ANA Premieres Down-to-Earth Video for New Single “Vertical”

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.”

Follow ANA on Instagram for ongoing updates.

PLAYING DETROIT: White Bee Adds Neo-Soul Buzz to “Beat State”

The term neo-soul has been popping up around the Detroit music scene more and more frequently these days. Used to describe a blend of R&B, soul and non-traditional inclusions of jazz and hip-hop, neo-soul is becoming more of an overall aesthetic than just a sonic nuance. And no one embodies this quite like foursome White Bee. Their latest track “Beat State” may be difficult to peg to one genre, but is an easy-to-swallow blend of creamy jazz vocals and tenderized percussive arrangements paired together for a perfectly patient concoction. Shannon Barnes  (Guitar/Vocals), Alex Niemi (Drums), Michael O’Brien (Bass/Backing Vocals) and Scott Ryan (Keys) together create a serene, textural velveteen on “Beat State” – a little Tame Impala smoothness, a hint of vocal climbing a la Feist, and a dash of new John Mayer, White Bee is a unique and delightful grab-bag of good vibes.

Lay it on thick with White Bee’s “Beat State” below:

TRACK REVIEW: Alessia Cara, “Here” (Mickey Valen Remix)

alessia cara remix

Def Jam’s Alessia Cara burst onto the scene this past April, with “Here”, a soul/R&B/jazz inspired anthem about the experience of being a wallflower amid a party full of folks who just don’t give a fuck (as the kids say) about who you really are. Surprising from an 18 year old – to be so bold about a sentiment that I can surmise many young women actually feel quite often, yet scant few are willing to admit to. The song showcases Cara’s stunning vocals (among her influences, she counts Amy Winehouse and Ed Shareen). She has been amply compared to Rihanna, etc, though I think her voice is actually much stronger.

Mickey Valen’s remix of the track, out today, transforms it into a darker, more sinister, insidious dance jam, with strategically-placed future bass that will get your heart pounding. In fact the whole song feels turned-up, indelibly so – with tiny, subtle transformations that one can’t exactly pinpoint but collectively make a huge impact: the sign of a deft remixer, indeed.

ALBUM REVIEW: TEEN “The Way and Color”


R&B informed pop trio TEEN are capable of complex, psychedelic hooks. Their minimalist beats and thoughtful melody and harmony layering, inspired by artists like Erykah Badu and D’Angelo, create a hypnotic dialogue between the instruments and between the music and the audience. These three sisters, vocalist Teeny Lieberson, keyboardist Lizzie Lieberson, and drummer Katherine Lieberson, are joined by bassist Boshra AlSaadi on their second album The Way and Color. The new record is full of uplifting melodic structure, interesting vocal harmonizing, and discussions of power dynamics.

The opening track “Rose 4 U” is  poppy and upbeat with the slightest hint of strangeness underlying it. From the start, there’s a sense of delving in–yet to what, we are unsure. With entrancing, repetitive verse lines pinned by addictive rhythmic dynamics, the listener is pulled in. Throughout, the girls break into strong harmonization with R&B vocals that meet ambient echoes, lending the track emotional weight. The harmonizing stops towards the end of the song with Teeny singing one melody and the background singers  moving against her. There’s a typical kind of suspenseful build up as it comes to a close. Teeny’s voice isn’t mind-blowing on this track, but that actually works in TEEN’s favor here, making what could be an overly complicated song easier to approach.

“Not For Long,” The Way and Color’s single, has an intense concentration on voice for the first minute or so. Then the beat kicks in creating a strange mix of hoarse fragility in the vocals and a rolling, minimal mantra. “You should watch your step,” the listener is warned. Perhaps these are not ladies you want to mess with. The background vocals add weight to the melody in a way that is not necessarily hooky, but still has a powerful effect. TEEN has been compared to Dirty Projectors on more than one occasion–a similarity evident here in that all of the different musical parts are equally important, no vocals or instrumentals are given precedence over others. At the end  brass come in (a common thread with throughout the album) as if an epic film is about to start. The echoey chorus still overlays the track, taking he listener to a more dreamy place at three and a half minutes. The final section is lo-fi, closer to chill-wave than anything else on the album and adds a sobering effect after all of the ups and downs.


My favorite track is probably “Sticky” which draws heaviest from R&B of all the songs on the album, and reminds me of Neo-Soul trio Moonchild. This is a super catchy song, but once again casual in its execution. The slow beat and mellow tones are easy to navigate, though not always simple. A gospel-like section emerges at a minute and a half, complete with ambiance and clapping. This could be why it stands out so clearly from the rest: the choir vocals are electrifying and reassuring at the same time, riding the line between gospel and psychedelic.  Overall every part sounds incredible, showcasing the production quality on the track as a whole, and allowing us to get lost in it thanks to the exceptional mixing.

The most heavily electronic elements I heard from this album were at the beginning of “Breathe Low and Deep”. It starts with an other-worldly melody that brings us onto the bands emotional level. Teeny strains her voice, lending it softness albeit it a grating quality at the same time. When brass comes in around two and a half minutes, the mood dropped in a way. It felt out of place, rather than perhaps like a change of pace that it was intended to. But then a truly wonderful shift happens. “Breathe loudly,” Teeny encourages us in her varied vocal tones: and I’m not going to lie, it is pretty inspirational. The guitar and horns at four minutes are full of doom, like the peak of tragedy or violence in a film, completely unexpected and invigorating. It took the focus of the track very suddenly to one’s own breathing, imbuing it with anxiety and making its mantra to “breathe loudly”, a display of inner stress rather than quietude.

Throughout, there’s a lot that can send the listener’s head spinning. All of the quick changes, sectional disparities and booming can be overwhelming. This is the kind of album you have to be awake and prepared to listen to. Even though the songs have great hooks and engage with the listener, there’s no time to take a break. It immerses the listener entirely. At times, they come very close to what verges on the familiar, but by keeping the R&B thread strong with vocalization and intonation, TEEN continues to stand out. The horns they use compliment the melody, and the production ensures that Teeny’s clear, hoarse vocals sound beautiful and unconcerned all at once. This album is truly rich and exciting.

Listen to “Not For Long” below: