Welcome to ‘Artists You Should Know’, or AYSK for short; a new segment here at Babetalk where we take a look at different releases and interview their creator. Think of it as a mix of our traditional review and our more extensive Showcase Interview. In this segment we’ll review a release, get to know the band/artist, and let you know everything you need to know before listening. It’s like a trading card pack for music!
In our first ever installment of AYSK, we welcome the Los Angeles Alt. Rock band, ANSON. ANSON, fronted by Anson Li, spent three years working on and perfecting their EP To Be or Nothing At All. The process had started as a solo effort, as Li initially conceptualized the album as his swan song to the music industry– however, as songs began to come together he realized his vision was no longer about him as a solo artist. By adding George Tello and Zack Mueller to the line up to create a bigger sound, what was formerly Anson Li, became ANSON: a fully fledged effort taking influence from bands like Mayday Parade and Taking Back Sunday, but giving them a more modern spin. After reworking the EP from a swan song to a debut, To Be or Nothing At All was finally released on September 29th– a huge milestone for the group. The EP, having started in such a pivotal time in Li’s life, is an exploration of identity and self sacrifice in the name of your art/passion. Anson Li’s elaborates;
“To Be or Nothing at All” is about living at the crossroads of my life and dealing with the daily struggles with self identity, self doubt, and depression that come with that. The EP tells a story of how I dealt with these issues and gained strength to choose a path and move forward in my life… [it] is a testament to the fact you can’t live your whole life stuck at the crossroads. You have to make a choice because not making a choice is just as bad as making the wrong one. In life you have to stand up for what you believe in, don’t be scared to fail and go for it. Follow your dreams. Taking leaps of faith is terrifying, but at the end of the day when you do it, everything in your life aligns together and it’s pure bliss.“
The EP absolutely drips passion and creativity as over the course of four songs you’re introduced to a band that is giving you their all. All four songs on the release are strong, and without a misstep or weak track, To Be or Nothing At All leaves listeners fooled, as it sounds like a release from seasoned vets of the scene. With melodies that are everything we want in pop-alt working with the heavier guitar riffs on many of the choruses, their sound is absolutely electric as Anson Li’s voice navigates between a gentle vulnerability, and a powerful directness. Together, the band has created an EP so compelling and moving, that the three years of production have made it more than worth the wait. With soaring choruses abound, ANSON has a knack for writing songs you wont forget and they’ll make you want to sing along whenever played.
ANSON couldn’t have picked a better track to open their EP. The song is irresistibly catchy, at times sounding like something that very well could have been created by All Time Low, and with a foot tapping guitar, what’s not to love? Listen to this song to dance, to feel powerful in your commute, to really get to know the capabilities of this band– and sing along.
In their latest single off of the EP, “Hailey” explores misguided love and the pain that comes with it. The song truly shows ANSON‘s songwriting talent as Li sings in anguish ” ’cause I’d kill for you, be whoever you want me to be“, making the listener feel his pain and frustration through every heartbreaking lyric. This song is a crucial one for break-ups, getting over someone, or even if you just want a song with lyrics that’ll shake you to your core. You can check out the accompanying music video below:
So as we were gearing up to get this ready, ANSON released a cover of one of the biggest emo-pop hits of… well, I’d personally say of all time, “MakeDamnSure” by Taking Back Sunday. Covering the monumental song is no easy task for any group, but, by taking an acoustic approach ANSON made the song their own, and it’s definitely worth a listen if you love TBS and want to hear a stellar cover.
A WORD WITH ANSON:
We had a chance to ask Anson Li a few questions about the EP and his future goals– take a look at the interview below, and when you’re done, be sure to stream To Be or Nothing At All, and follow ANSON on all social media (links below).
You recently released your debut album ‘To Be Or Nothing At All’ last month, how would you compare the sound you’ve created here as a trio to your earlier work as a solo artist?
ANSON: I would say the new music is much darker and more aggressive. My earlier solo artist music came off a lot more pop and sappy. Back then I think I was afraid to go for a more edgy and full band sound because I was just a solo artist. ANSON allows me to finally explore what it truly means to be in a rock band.
Your sound is definitely reminiscent of bands like Mayday Parade, All Time Low, and even Yellowcard—how would you say artists like those influenced this EP?
ANSON: The EP was heavily influenced by those bands. I grew up listening to alt rock/pop punk/emo rock and it has become apart of who I am today. Because of that, a lot of our style is attributed to those artists and we strive to make our own path learning from the music they have made.
The EP is a journey past self-doubt to follow your dreams—you’re definitely someone who lives and breathes for what they do. How would you say the reception to this inspiring release has been so far?
ANSON: I think the reception has been great! Our debut EP has been getting a lot of coverage and every day we are getting new fans from around the world. It blows my mind. As well, a lot of fans from my old solo project are into the new sound and I am grateful to have those people still listening after all these years.
Your lead single from the EP, “Hailey”, tells a story of misguided love both lyrically as well as in its emotional accompanying music video; is there a story behind the creation of that track that you’d be willing to share?
ANSON: I wrote Hailey about a toxic relationship I had back in NYC. The girl I wrote the song about isn’t named Hailey, but the story behind the song is real. There was a time where I would have done anything for that girl to be with her again. I messed up in that relationship, at least I thought at the time. But as the years passed I realized how poorly she mistreated me. From manipulating my love for her to be at her beck and call to having me for years try relentlessly to get back with her. It was sick and I wanted the song to showcase me during those crazy times begging for her to come back. It was what I felt at the time and I think love makes us all a little crazy every now and then.
Now that the EP is out, what are your plans for the future? Have you already begun work on a future release?
ANSON: Yes! We are already working on B-sides of the EP as well as another record to follow up in the early summer. We have a whole year’s worth of goals and plans set out. Right now we are getting ready to start touring as soon as we can!
If you could work with anyone in the industry on a future release—producer, musician, anyone, who would it be and why?
ANSON: I would love to work with Neal Avron. Neal has produced and mixed many of my favorite records and made my childhood. It would be a dream to work with him. The emotions he captures on records and the unique sounds he helps artists find are unearthly.
Similarly, what artists would you love to tour with in the future?
ANSON: I would love to tour with Mayday Parade, All Time Low, and The Maine. They all put on great shows and would love to be apart of that.
If you could tell one thing to other aspiring musicians out there, what would it be?
ANSON: Do not ever EVER give up. If you practice what you preach and can’t think of doing anything but music, you are in the right place. Just keep practicing and working your ass off and something great will come of it.
If you could describe the ANSON in 3 words, what would they be?
ANSON: Heartfelt. Honest. Rock
What should we expect from ANSON in the future?
ANSON: A lot more music and a lot more noise.
Last modified: November 2, 2017