A.N.J.A. is a a solo female post-punk horror surf rock experiment from Belfast who mesmerizes with grit, swagger, and attitude. With roots in stoner, surf, and acid rock from the 1960s, Queens of the Stone Age, Masters of Reality, The Velvet Underground, Iggy and the Stooges, and PJ Harvey are among the musicians who have influenced her dark, hypnotic sound.
She began her career as a busker in the streets of Belfast in 2018. Since the release of her first song in late 2019, she has been on a steady upward trajectory and has performed at numerous shows on prestigious stages in the capital of Northern Ireland. A.N.J.A. is chanting doom for humanity and has been hailed by Chordblossom as “Belfast’s answer to Stevie Nicks.” She concentrates on compelling storytelling and draws her ideas from folklore, vintage horror movies, and her favorite true crime publications. A.N.J.A. exudes fierce feminine energy and unapologetic confidence, mastering a blend of cool and unease with her strong, sultry vocals and badass attitude.
In August of last year, she self-released the EP “Digital Love Spells,” which was praised by Daniel Drescher of Schwäbische.de for “showing tremendous abilities.” She also received recognition from publications like Chordblossom and You Haven’t Heard This Music, as well as airplay on radio programs like The Alternative by Dan Hegerty of rté2FM. A.N.J.A. turned up the volume and produced a heavier sound with the release of the single “Monoxide” in July 2021. The song received positive reviews from publications like Indie Top 39, Rock’nLoad Magazine, Its Psychedelic Baby Magazine, LOUD Women, Yeo Magazine, Chordblossom, Wavegirl, and BBC 6 Tim Robinson’s FreshOnTheNet. A number of UK and international programs, including BBC Radio Foyle and Amazing Radio, played it as well.
Real-life predators and power imbalances served as the inspiration for her most recent song, “A-Bomb.” The lyrics take you on a tour of filthy urban landscapes and the edges of a despicable human race. The inevitable decay of humans is a central theme of the song. There is crime everywhere you turn. Check out the latest single and the exclusive interview below:
1. Can you tell us a bit about where you come from and how you got started?
A.N.J.A.: I originally come from the south of Germany and dipped my toes into music for the first time when I was about 9 years old, taking some guitar lessons.
2. Did you have any formal training or are you self-taught?
A.N.J.A.: I am almost completely self-taught.
3. Who were your first and strongest musical influences and why the name ‘A.N.J.A.’?
A.N.J.A.: My first musical influences were probably my first favourite bands like Nirvana and The Red Hot Chili Peppers, and still today Nirvana probably counts as one of my strongest influences, combining punk sounds with pop sensibility!
To answer your question about the name A.N.J.A., let me quote Jerry KJ from Fresh On The Net: “My research into the cool dark presence of A.N.J.A. has not yet uncovered what the acronym stands for. Maybe the full points are there to differentiate the German-born, Belfast-based Anja Romer from the Danish 2017 Eurovision contestant Anja. Maybe this A.N.J.A. is that Anja’s vengeful dark side. Maybe the acronym, once decoded, will reveal the words to bring about the apocalypse.”
4. What do you feel are the key elements in your music that should resonate with listeners, and how would you personally describe your sound?
A.N.J.A.: I don’t take myself – and especially my artistry- too
seriously. My music is supposed to entertain. It’s supposed to be fun cause after all, I’m doing what I love most, and I’d like for people to feel that. With my sound I want to show confidence in mixing fuzzy retro punk, modern electronica and feminine energy.
6. What’s your view on the role and function of music as political, cultural, spiritual, and/or social vehicles – and do you try and affront any of these themes in your work, or are you purely interested in music as an expression of technical artistry, personal narrative and entertainment?
As I mentioned earlier, the pure entertainment is my main goal with music. My songs however do contain messages, and often these are rooted in societal issues, things that move me. But I am not a political artist.
7. Do you feel that your music is giving you back just as much fulfilment as the amount of work you are putting into it, or are you expecting something more, or different in the future?
To be honest, just purely performing music is giving me back so much! But the whole releasing process, doing PR, having to be your own manager, booking agent, lawyer and producer. Everything that comes with being an independent musician – it’s straining. Most independent artists love the writing and performing side of the business but are not very keen on the whole other business side of things, and I am no exception. All that work I’m putting in does not always equate to what comes back, e.g. listeners and streaming numbers, press and bookings. I hope that in the future I’ll be able to build a team around my artistry so that I can fully focus on the things that give me fulfilment, which is writing and performing live.
8. Could you describe your creative processes? How do usually start, and go about shaping ideas into a completed song? Do you usually start with a tune, a beat, or a narrative in your head? And do you collaborate with others in this process?
I usually start with a cool guitar riff and drum beat. The rest follows naturally, the last thing that’s done are usually the lyrics.
I’ve been writing solo in the last few years but recently put a backing band together for playing live. They are a bunch of very talented musicians and I love taking their creative input onboard.
9. What has been the most difficult thing you’ve had to endure in your life or music career so far?
Constant rejection, but that’s part of the game.
10. On the contrary, what would you consider a successful, proud or significant point in your life or music career so far? A.N.J.A.: It’s the little things: whenever someone comes up to me and tells me that they’ve been listening to a particular song of mine and they say how much it means to them or that it has given them something – that’s the greatest success for me and the reason why I’m doing what I’m doing!
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Photo credits: Linda Romer