Island reggae goddess Anuhea has been making major waves in the music industry for 10 solid years and the swell of her success isn't crashing down any time soon. With award nominations piling up for 2019, as well as a greatest hits compilation album and several mainland excursions, it's safe to say Anuhea is one woman continually on the rise. One such festival on the horizon happy to host the Hawaiian chanteuse among other reggae names is the premiere BeachLife Festival coming to Redondo Beach, California this May 3rd-5th, 2019. Ahead of the fest, Anuhea agreed to chat about what 'Beach Life' means to her, what she's excited about for summer and more.
TSM: Regarding your music, your sound has grown so much over the years, from island vibes to edgy EDM. Your music encompasses a wide range. What influences you forward as an artist?
- Anuhea: Oh my gosh. So, growing up in Hawaii, reggae has been really popular. Like, my dad used to listen to Bob Marley and all of those legends back in the day — Barrington Levy, Gregory Isaacs, all of the classics. And, then you have Hawaii's own style of reggae, island music. A little more 'love song'-oriented… even some country influences too, because we have a lot of that paniolo — that Hawaiian cowboy style. Especially on Maui, where I'm from. So, that laidback, romantic love versions of reggae songs is what absolutely touches my heartstrings.
- But, truly, I'm really inspired by everything. Disney movies, I know every single word to The Little Mermaid. All the N*SYNC, Backstreet Boys music… all of that stuff, too. And, then I went through my EDM phase, like when dubstep came out, I was right there in the rave scene with my glowsticks and all that. I have a little bit of everything inspiring what I create. And, then I have my acoustic guitar. It's the only main instrument that I play, so that always has a root to most of my songs, as well.
Well, that and your ukulele.
- Yeah, I'm not as good on the uke, but I pretend to be.
Oh, no girl, you slay. Speaking of music, if you're into everything, what's in your heavy rotation right now?
- I'm actually training for a half marathon, which is on Sunday. So, finally on Sunday, I'm going to get it over with! This is now my second one; it's been kicking my butt! But, the thing is, I've been needing to listen to uptempo hot music, so I go on whatever playlist on Spotify that's like a pop workout or a high-energy workout. A lot of Rihanna, a lot of Post Malone remixes, The Weeknd, all that popular pop stuff. Even rap. I like it all.
You make it sound like you're Rocky Balboa training, running up the steps!
- [Laughing] I wish I could shout out a band right now, but I have not been listening to anything super new or gotten obsessed with a band in a while. So, I'm really excited for this training to be over and I can start relaxing and vibing into music.
Congrats and good luck, Sunday! I'm sure you're gonna kill it. Besides running and music, are there any other hidden passions that you have?
- I'm passionate about my son. He's five years old and about to go into kindergarten. I've just been embracing this 'mother life' and doing my best to balance the tour life that I was living when I got pregnant. I was literally on a tour bus when I found out I was pregnant; I was at SXSW in Austin. So, that was kind of the life that he was born into. But, as he gets older and he's no longer a lap child on airplanes and stuff, I want to spend more time with him. Give him more stability, for sure. He comes with me on tour often or at least just for the summertime, he'll come and enjoy himself. I do pick and choose what kind of shows I do because of him nowadays, too. I love to do more family-friendly, all-ages stuff rather than a lot of the 21-and-over clubs that I used to do before I had him. So, he's affected my life in so many ways, in the best way.
- And, in that same vein, I just started a foundation which is almost a non-profit. We're almost confirmed to become a non-profit and we're going to make that happen in the next couple weeks!
What is it regarding??
- It's a non-profit for scholarships for Hawaii students to get into college. Or, any other sort of higher education. It's called the Aloha Always Foundation. It's on my website and you can see the mission. It's speaking to empower, educate and inspire Hawaii kids. We have humble beginnings. I'm just fundraising on my own, because we weren't a non-profit and I couldn't accept donations from others or anything yet. We are able to get five Hawaii kids scholarships. I accept applications, I have to research each one and I'm the one bawling my face off because each one is so amazing. They're so worthy. I can't wait to expand that passion of mine. My dad was a teacher, my grandma was a teacher, my great-grandma was a teacher. It's my way of living in their vibe without being a teacher myself.
That's so inspiring! And, you're a mom and you have a musical career and you're keeping up your health. What don't you do?
- A lot!! But, thank you, I appreciate that.
And, touching on your website, I also noticed a blog. What's that about?
- Oh yeah, that's been a new little thing of mine. It's been one of my New Year's resolutions. It's been 10 years now; this is the 10th year since I've had my first album out. I've been doing it a little longer… you know, coffeeshops and bars and stuff, so it's been longer than 10. But, my first album came out in 2009, so I kind of wanted to just switch it up. Do something a little different. I really want to start reaching out more, not just on a musical level, but a personal level. Almost like a talk show? I like to do the video aspects of it, as well. Anyway, I've been doing a weekly vlog that goes along with a blog for my website. People have been tuning in! It's been taking off. I get 5,000 — 6,000 views a week. I go post on my Instagram page and people open it to ask questions that I talk about, like Wine of the Week. I'll have a juicy story that we'll share or a funny story that happens to you on TV or something.
You're an open book and anyone can tune in! The raw Anuhea life. You have your son and marathon coming up, but you also have a tour! I know you're hitting BeachLife Festival shortly in southern California. As an island girl performing at BeachLife, what is your definition of 'Beach Life'?
- That's a great name. I love the name and know the festival is in its first year, so I have a feeling it's going to be a successful one because so many things encompass that 'beach life'. I also went to college in southern California. So, California beach life — I've lived that, too. Taking bikes to board walks down in the OC or bar-hopping to cool live music is all a part of it. Not having to bundle up or wear warm clothes, letting the day turn into the night… it's all a part of that. And, of course, going into the water, surfing, that kind of lifestyle. That's Beach Life vibes.
You rep it hard, coming from Hawaii! You're actually pretty much the only female reggae artist on the entire lineup. How do you feel about that?
- I'm very surprised, very honored! I know that there are a lot of female surfers on there. Willie Nelson is there, who has been a big influence on my life, so that's great. And, then the Grateful Dead, that whole legion of Deadheads who live on Maui, so that's a huge disconnect from anybody else on the bill. I love the diversity and I love that I'm a part of it for the first one.
And, you're one of the leading women of the reggae genre, anyway! Do you ever dwell on how it's a male-dominated genre and you're just rocking it in your own female-empowering way?
- I mean, I feel like that's the case in so many careers in this world and that's what women are all striving for, equality. Wage equality and not letting the fact that we're female ever be a detriment to us in a business sense. And, that's why I'm taking a turn right now, 10 years in. I'm definitely looking at my music career as a business and I'm trying to maximize it for my future, for my son's future and set an example that it doesn't have to be that you're a 'starving musician'… you can really make it into a career for yourself. You can be smart about it. As women, we're smarter than men (I think all women are), so we can kick some major butt. We don't have to be touring in a van or have 10 people to one bed, like how some of these bands are doing it. It doesn't have to be like that. We can really rock it and live our best life as music breadwinners.
You're like a superhero. What's next for you?
- I'm nominated for some big awards here in Hawaii! The Na Hoku Hanohano Awards is like Hawaii's version of the GRAMMYs. It's been 10 years since I won with my debut album. I was nominated a few times in between, but I never won. So, I'm really, really excited about this. I'm up for 'Female Vocalist of the Year' and 'Contemporary Album of the Year'. And, just a couple days ago, I found out I'm also nominated for 'Artist of the Year' in the Island Music Awards, which is one of our top radio station award shows. So, this is going to be a fun award year! I get to dress up and attend and stuff like that.
- I also have a Best Of album that will be coming out in the fall! A lot of people nowadays don't buy albums; they just buy singles. But, some people do love CDs and I always find that when I go to my shows and I'm selling merch, people want that song off of that CD and that song off of that CD, so I'm just going to compile them together into one thick Best Of album. We're going to have it on vinyl, we're going to have new music videos to songs we haven't done videos for, even though they're 10 years old. We're going to do remixes of some old favorites. We've got some real cool stuff up our sleeves. I'm super excited about that!
Well, thank you so much! I'm looking forward to your performance at BeachLife coming up. Is there anything else you wish to say to fans?
- Just thank you to everybody for so much support over the years! The highs and lows, the ebbs and flows, the pregnancies and taking a break and all that stuff. These people have stuck with me throughout the years and I just continue to try and entertain them.
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