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The Shapeshifting Journey of Annahstasia

Time & Space

The Shapeshifting Journey of Annahstasia

Posted on 05/12/24

From shapeshifting to self-realization: An intimate look at a musician’s identity.

Annahstasia, a captivating artist with a uniquely soulful voice, has shapeshifted many times on her lifelong mission of self-discovery and creative expression as a third culture kid. Her early years were marked by frequent identity crises, and her musical explorations were diverse, often blending into her collaborators' sounds instead of establishing her own. "There was a time when I didn't feel particularly tied to any identity at all," she reveals. "That's the beauty and terror of youth." While solidifying one's identity is a challenge we all face, for artists like Annahstasia, this process is further complicated by the need to forge a distinct creative voice.

Annahstasia states her early career as “Musically I was all over the place for a long time.” The pandemic provided Annahstasia with the solitude necessary to reflect deeply on her multifaceted identity, leading her to distill her artistic essence and embrace her role as a creator unbounded by genres. "Sick of being in the flow of other people’s ideas for me, I boiled it all down to the absolute essentials," she explains. "For me, that was my voice, and as a child of so many worlds, I finally understood that my role as an artist was to observe, transmute, and record what I saw. To avoid genre traps and to become my own island of insight. Like an anonymous witness." As an artist, Annahstasia fearlessly embraces her role as an observer, absorbing the essence of the diverse realities she encounters and transmuting them into authentic expressions of her artistic vision. Annahstasia cultivates a distinct and genuine artistic identity that allows her to capture the truth of the world around her with an almost otherworldly clarity by refusing to be bound by the expectations of others or the limitations of her own ego. Her music cuts through the noise and hits you where you need it most. Through her work, Annahstasia invites listeners to embark on a journey of self-discovery and to find solace in the universal experiences that bind us all together.

When Annahstasia steps on stage, she enters what she calls her "superhero mode." This alter ego is an elevated and untouchable version of herself, embodying the power to win and the heart to succeed in expressing everything on her mind. "On stage, I am not Annahstasia, as my friends and family know me, but the self that I wish I could always be," she shares. As a performer and conductor of emotion, she takes on the responsibility of being a voice for the audience, helping them release their unspoken feelings. She elaborates, “Superhero mode, I suppose, is a place where you have all the power, you have the choice to win, the heart to succeed, in expressing everything on your mind.”

Annahstasia's relationship with femininity has been complex and challenging. "I had to get over the mountain of gender expectations, which, as a young woman, can be very tough," she confesses. She initially shaved her head, dressed more masculinely, and shortened her name to overcome these expectations. This allowed her to craft her own definition of femininity. "Nowadays, I explore these things more so in my visual work, where I am exploring imagery around abundance, fertility, and the feminine beyond a gendered thing," she continues. “I have grown into myself, and my feminine qualities are such a joy to explore. My own lush world of softness and the grotesque and endless inspiration.”

Folk music, often known as the music of the people, transcends generations and evolves in its meaning as it is handed down from one voice to another. It represents a tapestry woven from the diverse cultural contexts that individuals bring to it, adapting and reflecting the stories and truths of its bearers. For artists like Annahstasia, Folk music is not just about the melodies and lyrics but the authenticity and genuine expression it facilitates. It serves as a medium through which artists can explore, document, and share their unique intersections of cultural identities. Annahstasia views her role as a conduit for truth in this tradition, contributing to the ongoing narrative by capturing and expressing the universal yet deeply personal experiences that resonate with the human spirit. "Folk is the people's music. It is whatever intersections of cultural context you arrive with and combine in its purest form," she states. "I am just another contributor here on this planet in search of a satisfying song. Something that rings true in the people. I suppose my role is simply to provide more truth." Listen to Revival, Annahstasia’s 2023 EP, and you’ll find plenty of truth, “Power” will sink into your chest and stay there.

Fashion plays a significant role in Annahstasia's ongoing transformation as an artist. As a solo touring musician, practicality often takes precedence over glam, limiting her ability to fully express her imagination through style. "As I have become a working musician, I find that my wardrobe has become much more practical," she admits. “Which is frustrating because I want to explore that imagination and be the rose on stage. The music I currently make lends more to the practical and salt of the earth ways of adornment. I’d imagine that if and when I explore more experimental sounds there would then be room to dress the part. For that to be a part of the show.” She aspires to elevate her fashion choices as her music becomes more experimental, drawing inspiration from artists like Bjork, who seamlessly integrate art and fashion. "I would love to get into that now in my way, but it's not really practical to play a guitar whilst wearing an egg. Or to travel on budget airlines with 3 trunks of gowns,” she laughs, “As always, reality comes to conflict with imagination."

Annahstasia's journey is evidence of the profound interplay between identity, authenticity, and transformation in the realm of art. Through her music and fashion choices, she fearlessly navigates the complexities of self-discovery, challenging societal expectations and forging her unique path. As an artist who has shapeshifted many times, Annahstasia embodies the resilience and adaptability necessary to thrive in an ever-changing world. Her unwavering commitment to her craft and willingness to embrace change is a powerful reminder that growth and evolution are essential to the creative process. Annahstasia's impact on music and fashion will be undeniable as she continues to push boundaries and explore new frontiers. Her ability to capture the human experience in all its diversity and complexity can inspire and empower others to embrace their own truths and express themselves authentically and with courage. In a world that often demands conformity, Annahstasia is reassuring hope, reminding us that our differences make us beautiful and that our stories, no matter how complex or unconventional, are worth telling.

Images by Helen Jade.