Life and its pranks.
When we’re young, we play with life, time, our hope: everything seems infinite, crazy and the sky literally seems the limit.
We grow up, mature, and create our own path – but there’s something that constantly crosses our path that we don’t always consider: fate and its departures, which always leave us barefoot and with obstacles in front of us.
And that’s when we overcome worlds and depths to bring our whole race to the top of life: because we want to live, grow and stay here, in this little giant world of ours.
Today we cross paths with the changes and challenges in our lives. Meet Ana Roxana.
Ana is a Romanian singer, songwriter and producer currently living in the Netherlands.
Between belief, spirituality and the strength to live, the artist was surprised by one of the biggest challenges of her life: fighting for her life because of breast cancer and the sad news that one of her cancer friends had only a few weeks to live.
With so many punches in the stomach at the same time, Ana decided to focus on what she does best: her music, her words, her passion.
And that’s what Sea of Change is all about: our lives passing in front of us, in a troubled, challenging way, full of fears, manias and the desire to overcome everything that has been challenging us. Ana’s melancholic, soft and pedagogical voice is accompanied by a beautiful and picturesque rhythm, almost as if it were a story.
We wanted to find out more about Ana and all her challenges. Here’s the interview:
[WtMM] Who is Ana Roxana and how did the project come along?
[Ana Roxana] I am a 38 year old Romanian, who moved in 2008 to the Netherlands to pursue her PhD in Electrical Power Systems and who remained in this beautiful country since. Music has always been a part of my life and I have been singing since a small child, for many years in choirs and at a later stage started to sing jazz and bosa nova. Also I was creatively busy with making my own songs, writing poetry and essays and also acting during high school years especially and still a little during university. But with getting a job I stopped being so creative. I had to get ill twice (2018 and 2019) in order to rekindle the forgotten inner artist in me. When I got breast cancer for the second time in 2019 I started a journey of soul searching and in the spring of 2020 I refound the spark of musical creativity by doing the exercises from the book of Julia Cameron called the Artist’s way. Once that happened I started to hear music accompanying my thoughts and I began to record my ideas on my phone whenever they were appearing. Few weeks later I installed Cakewalk on my old laptop and I bought a condenser microphone, an audio interface and a small midi keyboard and my music production adventure started. I had a deep desire to give shape to the songs in my head and also to make them heard. For me they had and still have a healing power. At that time my energy and focus capabilities were low after 6 months of chemo, then surgery, radiotherapy and at that time ongoing antihormonal therapy and I had to accept that I needed to take it slow despite the strong urge that I felt (and I still feel sometimes). It took some time to get to the point of releasing music which finally after three years happened end of June 2023 with my debut Sea Of Change. It also took a while to trust myself for creating the productions for my songs and to stop imagining of finding someone else to do that for me. I actually enjoy being creative at home with my music and like this I stay true to myself. But I needed help for polishing up my songs for releases. So, since this year I am collaborating with a talented local music producer from my town and he helps me optimize, mix and master my productions.
I have many composed songs at this time I think around 30 and I plan to spread them on two albums. Unfortunately the pace I compose songs is much faster that the time I need for producing them and polishing them so I keep myself busy for sure, and I do these all in my free time as I have a full time engineering job, so that brings an extra layer of challenge. I am focusing now on my older songs from 2020 and 2021 which will be on the first album. Many of these are songs connected to my emotions, contemplations and experiences related to having gone through illness and expressing gratitude for life and desire to live a meaningful life. Some songs are also inspired by the story of others but even then I like to make the songs at first person. I wish to finish this album first so that I can move on to this new phase I am in. I think my lyrics are quite direct, honest and compact and some of the songs have something dramatic/transformational in them. I also like to use my voice as an instrument to create different layers to my arrangements. This is very enjoyable. I would like to have the album out in the world in the first part of 2024. And after that I will focus on my second album.
Sea Of Change is inspiring with many different tones. How was its creation?
Thank you! I am happy to hear you like this song. Well, I was actually going through a difficult personal period at the time I composed Sea Of Change, in spring of 2021. My relationship had ended and one of my young cancer friends announced that she had only a few weeks left to live, that while one month earlier she had a clear yearly check up at the hospital. The latter was very confronting as one realizes again how fast things can change and not always for the better. To be honest this realization is in the back of my head all the time, and I wish to use to the best the time I spend on Earth, at this moment. So the song came from a deep reflection on life, the human journey, not surrendering to fear, and not giving up no matter what life throws at you. There is a deep spiritual layer to the song, about getting to the light, to divinity, to the Source as the final goal of the human journey. I also intentionally produced the song that it flows from one sphere to another, with the sea waves washing away the past, and throwing us on a different shore, thus symbolizing the change. The tempo changes, the mood changes and also the tone of the song changes. There is the melancholy and contemplative aspect of the verses, and the determination of the chorus which brings us back to not giving up. I imagined it as a transformational journey and also the animated music video reflects that.
What are your biggest inspirations?
My life with its experiences, encounters, thoughts and emotions are my inspiration, and as long as I am open to whatever ideas come to me, it all blends together in my head first and then on a recording. For example, just a few days ago I was feeling stressed because of all the promotional and social media related things I need to do for my music project and I had a song idea related to this during my evening walk. Two days later, I recorded and produced the song in my home studio and it is already in quite a mature state I would say. I felt better after this creative burst. But now I should go back to the work for my first album.
With who would you love to collaborate and why?
Haha, not an easy question. I have multiple artists I would like to collaborate with. I’ll mention some. The Metropole orchestra: I would love to play some of my songs with them, I think it would be amazing to sing with a big orchestra. Jon Bellion: I discovered him this year and I love his way and joy in creating music. It would be great to share a creative process with him and learn some tricks that could improve my own process. Then it would be amazing to create a performance with William Kentridge or with Meredith Monk, and the best would be with both of them together. Kentridge is my favourite living artist and I love the multifaceted nature of his artwork, and how it makes one immerse in experiencing it. Meredith Monk I learnt to know recently at an art festival and I was blown away by the depth and purity of her show and also again inspired for using my voice in my productions. Also to mention Eric Whitacre: would be great to have a choir arrangement made by him for one of my songs and performed by his virtual choir.
What are you listening to nowadays?
Currently I am going through a more quiet phase where I am not listening too much to music and I am focused on my own music. And if I listen I just play various Spotify playlists. Earlier this year I listened a lot to AURORA, Caroline Polachek, Jon Bellion, and Kimbra. And in 2022 according to Spotify my most listened to artists were AURORA and Sevdaliza.
In one word, how would you describe the project?
From change to change, from obstacle to obstacle: more than a singer, Ana Roxana is an artist and a true storyteller. And from sadness and bitterness, we move on to happiness, the will to live, to grow – to be happy. A WtMM recommendation.