Singer-songwriter anaiis reflects on empathy, finding inspiration in love and working with the Paco Rabanne Fund.
Above all, anaiis is an observer. Born in France, the artist travelled around several continents in her childhood, absorbing a wide array of different cultures and witnessing the sheer breadth of human experience. Though she didn’t always feel like she fit in, anaiis put that outsider status to good use in collecting the things she saw. Soon enough, it seemed a natural next step to take those experiences and craft musical stories out of them.
A key tenet of anaiis’ musical career is healing – having seen many iterations of hardship in her travels, she’s keenly aware of the pain that exists in the world and is determined to do her bit to help soothe some of it. Her music is crafted with empathy and curiosity, grounded by a genuine care about the world around her and a willingness to let herself be changed by it.
She dropped her first album ‘this is no longer a dream’ last year, as a cathartic expression of all the emotions and thoughts that had been building up over the years. It was an opening statement from an artist with so much to tell, and it’s clear that anaiis is planning to take it up yet another level from here.
As one of the latest recipients of the Paco Rabanne Fund (alongside Nottingham’s Harleighblu and London producer Mom Tudie), anaiis is excited to take the opportunity to do more of the things she loves with her music – more live shows, more experimentation and more collaboration.
It’s not easy getting started in the music industry, so it’s all the more meaningful when emerging artists are offered a helping hand. The Paco Rabanne Fund is Paco Rabanne’s way of lending their own helping hand – the brand has sought to scope out some of today’s finest rising talent and give them the resources to take the next step in their careers. Each artist needs something different to accomplish what they’ve always wanted to do, and the programme offers everything from financial support to wider industry visibility. It’s about building a fresher and more vibrant musical community, where everyone has the chance to succeed in their own way.
Taking a moment to reflect before she dives into what’s sure to be another banner year, we caught up with anaiis to discuss navigating her journey in music so far, how the Paco Rabanne Fund has accelerated it, and her next steps from here.
What drew you to start making music?
I started when I was maybe four or five, first playing the violin. I was part of a chorus in France, where I was born. My passion for music evolved from instrumental music into vocal music and wanting to actually write my own songs. It’s something I’ve pursued since I was really little; I never really thought of doing anything else. For me, it really felt like a spiritual calling to myself.
How do you think the very different settings in which you’ve lived have influenced you as an artist?
Moving around a lot when you’re quite young gives you a certain perspective and experience, and it made me care a lot about the human experience for different people. In life I was often the outsider, coming into the environment. And when you’re an outsider, you get to see what’s going on with a level of perspective that you don’t always have when you’re a part of that environment. Going through that experience multiple times in a row gave me an extra level of empathy and a desire to do something that could be healing to people. A lot of people are just hurting within themselves, and when you witness a lot of injustice around you in your upbringing, you realise the pains that people are going through and even what motivates people to do harmful behaviour. It gave me a desire to be the force of positivity.
Sometimes I struggled with verbally expressing myself, and music helped communicate things to people in a way that was outside the realm of words. It allows for emotions to be conveyed and to really impact people’s hearts. It’s also exposed me to a lot of different cultures and different sounds, and naturally my palate for music was always shifting because of that.
How does it feel to be part of the Paco Rabanne Fund programme?
I’m super excited. It’s really amazing to see that brands are supporting up-and-coming artists and independent artists, as it’s been such a difficult time with the pandemic. So much of culture is impacted by music and artists, and brands are a part of that larger dialogue. It’s great to see that there’s collaboration and support because for me, being independent, I’ve had to rely on external support. I’m not funded by a major label, so it’s nice to know there are people out there that believe in what I’m doing.
What qualities do you think have helped you get this far in your journey?
Perseverance and focus have been attributes I feel have been crucial in getting me to where I am right now. There’s nothing straightforward about a career in the arts, so it’s important to be rooted in why you love what you do and let that force guide you when things are challenging. Also remembering to have fun throughout the process – that is probably the most important.
What have you been up to since receiving the Paco Rabanne Fund and how has it helped further your career?
I’ve been able to focus on the next steps in my career, experimenting with my craft and the boundaries of medium. I am hoping to expand my skills and interests so that I can elevate my work. I’ve been in a state of research and self-discovery.
What’s the best thing about the music industry right now?
Not sure about the music industry, but I think what’s great about the current state of things is how much easier it is for artists to connect with their audience directly; it’s really wonderful that we need fewer middle men.
And the hardest?
The hardest, in my opinion, is the fact that nowadays it seems an artist is often judged based on their numbers, data and social media rather than the quality of their work. I think this is a loss and many great talents are being overlooked for this reason.
Have you managed to secure many IRL events since the pandemic? And how important are these live events for you as an up-and-coming artist?
I think live and IRL events are essential. It is, for me, the most emotive and authentic way to share my work with my audience and allows for a true bond to be created. It’s definitely been more challenging since the pandemic, but I have been able to do a few performances. In the ways in which it’s been challenging, it’s forced me to think outside the box and reimagine my ways of sharing – which was also a beautiful process.
How important is it for brands to support emerging artists, especially in the wake of the pandemic?
Very important, as long as the brand ethics and the values of the artists are aligned. I think it’s nice to see brands actually invest in artists rather than solely use them for marketing purposes. Artists shape culture and brands need culture to thrive, so it makes sense to me that more brands engage with emerging acts to support and nurture them.
Any advice you’d give people looking to break into the industry?
My advice would be to take your time, make sure you are aligned in your purpose and your craft, that your team truly values and understands you, and then just follow your truth at every turn.
Your music is all about spreading a message. What do you hope people take into their own lives from it?
I hope people find healing in my music. I hope they find within it a space for self-reflection. I’d also hope that my transparency around my journey will inspire some to pursue their dreams in spite of the many challenges that can present themselves.
What’s inspiring you at the moment?
I’ve been inspired by love; I’ve found a space for love in my life that I’ve never felt before and I’m feeling the true dimension of it for the first time. I am excited to channel this energy into my upcoming work.
What’s next for you?
I’m on a journey of exploration, so hopefully some experimentation and a lot of beautiful art.