LA-based singer-songwriter Annie O’Malley has had a lifelong love of music. She started singing once she could speak and started writing songs at the age of 8, with her mom helping her with song lyrics she had trouble with. She had the unwavering support of her parents once she started to show a love for music and they helped her to become the artist she is today. Placing a big emphasis in her music, and life, on being honest about emotions and transparent about self help, with the drive to put something real into the world that others can relate to. Through songwriting, she’s able to explore her emotions and perspectives very deeply, helping both her and her listeners feel understood. Since starting out, she has played around with her sound a lot and has made an effort to not limit herself or worry about genres, with the desire to simply create and write powerful and vulnerable music. At the start of her career, at 17 years old, she had the amazing opportunity to open for the band Chicago for 16 shows, which only served to make her realize that performing in front of a crowd is what she was meant to do. She released her first EP Goldenn in 2020 and, after moving to Los Angeles in 2021 and building relationships, she officially developed her team and immediately started working on her debut album, “skrapbook”. On November 11th of this year, skrapbook was released, a combination of life experiences, self-reflection, emotions, challenges, and adventures that Annie has faced in the last two years of her life. The 8 songs and 2 interludes let you into her mind through her vulnerable lyrics and sentimental melodies. Prior to the album’s release, she began posting her personal journal entries that she’d written since starting this project on her Instagram page, sharing the real and unfiltered thoughts that had gone through her head during the album making process. Having played venues like Schubas in Chicago, Mercury Lounge in New York, and The Viper room in LA and doing multiple shows around Los Angeles and opening for the artist Phora during his latest tour, she is looking forward to adding her new album to her setlist, playing many more shows at the top of 2023. With a deep love for what she does and the creative process of making and putting music out into the world, she has plenty of releases planned, including music videos, singles, eps, covers and possibly some stripped or extended versions. You can connect with Annie O’Malley via the following links.
Music was your first love and you have said that you’ve been singing since you could speak and have been writing songs since the age of 8. What can you tell me about your childhood and your mom writing your song lyrics before you were able, as well as your early songs once you started songwriting?
I grew up with very loving parents and many little siblings. My parents instilled two very important ideas in us at a young age-there is nothing wrong with talking about your feelings or what’s on your mind, and we can do anything we want if we work hard enough. I’m beyond blessed to have their support and to have parents that are constantly willing to work on themselves and evolve to be better for us. I was very encouraged to do music once I showed a love for it and my parents tried to help me in any way they could. Whether it was trying to give people my demos, writing the lyrics I don’t know how to spell, or watching every single show I would put on for them, there were many. My mom is giving me advice in the first song of this album and my dad actually talks in the beginning of ⅕. I put them in it because they are the reason I am who I am.
You place a big emphasis in your music, and life, on being honest about emotions and transparent about self help. What can you tell me about incorporating your feelings and struggles into your music, and in what ways sharing these things helps you to work through them and connect with your listeners?
After so many years of feeling and then creating it’s the only thing I know how to do. I’m absolutely obsessed with creating, whether that’s writing, performance choreo, directing music videos, tracking final vocals, planning releases and marketing roll outs. I love it all. What drives it is my need to put something real out into the world that others can relate to. It helps both me and the listeners feel understood. When I write about something I’m feeling, I am able to explore the emotions and perspectives very deeply. When singing and songwriting you can’t escape what you are feeling. It is brave to express your emotions and no one should ever feel ashamed of how they are feeling. Also, writing songs gives me the time to reflect on the things that I have done wrong and the patterns or decisions I have made that I wouldn’t make again. You can’t always point the finger at others for how you are feeling. It is very important to take responsibility for things when you are healing because it will actually help, and if you can admit your flaws and know it’s okay to make mistakes then you won’t get so angry at yourself.
What can you tell me about making up your own forms of spelling?
Growing up I had a very very hard time in school. I was eventually tested and found out that I had some learning disabilities that made it more difficult for me than everyone around me. The school I went to did a terrible job at handling this and never said the right things or helped me.When I was young I had such a terrible relationship with my self image because I believed I wasn’t smart enough, or capable of learning anything. The only thing I knew I was good at and could really be myself was music. When I got older I realized how damaging the things they would say to me were and it still affects me everyday. I struggle to spell things right and I have to read things multiple times to read it right so I thought I would make it my brand. I spell words how it makes sense in my head for them to be spelled, and I apologize to English teachers in advance.
Starting out, you focused more on doing what your idols were doing and as you got older,you started creating more of your own style and brand of music. What has that journey been like for you and what can you tell me about the evolution of your sound over the years?
When first discovering a love for music as a kid, I just did whatever felt right and what I truly loved. As I got older and it got more serious, like any teenager I would compare myself or take criticism too seriously. I felt like for a couple years I needed to channel that inner little girl that just wanted to perform and entertain. Now, I would say I have fully embraced who I am in my artist project because it comes naturally and people resonate with the realness. I’ve played around with my sound a lot and I try not to limit myself or worry about genres. I just want to create and write powerful and vulnerable music.
How do you see music as a way to make a change in something greater than yourself?
The way music can heal you and make people feel understood is all I want for others. When life gets hard, it’s only you that will get you through it but music can act as a life raft when it feels like you’re drowning. If I can provide that for someone, that’s the greatest gift in the world.
What can you tell me about touring as support for Chicago for 16 shows at the start of your career and what you learned from the experience that you have carried with you?
I learned that being in front of a crowd is truly what I’m meant to do because I have never felt more at home. When I was on stage all alone at 17 years old in front of 20,000 people I felt like I was closest to my truest self. When I play shows now it’s the only time the restlessness or noise in my head subsides.
You have said that one of the hardest parts of a music career is dealing with the industry being a roller coaster of ups and downs. How have you learned to “enjoy the ride” and appreciate each moment of your journey and not primarily focus on results and “making it”? What kinds of practices/activities help you to stay grounded in this industry and what does self-care look like for you?
This is something I’m still learning because you are always learning and evolving and getting better. You have to know what you are getting into and do your best to put the art first but also know it’s a business and not take things personally because they aren’t. I will say one thing that helped me a ton is loving my team and my managers. I have worked with so many different people and now I feel so solid in my producers, managers, mixer, masterer, etc. I want them to win just as much as they want me to win and that kind of support makes it so enjoyable. For me, what’s most difficult is feeling like I need to overwork myself, or feeling like I’m not able to have any romantic relationships because it’s a distraction. Those beliefs have gotten in the way before and I’ve made difficult sacrifices because of that.
You have said that your music shows a big part of your life because it’s what you are experiencing at the age you made each piece of music. What do you feel your newer music reflects about where you are now in your life?
My music is literally exactly what is going on in my life. Whenever I write songs that are way too honest about what’s happening in the present, I call it a “pending song” because no one (except kourtney) gets to know what it’s specifically about yet. But seriously, no topic gets left out in my writing. I consider my life to be very hectic and chaotic in a beautiful way and I have tons to say. My new album talks about the struggles of being in your early 20s and realizing everything you thought you knew in your teen years is basically wrong. There’s also some heavy topics and personal and special details about my family.
You’ll be releasing your debut album skrapbook on November 11th, which is a reflection of things you’ve experienced during the last two years of your life. What can you tell me about that time in your life and about the making of the album and the recording process? In what ways do you feel you have grown, both personally and artistically, with these songs?
I think being in your early 20s is a very challenging yet exciting time. You experience real independence but you also still need to make a lot of mistakes. I moved across the US, and was doing music full time while I was a student online. I lived with my family, in an airbnb, and then moved into my own place with all my friends. I dated different people that were different ages and had different careers, and I made a lot of new friends and even lost some old ones. I was faced with a lot of my own flaws and had to relearn how to handle different situations. When I was first recording the songs for this album I didn’t know they would be the lead singles. Nick Pingree and I would have studio sessions and everything we would experiment got me so inspired. There was a period of time where we were just making song after song and then I would release them (would yew hate me if, preshure, wait for yew, in beetween, etc). He introduced me to Alex Strahle and we made a ton of amazing music that was completely different from what me and Nick were doing (He produced Katch me, 1\5). Then, one day, after that I had recently gotten out of a relationship and my mom was giving me some advice on the phone. I asked her to record it and me and my other producer Jack (good harbor) made a track around it and I couldn’t stop writing. The album was pretty much done at that point and I had known that I had wanted my first album to be named ‘skrapbook’ for about 2 years. The promo just ended up being a mix of each single color I used mixed together and my cousin Kourtney made the collage. I am very detailed and intentional when it comes to my songs and the color schemes and I had planned all the marketing, posts, content, etc 6 months prior to the release. I never worked harder on anything in my life and I couldn’t be more proud of it and excited for the next releases!
You moved to LA in 2021 and built relationships and your team before heading into the studio to record skrapbook. What inspired your move and what can you tell me about your team? What do you love about living in LA?
I had spent time in LA living with family a little in 2020 but I made the full move with my cousin kourtney cause it was where I felt I needed to be. This city is so fast paced and I felt like if I could make it and handle it here I could do it anywhere. My managers also lived here at the time so it was great for meetings and events. I LOVE the sun. I have always had seasonal depression and it’s been so nice getting vitamin D everyday. I also really love how frequently you meet people doing the same thing as you. Moving here and working with my team has been magic. My managers are wonderful and so patient and finding my producers and engineers has been such a fun process.
You have been posting your personal journal entries that you’ve written since starting this project on Instagram. What inspired that decision and what has it been like to be so vulnerable with your fans? Are your journal entries the inspiration for the songs on skrapbook?
I wanted there to be an element to the promotion of my album that was just as real as every lyric I wrote for the album. I thought if I looked up to an artist and they posted those I would feel so much less alone hearing the real unfiltered thoughts that go on in their head. My fans have responded really well and have been so excited with me. It means the world to me that people resonate with my music so much so that they keep up with my releases so diligently. I actually had zoom calls with them and gave them a link to the album early and saw their reactions and it was so fun. I couldn’t believe that my music really reached this many people, it’s craziness!!!
What’s next for you? What are your dreams and goals going forward?
So much is next I cannot wait, music videos, singles, eps, covers and possibly some stripped or extended versions. I love what I do and will never stop creating. Thanks for all the wonderful questions!