Grammy Nominated, Nathan Dowdy, and Anna Patterson perform live at the rBeatz studio | #LocalMusicSomewhere

Nathan Dowdy Anna Patterson Live Performance and Interview #LMS in studio rbeatz.com Carousel Spring 2024
Nathan Dowdy & Anna Patterson

Nathan Dowdy and Anna Patterson are in the studio as we discuss the changing music landscape, talk about Garret Glaus and his battle with Lyme disease, and Anna shares her journey from being a professional ballerina to a singer and songwriter.

Get in touch with Nathan Dowdy
Get in touch with Anna Patterson

"Mountains" Live Performance

Play Video about Performance Nathan Dowdy Anna Patterson Live Performance and Interview #LMS in studio rbeatz.com Carousel Spring 2024

Q & A Live Interview

Hello, I am Chelsea Walsh and I’m your host here at Local Music Somewhere. Today I have two special guests, Nathan Dowdy and Anna Patterson. And you just saw Anna’s new video, “Mountains.” It is absolutely amazing and breathtaking. Thank you guys so much for coming in today.

Thank you so much for having us, Chelsea.

You’re Grammy nominated, Nathan, music, TV and film producer, and Anna, you are a singer and songwriter, former ballerina, which we will get into in a bit.

It’s quite a story.

It is. is.

We’re going from one art to the next. Thank you guys for coming out some time with me today. Nathan, I kind of wanna dive in to music development from conception to the finished product. There’s a lot that goes into it. A lot of cookies, a lot of nuggets. Why don’t you take me through your process?

Yeah, so my process, it does of course, you know, obviously, obviously varies, you know, project to project, artist per artist. If I’m working with someone new, the first thing to do is to do a deep dive and get to know them. I mean, and there’s no better way to really understand who someone is creatively than to just sit across from them and talk to them. One of my favorite stories was sitting down with, she was an American Idol finalist who we did a record together back in 2016. and we sat down and started working on the record and about midway through these songs we just kind of put the notebooks aside and we spend hours and hours just talking just going through our life stories connecting and then when we picked the notebooks back up.

It was it was like magic, I mean songs just flowed out and we spent about a week after that that just like you know pounded them one after the other getting them down and that is, to me, the most critical step is getting to know the artist getting to know yourself better. Getting to know what the project entails and then taking that nucleus of excellence and then seeing how to extrapolate it. Then it’s going okay.

Are we doing a full length record? Are we wanting to, you know, how do we create this thing from this nugget of excellence here? And how do we take that and push it into, you know, what it’s going to be? And at that point, you can get, you know, the material that you’ve created together and kind of see what flows, this is where I like to be. Real nebulous with the whole thing. You’re not sure kind of what it’s gonna be. You kind of leave some room for experimentation and for, you know, something good to happen. And then it’s solidification time. Then you say, okay, well, now this, we have this material. We’re gonna express it in this way. It’s gonna be a eight song, you know,

album with four bonus acoustic tracks. And we’re gonna, you know, do live, video here, we’re gonna do a music video, we’re gonna do all these different things surrounding it, and then once you make that content, you make it the best you can, then it’s on to how are you gonna release this. What makes sense with your audience?

Rick Rubin recently released a book, and in it he talks about writing for yourself, and basically almost not even considering the audience, but considering yourself. Yeah, and that was pretty controversial when I first heard him talk about that and then I realized, I was like, you know what, yeah. If you’re worried during the creation process, if you’re worried about what the audience is gonna think during that creative process, then at the end of it, you’re gonna have something that, you know, is unintentionally more pandering towards what you think your audience wants. And if you kind of flip that on its head a bit and say, “Okay, no, we’re going to make something that feels natural and good to us, and then we’re going to figure out how to best present it to the audience,” I think that’s where a lot of confusion can happen is if you are thinking, “Well, okay, now I’ve made this record. And I’m gonna put it out how I wanna put it out.” It’s like, well, good, I’m glad you made what you wanted, but you can’t put it out in the way that the audience isn’t going to receive it best.

So then you can take, then you basically have the best of both worlds where you can say, okay, I have this excellent product that I’ve done according to my, I followed my creative vision or I followed the artists that I’m working with, their creative vision. And now, we can take that and figure out how to best present it to that audience. And then that’s where the magic happens. That’s where the true conversation starts.

Right. What the inception of just like building these relationships? And how long does it take from scratch, like meeting the artist, gaining that trust, that relationship to the final product, to marketing, putting it out there?

Yeah, it depends on… on It depends on the artist timeline. Yeah, I typically work, you know via word of mouth. I want to really organically meet folks. I’m usually busy enough that I don’t have to and I’m very grateful for this. I don’t have to you know, do a lot of a lot of seeking which is really nice, but it’s it’s something that I’ve found that as I’m working with different artists, there’ll be this kind of dip in, it’s like two weeks where I’m like, okay, I don’t have anything, I can cruise and just like, take it easy and relax and such. And then, on like day three of that, little break I’m going ramp up yeah where’s where’s the next thing, where’s the next work and so that’s that’s why I’ve kind of realized that even if I go through periods of burnout and such, if I was made to sell all my gear everything that I’ve got, I’d be picking up something I’d be picking up a Scarlet interface at Guitar Center the next week and getting going. It’s something that is so deep within me that I can’t, I don’t think I can escape it.

How did it all start? Yeah, like how did it start? You’re relatively very young, but you do have a lot under your belt. Like, has this been going on since you were like, a baby?

Yeah, I was young and I was very fortunate to have two parents who were both in radio and they were in radio very, I would say for a very brief time, for about five to seven years. Which is why I have more of like, I guess a classic of American accent instead of something more like what I would have grown up around in the Concord, you know, Mount Holly area. I was fortunate to grow up with them. They were incredibly encouraging, not only of my growth in just like, you know, understanding what it means to express yourself, what it means to understand music and art, et cetera. They were very intentional to ask me questions to develop. We would go to the library and we’d pick out, I think the limit was five CDs per week and we’d go pick out five CDs and I couldn’t get any CD in the same genre. I’d have to pick up something from folk music, something like a world music, some rock etc. And we would take that home and we would have a listening party basically. My dad and I would listen top to bottom through these records as we’re just like cleaning the house washing dishes whatever and he would ask me what do you think of that one? Right? What do you think of that? And so it got me to be really curious from when I was young. Long story long, I kind of grew up through that I did high school band stuff. Not band in high school, but I was in a band in high school. So, somehow more cool, but also less cool at the same time, I don’t know how that works.

So it’s like a garage band.

Well, yeah, exactly. It was super cool. It was a ton of fun and I realized I was writing songs and trying to, do this thing, I thought I was, obviously, it’s the–

You were it, Nathan.

I thought I was it, I thought I was it, and I was like, okay, well, these songs are good, we got a good band, we need to make a music video, we need to get a, social media wasn’t really a thing, but we were like, we need to market this thing, print flyers, get CDs, this whole thing. I started looking into all of that. I grew up pretty below middle income, somewhere around there. And so I was like, Oh, geez, I can’t afford any of this. It would be better for me to buy like a really, really low level camera and learn how to do something even a little bit lower quality.

So there’s a lot of content now that is, you know, and I love that the industry is has shifted towards, hey, make something cool with what you have. But back then, it was like, hey, nobody, here’s the standard, you gotta hit the standard no matter what. If you’re making something that doesn’t look good, I’m sorry, no one’s gonna watch it. And so that was a big incentive for me to like, get as good as I could be. So I would watch any kind of instructional videos. This is kind of like right around the inception of YouTube in like 2008,

2009. So I’d watch some instructional videos and try to get good at it. Yeah, I would get to a point where I would be making the projects that I wanted to make and then I would have friends reach out and say, hey, I saw that thing. It was pretty good. Can you you make something like that for me? And so I got into the production side.

I started kind of building up a career in that as well. as while I was doing art for myself. I learned quickly the difference between making art for yourself and making art for others. One is bringing your own vision to life and one is bringing their vision to life. It has its own set of challenges I’m sure.

I think it’s such a great message in the sense of, not that you grew up middle to lower class, but in the sense of– you had mediocre equipment, but you had to be the best at it. You took the approach of like, you were hungry for the knowledge. You were watching every video. Then people were coming around and being like, dang, Nathan, that was really good on whatever camera or whatever equipment you were using. I mean, that’s powerful.

Thank you. Yeah, it was very much encouraged by my parents who they were like, whatever you do, do it with excellence, do it to the best of your ability, because if you’re not doing it to the best of your ability, what is the point if you’re not enjoying the creation of something? If it’s all about the outcome and you’re not enjoying the process or really engaged in it.

in the process, why are you doing it, you know?

What good parenting!

They were fantastic.

I wanna take a page out of that book. No, for real. Like whoever Nathan’s parents are.

Jonathan and Deborah Dowdy. They’re amazing, yeah. Shout out to them, shout out to the folks.

That’s awesome. I am wondering with this landscape of listener patterns, have you found anything to be more impactful? There are EPs, singles, albums. Is there one that’s better than another? Why do people choose singles in your opinion? Why do they do the EPs? Why do they do a full album? Talk to me about that.

Yeah, well it’s something that Anna and I have been talking about a lot lately, and kind of how we… both present our own work and the artists that we work with and such. And it’s something that’s always changing. So there are all the social media giants that always change the rules for what gets engaged with, oh, it’s most important if you save the post this week.  Now it’s like, well, now they’ve changed everything. Now it’s important if you share it, it’ll bump it more. if it gets more shares, et cetera, et cetera, and they’re always changing these. So in an environment of ever -changing rules where the rules change faster than the material that we can make.

Well, and the different platforms on top of that, there’s Instagram, there’s TikTok, short form, long form, is this YouTube. I mean, there’s so much that goes into it. How do you stay on top of it? What do you see coming forward?

Those are the questions that I think you have to ask those questions every time you approach the presentation of creative expression. And I say that specifically because as you are making things, it’s like we talked about earlier, if you’re, if you’re not. Considering how to approach your audience and communicate with them in the best way, your original material is going to not be able to engage with the right audience that is going to best enjoy and appreciate your work. So you have to position it in a way that is going to be best for them. And the way that we found to do that is using singles you put your you put your best foot forward You know with your singles so you record, you know the full record and then you listen back you get like I’m a huge fan of You know independent focus grouping your your work. So, friends people who you trust you know saying “hey tell me the single of this list.

What do you what stands out to you the most?” And usually you can tell, like when you get to the end of a record, you’re like, “Yeah, it’s this one.”

And it’s like, “I know exactly.”

Yeah, we focused -grouped a lot of songs.

Yeah, but it makes sense, it makes sense. All right, well that focus -grouping is what you’re saying.

Yeah, focus grouping content in a way that, you listen to folks of, and I’m talking not just, not just industry people, not just anybody who’s also making music, et cetera. It’s important to ask, I love asking the partners, the wives, the husbands of those who– are in creative work because they have fantastic taste. They have very easy accessibility to the process. They understand the behind the scenes, but they don’t have a direct connection to it in and of themselves in that way. So that is invaluable, wouldn’t you say?

Yeah, if you can get a hook stuck in the partner’s head, then you’re on the right track. Yeah, but it’s like stuck in the musician’s head. You know, sometimes it’s not as, I don’t want to say it’s trustworthy. I mean, it still is, but, I don’t know, something about the partner.

It’s trustworthy, but it’s, if it’s something that they are, that they are naturally bent towards for a living, it’s their job to remember hooks. It’s their job to know.

Right, exactly.

So the partner is just, I wouldn’t say along for the ride, but I would say, they’re there for the process, but they’re following their own path, their own trajectory and their own career. And so they’re kind of, they’re walking alongside with that close perspective, but not an industry insider.

They’re like looking in from the outside.

Well, I think that kind of brings me to another question. You guys are a couple. If you guys don’t know it already. breaking the news.

Whoa, whoa, whoa.

Tell me, how is it making music together? Or like, what are the benefits? I mean, obviously we’re seeing and we’re hearing what you’re saying, but like being in a couple, being on your own, you have a band together, the River Keepers, and then you’re in The Highway, which is a separate band. Like, how does it benefit? How does it work together? Are there challenges with that?

Oh yeah, time management, two words.

Anna, I wanna hear from you on this one. Nathan jumped in there and said time management.  What about you, Anna?

Well, yeah, sometimes we’ll have like, you know, time set aside to write, to produce, to track. Yeah, do all that. And I am the distracted one. I will admit, I do get distracted very easily. I’m like, hey, let’s go get a coffee. Let’s go take a break. Let’s go to the park, the sun’s shining. So yeah, I would say that’s definitely something that I’m working on.

Well, it’s, you know, something you do well, babe, is you are able to (make a sign)… put it over the door of my studio and it says, “Follow the spark.” And I just, that is my motto for creative, especially as like, you know, we’re both neurodivergent, we’re both, you know, very, very differently motivated than a lot of like, (laughing) we’re differently motivated from a lot of other folks. And, you know, similarly motivated to a lot of folks in creative work, but, you know, it’s a bit of a curse and a blessing to be motivated by the things that interest you the most. And so when we’re working on a song, I will sometimes, well not sometimes, I do this pretty regularly, to my detriment, I will drill down and go way deep and I won’t come up for air. I will push myself to the point of frustration and Anna is light and fluffy. She brings me out of it.

Yeah, no, that’s actually really probably, that’s really good, Nathan, keep her because–

Oh yeah, that’s the plan.

I mean, like, that’s a good, it’s good too that you recognize that. And Anna, I’m glad that you recognize that you are maybe the spark that’s like, honey, let’s go, this is kind of getting mundane. I need to get some fresh air, yeah.

No, no, not to say that it’s the easiest job for her to do that, because when I get into it, I will respond with like, just give me a minute. Just give me a minute, just give me a minute. So she puts up with that obsession, I’d say. I get the crazy hair going and I’m like, you know, popping up from behind all the crazy, crazy mad scientist equipment going, I’m almost there. But yeah, so it’s been time management has been a thing, but then, well, you have a song called “Time, Love, and Patience” that you wrote.

Oh, is this about Nathan?

Actually no.

Oh.

I mean, it’s about before Nathan.

Okay. Time, love, and patience. All of which we need.

Yes. (laughs) I think, did it start as a joke? I don’t know.

I can’t remember. I know there were a few lines that I’d said that you had reformulated into absolutely beautiful lyrics and I read it and I was like,

I remember saying that but I didn’t say it that well. (laughs)

Yeah, yeah, yeah, it was like a, a lot of different things, but I remember the best line in the whole song is Nathan’s line, which is kind of frustrating ’cause I spent so much time trying to get this song and then every time I play it…

What is the line?

Just a door that made my hands knuckles bloody from all the years I’ve spent knocking. It’s a song about like kind of, I don’t know, waiting for. your partner, like you haven’t met yet, but like dating everyone else beforehand.

That is a really, really, really good line.

It’s frustrating. (laughs) He said it in passing, you know?

Well, I mean, you rephrased it in the best way. I will, I’m not one for shorthand. I kind of go around the point and then go around it again and again. And you are so good at taking the raw material and refining it,

you know.  Yeah, so that’s why, that’s why writing with her is joy and why we need to do it way more than we do.

So your other, let’s talk about your other band here, Nathan. The Highway, tell me about it, what’s going on there?

Yeah, the Highway. It was born out of a long time partnership with my dear friend, Jordan Miner. He was in a band years ago called Old Rusty Mandolin. He probably has played double the shows that I’ve played and I think I’m somewhere around like 1 ,000 shows at this point in my life. And I think he’s probably… played two or three thousand at this point. He is incredibly, just, he is so just experienced at delivering that authentic, just the real deal of folk rock, he’s got that moxie. And he was in a band. And I think he’s probably played two or three thousand at this point in my life. at this point in my life. We would keep meeting up at coffee shops or networking things and we could always say “Hey, yeah, we need to write together. We need to write together.” This is about a decade ago and after about a year plus of doing that we finally said, okay let’s actually do this and it was it was magic from from day one. So, we started writing together. We had a different drummer at the time, we’ve since brought on our our lovely friend Ryan Taylor, who keeps getting promoted and moving up in his company. I don’t know his title, but he’s one of the primary ones responsible for Ludwig Drums and their design and basically taking their vision into the future. So, he is not only a drummer, but an engineer and just an incredibly talented guy. Then we met our friend, John David Tice, who began his career in Georgia, moved to North Carolina with his wife. John may be the most technically proficient and all around, just all around, I guess the term would be everything guy. He’s our every guy. guy. So we bring him that he recorded bass on Mountains, which is Anna’s single that she just came out with, which I know we’ll talk about here in a little bit, but he recorded bass for that. He’s a bassist in The Highway, but he also plays banjo, plays guitar in a duo that he and I have an acoustic duo branched off from the highway.

And so that’s, that’s the four. And we’ve been working on songs together for a number of years. We had tried to make a record over the years and it hadn’t really kind of gelled until this lineup really formed. And where we really found, you know, found the, you know–

The bread and butter, the energy, yeah.

The right stuff. Yeah, we found the right stuff in each other. Now we’re in the process of taking the songs that we have, figuring out- – The song that I’ll be playing a little bit later on, Wait One Minute, is one that is a song that I that had written with Jordan about seven years ago. There were parts of it that were just no longer working and so we took it we retooled it gave it a more hooky feel. And so we’re doing that with a lot of the one, we’re overhauling a lot of the older material, writing new material. So long story long, that record is gonna be coming out, hopefully more towards the, I would love to release it as a summer record ’cause it is, it’s good feeling rock and roll.

What’s it called, do you have a name for it?

The name hasn’t been solidified yet. So we’re gonna save that. The name that we tossed around was Everything Exciting and Good.

I love it. That sounds really good and exciting.

Thank you.

And everything.

But then Everything Everywhere All At Once came out and I was like, hmm, is it too close? Love that movie.

It’s true, but I think it’s different enough.

I think we just might go with it. The band is a four -way partnership, so we all, if we move forward in any way, we all go together, and everybody is so reasonable and thoughtful in kind of how we approach, it’s whatever serves the songs. Whatever serves the songs and serves fans, serves those listening to the music, yeah.

We’re gonna switch gears a little. bit and we’re gonna talk about your friend, Garrett Glause. Tell me a little bit about what’s happening.

So he’s actually, he’s a musician. He’s also a like mental health professional. He has many, many talents, but right now he’s kind of struggling a little bit.  Garrett Garrett is a truly fantastic friend he is one of the best people I’ve ever known he’s one of those where just the deeper you get to know him the more the quality of his character is revealed and we’ve been honored to to know him and his partner Grace for about 14 years now. Gracie and Anna our couple friend group go back a little bit less, but we’ve managed to really lock in just a solid friendship and Garrett and Grace. Garrett lived in Nashville for a good while.

Was he performing music there?

He was, he was, his artist name is Glause. He is fantastic songwriter, brings in a lot of like Cole Porter, like old jazz vibes with like a modern folk pop twist. He is prolific he is unique, you know, beautiful lyrics, beautiful vocalist, incredible guitar player, great producer. I go on but he had changed changed his focus. He’d seen a lot of the the just the damage that is done in the music industry specifically in regards to mental health and after going through some significant loss with his family. He lost three family members, including his dad, within the span of, I think about three months, three to four months. And it prompted a change where he wanted to do something that was more in line with his heart and his vision for building community. So he worked as a mental health communicator touring around to different colleges and kind of helping build curriculum with therapists and mental health professionals that he could then take and distill in a very easy to understandable way. He’s the best communicator I have ever known. So he takes that and delivers these incredible messages about how to deal with anxiety, how to deal with depression, loss, how to just go through life especially as a young person in the creative world.  Because that’s really where he’s coming from.

And about three years ago, he started noticing he was having some fatigue and he had had a few months before that, he had had a bite on, I don’t remember where it was, but he had gotten, it looked like a spider bite and went into the ER and they said, “Yeah, it’s just a spider bite, “take these, topical, whatever.” He went and did that and then then started getting tired a few months later, and then more tired, and then he couldn’t make it up the stairs. And his mom actually moved up to Nashville to help him out,  ’cause he was in a position where he couldn’t really get out of bed for a good while. Yeah, he couldn’t really function that well, just due to what was going on with his body. They didn’t know, what was going on for a while and so they finally figured out that it was in fact Lyme disease. They searched for more that would give him a context of kind of what was going on and there was an autoimmune component that was discovered as well and so it’s been a really long battle for him. He’s had a lot of ups and downs but he goes through it with a grace, a thoughtfulness, and just a beautiful perspective, that he’s taken the things that he had learned as a mental health communicator, and he applied those to his health journey.

His resting daily pain is between, I think, a three, four. five out of ten. There are some days where it is a 10 out of 10. He’s been going through that chronic pain over several years now and so we’re in a point where we are very hopeful. He was accepted to one of, if not the top specialist in the country. He’s been going through that, and they have an idea of what’s going on with him. Now it’s just figuring out how to dial in the right treatment. So there’s a lot of components to it that complicate that and the treatments that are available. Some of them are as stringent and I guess as strenuous as, from what I understand they are, the treatments that are used for dealing with cancers. So it’s a very intense process, but we are hopeful that we’re gonna see some good improvement soon. We made this video that we’re about to watch. I had the honor of telling his story- – six months to a year in, we had told this story and we had wanted to raise funds ’cause obviously we’re in America health care system is not great.

So you made this video, which we’re about to play, and I think it brings great awareness to Lyme’s disease and the detriment it can do to some people, and I’m just honored to show it. I saw it and I was like, can we play this video? It’s bringing such awareness to a great cause. And if anybody feels so inclined to go to the GoFundMe, which will be presented, please do.

Yes, we like to say it’s like putting gas in a car. We need to put gas in the car because it’s goin’ somewhere. It’s been a years long battle by this point. The challenge is to look at that and go, okay, well, when I donate, where, what’s that going to? Is this actually making a difference? And it’s like, well, absolutely. It has sustained him this far. And I might get a little bit emotional here, ’cause this is, you know, this might– This friend and his dear friend and his family have fought through, you know, so much. pain, so much loss, and they have done so with grace and kindness and understanding and a desire to build community and help the community. I’m just excited to carry that further.

Yeah, and you’re doing a great job.

Yeah.  (To) be able to get Garrett better. I know that that, you know, through donations, this is the way to do it. We need to get him back on his feet and and touring colleges and speaking. Speaking to folks who are going through going through, you know, difficulty who may not be as equipped. And he’s perfectly positioned to do that and it’s just figuring out out where to, you know, what can be done to get him there? And the way that we do that is through the donations that go towards medical bills, that go towards the doctors that are, you know, figuring this stuff out for him. I know everybody says every single dollar counts. It does in this case and in so many others,

you know. But in this case specifically, every dollar truly does count to get him to where he needs to go. ‘Cause it’s not just about him, it’s about the community that he’s building, it’s about the lives that he’s touching. And you’ll see a little bit of his character here in the video. 

All right, so we’re gonna quick take a break. We’re gonna watch this video. And when we come back, we’re gonna hear from Anna and her story. and how she got started and why she is here today with us. All right, let’s cue the tape.

*Garrett Glaus GoFundMe is played

We are back in the studio and we are going to pivot. Thank you so much, by the way, Nathan, for that lovely video. It was powerful. I’m sure everybody can agree. Please follow the cause.

We’re going to kind of just pivot our chairs a little bit to Anna, Anna Patterson. Okay, you have quite the unique story. When you think of a professional musician, a singer -songwriter, you may not think ballerina, a professional, trained ballerina. How in the world did you mix these worlds or change? You’re still so young, you’re 25. Tell me from the beginning.

Yeah, so I started when I was four, I think. I saw Charlotte Ballet do, which at the time, I think they were in North Carolina Dance Theater, but anyway, I saw them do Cinderella. I just fell in love and my mom put me in and it just stuck. Yeah, I just did it like that was kind of my life. I grew up in dance, not ballet. I was more like in the jazz and and all that but I mean you have to be extremely disciplined.

Yeah, that’s why I kind of like it when you’re with Nathan and making music. You’re like, I’ll be the spark. “I’ll do that” because I feel like your whole life was probably really, you know, controlled. Ballet is a very, it’s a very distinct—

Yeah, it’s intense. I don’t want to compare it to the military, but there are some things like that you have to have your uniform, you have to curtsy after class to your instructor, director. Yeah, and you’re not really allowed to talk unless you’re asking a question. And let’s hope it’s a smart question. Yeah, there’s just a lot of strict things, which I think I kind of enjoyed that growing up. I don’t know why, but I liked it. Since I was a shy kid, I liked it. not having to talk.

Yeah, it took a lot, I know it did. And I think it can also sort of teach you like the work ethic. And I think a lot of kids, I come from a child psychology background, but a lot of children actually like routine, they like regimen, they know what to expect. So that doesn’t surprise me. I think it’s a great way to, you know, learn disciplines, but I do think it is a bit militant.

So you went from this very structured environment and when did you transition into music or was it like a cut and dry? ‘Cause if you’re a shy kid and now you’re performing. It’s like you’re like a little caterpillar and then you’re like now a butterfly.

Yeah, it’s been a weird transition. So I never had stage fright dancing and I’ve danced for thousands of people. Hundreds of times, yeah. So yeah, I’ve messed up probably in every way on stage and it just has not fazed me. Like costume malfunction, like shoes coming off. None of that stuff really fazes me. But I think I always loved all kinds of music and I loved songwriting.

So I started kind of, I think I started writing maybe like at 11 or 12, but I never took it seriously. Like I would just wrote a song and, you know, eight months later, write another song or whatever. And then when I was around 18 or 19, I think I went through like my first breakup. And I was like, I’m gonna write songs. Because yeah, you get the feeling out in different ways. Like, dancing is just more all body physical. And then I feel like songwriting is really the soul.

That’s profound right there.

Yeah, that was something I really enjoyed. But again, didn’t really take it seriously because I had already invested 15 ,000. years in something. I think it was around 2019 I started taking it more seriously, but it was kind of more of a pipe dream. I was kind of like, I would love to write songs and perform them, but like, how do you even get into that? You know, most people, like, they’ve been playing for 15, 20 years, you know? (laughing) Everybody I meet, you know, they’re like, oh yeah, I’ve been playing for 15 years. So there wasn’t a lot of entry level musicians at, you know, 22, so. But, you know, the pandemic happened and all the theaters shut down. I moved home into like the room above my parents’ garage. (laughing) And then I just started writing and taking it more seriously and saw a voice coach and yeah, that’s kind of how it started. 

Did your parents were they kind of like scratching their head like, what are you doing? Or did they always know that you had this in you? It was a tragic thing, the pandemic, but I think sometimes it was really, transformative in many, many lives. And if the theaters aren’t open, then you don’t have the work. So it makes sense that you would maybe pivot and transition, but was this a total shock to your family and friends? Or were they like, no, we knew this about Anna?

It kind of was. It was a shock, but it was also kind of like, well, you already became a professional ballet dancer, so why not? Go after it.

You’ve already gone so far in one career that very, very, very, very few people. break out of, even into that first level, and you shot way past that. 

Yeah, right? And I have really supportive parents that have always supported the arts. Shout out Chris and Thea. I shout out my parents. No, they’ve always just been great about, like, just– believing in all three of us kids. Yeah, it’s been great.

That is really cool. I feel like you’re not so much of a novice. If you’re writing your own music at 11, that’s like, I think that the thing I’m learning as I interview more and more artists is that there’s always this innate, it’s not like all of a sudden you stumble and you’re like, “Oh, I was just, you know, I’m musically inclined, it’s fine.” Like, you’re hard of work. What do you like best? Do you like writing the music? Do you like singing the music? Did you have like the tunes in your head? Did you hear it work?

I’m pretty sure I probably ripped off a few Taylor Swift songs. – Oh, yes! – That’s 11 year old, but you gotta learn some.

Swifties for life. Do you know Ellie Morgan?

Ellie Morgan, yeah.

We had her in here a while back, but she’s like a Taylor Swift.

I love Ellie.

Yeah, she’s great. So you did some Taylor?

Oh, I love Taylor Swift. Yeah, I think I really wanted a Teardrops on my Guitar. (laughing) in my discography.

I wanted one too. (laughing) I feel you there.

Yeah, so I would write like little songs and they weren’t good, obviously, but they just, they were fun, you know? And I didn’t tell anybody. It was like just something I did.

So did you play the guitar?

I do, I use it for writing purpose. and I–

Who taught you or when did you learn?

I just self taught.

Yeah. She’s way better than she thinks she is.

But see, guitarists, it’s different. You can’t say like, I play guitar. And then like, you know, everybody we know who like plays guitar, it’s like they play guitar. There’s a difference between playing, like playing rhythm guitar or accompanying and playing like lead guitar. Like I’ve never been a lead guitar. guitarist.

You play lead guitar? (To Nathan)

I play rhythm guitar in a way that has a little bit more bounce to it, I guess. But I am not, yeah.

I think it stems from this. When I first met Nathan, I asked him, like, you know, he had this conversation and he said, yeah, I’m like intermediate guitar player. And I was like, okay. So I like bring the guitar out and I start playing and it’s soft, solid beginner and he gets it and it’s like, it’s not intermediate. So after that, then I started like, okay, let’s undersell.

Yeah, undersell, overperform.

That’s it, that’s it. ‘Cause if I had come in like our first writing session, ’cause we got to know each other over writing sessions-

Okay. So was she a student, or not a student, but like a client?

We had met at a house show from one of our friends.  And while we were there, I kind of walked in, saw this beautiful girl sitting there with like this feathered hair, gorgeous. And I walk up, I’m like, hey, how do you know Steven? And that was the friend that was performing. And she was like, well, funny story. And she tells me, you know, how she’d come to like be fan of his and everything. And so we got to talk. and then I was like, Hey, yeah, I like we talked about songwriting. I said, you write music. I write music. Let’s get together and write some music. And so we did. We sat down and I had her over. I’m so grateful that you deemed it safe enough to come out to to the house. And we talked the first time we talked. We didn’t really open the laptop the whole first time.

Anna, you have a new single called “Mountains.” We played a like excerpt of it and you guys are gonna perform it live later on. Tell me a bit about it. You have a new upcoming record and I mean, lots of new things coming. So tell me, I wanna plug it.

Oh yeah, so, “Mountains” kind of, it’s about leaving a ballet company. I got the inspiration from hiking with my dad. Actually, I think it’s close to exactly four years, I think this week is like exactly, four years since the hiking trip, which I thought about it this morning. And I was like, that’s crazy.

That’s incredible.

It was right at the beginning of the pandemic. Yeah, my last performance was March 13th and everything was shutting down. And then I moved home and then we went hiking up at Linville. And everything was like creepy, but like everything was shut down and there was nobody. I had been dancing like from 8 a .m. to about 5 p .m. in Columbia, South Carolina. And just always like in a box, nowhere to go. And like there was all the space out of nowhere. And I was like, I want to write a song about that feeling, you know, about just like, I don’t know, that feeling of openness.

Reverse claustrophobia.

Yeah. yeah, right. That’s what I’m gonna start saying.

Reverse claustrophobia.

That’s pretty powerful. What I love about songwriting or just listening to songs is, like smells, it can take you right back. Like writing that song, listening to it, performing it, I’m sure like creating it, it probably brings you back to that moment of maybe, you know, vastness,  freedom. Right?

Yeah.

Oh, absolutely. 

Yeah, (the song is about) just kind of coming to terms with leaving, but also the joy of leaving.

Wow. Very cool. Do you have a new album coming?

Yes, so I’m thinking it’s gonna be an EP. We’re thinking five songs. I have four of them are ready, and the mystery fifth song, I don’t know what it’s gonna be. We might write it this week. Aiming for October.

Okay, cool, cool, very good. Well, I think we’re gonna go ahead and take a little break, and when we come back, we’re gonna play a game. Now, Nathan, and in my pre -interview situation, I would say, like what kind of games do you like like what’s your knowledge and he’s like, you know what? VH1 behind -the -scenes stuff like talk about like a studio set up or like a funky crazy story. So I came up with a few questions with the help of my friend Jess And so we’re gonna go ahead take a break and then we’re gonna come back and we’re gonna queue up some questions and then you guys can answer.

Yay, awesome.

Yeah, I’m excited.

All right, we are back in this beautiful forest. Do you see me? It’s so magical, I love it. Okay, we’re gonna play a trivia game, test your knowledge, true or false, behind the scenes, VH1 style, all right? That was a mouthful, but I got it out. And look at this amazing graphic.

That’s a great graphic.

I know it is. it’s very Nathan Dowdy. Okay, anyways, okay, let’s cue up the first question. True or false, the snare in the boxer by Simon and Garfunkel was recorded in an empty elevator shaft, true or false?

Knowing them two, it sounds like something that they argued about doing in an empty elevator shaft. decided that they wanted to do it. So I’m gonna say true on that one.

Anna?

I think so too. I mean, it’s so specific.

It’s very specific, but you know what? A lot of these questions are very specific because we’re trying to mess you up and maybe steer you in a wrong direction. We didn’t also do this, Johnny. When something is right, we’re gonna play this song, or this noise. noise. – Ooh. And if it’s wrong, we’re gonna cue. – Ah! (laughing)

We’ve all bombed on stage, it’s–

Yeah, it’s fine.

It’s not triggering at all. 

You guys said true. Okay, the answer is true!

Yes!

All right, in an effort to fulfill his love of– big natural reverb, the producer found himself in a standalone, large, empty elevator shaft inside Columbia’s. East 52nd Street Studio building in New York City, and the effects that the snare had was like a cannon shot. Can you imagine? I wish we had a cannon shot sound. I just made it, it’s fine. Alright. It’s the second question. So far, you guys are one for one.

Seal was very proud he had written “Kissed by a Rose” on a simple four track cassette “Porta Studio.” Is that true?

I would say false as well. ‘Cause Seal, love Seal, he has been known to have a little bit of a bigger ego. So I don’t think he would be proud of something that took less. I feel like he would brag about a bigger studio recording for that. But you know, this is something I don’t know too much about Seal. Seal, if you hear this you’re I’m sure you’re wonderful. We’ll meet someday. Hopefully we’ll say.

Okay, so your answer was false The answer you said was false and it is correct! You know what? He was actually so embarrassed by it, he threw the tape. Like, yeah, he was, and I’m like, that was like his golden ticket. It’s crazy.

That definitely, that definitely is. (laughing)

Wow. I love it, I love it.

Next question, let’s see. Famous producer, Brian Eno, would hold his artists at gunpoint in the studio to get the best takes. Now this is specific, guys.

Wow.

It’s a tough one. I’m gonna stump you guys one way or another.

That one could definitely go either way. I think it’s so extreme, and I know Eno was pretty eccentric. Mm, that is a–

Anna, you’re quiet over there.

What do you think, babe?

Is the gun loaded. (laughing) Is it a Russian roulette situation? I don’t know, I have no clue.

I’m gonna say false because that is, my reasoning is most producers would know that if you put someone in– in a state of fear, their vocal cords will freeze up more and they’re not gonna get a good take. So if you’re being like, do this right or else.

Or else? I would give the performance of my life.

Yes, you’d be like, listen.

But would your body be able to do that?

Well, okay.

I’m gonna say false.

That is correct.

Yes. (audience applauding)

You know who this was actually? It was Phil Spector. He keenly arrived late to the studio, high on poppers, wearing elaborate costumes. One night a surgeon, one night a karate expert with an ever -present pistol tucked into his pants.

Yeah, and Phil was absolutely unhinged. And yeah, he made some great, great art, but he also spent the rest of his life in prison. So, I believe it was for murder. If you had said Phil Spectre first, I’d be like, oh yeah, absolutely, that guy is crazy.

You guys really know your stuff. Okay, next question. The Beatles, She Came in Through the Bathroom Window, was written about a fan breaking into Paul’s home.

You’re the Beatles, more of the Beatles expert. –

True or false? Don’t overthink it, Anna. What does your gut tell you?

I can see it and then I can’t. Like, how does someone break into Paul’s house? But then again, it’s Paul, so I’m sure that he has minimal security. I can see Paul just be like, “Yeah, you know, she came in through the window.” It was fine, we had a cup of tea. It’s the worst Paul ever. I lost it like three words in.

I mean, sure, we’ll say true, just for funsies.

I’m gonna agree with that, I’m gonna say true, yeah.

You are correct!

Yeah!

She said “we found a ladder in the garden and stuck it up at the bathroom window, which he left slightly opened. I was the one to climb in and got in.” I mean, can you imagine?

– Oh, man.

– Oh, wow.

– I just like to hear the birds sing.

– Yes, I saw a ladder and his window was cracked open, so I thought it was my invitation.

– Here, come on in.

– No.

– Oh, goodness, that’s a lot.

You guys are doing really, really well.

Thank you, are we on a streak right now?

You’re on a streak and we only have one more. And let me tell you right now, I have never had a game where everyone has gotten it right. Like you guys may make history with me as a host of rbeatz. We’ll see, no pressure.

– Yeah, now I’m nervous.

– No pressure, no pressure.

– I’m nervous though.

– Oh my goodness.

All right, last question. David Bowie was inspired to finish Heroes after seeing a couple of kiss against the Berlin Wall. True or false?

-Ooh, ooh, ooh. I think he would have been there at that time. Trying to think when, when Heroes came out. Was it before or after the fall? What do you think, baby?

– I don’t know, I don’t know. (laughing)

– This one’s tough, it could really, truly go either way.

– I don’t know where he got like inspiration because he seemed to be more like inspiration from everything.

– That’s true.

– Like, not specific.

– That would make sense for him though, as, yeah. I mean, David would pull, would, like you said, he would pull inspiration from everywhere. He was so good at distilling it down. My gut is to say true. What do you think, babe? Or is yours to disagree?

-I kind of feel like it’s false, but I’m going to go with you. So don’t let me down.

– Rides on me now, huh?

– It does. If you get it wrong, we’ll talk about it in the car.

– I’m actually gonna change my answer.

– No, no, no.

– No, I saw it, I saw it go across your face. I said true and you were like– 

– I think it should be true.

– Okay, I’m gonna say true, Chelsea, deal. Deal.

You are correct.

– Yes! (audience applauding)

You guys got five for five. This is the story, so I guess he was there and he saw a couple coming one, or not a couple, a person coming from the left to the right and then they met in the middle and they embraced in this kiss and he was like, maybe it’s an affair. Like, you only live once, like be the hero for the day. That’s kind of the back story.

It’s very similar to the couple kissing at the end of,  was it World War II? The sailor gets home and sees the beautiful girl and just, you know, plants one.

You guys did awesome. You beat me. I now feel like I needed to come up with some harder questions, but you guys nailed it.

These were so good. I think the only thing that brought us through was knowing the artists and being able to do it.

Yeah, and there’s a variety. There’s like not one genre there, so you guys know your stuff.

I gotta thank my dad for that.

All right, we’re gonna take a short break, and when we come back, there are gonna be three songs played from The River Keepers. Thank you guys so much. Tune back in, and we’ll see you in a minute.

Well, hello, we are Nathan and Anna of the River Keepers. Keepers Yeah, and this is our song, Mountains.

*Live Studio Performance

All right, well, thank you all so much for tuning into rbeatz. We have had a lovely time with you guys.

I would say let’s hear it for our wonderful host Chelsea. So I’ll just say, you know, golf claps to you, Chelsea. Raise your glass and hold. Thank you so much. What do you think, Anna?

-Thank you so much. This has been so much fun. I’ve had a lovely time.

-Yeah, this has been great.

-Bye, guys. Follow us at the River Keepers on Instagram.

-Yes, please do.

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