The ‘Love Interlude EP’ is Anna Cavazos’ new release on her own label Little Giant Records. A vocalist since the nineties, DJ and producer for over twenty years, we get the chance to put some questions to this multi-talent about her forthcoming EP, growing up in Montana, and about surviving on doner kebabs and cheap white wine in Berlin.
Thanks for talking to Magazine Sixty. Where are you this moment and how are you spending the Day?
At the moment, I’m in Boulder Colorado and I’m spending my day working on a presentation for work and putting together some music that’s inspiring me for a new mix.
Where are you from/ where were you born? Paint us a picture of where you grew up?
I was born in Montana and both of my parents were musical. The town where I grew up was small and I definitely planned on moving to NY as soon as I was old enough. I had fantasized about NY and being a model or doing something creative for years.
What do you love about where you are living?
I am currently based in Boulder, CO. We moved here from Brooklyn during the pandemic and it has been really nice to have the outdoors as a huge part of my life. I love the access to nature and we ski a lot too.
How long were you in Berlin, what took you there?
I was in Berlin on and off for about two years. I went there because I felt that I had hit a wall in New York in terms of my creativity and inspiration. I felt that I was just struggling to pay rent as an artist and was constantly stressed out.
Do you feel that your music tastes and style changed from your time in Berlin and if so, how so?
After I got to Berlin, I was immediately inspired by new sounds that I hadn’t been hearing in the states. I started working in the studio with two Berlin-based artists and we were making music that sounded so different than anything I had ever made.
What did you enjoy about being in Berlin?
Berlin was really raw and you didn’t need to have a ton of money to survive as an artist, which was super cool to me. I also just loved the city, the parks, the beautiful angel sculptures everywhere. I saw some very hard partying there, so I focused on making music and running. I basically woke up, ran and headed straight to the studio for most of my time there.
How long have you been involved in making music?
I started singing when I was about ten years old and never looked back. I studied classical opera and sang in choirs throughout my youth and even in high school, so when I discovered house music it was a natural progression.
Singer, producer, DJ. What came first for you?
Singing came first, DJing came next and then I started producing as I found that I was being taken advantage of by many producers and decided to take control of my creativity.
As a DJ, where were the first places you played?
I played at this underground club called West 8 and I had a residency at BarB on the LES and I played at restaurants where nobody was paying attention. It was that moment in the early 2000’s where having a DJ was trending and I got lucky because I barely knew how to play and Sandy Rivera showed me how to mix a bit and lent me about twenty or thirty records and I was off.
Who were the DJs who inspired you when you first started out?
I met Sandy Rivera and worked with him, I loved Collette, Doc Martin, and was a huge fan of that sort of bouncy SF sound. I met Lisa Shaw and idolized her voice and sound too.
Tell us some of the projects you’ve been involved in as a vocalist?
I was working on a track in Sabaudia Italy with my friend Fabio Verardo and immediately after we finished I was in a room with Kerri Chandler and he wanted the track for his label. That became the “Can’t Hold Back” track on Madhouse.
I was in London staying with Steve Mill at his place, so he and I went to this really cool studio where Sade had recorded and made a track in a weekend called “Upsidedown” that also came out on Madhouse records.
Probably one of my favorite tracks that has become quite popular is called “Back” and it was made in Berlin with another producer/DJ Alley O. We were both broke and just surviving on doner kebab and cheap white wine recording in her studio for weeks. I can’t think of a time I’ve been more creative and had more fun. The CC Disco remix of this track is quite popular now.
My first solo production was recorded in this really cool studio in Soho (NYC) and ended up getting signed to my friend Luyo’s label out of Italy. It was called “With my Love”
From your studio production work – What was your first release?
My first solo release was ‘Love You Babe’ released on Double Cheese Records out of Italy.
What do you feel has been your most notable release, which one made the biggest impact?
Can’t Hold Back was very popular and I got a lot of love from South Africa and many popular DJs charted it the year it came out. I also think the CC Disco remix of Back got a lot of traction, which was a fun surprise. It’s an amazing track and has such a tropical sound. She added some really cool tuned percussion and dialed back the vocals a lot.
What challenges have you faced putting out music over the years?
I think there’s a lot of dishonesty out there and you really have to be careful to surround yourself with collaborators who lift you up and who are willing to share credit when you’ve been instrumental in the creation of a song. I’ve even had managers ask me to give them publishing rights to my songs, I’ve had industry people use my work to get publishing deals for other artists, so I’ve learned the hard way to protect my work. Learning to produce is one of the ways I started to take creative control of my body of work.
Do you feel that the industry’s attitude to women is at a healthy place in 2023?
Well, it has gotten better. There are always going to be people who have ignorant ideas, but things are better. When I started, there weren’t many ladies in the business who were high profile. I’m loving that there are so many female headliners dominating festivals and stuff now.
Tell us a little about Little Giant Records?
I started the label b/c I wanted to curate a sound based on what I was having trouble finding at the time (2016). I was getting tired of the endless promos that sounded exactly the same. It was a constant influx of tech house tracks with R&B vocal samples and four bar drop outs and rinse repeat.
In terms of artists, I’ve featured friends like Sam Haas, Ben Gomori and Giles Dickerson. I also wanted to highlight underground, up-and-coming artists, so we released an EP from Blaq Sons and duo Kiano & Below Bangkok. Jules Ettiene is a Berlin based artist and he introduced me to Matthias Vogt, which has led to many more beautiful songs. So, mostly underground deep house music.
Who are you working with on Little Giant in the future?
I think next up, I’ll curate another EP where I hand pick the remixers. We aren’t releasing just to release, we take a lot of time and care to make sure each one has a lot of feeling and heart behind it.
Is vinyl an important medium for you in your releases?
I love vinyl, but it truly is a lot of work to release vinyl so I think this will be a format we release periodically, but it won’t be a regular occurrence. It’s a special occasion, special song kind of thing.
What do you think is the future of vinyl?
I don’t think it’s going anywhere. I think those who collect and play it will always continue to do so. I think it has a special quality that digital music isn’t satisfying which is the physical part. When we used to buy music, there was a physical tape or CD, there were liner notes, it was just a totally different feeling.
Who are the artists that you have your eyes on right now?
I’ve been listening to the new Gorillaz album a lot. I’ve also been repeating a Flight Facilities track “Down to earth” over and over. I’ve heard a few cool tracks that are really different and interesting from DJ Seinfeld. I also found a super cool mid-tempo track from Etienne de Crecy that I’ve had in my head a lot recently.
As a DJ, how do you go about sourcing new music?
I get a lot of promos and I listen to KCRW and other independent radio stations and shazam the songs I dig. I’m just always listening for new sounds and when I find them, I add them to my playlists or mixes.
What is the most recent record you purchased?
I just got a brand new Technics turntable, so I’ve been going through piles and piles of my own records and realizing all the amazing records I have from the 2000’s and beyond. I haven’t even needed to buy a new record recently b/c I’ve been having too much fun exploring my own collection.
Give us a roundup of your new EP?
I wrote the song probably 5 years ago and asked my friend Matt Smith to re-play the keys on it. He really smashed it out of the park. I wasn’t in a rush and I wanted it to sound a certain way, so I took the track with me to Italy where my friend Fabio Verardo and I really worked on making it sound rich and beautiful. I also recorded the vocals in Italy.
The EP has a bit of everything. It really checks all the boxes in terms of the different styles of each remixer. Matthias Vogt always adds a super musical, deep, melancholic tone to his remixes. Rick Wade’s remix is fun, clubby and he took it and completely re-worked it into his sound. Rissa Garcia brought the underground New York house vibe that I love and I really thought it would jive with the Shelter crowd and stuff.
The EP is studded with talent, but I’d love to ask you about the Rissia Garcia mix?
She’s a New York staple and plays out at tons of clubs there and releases a bunch on her own label. We’ve always sort of been in parallel circles in the industry and I really wanted a New York sound on the record, so she was the perfect person to feature as a remixer.
What are you working on next that you can share?
I’m working on a digital release called “Your love” that’s much more mainstream and I haven’t really thought about remixers yet, but will probably independently.
When you’re not making music, what might we find you doing?
I work in tech and do content design for Meta (Facebook) during the week, which has really made a difference in my life as I can be fully creative with my music and not worry about paying the rent with it, which I did in the past and it compromised my creativity. I also run, hike, ski and do a lot of Yoga.
buy Anna Cavazos – Love Interlude – Little Giants