The world is in need of love. Whether we admit it or not, every person on this planet is searching for the same thing. Some find more of it than others, but it is an undeniable fact that the human pursuit of love is something that uniquely tethers us all together. When it comes to music, I try as hard as I can to gravitate towards the people and the artists who operate out of the same place/thing that people are looking for: love. Last week, I had the chance to sit down with a budding superstar named anees who has been taking the world by storm as of late. It’s obvious that this guy makes amazing music, but I’m most drawn to him because of the spirit he exudes and the love he is aiming to bring to the world through his music. anees is a generational talent; Although he is going to impact people with his songs, I firmly believe that he is going to impact even more people by the way he loves.
To make it even sweeter, anees is a fellow Northern Virginia native like myself, so our conversation was nothing but fruitful and life-giving. If you’re in the mood to get inspired on this Thursday Afternoon, please enjoy our latest Early Talks Interview with anees.
Sam: Let’s kick this thing off man! Tell us about your upbringing. I’d love to hear how it was growing up in Sterling/Northern Virginia!
Anees: You know what man, the beautiful thing about Northern Virginia is that it’s pretty diverse; Just being close to DC, there are a lot of different pockets of different cultures. I know a lot of friends who grew up in different places and when they would come visit, they’d be trying new foods they had never tried before. Just to have those little pockets of micro-diversity allows you to experience different music…It allows you to experience different cultures…different traditions. I think for me that was very important growing up. I grew up in a house that embraced diversity and I grew up in a house that embraced culture, not just our own culture; So for me, that was the most beautiful thing about how we grew up. I was listening to music of all different genres…watching movies of all different types, trying foods of all different kinds and it sort of cultivated this desire to adventure. I just wanted to travel the world even if it was in my own backyard.
Sam: Man I love that! So obviously, we both know that Northern Virginia is super close to DC, which makes the area feel super corporate…At least for me growing up, there wasn’t much of a budding music scene out there, so, how did you get into music? Was your family musical at all? What were the influences?
Anees: My family was and is very musical, but I got into music by word games. Word games taught me at a very young age the power of language and the power of storytelling. That was the seed that eventually blossomed into a love for music and creating music. Playing word games like smart mouth, boggle, scrabble…These were formative experiences for me as a kid where I became thrilled with the art of wordplay and the art of wordsmithing and I think that’s always been my craft in and out of music. So that was the genesis of my artistry.
Sam: So when was the moment you really decided to pursue music with some serious intention?
Anees: I had just graduated from law school; I was very depressed and I think when you get to your lowest point, when you hit rock bottom, the one benefit of it is that there is a lot of clarity down there. When I get there, I started to see things for what they were and I started to see that I was going to live a very miserable life if I continued going down a path of pleasing other people…if I continued staying in a lane that didn’t nurture my soul, I would have a miserable human experience. So at that point, I really didn’t have a choice. It was either fight or flight and for me, fighting was me saying, I’m going to do what I love. I’m going to start sharing my musical self with people. And once I put myself out there, it was game over. Once I finally unveiled this different part of myself to the universe and it was embraced. It became my greatest thrill.
Sam: And with that, do you remember the moment you decided to share your music with the world on tiktok? I think we forget this, but tiktok is fun bro! Did it feel like a chore to you or were you just enjoying creating content?
Anees: Specifically tiktok or social media?
Sam: Let’s do Social media in general.
Anees: It actually started with a vlog…I created a personal vlog. I wasn’t quite ready to fully launch myself into the music space yet, so creating a vlog felt like a nice little stepping stone. But then, my blog progressively became about music. In my vlog, I had introduced myself as an artist without even knowing that I was doing that. At that point, I just started finding every other platform I could do it on; so I thought to myself, if I’m going to do this, why don’t I share it on instagram? And when tiktok came out, that’s when my life completely changed. The pandemic started…Actually, I was on tiktok before the pandemic started, but I got on tiktok and I had no idea how to do it. Every video flopped for months and months and months. I was sharing shit that had nothing to do with music, just to see if I could catch the algorithm and I’ll never forget the first time I posted a chorus…it took and it was my song “slip” and I just remember I was driving in the car to visit a friend. This was the last friend I visited before we realized that Covid was going to change everything. I was with my homie and my phone was just blowing up…Then I got home and I had thousands of new followers and for me, I was like woah, this is going to change my life.
Sam: Bro, everyone dreams of that moment…You lived in that. It happened. To be able to pinpoint the moment where you were able to say, it’s up from here…That’s cool man.
Anees: It’s crazy you put it that way, because I don’t even think I’ve had time to reflect on that either and when I think back on it, it’s special that I know the time that it was, you’re right. I can look back like, wow, I remember the car ride, I remember the conversation we had as I was seeing my phone light up and I wasn’t trying to look at it because I wanted to be rude to my friends…We were visiting them and their newborn baby. I was like, I can’t be on my phone right now…I gotta pay attention to this perfect little baby. Then yeah, I got home and I was like oh shit, 20,000 new followers.
Sam: Outside of that, was there another little win that made you say, “cool, I can really do this..”?
Anees: There have been many little wins, but the one that comes to mind right now was when I dropped my first song. I got on tiktok and I told people that I would send 10 people free march if they used my song in any way. And I remember someone did a dance routine to my song and it didn’t catch or go viral but I remember thinking, someone just created art to my art…someone just used this song that I just made and took time out of their day to learn a dance to it. At the time I had no followers or crazy streams, but I knew at that moment, I started to feel less like an imposter.
Sam: In the spirit of songs, tell me more about this song that you just dropped! How are you feeling about it now? How were you feeling about it when you made it? Give me a little brief timeline about this song.
Anees: This is going to sound perhaps, I don’t know, corny, but I like to think that sometimes the songs flow through you. When your spirit is open and your energy is high, when you’re in a place where you’re receptive to divine inspiration…I kind of like to think God pushed this song through me. I got home from a trip to Michigan and this song literally just flew out of me. My producer is a friend, he’s from the Netherlands and I got this beat from him and immediately, it was the first thing I thought of. I didn’t write to it…I just started singing, “baby, you’re my sun and moon”. I just felt it immediately. In those moments for me, there’s no other answer…It’s gotta be God. I called my manager right away and told him that I just wrote a fucking hit. I was screaming, I was so excited. Yeah, the song has just been special. It’s a love song for everyone. It’s not just a husband and wife love song. It’s not just for lovers. as instagram showed, when it went viral on reels, it’s a father daughter song, it’s a self love song. It’s a song for friends. I love the fact that…and that’s the most beautiful thing about art and music, you can write it for one thing and the universe can tell you that it’s about something else. So yeah, it’s been very beautiful. We did a show on the beach in Santa Monica…People sang the lyrics and I didn’t even have to open my mouth. That was my first BIG win where I was like I have made it. This song just feels like a summer anthem and it feels like a wedding song and it feels like a love song…It just feels like so many things have aligned on this song and I’m so thankful.
Sam: Last question bro…Obviously a lot of great stuff has happened, but what are you looking forward to? What are you excited about when it comes to 2022 and beyond?
Anees: I want to be with the people. For me that’s the only reason I’m in this…to have that human touch and human connection. I don’t really care about a lot of things in the industry. Everybody wants money, but I don’t get excited about that…Everybody wants fame, but I don’t get excited about it. Everybody wants awards and I don’t get excited about that. What I am excited about…the things that last in my heart months and years after they happen is the conversation with people. The intimate moments. I’ve had a decent taste of it with my fans and my community, but that’s what I yearn for; to be with the people and to be open to them influencing my life and hopefully in the ways that I can influencing theres and leaving a positive impact on them. I want to help people heal. We all need to heal. We’re all on a healing journey. I think that’s what it is. I’m excited for the journey. We are all healing together. Artists, listeners, labels…everyone in this whole world whether they know it or not is on a healing journey and that’s what I’m most excited about. Being on this journey with my community and fans. The more time I get to spend with them in person, the more communal that journey feels to me.