Monday, November 19, 2012

Pheaturing Anya Parker-Lentz

Hello, kids, welcome to a Monday entry of the Phile, so, how was your weekend? I'm feeling pretty miserable... I can't sleep, tired of being in pain, and I want to go Christmas shopping. And I am back in my sling, as my arm was hurting a little bit too much. Alright, enough with the whining, I am sorry.  Let's talk politics, both parties in Washington now agree that our country is headed toward a "fiscal cliff." The bad news: We just elected a guy whose campaign slogan was "Forward." We’re in great shape. The Republicans drove us into a ditch and the Democrats are driving us over a cliff. But the good news: President Obama says we will run out of gas long before we get to the cliff. So don’t worry about it.  Skyfall, the number one movie at the box office this week, made over $100 million, and I still haven't seen it. It's the biggest opening ever for a James Bond film. There's not a lot of sex in the movie... it's very downplayed. See, James Bond is just a secret agent. It's not like he's head of the CIA. People are disappointed. A four-star general, highly decorated, brilliant strategist, director of the CIA... and yet he's behaving like your common congressman.  The movie Lincoln opened over the weekend. It's getting unbelievable reviews. It's so authentic. Daniel Day-Lewis plays Lincoln. Sally Field plays Mary Todd Lincoln. John McCain plays himself. I was surprised to learn Abraham Lincoln was not a vampire hunter. In the theatres this weekend, the vampires actually beat Lincoln.  It was announced  that former General Petraeus has agreed to testify before Congress. I guess he figured, "Why not?" Those questions can't be any tougher than the ones he's getting at home right now. This whole scandal has changed the way the White House does business. Like, you know the Situation Room? It's now the Compromising Situation Room. They've changed it. It's now being reported that General Petraeus wanted to run for president. But, you know, he can still win. He's an older white guy with a sex scandal, so there's something there for Republicans and Democrats.  A dozen New York Jets players told a reporter that Tim Tebow is "terrible." They said he's a terrible quarterback. And believe me, if anybody knows terrible, it's the Jets.  There are now reports that President Obama will name Massachusetts Senator John Kerry to be the next secretary of defense. Apparently this is part of America's new defense strategy to bore our enemies to death.  The economy is so bad that people saw Phil Jackson holding a sign that said, "Will coach for food." The economy is so bad, MSNBC had to lay off 300 Obama spokesmen. The economy is so bad, President Obama sent Susan Rice out to defend it.  There was a big funeral this weekend, did anybody see it on TV? I have a screencap of it here if you didn't.

So, who watched the UCLA versus SC game over the weekend? I am not sure what happened on the field.

Someone sucked. Hey, I apologize, I have a young female singer who is gonna be on the Phile today. I apologize, Anya. Anyway, speaking of South Carolina, in LA this weekend a building was lit up like this...

Some people said it was LA sticking their noses up at South Carolina, but the real truth I found out is LA is pissed about my accident in South Carolina.  So, I haven't been at work in over a month, and this time they usually decorate the Disney parks quite a bit for Christmas. My park, Hollywood Studios especially. This year though it seems like they cut back a little bit. Take a look at this photo a friend sent me the other day.

Yeah, they really shouldn't hold back with those lights. LOL. Thanks, Ashlyn, for that photo. And now, from the home office in Port Jefferson, here is this week's...

Top Phive General Petraeus' Medals And Badges
5. President Bill Clinton Medal for Distinguished Servicing.
4. "Motel 6 Preferred Customer" Award.
3. Undercover Night Maneuvers Badge of Bravery.
2. "Repeated Honorable Discharge" Award.
And the number one Petraesus medal and badge is...
1. "Meritorious Post-Coital Snuggling" Medal. 

Well, there's a lot of stuff happening in the world right now... Obma was re-elected, Twinkies going out of business, the Petraeus deal, my broken shoulder... things of real importance. A friend of the Phile wanted to come on and tell me what is bothering her, and it's major. So, please welcome to the Phile once again...

Me: Hello, Eve, it's been awhile, what is bothering you?

Eve: I bought a new PC.

Me: That's great, right?

Eve: No, everything defaulted to Bing. Bye, everybody. I hate life.

Eve Rest, everybody. Okay, now for the announcement of the 27th artist to be pheatured in the Peverett Phile Art Gallery. His name is Matthew Daley, and this is one of his pieces...

Matthew will be a guest on the Phile soon.

Okay, today's guest is a young singer, songwriter whose new EP "The Giving" is now available on iTunes and Amazon. She'll be next appearing at The Bitter End in New York City on November 30th. Please welcome to the Phile... Anya Parker-Lentz.

Me: Hello, Anya, welcome to the Phile. How are you?

Anya: I'm great!! Really busy with school but it's all really fun... me being a super nerd and all.

Me: If I am guessing correctly, you might be one of the youngest guests to ever be on the Phile. You're sixteen, right?

Anya: Yep. I turned sixteen in April.

Me: I am gonna ask you a stupid question, Anya... what's with the hyphen in your name? Aren't you too young to have an hyphen?

Anya: Can you be too young for a hyphen? Huh. I guess I never thought of it that way. Anyway, it's hyphenated because my parents are just awesome like that. Parker is my mom's last name and Lentz is my dad's last name, so my siblings, my parents, and I all have Parker-Lentz as our last name. My grandma always tells me she was super proud of my dad for hyphenating because no one told him to do it and he was ahead of his time. I think it's really cool and it makes for a good conversation.

Me: Good point. I never thought of it like that. And is that a pink stripe in your hair?

Anya: Yes! One day in seventh grade I called my mom from a friend's house asking if I could dye a little bit of my hair pink and she responded with, "why not!" and before I knew it, my mom was letting me get it redone again and again until it just became my thing.

Me: Anya, how long have you been singing, songwriting and playing piano?

Anya: I've been playing piano since I was a wee baby... 4 or 5 maybe? I'm not sure. My cousin Maggie taught me how to play a song and my uncle taught me how to play "Chopsticks" and those were the only two songs I ever played. Eventually mom couldn't take it anymore and had to get me a teacher. I don't know a time when I didn't sing too but I really started to become a singer when my uncle visited and suggested I sing "Landslide" (Stevie Nicks), and from there songwriting and music has just become a part of me.

Me: Is piano your only instrument you play? I am sure it is, you being so young.

Anya: If I was asked a few years ago I'd say yes, but I've been playing percussion since 5th grade, and I picked up ukulele and guitar in the past year! I've been writing a lot and experimenting with different instruments and genres, I've been really into jazz, blues and a bit of classical recently, in addition to my love for classic rock and... I have to stop now. I'll go on forever...

Me: So, when you're not songwriting, and recording, what do you do for fun, Anya? I am guessing normal teenage girl stuff.

Anya: I suppose... As long as weekends jamming with my friends in Long Island, hiking in the local arboretum, and hanging with my friends counts as normal teenage girl stuff!

Me: You're from New Jersey, right? Recently I interviewed another young singer from New Jersey named Bree Rose who is also in a band The New Royalty. Have you heard of her or the band?

Anya: I haven't heard much about her band, but everything I've heard of her has been great!

Me: I asked her coming from NJ if she was a fan of Bruce Springsteen and Bon Jovi and she said yes. Are you a fan of those guys as well?

Anya: I really like and appreciate their music, it's just a bonus that they happen to be from NJ. It's guys like Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi that make me proud to be from a state that isn't just "Jersey Shore".

Me: Who are your influences, Anya?

Anya: I could probably go on for hours about my influences, but to keep it short and sweet, U2, Dave Matthews, CSNY, Cream, Pink Floyd, and John Mayer are definitely major sources of my inspiration.

Me: Okay, let's talk about your music. I have to say I have been doing interviews on the Phile just for almost five years and only a handful have played at Carnegie Hall. You, Anya, have played there twice! Is that with a group, school or solo?

Anya: I've sang there twice with a professional children's choir I'm a part of, the New Jersey Youth Chorus. Carnegie was among a bunch of different places we performed, but it was absolutely a huge honor to be able to sing there.

Me: How long ago and what was that like? I sang there with my choir in 2008 and 2010 and it was such an amazing experience. Being on that stage was incredible, I got the chills even before we started to sing. The combination of the beauty of the theater, the acoustics, and the sound of the choir was just the greatest thing to be a part of.

Anya: You also played at BB King's in New York. Do you know who BB King is?

Anya: Of course I know who the King of Blues is! He's the inspiration for my experimentation with blues guitar. I love watching videos of his jams... solo and some collaborations my other guitar inspirations... Eric Clapton, John Mayer...

Me: Okay, let's talk about your new EP "The Giving". How did you choose that song to be the title track?

Anya: For the longest time I had no name for the album. I sort of figured it would just come to me over the course of recording and post-production, but it never ended up being as clear cut as I had hoped. After much contemplation and help from my family, it was decided that the album name had to be a song name. Immediately I knew it had to be "The Giving". It was the book my dad read to me all the time when I was a kid and that was just something he gave to me, so I wanted to pay it forward and honor the book, my dad, and anyone who listens to my album as my 'giving' to them.

Me: There's six songs on the CD, Anya, how many did you write for the CD? And how did you choose?

Anya: I wrote them all... including the seventh bonus song, "Lullaby", which was the first song I wrote on guitar. Before I started recording, I had about 10 or 11 songs written that were options for the album. I played them all a lot and recorded videos to show to my producer and together we sorted through and picked the ones with the most potential to be really cool tracks on the album. From there it was all so exciting and creative.

Me: I have to ask you about the song "Mission Possible". A friend of your mom asked you to write the song for your friend, am I right? What is the song about?

Anya: Well, at an open mic night a few years back, I played a cover or two and the first song I ever wrote ("Not Trying To Hurt You", which is on my album). Nancy, my friend Jake's mom and also a friend of my mom, loved the song and jokingly hinted at a song for Jake to support Dystonia. She definitely hoped I was going to write something, but I don't think she expected what actually came out. She and members of the Bachmann Strauss Foundation were expecting a cute little jingle or something of that nature. But when they came over to hear it, they were blown away.

Me: What's the story behind this?

Anya: In 5th grade, my friend Jake and I, along with 5 other kids from our grade, were part of a program called Odyssey of the Mind. We had to do a lot of critical thinking and problem solving, as well as create miniature vehicles, props, costumes, and fit it all into an 8 minute skit. We based our skit off of the Mission: Impossible movies (Thus the song title, "Mission Possible"). But a little bit into the whole process, Jake began to have to sit out. He was starting to get sick but no one knew why or what he had. So when Nancy, his mom, proposed the idea of a song, I couldn't think of a better way to support Jake than by doing my favorite thing to do... make music.

Me: When she approached you and asked you, did you say yes right away or did you have to think about it?

Anya: Like I mentioned a little before, it was less of an approach and more of a joking comment from the table she, Jake, and my parents were sitting at after I finished playing my first originally written song at an open mic night. I loved the idea and it stayed in my head for a bit, but as my mom was sending out an email to her friends about how she was supporting Jake by running the New York Marathon and fundraising, the inspiration came instantaneously and I knew what I had to do.

Me: Anya, I am forty-three years old and I don't know what Dystonia is. Can you explain it?

Anya: Dystonia is a neurological muscle disorder that causes uncontrollable, painful spasms in one or more parts of the body. Its not widely known, as you can see, but it affects about 500,000 people in North America alone, more than muscular dystrophy, Huntington's disease, and Lou Gehrig's disease combined.

Me: When he and his mom heard the song, I bet you there wasn't a dry eye in the house, am I right?

Anya: Quite. Even Jake, who's normally totally goofy and and fun, was in complete awe. It was so crazy to be able to capture people's hearts like that. Up until that point, I didn't realize that music I had created could do such a thing. So I kept writing.

Me: What do your parents think of all you are doing, Anya? They must be very proud.

Anya: I probably wouldn't be doing all I'm doing without them! They're amazingly supportive and yes, very proud.

Me: So, what else does a 16 year old write about?

Anya: What does a 16 year old not write about? I'm pretty sure all of us 16 year olds think we're more or less invincible and can be anything we want... So the writing possibilities are definitely endless. I tend to write about my life though, as most writers will agree with. Most of my lyrics are not direct descriptions, but the mere musings of my mind and my life.

Me: Recently you went to Ireland, am I right? I am from England but never been to Ireland. Did you go with your family? How long were you there? I bet you wrote a lot of songs about that trip.

Anya: Yes! I was recently in Ireland. My choir does a summer tour each summer so we went to Ireland for 10 days in the beginning of July. My parents weren't there, but I had (and made!) a lot of very close choir friends with me. Ireland is such a beautiful place and I'd love to go back some day. Sadly, as I had no instruments with me on the trip except for my voice, I didn't write anything while I was there, but I did jot a bunch of notes and lyrics down that I've been incorporating in my most recent writing.

Me: Anya, now the CD is out, what's next for you? Are you already planning on recording your next album?

Anya: The plan is to just get the album and my name out there! I'm doing a lot of local shows and fundraisers, which are going to be really fun! As of now, there is no set plan for another album, but I've got a bunch of new songs that I can't wait to record and have for people to hear!

Me: I doubt it you'd be touring because of school, am I right?

Anya: Sadly, you are. But there is a very good chance of a tour happening next summer... I'm just excited for anything that comes at me at this point! And everything I seek out!

Me: Are you planning on going to college, Anya?

Anya: Definitely. I have absolutely no idea where I want to go, but I know it's an experience I'd like to have, on both an educational and social level. I am a nerd in the sense that I'm that kid that loves school... and I just want to keep learning, all my life.

Me: Thanks so much for being on the Phile. You have a great talent and I see you becoming bigger and bigger as your career grows. I hope this was fun, and I hope you will come back when the next CD comes out. Will you?

Anya: Totally!! It's been such a pleasure. Thank you for having me!

Well, that about does it for another entry of the Phile. Thanks to Anya for a great interview. At first I didn't think she liked me or my lame questions, but she said she'll be back. The Phile will be back on Wednesday with Amy Lynn from Amy Lynn & The Gunshow. Then on Friday it's a special entry of the Phile... My Phorty-Phorth Birthday Special pheaturing Sean Tyler from Ducks Deluxe. I won't be able to go Black Friday shopping this year, but that's okay. Then on Sunday the Phile will be here with musician Chris Daniels. Spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. I will leave you with a picture of me when I was 16 as this is my birthday week. Bye, love you, bye.

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