INTERVIEW – Anne Autumn Erickson of Upon Wings, February 2013

Imagine my surprise when a PR friend of mine sends me a press release regarding a band about to drop their debut EP and when I look into it a little further, I discover the lead singer and motivating force behind the band is a friend and fellow concert photographer.  How random that this person I have seen at shows all over the state photographing or working with the promotions and air staff of a local radio station has a killer voice and the mind space to put together such an ambitious project.  I got to throw a few questions at my friend Anne Autumn Erickson, of up-and-comers Upon Wings.

ToddStar: Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule for 100% Rock.

Anne Autumn Erickson: Thank you so much for the opportunity, Todd!

Upon Wings Afterlife

Afterlife EP Review

ToddStar: If it is okay, I would love to jump right into discussing your newest release, Afterlife.  I find myself keeping it in my normal rotation of albums I am listening to ever since I first heard it.  What can you briefly tell us about that disc, that most people may not know on the surface?

Anne: Thank you! So glad you find yourself listening to it regularly. As for something people might not know about the release, I would start with the fact it took a long time to make the songs come to life. The idea for Upon Wings and this release actually started years ago, and it wasn’t until last year that things really started coming together. Some of the songs were written and recorded last year, but one of the songs in particular – “The Dream” – was written a few years ago, and it really just took a lot of hard work and creativity to finally make it all come together.

ToddStar: What types of writing, production, and studio experiences that you learned while making this disc that added to the final product?  Which did you know to scrap and move on?

Anne: That’s a great question. I learned a lot about how to take a melody in my head and make it work with the instruments and all the pieces to make it a true piece of art. Most of the songs started with instrumentals from the talented folks involved with the EP, and then I would write vocal lines and lyrics over that. We didn’t really scrap anything, but there were definitely points where we decided to move on and not try to make a part of the song do something it just wasn’t meant to do.

ToddStar: A couple of the songs are very strong.  Are there any favorites of yours that you find yourself going back to?  Any you wish came out sounding different?  How hands on were you in the recording process?

Anne: It’s difficult to pinpoint a favorite, because they are all so different. “Afterlife,” the lead single, has a special place in my heart, and I’m really happy with how that song turned out. Brett Hestla and I worked hard it. “Take Away” is a song that Glenn Brown and I first worked on together, and then Kevin Jardine from Uplift Productions took the song and put in some amazing guitar work and Peter Tzaferis laid down some great rhythms, and I’m really happy with how that song turned out, too. Kevin’s guitar solo on “You Are My Weapon” is another great moment on the EP. “The Dream,” I believe, is the most unique track on the release. Each song is on the release for a purpose, and each one brings a different flavor to the release.

ToddStar: Regarding Afterlife, were any of the songs easier to write than others?  You often hear about an artist that sat down to write a song and that essentially the song wrote itself.  Were any of the songs difficult to get out?  If so, which?

Anne: “The Dream” would be that song for me. It’s actually the first song I’ve ever written, and it was the case where I formed the melody, vocal lines and lyrics of the song before even getting an idea for the instruments. After writing it, I got together with Glenn Brown, and he put some cool synths and instrumentals behind it and we created the studio recording. That song just came together, and a lot of people seem to like that one, which is such a fulfilling feeling. I wouldn’t say any of the songs were especially difficult to get out, but we all worked really hard on the songs, so just a lot of time and hard work went into the recording process.

ToddStar: Are any of the songs being better received than others?

Anne: You know, everyone seems to have their favorites. The full release isn’t out until March 5th, so we’ll have to see what people think of the songs that haven’t been released yet. But, so far, everyone seems to have their personal favorite!

ToddStar: If you had to describe the sound of Upon Wings to someone who had never heard of you, how would you do that?

Anne: It’s difficult to describe our sound, because it’s a pretty unique sound. I would say it’s a hard rock sound with driving guitars, but with more operatic female vocals, which makes it a bit of a juxtaposition.

ToddStar: If you had to pick possible pairings for an ideal tour, what other bands would you like to see Upon Wings out on the road with?

Anne: Well, if I could tour with absolutely anyone in the world, a few bands would be P.O.D. and Stone Sour. I’ve always admired those bands!

Anne Autumn Erickson - Promo 2

ToddStar: What is next for Upon Wings? Any plans to record anytime soon or is there going to be a big tour cycle surrounding Afterlife?

Anne: The idea is for some live shows this summer and to get back into the studio to start working on some new material. I already have some ideas for new music, so we’ll see what happens!

ToddStar: Do you find any of the other arts affect your music or the way you approach writing, recording, or playing live with Upon Wings?

Anne: Life seems to be the main influence when it comes to Upon Wings’ music. Most of what I write about is based on personal experience. I’ve always been into the arts, especially the theater, so that definitely spills into Upon Wings’ music, too.

ToddStar: Are there any bands that are currently releasing music or touring that influence you personally or professionally?  What is the last CD/mp3 album you listened to?

Anne: It’s funny, because most of the bands to which I listen don’t sound much like Upon Wings. I’m often told we sound more like we’ve out of Europe, which is great and I love it, and it’s interesting to hear that. Some of the bands out right now that I admire are As I Lay Dying, who has a great live show and Tim Lambesis has some of the best lyrics out there. I like that they’re a Christian band but have fans from all over the spectrum and always put out excellent work. I really like Linkin Park’s latest album, “Living Things.” I like that Linkin Park is a band that had such great success with “Hybrid Theory” over a decade ago, and, in my opinion, is still churning out music that’s just as good as what was on “Hybrid Theory.” I’ve always enjoyed the music of P.O.D. and AFI. So many different bands are influences, plus music I learned while studying voice, so my influences are really a hodgepodge!

ToddStar: Do you find that other types of media affect your music?  You are a photographer, writer, and DJ.  Do you feel these contribute to your music and song writing?

Anne: I think being involved in different areas of the music world has certainly influenced what I do with Upon Wings. I don’t know if it’s really changed how I write music or perform in a creative sense, but it’s opened my eyes to different kinds of music that I maybe wouldn’t have discovered on my own. It’s also helped me learn more about the business of music and what to expect when you’re going through an album cycle.

ToddStar: If there were one piece of music in the history of time that you wish you had written, what would it be and why?

Anne: Oh, good question! Maybe “Amazing Grace.” It’s obviously one of the greatest songs ever written and carries such a great message of mercy. Yeah, I’ll go with that one!

ToddStar: We are just starting a fresh year with 2013 – any regrets from 2012?  Do you have any resolutions or goals for 2013 professionally or personally?

Anne: I never make resolutions, because it’s so hard to keep them! One of my goals was simply getting this album out there, so it’s so fulfilling to see it coming to fruition and to be getting such great support. I’d like to continue to work on Upon Wings this year, hopefully get out on the road and write new music.

ToddStar: What is the meaning of life?

Anne: The meaning of life is so different for each person. For me, it’s trying to be a positive light in the world. Using my talents for the greater good and somehow making a positive influence in whatever I do.

ToddStar: Other than making sure everyone checks out your website and Facebook, are there any other current projects or sites you would like to promote?

Anne: Thank you! We’re also on Twitter at @UponWings and YouTube at http://YouTube.com/UponWingsOfficial. Also, thank you so much for your interest in Upon Wings, and I’d like to thank everyone who has supported our music for opening their hearts and ears to Upon Wings.

ToddStar: Thanks again for taking the time and we look forward to 2013 and more Upon Wings!!!

Anne: Thank you, Todd!

INTERVIEW - Anne Autumn Erickson of Upon Wings, February 2013

Filed Under: Interviews

About the Author: ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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