Interview: Anabel Englund on the Allure of House Music

Photo Credit: Nicole Pagan

Not too long ago, Anabel Englund was in what she describes as a “depressive state” – but luckily, she already had a cure in mind. “If you’re feeling down, all you have to do is get in your car, where there’s no traffic, and blast some house music and dance and feel sexy and sing along and it just feels so good,” she says by phone, offering a reminder of why she loves the genre.

Chances are that, if you also love house, you’ll recognize Anabel Englund. The L.A.-based singer/songwriter has spent the better part of the last decade collaborating with dance music luminaries, among them Lee Foss, Jamie Jones and MK. She’s also released solo tracks like “London Headache,” “So Hot,” and “See the Sky.”

With “See the Sky,” Englund delves into ideas about heaven. “In religious terms, heaven and hell is something above or below. To me, heaven or hell can also be lived on earth in a lifetime,” she says. “This song represents living a life in heaven.” She sings of family, connection, and, she explains, of living “in that realm of heaven where you’re surrounded by love and there’s no fear.”

When she released “See The Sky” in March, Englund followed it with an Instagram performance of the song featuring her younger brother and frequent live collaborator, Jackson Englund. When she performs live, he often mixes her sets and plays electric guitar. For acoustic performances, he typically plays guitar and sings background. It’s a natural collaboration, taking something that they had previously done together just for fun into a professional setting. “I like to work with him as much as I can,” Englund says.

Englund grew up in suburban Los Angeles in a performance-minded family (her grandmother is Cloris Leachman) and had been doing “little things” in music since her youth. “Because I came from a musical family, music has always been at the forefront of my mind, whether I intended it to be or not,” she says. A YouTube video of Englund singing “Girl From Ipanema” caught the attention of ABC Family, who hired her to write and sing for their shows. While she was making music for family-friendly television, Englund dove into Los Angeles’ dance music scene with her fake ID. “I was a little mischief-maker out here. I was so drawn to it,” she admits. She befriended older people who schooled her on house through DJ mixes and was hooked. “I just fell in love with the dark side,” she says.

Englund recalls the moment she was listening to a mix and realized that dance music was where she could find her voice. “It was just this internal consciousness – you can do this and you can make something of yourself this way. You have to do this. You have to give people the chance to hear you,” she says. “I think, from there, I was on this mission to sing on a track and make something because I knew the capability that I had to make something great.”

It was a mix of determination and happenstance that made Englund and in-demand vocalist. After sneaking into a party where Lee Foss was DJing, she and a friend ended up hanging out with the popular DJ. Foss asked to hear her sing.

It was a fortuitous meeting. The following week, Foss offered to introduce Englund to his friend, the DJ and producer MK. Almost immediately, Englund began work on her first collaboration with the two producers, the 2013 track “Electricity.” Not long after that, Englund headed to the U.K. to work with Foss and Jamie Jones on their album as Hot Natured, Different Sides of the Sun. Englund appeared on the popular single, “Reverse Skydiving,” as well as the track “Emerald City.”

“I knew what I needed to do. I knew I needed to get on these producer’s tracks. At the same time, they were all inviting [me] to get on their tracks as well,” she says. “It was divine timing. I couldn’t have planned that kind of thing. It was very serendipitous and I’m so grateful for it.”

In spending her early career collaborating with top producers, Englund learned how to approach her solo work. “First of all, I figure out who I like to produce with and what style I like. I know each one has their own vibe,” she says.

“Whenever I’m working with someone, I’m thinking ‘I like what they’re doing here… let me remember this so that I can implement it on this track that I want to make,'” Englund adds. “I’m always taking what I like and figuring out a way to blend it with my likes and dislikes and creating something new from what I admire in someone else’s work.”

Englund has maintained her collaborative relationships. Last year, her single “So Hot” was remixed by MK and Nightlapse. She dropped a new video for that track on April 12.

In late 2019, she teamed up with Jamie Jones again for the single, “Messing With Magic.” The video, released in March, takes Englund from downtown Los Angeles to the desert, where she dances with a monster covered in tinsel. “It’s basically about a journey to self-love, dancing, and being in this place where you don’t know what’s happening and it’s really dark and dreary and then finding the fire and grabbing it and chasing after it,” she says. “That’s what the tinsel monster represents: self-love and going off and dancing with that.”

Englund says that she has a collection of new tunes that she hopes to release over the coming months with a “lengthy” EP to follow later this year.

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