Elegance In The Deep End
Georgia-born Anna Moon presents new music for old friends
She refers to herself as a left-field pop artist, but Anna Moon's roots are firmly planted in jazz, soul and hip-hop. Geographically, the Nashville-based singer-songwriter's roots rise from the southern clay of Cartersville, Georgia. The melting pot of styles and influences suit her unique vocal delivery. Comparisons are often made to Amy Winehouse or Billie Holiday and like those iconic performers, her voice resonates with a timeless elegance.
With a full album ready for next year, Moon has wisely released a series of three distinctive singles from the collection over the past few months. As the album awaits a full release, she's out on the road previewing the material in a string of intimate showcases, including a three-gig December residency in the cozy confines of Atlanta's Deep End.
INsite spoke with Moon before a recent performance at a jazz club in Nashville.
Nashville isn't universally known for jazz, but you're part of a good scene.
It's true. It's known to locals but it gets overlooked by the media sometimes. But it's a really good time for all kinds of music here. Country of course, but there's so much good pop and rock and jazz. I'm proud that Nashville is a part of my story, as is Atlanta. It's just an exciting time to be doing something a little bit different.
Like Atlanta or Austin, Nashville is very welcoming of all styles of music.
It's definitely a town that loves music, values musicians and really hones creativity. It's a great place to collaborate and expand their knowledge on genres and songwriting. It's good for me because a lot of my music is jazz-influenced, but it's heavily pop as well.
It doesn't sound like it comes from any certain time period.
That was my goal, to create something in my own lane. I didn't want to sound like anyone else. I think there are always natural comparisons, but in terms of production and style, I like to think it stands in its own bubble. It's hard to make something unique but I'm lucky to have a great team - my husband (songwriter/musician) Niko Moon and producer Jamie Kenney - that understand my vision and helped me bring it to life.
What was your original vision for this collection of songs?
We really went down the rabbit hole when we started. I wanted this new-jazz thing where we'd have moments of real hip-hop-influenced beats mixed with pop elements. We really had no idea what the hell we were doing at first. We just went in and followed the song. Then we followed the next song. After a few songs, we had this cohesive sound.
The sound is anchored by a unique voice. Naturally it's been compared to a number of incredible vocalists, but what has been the oddest comparison you've gotten so far?
Oh my God, you're not going to believe this, but I have actually been compared to Bob Marley! A really respected music guy said that. The reason being, I love singing in triplets which is a very reggae thing to do. I can see where he was coming from in terms of technique, but it was still funny at first.
What's the best comparison you've received?
I get so many, because people are always trying to place it. But the one I think that meant the most was when I was doing the album and I did this part [sings a line of a song] and my producer said, 'That sounds like Judy Garland.' I grew up listening to her.
You can't beat that one because not only was she a great singer, she was an across-the-board icon of culture. Do you think you'll also make the transition to theater and films at some point?
It's funny you say that, there's a lot of interest for films with some of the things I have out. Almost every time, the producers say, 'Oh you'd be great for this role in the film.' I can't say I have anything lined up, but I do get offers.
Was acting a dream of yours at any point?
I began in musical theater when I was eight years old, in Cartersville. The moment I got on stage, I knew it was something I wanted to pursue. Then I went down the musician/singer/songwriter path and now it may be coming full circle.
Was performing in Atlanta an early goal as you were growing up in Cartersville?
I moved to Atlanta with my now-husband when I was 18. He's always been a great collaborator and influence and we moved to Cabbagetown. It was an amazing time. I met a lot of incredible musicians and that's definitely where a lot of my initial ideas for the songs on this album came from. It definitely sparked a very specific influence for me. It taught me to work hard because Atlanta is filled with such great talent, there's a really high bar. It taught me to always try to be original. That's why I'm so excited to be coming back to Atlanta for these shows. There'll be a lot of people there that I haven't seen in a little while.
Do you like playing intimate settings better than larger venues with several thousand people?
I do love playing intimate places because you can get such a great rapport with everyone in the room. You can actually see them. But they're also the harder shows to play because you're so vulnerable. But if you can do those shows it helps with the bigger venues. It's a much easier transition. When I was playing at Eddie's Attic, you could see everyone and they were all so quiet. They're hanging on every word, which is amazing. It's a crazy feeling but exciting at the same time.
You have a number of unique tattoos, but tied with Frank Sinatra for the most unusual is your 'elegance' hand tattoo. Now that's a commitment.
Yeah, it really is. My husband and I always said that we'll get tattoos but maybe not on our hands. But then we said, 'Well we already have so many, who cares?' So I had this idea of doing 'elegance' in this kind of street font. I love juxtaposition and the idea of taking such a beautiful word and doing it in a very street way, on my knuckles, I think it's a good representation of me. It hurt like hell but it's one of my favorite tattoos. But I feel like I'm at the point now where I can get one anywhere and it won't make any difference because I'm so covered. I don't think I'd ever do my chest, neck or face, but everywhere else is ok.
Anna Moon plays The Deep End on December 1, 8 and 15. For more information, visit www.deependatl.com and facebook.com/AnnaMoonMusic.