Ana Sia Chats with SR at Northern Nights
Ana Sia has consistently been ahead of the curve when it comes to electronic music production. The LA-based producer is notorious for getting audiences lost in sound and drenched in sweat. Sia has established quite the eclectic track record, as she has played many large-scale festivals and shared the stage with many electronic heavyweights. It was extremely humbling to catch the rising producer in the gorgeous and intimate setting of Northern Nights Music Festival last month.
We had the opportunity to sit down with Ana Sia after her Northern Nights set at the River Stage. We discussed the evolution of her sound and why she decided to move away from dub-step, the reasons why Prince is her all-time idol, as well as what it was like to tour with The Glitch Mob.
Sensible Reason: This is your first Northern Nights. What do you think about the festival so far?
Ana Sia: It was such a stressful thing to get here, for personal things, but rolling up on to the site was incredibly beautiful.
Sensible Reason: Are you going to stay and see any other acts?
Ana Sia: Ya, I’m going to stay through tonight and most of tomorrow. It’s mostly homies [that I’m excited to see] like Mr. Carmack, EPROM, and [Danny] Corn. I love being in these environments – playing music with your friends is the greatest gift.
Sensible Reason: On the note of playing music with your friends, you recently toured with The Glitch Mob – you go way back with them. What was it like touring with those guys?
Ana Sia: It was the fucking best. I met them at a time that was so raw, where people were just trying to realize this dream; it was a time where we were all just kind of DJing and making tunes. Meeting them at this very tender time, then seeing each other come up and become successful over the years has been very cool. This tour, in particular, was very meaningful. I think it was their biggest one yet, and it was very powerful for them. They had their strongest voice on the Love, Death, Immortality tour, and for them to ask me to come along was just very cool and very full circle. It was beautiful. It was really fun: waking up in a different city every day, making weird art for people in all of these gigantic theaters that were meant for different things, but now you’re just doing this experiment dance music thing.
Sensible Reason: Do you have any crazy memories from being on tour, anything that stands out as bizarre or crazy?
Ana Sia: This is going to sound really boring, but everything ran so flawlessly, because our crew and production [team] were really tight. I really wanted something outrageous to happen, so I could come home with a disaster [to talk about], because those always make better stories. But there’s no typhoon of a tour or anything. Every night the tour gained more momentum; it kept getting better and stronger, which has been unlike any other tour that I’ve been on.
Sensible Reason: I recently came across your “Tour Diaries” column for The Glitch Mob Tour. What inspired you to write about the experience?
Ana Sia: I thought it would be cool, because The Glitch Mob is very direct with fan experience. I know a lot of famous, successful musicians don’t have that strong connection with their audience. My intention with the blog was to give an inside view of what it’s like everyday. They would do meet-and-greets every day before their sets, give haircuts and eat pizza – just silly things like that. It was really fun; I think generating that sort of relationship with your fans is so strong.
Sensible Reason: The first time I saw you live was actually at a club venue in Austin at the Parish on Halloween about four years ago.
Ana Sia: That was a crazy night. That was with Starkey and Emancipator. I still have photos on my phone – I think that was actually five years ago. It was in Austin, where everyone shut down the streets, and it was a mob everywhere. That party was fun. That [show] was at the end of when I was still playing dub-step.
Sensible Reason: You’ve kind of moved away from that dub-step sound since then, huh?
Ana Sia: Ya, I’ve just evolved. As you evolve, you listen to different things. I got into the early dub-step scene; then when this bro-step thing started happening I was like, ‘I’m out of here’. I didn’t connect and I’ve always tried to stay ahead of things. I want to hear what’s new and what’s fresh. When the flip started is when I knew it was time to move onto the next thing. That was when the UK funky thing was just poppin’ off. I was just getting into house stuff, and that was the shift right after that party [Halloween at The Parish Austin]. I think that growing up a bit, and having experience and maturing as a person, made my taste and production change.
Sensible Reason: I’ve seen you play at both a club and a festival, which setting do you prefer to play at?
Ana Sia: It’s different. Festival stages are amazing, because it’s a monstrous stage, with lights and crowds – that’s a great gift. But honestly, my preference is a 200-cap room, with black lighting or no lights, sweaty, and nobody can see each other… so you’re forced to move and get out of your head. This has been great, because it’s an intimate experience festival. If I had it my way though, I would literally always play in a 200-cap dark fucking room.
Sensible Reason: If you could have a beer with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?
Ana Sia: Prince, alive. I’m pretty sure he doesn’t drink beer, which is why he looks so good, but I would love to sit down and talk to him.
Sensible Reason: What would you chat with him about?
Ana Sia: I would chat with him about what it was like to grow up in Minnesota, because I did the same thing. He was a religious figure where I grew up, bigger than Jesus. I would talk to him about what it was like to grow up as a minority in the suburbs of Minnesota, because I had the same experience. He is kind of like, my idol of all times.
Sensible Reason: Are there any future projects of yours that we should be looking out for?
Ana Sia: I just released a remix for this techno label called Thoughtless Music, out of Berlin; it’s pretty straightforward techno. I’m also working on some collaboratives, along with my own stuff.
Sensible Reason: do you want to add anything about yourself of the festival?
Ana Sia: Everybody should go to shows and support art and music. It’s really necessary and good for your mental and physical health. Support the arts as much of you can.