover justice. There are bands I’d like to cover, like Pearl Jam for example, but I just haven’t figured out the right song for me, the one that speaks to me the most and that I can deliver in just the right way.
Thankfully however, I’m not the worst perfectionist, and genre doesn’t matter to me. I think that a lot of fans find my music through cover searches. In that respect, covers can be useful for exposure. I don’t really think of them as a ‘tool’; to me, covers are effective in so far as they make me happy to play and upload to my fanbase.
Why did you decide to start putting covers and your songs on YouTube?
The first song I ever uploaded to YouTube was a Sheryl Crow cover, and it just seemed to be the natural thing to do; bring together my to-be artist and an extremely talented musician like Sheryl Crow. It was like my stepping-stone. Immediately after that, I decided to put up my original, “Questions In My Mind”. Going back and revisiting those videos is a love/hate experience.
I love it because I can see how far I’ve come, and I can laugh at the clothes I chose to wear and how I chose to edit things back then. I hate it because I didn’t have the experience to know not to chop half my head off and post the video! That’s just me, you have to start somewhere!
What are some of your musical influences? Right now and growing up?
I grew up listening to many different genres of music. As a child I’d listen to Sam Cooke, Eric Claption, The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, The Mama’s and the Papa’s, and The Beach Boys. Then I hooked on to the rock bands of the 90’s and began to follow classics like Aerosmith, Bon Jovi, Bryan Adams, Nirvana, Sheryl Crow, 4 Non Blondes, The Offspring and Guns’n’Roses. I used to steal their albums from my older brother’s room.
Nowadays I still go back and listen to the classics as well as adding to my favourite artists with John Mayer, Colbie Callait, Christina Aguilera, Kings of Leon among other genres like HipHop, Soul, Ambient and a little French, Greek and Spanish music
What is it like to have the opportunity to record songs that you’ve written for mass consumption by the public?
I’m used to recording music, and being in the studio. The process is very familiar. I love the idea that I can share my music with the public in a more permanent way. I’m very lucky to have this opportunity and I don’t take it for granted. That said, I realise that my artistry is not entirely based on recorded music.
The live shows really bring another dimension to my music, as do the little things like staying after gigs to sign autographs and spend some time saying hi to my audience. That is the opportunity I am thankful for the most.
What advice would you give to other aspiring singer/songwriters?
I think the trick is to be yourself and make the music you really believe in because if you don’t believe in what you’re putting out, people will notice immediately and react accordingly. If you create, don’t expect to stand still. Creation means learning, and learning means growing. Try not to confuse ‘growing’ with ‘selling-out’.
Treat everyone you meet with respect, and give the fans priority. In no way should you consider putting your fans on the backburner. When they buy your music and they come out and watch you perform, you have to realise that in a sense, you answer to them. They give to you, and you should give even more back. I always think to myself, “this is a privilege, not a right”. Avoid being confined to one genre of music just because your fanbase follow that side of you; it just means you have to know your market. Don’t be afraid of results, even if you worry they are mixed up, wacky and different.
What has been your most memorable music experience so far in your career?
I have tons. One of them is playing my first ever concert as Ana Free. It was a small venue in Lisbon, packed out. I was backstage and there was no bathroom. I was so anxious that I was sure I was going to pass out! I walked onstage and all of the anxiety vanished. That’s when I knew that I was born to do this.
Is there anything else you will like to say to your fans?
There are a million things I’d like to say to them! Mainly, I hope that they continue to connect to the Free World and listen to the music that makes them happy. I want them to realise that nothing would be possible without them, and the stage wouldn’t be worth walking onto without the energy bouncing off the walls between us all. My music will be there, as long as want to hear it, and they always come first.
Thanks for your time Ana.