INTERVIEW: Anastasia Baast

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Anastasia Baast is a singer and songwriter based in New York, originally from Russia and a Berklee College of Music graduate. After a life of musical career with other bands and as a backup singer, Anastasia recently shared her debut single and video, Evaporate.

The song, that has a flawless production by Rhys Fulber, is a pop anthem with all the elements of a future hit.

You recently released the video for “Evaporate”. The song touches a very personal subject that not only affects you, but also many people around the world. Can you elaborate on the concept behind the song?

 I dedicated this song to those who have struggled with mental illness, particularly an Eating Disorder. I struggled with an eating disorder for 10 years myself and wrote “Evaporate” at the peak of my illness. It took me about 8 years to collect my thoughts and courage to release this song and share my story. “Evaporate” talks about the pain and frustration a person with a mental illness goes through. It is also a very symbolic song. By expressing my desire to “evaporate”, I’m wishing to disappear and escape the deep-rooted pain that I felt at the time. Also, “evaporate” is a championing wish to be lighter, thinner, so I could finally feel “beautiful” and “good enough”. The majority of those who struggle with Eating Disorders live with this paradoxical pain/inspiration spiritual conflict.

Why did you decide to release “Evaporate” as your debut single?

I believe in this song. I think I was able to transmit the emotional charge behind this illness and finally speak about it. This whole time my eating disorder was holding me back from so many things, including pursuing my solo career. I am now fully recovered. By releasing “Evaporate”, I am celebrating and making my recovery official. The goal of “Evaporate” is to let people who are going through a similar struggle know that there are others, like me, who understand how it feels and how hard and frustrating a mental illness can be. I want them to know that they are not alone, and that there IS a way out.

You are originally from Russia, why did you decide to move to NYC and how did that move influenced your music?

Even while living in Russia most of the music I listened to was American. I feel like the music industry in America is always a step ahead. So the move itself did not change my perception of music, it only reinforced it. However, the original reason I moved to the United States was to study music and that had a big impact on my musicianship. I went to Berklee College of Music in Boston for four years. By the time I graduated, I realized that while being in America built a great network. I have met my best friends and adapted well to the culture. Living in NYC has always been a dream of mine, it is a place of great possibility and opportunities. As they say “If you can make it there…” . So after I graduated from Berklee, I decided to try my luck and move to NYC to pursue music. Haven’t regretted it once. There is nothing like NYC.

How was the recording and writing process of “Evaporate”?

As I mentioned earlier, I wrote this song about 8 years ago. I was two years into my ED and writing music was the best escape I had. It was one of the easiest-to-write songs I’ve ever written. I wrote it down and sang it out as if I’ve known this song my whole life. I didn’t do anything with it until I graduated from Berklee and moved to NY. When I thought it was time to bring this song to life, I started the search for the right producer. It was not easy.  It took me three years, 3 different producers , a lot of “sweat and tears” but the third attempt was definitely a charm! I have been a fan of Rhys Fulber’s music since I was a kid, so working with him was surreal! I found him on social media, sent him my demo and 1 month after I flew to LA to work in the studio with him. Witnessing Rhys creating music is quite an experience! He is definitely a person of rare talent.

The video for this single is very eye catching, and shows a very professional production. How was the process of filming it?

I was very happy with how the song turned out, and I thought that to heighten the message it brings, it would be great to have visual content to support the song. Also it has always been a dream of mine to have my own music video and so I thought it was a great opportunity to combine the two. Frankie Turiano directed the video, with his leading eye for symbolism and details. I always liked his work, so he was the first person I contacted. I then told him the story I wanted to tell. He thought it was an interesting idea and came up with the concept of the “red ghost”, who represents the haunting and consuming nature of mental illnesses. He definitely elevated  “Evaporate” to the symbolic energy that I was searching for.  The pole dancer Hanna Fomenko, turned out to be a great actress as well. Her performance added something very special and the video gained so much from it.  I am so lucky to have had such a creative team by my side. It was such an amazing and inspiring experience.

Who are currently your main musical influences?

It’s always hard for me to point out just a couple of artists, when there’s so much talent all around us. But if I have to pick a few – I am a big fan of Sia. I think her songwriting is a gift to humanity. Ina Wroldsen is another great vocalist and a songwriter that I admire and one of the less known – is Ji Nilsson.

Are you planning on playing this song live anytime soon?

I recently had an official presentation of “Evaporate” music video at Romanoff nightclub in Brooklyn that went great and I am currently in the process of making a schedule of my upcoming performances. Please check my website www.anastasiabaast.com to stay up to date on upcoming shows.

What’s next for Anastasia Baast?

This release and the feedback I have gotten so far have been unbelievably inspiring. I already have a couple of new songs, that should be out shortly after the New Year, and I am constantly writing new material in the wake of this new momentum from “Evaporate”. I cannot wait to share more music with all my fans.

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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