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Trashy Annie, not just another pretty face

Trashy Annie 2.jpg

By Kreig Marks, June 2024


Kreig:  Hi Annie.  Welcome to Tru Rock Revival Magazine.  You are making some serious waves in the music industry.  Congratulations on your CMA of Texas award as the Americana Artist of the Year for 2023.  That must have been a thrill for you to be recognized.


Annie: Thank you so much! Yes, it’s been a really exciting couple of years. If I’m being candid, it’s been a bit surreal to think that I picked up my first guitar at 44 years old and wrote a one-chord song because that’s all I knew how to play at the time, and a few years later found myself signed to Cleopatra Records out of LA and standing on a stage in Lubbock Texas receiving this award. It’s been a hell of a journey!

Kreig:  Can you share the story behind your stage name, Trashy Annie, and how it represents your artistic identity?


Annie: Absolutely! After I wrote that first song, I was hooked. I knew I wanted to release it, but there was so much to learn. Releasing music is a scary thing. It’s really hard to show such vulnerability to the world. When you release music (or put any other kind of art out into the world) you are essentially showing a little bit of what’s under your hood to a room full of strangers. As a new songwriter, it was one of the scariest things I had ever done. I released the song, called Runnin’, under my name Annie Davis. It was well received and I decided to make a music video to go with it. It was the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, and everybody was basically locked down, so I decided to make a video myself with just my I-phone. I had never done anything like that before, so it was a challenging (but also fun) experience. I remember staying up all night editing because I was so excited about the whole process. As the sun was coming up, I proudly posted it to YouTube. I knew it was very obviously a DIY video, but I was really proud of it and all the scary things I had had to overcome to get to the point of even having a song and a video to post. One of the first comments on my video was that my clothes were “too young” for me. I was devastated and immediately began questioning myself. I had no idea how horrible people on social media can be. But it was then and there that I sat back and thought to myself “why would I let a snarky comment from a stranger dictate what I can and cannot do, wear, or be?” And I decided that I would name the band Trashy Annie as a way to lean into the haters, and ideally become a beacon of light for all of us who consider ourselves to be outliers. If I can make any kind of impact on this world with my music and my message, it’s to show people that it is ok to be YOU, no matter your age, what you look like, or what clothes you wear. 


Kreig:  Your music blends various genres.  Born Pretty is a lot of fun to listen to over and over.  You’ve got a nice cover of Dobie Gray’s “Drift Away.”  I like how you kick it up and really rock it out. I wasn’t expecting that.  I’ve also listened to some of your ballads, and you’ve got a great voice.  What are some of your key influences and how do they shape your sound?


Annie: Thank you so much for the kind words!! I have a really wide range of influences because I like so many genres. I listen to everything from NWA to Ruston Kelly and Patty Griffin. I’m a huge 70s and 80’s rock fan, I love The Stones, Queen, Joan Jett, pretty much anything rock and roll, but am also a sucker for anything with great lyrics. This is why I love both rappers and singer-songwriters as well, because even though they are about as opposite as two genres can be, the best of the best in both genres have a lot of lyrical depth.


Kreig:  What was the inspiration behind your latest video, “Born Pretty”, and can you describe the creative process that went into making it?


Annie: Born Pretty is my favorite tune off of the Sticks and Stones album. It kinda defines Trashy Annie and the message we talked about earlier when it comes to the meaning behind the band name. Born Pretty is all about a girl with a glass eye and a unibrow and a gap tooth and she is totally ok with herself no matter what anybody says. The music video was another DIY effort (I do all my own videos because I love learning how to express myself in a different medium). It was super fun to make because my bandmates and I just put on a bunch of goofy clothes, danced around like idiots, and showed the world that it’s ok to have fun with life and not take ourselves too seriously. That is the whole concept behind Trashy Annie and we wanted the video to reflect the importance of being ok with ourselves through all stages in life.


Kreig:  Speaking of “Born Pretty,”  I love the second verse lyrics: 


Got a unibrow longer than an old highway
And a lazy glass eye keeps on rollin' away
Short right leg, and I got a little sway
But a girl with a limp never had a bad day


How did you come up with these lyrics?  Hysterical.   


Annie: Oh man, I’m such an observer of the world. I love looking at people and making up stories in my mind about their lives. Nothing makes me happier than going to a party where I can just sit on the perimeter and people watch. I know it sounds ridiculous for a lead singer to not wanna be the life of the party, but I just love watching everybody else more than interacting. I remember seeing a girl at a show who was just rocking out like a crazy person even though nobody else was dancing, and I ended up making up an entire song about her because she reminded me of myself when I was a kid. I was never popular when I was younger, I was a nerdy little trumpet player with frizzy hair and bad skin, but I was also ok with that because I think we are all born pretty in our own way. I knew I had a lot to offer the world, and fast forward 35 years I am now doing something that will ideally resonate with other little girls who need to feel like they are ok just the way they are. That’s where the idea for the song came from.


Kreig:  You've performed at numerous venues and festivals. Is there a particular performance that stands out as especially memorable or transformative for you?


Annie: Great question! I’m actually ABOUT to play my most monumental show this June. One of the reasons I got back into music after hanging up my trumpet for 20 years, is because my friends over in the AZ-based Americana band Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers (RCPM for short, formerly The Refreshments) sort of folded me in to their musical family and I found myself standing on stage playing my horn with them at Circus Mexicus (a huge festival that RCPM puts on every year in Rocky Point Mexico) in 2019. I remember standing on that stage with these amazingly talented people and thinking “I miss music like a missing limb”. I went back home that year and bought myself a drum kit because I had always wanted to play the drums. A few short months later, the pandemic hit and it was hard to find people to jam with. I decided to buy a guitar and try to write that first song. PH Naffah, the drummer from RCPM, and Jeff Lusby-Breault took me under their wing and later produced and played on my first album. They have mentored me nearly every step along the way. Along with my bandmates, Miles Barker, Ryan Smith, Blake Jurasin and Amir Neubach,  this group of people have been so patient and helpful as I have progressed in my knowledge and understanding of how to front and manage a band, how to write great songs, and how to develop a brand that stands out in a sea of talented musicians. I am so lucky to have this crew around me! So to circle back around to the question, I will be performing at Circus Mexicus this year with Trashy Annie for the first time as part of the 25th anniversary, which is SUCH an honor and feels like a huge accomplishment because this is where the whole thing started.


Kreig:  Your background is in healthcare and as I understand, you are a Chiropractic Physician.  My background is also in healthcare, as a former neuro/ortho physical therapist.  My passion has always been music and the artistry involved.  What guided you toward music?


Annie: You found my secret identity! Haha! I actually started a company about ten years ago called RunLab®, specializing in biomechanical analysis and physical therapy for runners. I got into triathlon and ultra distance adventure racing in my 20s and ended up being frustrated with the medical environment and lack of ability to find anybody to really help me with my running biomechanics and constant running-related injuries. I finished my pre-med work (I was a firefighter/EMT at the time and thought I wanted to go into emergency medicine, but made a hard pivot once I realized how much I loved biomechanics) and jumped into Chiropractic school having never even been to a Chiropractor before. Through my own work in the field I was able to solve my own biomechanical issues and have since finished 4 full Ironman triathlons and a bunch of 70.3s, a ton of multi day adventure races, and hundreds of shorter races without a single running related injury, even running my first 18:57 5K at 42 years old. As an adult without a history of participating in sports as a kid, I knew that if I could help myself I could help anybody, and RunLab was born. But I had grown up on food stamps and welfare and had put myself through college on trumpet scholarship by teaching myself to play, so even as much as I love biomechanics and the medical world, I had been missing music my whole adult life. I just needed to have an experience like I did with RCPM to remind me how much I loved it. I dove back in and haven’t looked back since. I am really fortunate to have an incredible team of employees at RunLab who are really supportive of my music career and attend shows all the time.


Kreig:  In the current music landscape, how do you navigate the balance between staying true to your artistry and appealing to a broad audience?


Annie: I don’t think of my art in terms of who it appeals to. I really only think of it in terms of whether it appeals to me. If it appeals to me, there are bound to be people out there LIKE me. We can't ever be all things to all people, and I think that when we start trying to make our art appealing to others, we sort of lose the point of it all. I think that the more genuine we can be in a song, the more appealing it is to the people who really appreciate that particular message, whatever the message is. As a result of staying true to ourselves and NOT worrying about who will and won’t like the music, we actually end up capturing a pretty broad audience with Trashy Annie. We have little kids dancing around to our songs about hookers and blow, right there next to guys on Harleys and art school kids wearing goth clothes and singing along with us to ‘Bama, a song about working for tips. I have ladies in their 80s tell me how much they love the music and I have little girls tell me they want to play drums or guitar because of me. So I think the appeal is actually in not worrying who we appeal to. I hope that even if we make it big, we still stay true to this ideal and always remember that music is art and art is meant to be shared and interpreted by the listener or observer, it means different things to everybody so we as artists should never worry about who we are writing for. That bit solves itself if you write from your own soul.


Kreig:  Collaboration is a significant part of the music industry. Can you tell us about any notable collaborations you’ve had or your dream collaboration?


Annie: As I mentioned, I have been absolutely honored to get to work with badass rockers PH Naffah and Jeff Lusby-Breault of The Tone Kitchen, they are both so talented and patient with me, and bring such sparkle to the music. I feel like I have been able to explore my ideas in a way that feels collaborative and fun, and I know how lucky I am because this isnt always the experience people have in the studio environment. Our second studio album should be done this summer and I couldn't be more excited. The first album we did together, Sticks and Stones, was actually submitted for Grammy consideration by The Recording Academy, which was a huge honor. Through a mutual friend, rockabilly guitarist Danny B Harvey, Sticks and Stones ended up in the hands of rock legend Thommy Price, who has been Joan Jett’s drummer for 40 years. He called me up one day and said “Annie, let’s write some music together”. I couldn't believe it, I almost dropped the phone. Joan is one of my all time favorites and Thommy has played a huge role in her music over the years, so this is a dream collaboration for me. We should have an album out within the year and I am so excited!


Kreig:  As an independent artist, what have been some of the biggest challenges you've faced, and how have you overcome them?


Annie: There are so many challenges in this industry, I don't even know where to start! I’m not entirely sure I have actually “overcome” any of them, but I continue to keep my nose to the grindstone and learn every piece of information I can that can help me progress with this project. One of the biggest lessons I have learned is that we musicians tend to sometimes forget that music is a business and we just cannot forget that important bit if we want to be successful (especially as a touring band). A lot of artists don't enjoy the business aspect, but to make money at this we simply cannot ignore the importance of crafting a brand, learning the business side of music, and embracing the challenges that come with any startup. It is not a bad thing to work on your music like you would any business, but I think a lot of artists feel like they are “selling out” or being “crushed by the man” if they admit that the business piece matters. I wrote a whole blog post about viewing Spotify as a marketing tool instead of a revenue source and man did that get some heated discussion going. I personally love the business side, I just have to be careful to maintain balance and not let myself give up so much time to the business side that I don't make time to write. None of the other stuff matters if I don't make time to write, because that’s why I’m here in the first place. It’s a tricky thing to find time to manage a band, do all of the marketing and promo, plan and book tours, work with a studio to get music out, write the music, work on the performance, manage social media accounts, etc. 


Kreig:  Social media and digital platforms are essential for artists today. How do you use these tools to connect with your fans and promote your music?


Annie: Social media is an interesting thing. I think we are all still learning how to use it to effectively to help us in pursuit of our goals, especially with so many emerging AI platforms. I have found that having a lot of followers (on say, Instagram for example) doesn’t necessarily result in a lot of tickets sold, because those people are spread all over the world, sometimes are just casual followers not interested in live shows, etc. So I think it is important to know exactly what you are wanting out of your social media accounts as an artist. I personally use social media as a broad platform for reaching a lot of people, so that I can drive them toward a more personalized experience like my newsletter or Bands in Town. My personal goal is to have higher attendance at live shows, so if I use my social accounts to try to find the fans who are interested in live shows, then that is time well spent moving the needle forward on my specific goal. If I use social media to gain followers who are just casual fans, then it probably isn’t time well spent. With a limited number of hours in the day, prioritizing how to best spend my time is a big skill that I continue to develop when it comes to social media and digital platforms. 


Kreig:  Looking ahead, what are your goals for the next few years, both in terms of your music and your overall career?


Annie: I would love to be playing large shows and festivals in the next few years. As I mentioned, playing big live shows is a huge goal for me because performing and connecting with a live audience is my favorite part of this business. I also hope to continue expanding my musical footprint and developing as a songwriter and performer. Stay tuned, I think this is gonna be a wild ride. ;)

Trashy Annie

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