We hear it all the time: Protect your energy. Especially in the last year of crisis after crisis, mastering the art of shielding your heart and mind has been a frequent topic of conversation. But what does that really mean? For Ana Gomulka, a.k.a ANA, this means honoring her artistic output, giving as much to herself as she does to others, and loving oneself as a spiritual practice. Gomulka distills this sentiment through sensual melodies and unflinching lyrics in her new song, “Vertical.” The video, premiering today on Audiofemme, is a visual representation of Gomulka’s message of independence and self-love.
ANA’s debut single “Fall With Me,” released in March, centered “radical expressions of pleasure.” Gomulka says that when she wrote “Vertical,” she was in the process of drawing boundaries in her relationships. “It kind of came out in this sassy, funky way, but the message still stands strong: We don’t have forever to allow our energy to be coming out of us, there has to be a balance in how much we give and how much we take.” This message undoubtedly resonates with anyone who, like Gomulka, identifies as a “giver.” The instinct to nurture and care for loved ones is pure and well-intentioned, but it can lead to self-sabotage if we over-extend ourselves to others without taking care of ourselves too.
The video shows Gomulka in a state of bliss – one that is achieved when the ideal balance is struck between giving and taking, creating and resting. She explains that finishing “Vertical” was an integral part of maintaining the ebb and flow in her life. As a multidisciplinary artist, she often finds herself effortlessly starting projects in moments of inspiration and passion, and realizes that finishing these projects proves to be the more difficult but essential part. “It’s way more spiritual than it sounds,” says Gomulka. “All through life we have seasons, and those seasons need to be open and closed properly. Kind of like life and death – every sound, similar to every song, similar to every thought, has like a birth and a life and a death, and I want to respect that in music. So, finishing a song is a really big part of closing that cycle.”
Gomulka says that her spirituality is a guiding force in all of her creative practices. In an industry that can emphasize quantity over quality and trends over true creativity, she makes sure to check in with herself if she feels herself veering off course. “Whenever I feel a rush to put stuff out… it really is that time to tap back in spiritually and really re-focus on the purpose of it all,” she says. This down-to-earth mentality is palpable in the video, which follows Gomulka while she plays her guitar and sings boldly to whoever’s listening. The simplicity in both the setting and Gomulka’s honest lyrics (“Do you know what I need?/Are you matching my speed?/Feel like I’m always chasing after you/Leave me hanging when I’m in the mood”) evokes a much welcomed return to ’90s R&B/neo-soul. It’s just a straight vibe.
As a producer, Gomulka aims to bring a human touch back into an electronically-saturated soundscape. Though she originally produced this song on her computer with live guitar, she says that she felt it was missing the soul that live instrumentation brings to the table. She brought in drummer Todd Watts and bassist Ian Griffiths to infuse that live touch that was missing.
“I think there’s something very human about live instrumentation that I hope begins to trend again because I think it would really help us. The vibrations of acoustic, or any analog instrument…those vibrations are so powerful,” Gomulka says. “I wanna hear people shred.”
Trending or not, Gomulka is focused on taking whatever approach to songwriting feels most true to her. In a similar way, she reminds listeners – and herself – to stay true to themselves and their boundaries. “The amount that we’re expending, what happens when we turn that around and decide we’re gonna take this energy and pour it back into ourselves, instead of pouring it out to a source that can’t receive it the way that we need?” Gomulka asks. “What happens when we can give and receive to ourselves and when that energy is focused? I feel like that’s when we can really bloom as people.”
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