Do you know of any musicians who still pour out their souls into their music? Your answer is most likely negative since most of them are possibly extinct by now.
Lucky for you, Anna Carmela is one of the few real musicians left in the scene, and she is ready to share her story with you!
This is her chronicle:
How did you get into music?
My background in music started in musical theatre, which I did for 8 years. I was classically trained as a vocalist, and my initial dream was to perform on Broadway. Once I discovered the band Nirvana in high school, it was all over for me. My dream graduated from singing show tunes to performing on stage with a rock band. I eventually branched off even more from Nirvana and researched artists who inspired them, and I got way back to the beginning of that line of influences. Some of my favorite artists now are musicians from the 1920s-1940s. I just love music because there's so much to discover.
Who are some of your music inspirations?
Prince, Bessie Smith, Judy Garland, The White Stripes, Nine Inch Nails, The Velvet Underground, and so so many more.
I've seen that you wear a yellow jacket, how did that start?
It's funny because when I initially started wearing yellow it really didn't hold much significance. I bought a yellow Fender bass which was pretty much what started it. But now I’ve taken the color and incorporated it into how I live my life. The color yellow is really contrasting. Yellow is powerful, confident, unexpected, loud… but it’s also nervous, fearful, shy, unsure. It’s non-binary. It’s bright and isn’t bound to one definition. Yellow is a stark color, and it really speaks to me. I am an extremist in regards to my style, music, and personal life. So the color yellow became part of Thrift’s brand, but it is also something that I connect with personally.
Why the name “THRIFT”?
Thrift means ‘less is more’. In thrift stores, you can buy such cool, quality stuff but with less. I think that concept is very interesting. At live shows and in the studio, we are trying to make the biggest sound but with the least amount of elements.
For one of the latest songs we’ve released, “Bombshell,” the vocals were literally recorded in a shower. It's funny—we built a sound booth, blanketed everything up, and got a pretty “good” sound. I tried doing a few runs through the song, and I wasn’t really feeling it. I noticed a shower that was off in the corner in the bathroom so I went in there, sang through the song a’cappella, and realized it was perfect. So we ended up recording the final vocals in there.
We don’t have any regard to what is conventional. The only thing I’m ever concerned about is how we can get more out of less.
Do you have a preshow routine?
I watch Prince's Capitol Theater performance from 1982. Prince is one of my biggest music inspirations, and watching him perform inspires me to be confident and unapologetic on stage.
How did this band get started?
It started out with just me, a guitarist, and producer with a vision of wanting to make a band essentially like The White Stripes meets the Bee Gees meets Justice meets Lady Gaga… Basically a combination of a very random mix of influences with 3 important elements: vintage guitar tones, driving bass, and female vocals. Now, the vision for the band has grown into something much bigger for me…
Last year, I lost everything—my original guitarist, who was so important to me for years, left the band and my life, I got out of a toxic relationship, my confidence became inexistent, my childhood dog passed away, my mental health was worse than ever, and I started questioning whether or not I feel like I even own my life. But in the midst of all of that, I felt like a Phoenix rising from the ashes… A healing fire that was necessary to burn all the toxicity that was left in my life. All the shitty things that happened became an incredible base to lay a foundation on. I had to decide whether I wanted to give up completely or be better than ever. That’s where I am at with my life and the band. THRIFT is so important to me, and I feel like this is truly the beginning. It's been a long haul, but I can confidently say: This is me now.
What is your favorite song?
Of ours? Oh my gosh... ummm… “Feel Alright.” But I feel like I’m going to say that about every new song—at least I hope so! I’m really proud of the writing and how it turned out. I wrote it from a pretty dark place. If you actually read the lyrics, you’d realize they're pretty fucked up. But that was actually the goal. I wanted to write a darker song that had a fun sound. I love writing sad, somber songs, because they are meant to make listeners feel like they aren’t alone in their struggles, but at the same time I do want to play music that’s fun and groovy so people can dance and let loose at shows. The two best things someone can take from seeing a live band is 1. Learning something new about themselves and 2. Having a damn good time. I want to provide that for people, and “Feel Alright” was a way for me to marry those two ideas.
What has been your career highlight so far? It could be your best show or interview or whatever made you feel like you're on the right track...
We did a Sofar Sounds session, which is actually how we released “Feel Alright.” A Sofar session is a beautiful place where music lovers come together in an intimate space to share an incredible night of music and togetherness. I actually got to host ours at my house which was really fun. The coolest thing about it was the fact that everyone was so present. No one was just sitting on their phone texting or not paying attention. The audience is so invested in your message, and that is a dream come true for any artist. It was my favorite show I've ever done, AND we got to play an encore which was pretty dope.
Do you have a band motto or saying?
I mean we have this joke that if my band messes up during a show they owe me 20 bucks, like James Brown. It’s a joke though—I love and appreciate my band so much. They’ve been there for me through so much, and I’m so excited to continue working with them.
What's your craziest band story?
A really fun memory that I have was when we went on a cross-country mid-American college tour. We went from from Orange County all the way back to our first home base [Pittsburgh, PA] and back to Orange County. We got to meet a bunch of really cool artists and people along the way.
Do you have any tips/advice for people thinking about starting a brand?
Not yet. Ask me in five years!
Why Bombshell? Also, explain the video because when I watched it I didn't know it was going to be you at the end and was SHOCKED!
Haha, spoiler! I became very fixated with this early 2000s court case where this girl, Jodi Arias, became obsessed with this guy, Travis Alexander, to the point where she actually ended up murdering him. I listened to all of the court hearings online trying to understand where her mind went when she ended up committing this insane crime. Jodi is incredibly manipulative, and she’s called the “Bombshell killer,” because when you look at her, you wouldn’t pin her as a murderess (hence the title of the song). So I wrote the song based on that court case, as well as my own experience with psychological and narcissistic abuse. Manipulation is such a scary quality that unfortunately so many people possess. When you’re in a relationship with someone who is manipulative, you know in your gut that you need to get out, but when you are in ‘love’, it makes leaving that much harder.
The “Bombshell” video was playing on the idea that I am a prisoner of my own mind. I always had the power to leave that relationship, but I felt like I couldn’t because I didn’t know how to stand up for myself then.
If you were to start this journey all over again with what you already know what would you change?
I would go with my gut and trust my inner voice. Throughout my life, there were always so many weak people manipulating and controlling me, making me feel like they knew what was best for me. I’m so happy I’ve come to a place where I feel freer and am beginning to build my confidence, but I wish I had started that sooner.
I ask this to everyone, what is your favorite thing about being a creative person?
I am so thankful that I can express myself in a way that helps me relate with others. I’m not going to sit here and pretend I’m an open person—I’ve always been afraid to share too much of myself—but through music I feel like I can just be. Be what I feel on the inside, and hope that others can relate or understand. There’s truly nothing else on earth that compares to music and art.
The Coollab Project is a place where I’ve been given the opportunity to hone in on why I love creating, and is the sole reason I’ve become more comfortable sharing myself. It’s a beautiful collective of artists who all just want to share their gifts, listen, and connect.