Interview: Tanners on 'Empress In Reverse', the 70s and Anxiety

Friday, August 10, 2018

NY-based singer-songwriter Tanners wowed us with her captivating single 'Empress In Reverse'. Just before the release of her self-titled EP, we were absolutely thrilled to have the chance to ask her all about the single, her thoughts on the 70s and songwriting.

Your latest single ‘Empress In Reverse’ is so incredible! It has a 70s-vibe to it too, which is really cool. What stands out about the time period for you?
So glad you dig it! I'm so happy to finally have her out in the world. I think the electric bass riff really informed the overall 70s-vibe and tone of the track. It was one of those moments when you hear something and immediately know that it's going to fit the song perfectly. It definitely influenced the rest of the production.

I've always been quite charmed with 1970s music and pop culture. The coolest thing about pop music of the 70s is that it wasn't a singular, narrow genre. Instead, it was made up of so many different sub-genres like funk, disco, glam rock, heavy metal, country, prog rock, soul, etc. There are so many different artists from that decade who set themselves apart but were still considered "pop" in some capacity. Like David Bowie, Donna Summer, Fleetwood Mac, ABBA, Sister Sledge, Blondie, Elton John, etc...

The song talks about feeling overwhelmed and anxious, what aspects of this feeling did you want to capture in the track?
Anxiety has always been a big part of my life. I remember going into this particular session feeling like I had so many ideas floating around in my head but the second I tried to grab ahold of one, it just melted away. Hence the line "I wanna make things, things that shine. But all I see are galaxies in my mind." Similarly to others who deal with anxiety disorders, I also struggle with pretty severe ADHD which can make songwriting frustrating at times. There's no worse feeling than when you think you have an amazing idea, and then it vanishes. It can be heartbreaking!! But I've really started to enjoy writing with other people more because they're able to reel me back in when I get lost in my head. And my wandering mind can sometimes take me to some wild places so there are always fresh ideas to share when things get stale.

How long did it take for the single to come to life?
A lot longer than I thought it would! I started writing this song with two of my collaborators, Mike MacAllister and Julie Hardy, in early spring of 2016 and it was fully produced by the end of that summer. I expected to have it out later that year, but a lot of things were in flux at the time. It was a special song to me so I didn't want just throw it online without a solid plan. I ended up taking a quarter-life-crisis trip to Asia by myself in the beginning of 2017 and by the time I got back, I was itching to get everything finalized. So from March to June of that year, I was working on getting "Empress" and the other three tracks from the EP mixed and mastered. Again, I thought I would have the whole EP out by the end of 2017 at the latest, but here we are! To answer the question, it's somehow taken almost two and a half years but I'm really glad I took my time with it.

How does songwriting provide a moment of release and reflection?
Similarly to writing in a journal or talking through something, your brain makes different connections and realizations when you're trying to put your thoughts together in a song. For me, if I leave a session where I'm exploring intimate details of my life I usually leave feeling like I untangled a really messy knot. I find that especially with songwriting, I have to articulate my thoughts so that they make sense to other people which can be really difficult when you're unpacking abstract ideas that seem pretty simple in your head... At this point in my songwriting career, my main goal isn't necessarily writing songs for myself. For now, I just want to make songs that other people enjoy and resonate with.

Will your EP also discuss similar themes of ‘Empress In Reverse’?
Yeah, 100%. The four songs definitely all live in the same general emotional neighborhood. They were all written as I was finishing my last semester of college which I think is a pretty stressful and transformative time. You're trying to figure out what you're going to do with your life as if there's a due date and you have to have it all planned out before you turn 23. So these songs were a culmination of everything I was worrying about and processing at the time. They all explore anxiety, loneliness, longing but through very different lenses which I think is apparent in the tone and mood of each song.

What else do you have in-store for the rest of the year?
I think the rest of this year is going to be really exciting. My debut EP comes out on August 10th and I also have about 4-5 singles in the pipeline that I'm hoping to release throughout this year and early 2019. I'm also working on my live show and constantly rearranging my set for different environments so I can make the show as versatile and cohesive as possible. The biggest goal of mine is probably figuring out how to make this into a sustainable career in which I can eventually devote 100% of my time and energy. 2018 is just the beginning.

Written by Amy Smolcic (@amysmolcic)

You can stream Tanners' self-titled EP below: