Band of the Day

2015.04.30

Annie Stela

A prolific piano pop songstress who writes songs that'll tug at your heartstrings
I don’t want too many lonely rooms to fill, all I want is for you to love me still.
lyrics from Love Me Still

Grew up on a piano bench with a pencil in my hand in the suburbs in the woods in Michigan with a father who played the left hand while I played the right with a mother who played Paul Simon while she cooked dinner and the only thing I ever wanted to do was write songs so I grew up on a piano bench singing melodies into a mini tape recorder I snagged from my dad the lawyer songs sung in the practice rooms in the basement of my dorm at college songs sung for kids at coffee shops and adults in bars who didn’t know I was too young to get in all I ever wanted was to write I wrote my way all the way to Los Angeles at 22 alone in a white sun-washed apartment with not a single soul to call a friend I wrote a song about home called “Breathe Through” and a couple months later I was performing it in the basement of Capitol Records for a bunch of men who seemed like they should be in suits but instead wore Jack Purcells and jeans I sang it and then a blink later I signed a contract the farthest I’d ever thought the whole thing through I grew up in the office of the president of Capitol Records in the basement studio where we recorded demos and fought tooth and nail and then I finally made the record I knew I had to make and I left with it suddenly aware that to the business people of the changing record industry writing songs to get into people’s hearts was not enough so I took Fool and ran I put it out myself I toured in vans and buses and my own crappy Mazda I slept in Holiday Inn Expresses and on towels in the basements of people I barely knew I ate at more Waffle Houses than I care to mention played to five people barely paying attention in an art gallery in Chicago played to 2,000 people quiet and listening to every word at Disney Hall in Los Angeles and I wrote more songs better ones that were more like the songs I loved that told stories about people struggling and falling in love and going broke and dying stories about everyone I’d met on tour in bars in diners in living rooms I wrote a true, hopeful love song and called it “Love Me Still” I wrote the darkest song I’d ever composed and called it “Lucky” and suddenly I had another record full of the tragedies that befall us and the beauty we can’t deny and when it came time to make it I was already tired I had spent years pushing a goddamn train up a hill my arms were as strong as they were going to get so I started to pull I pulled in everyone I knew and everyone I loved my friend Pierre gave me time in his studio in North Hollywood I pulled in my long suffering band I pulled in old friends to sing vocals and bring whiskey and encouragement I pulled in musicians I knew from knocking around LA I pulled in Mike Mogis all the way from Omaha to mix the record I pulled them in and to this day the fact that they came amazes me but it wasn’t really about me anyway it never has been I don’t do it because I want to be seen or so my light will shine I do it because I CAN’T NOT DO IT because the only thing I’ve wanted to do since I was 5 years old sitting on a piano bench since I was 18 behind a keyboard in a bar since I was 22 in the basement of Capitol Records the only thing I’ve ever wanted is to write songs for you. So here is Whiplash Blues.