Meet Anna Thoresen. She’s a talented NYC-based pop/R&B singer-songwriter and producer with an insanely cool sense of style – but she also happens to be one of my good friends from high school back in New Jersey. We initially met when I first started doing choir during my freshman year, and we bonded over our mutual love of musical theater and performing. Since our graduation in 2020, she’s dived headfirst into the music world as an independent artist, releasing two singles and an EP. Her growth over the last few years as she’s embraced her individuality and come into her own as an artist has been fascinating to watch. Not only is her work entirely self-written and produced, but she’s got a unique style with so much passion that radiates through her music, with candid lyrics, fiery vocals layered with lavish harmonies, and chill yet sparkling production. We sat down, caught up on life, and talked about her music and the inspirations behind it all.
Her Campus: Have you always wanted to release original music?
Anna Thoresen: Yes, I just didn’t believe that I could do it. I always shut down the idea of it before I could let myself try. That’s why I started out doing musical theatre. I just wanted to sing. I became a theatre kid through and through because it felt like the easiest path into the music world.
HC: So, are you not involved in theatre anymore? How has your background in the performing arts shaped your career in music?
AT: What really pushed me to pursue music was being unsuccessful in the theatre world after I graduated. I left our high school theatre department feeling like I had something to prove. I ended up dropping out from the first college I was at, and from that point on, I was laser-focused on auditioning for shows. I was constantly out there auditioning for roles I knew I would never get. The whole time I was thinking, ‘I have all of this creative energy, and I’m not booking anything. If this doesn’t work out, I’m just gonna go back to school.’ So yes, I’m done with theatre (for right now). I haven’t auditioned for anything since last summer.
HC: So, what was it like getting into music production on your own?
AT: It’s been really fun! One day during my freshman year of college, I was bored, sitting in my dorm, and I really did not wanna do my homework. I don’t know what possessed me to do this, but I was like, “Can I even do this?” and that’s how it all started. I literally watched a YouTube tutorial on how to produce music. It was a very spur-of-the-moment type of thing.
HC: So, how long have you been writing original music for?
AT: I remember I had written, like, one song on the ukulele when I was a freshman or sophomore in high school. But my first song that I officially released, “i think this is love?,” was actually the first song I ever wrote in full. That was the first time I really went for it just to see what would happen. I was sitting on it for a year and I kept trying to perfect it. I would open it up and work on it like every six months. I wasn’t even planning on officially releasing it at all! At first, I was just gonna put it out on SoundCloud. I eventually showed it to a couple of people, and they said that it was good and that I had to do something with it.
HC: Do you feel like your attitude or approach towards making music has changed since putting that song out?
AT: Oh my god, for sure. I feel like every time I make a new song, my attitude towards making music changes. I’m still learning so much. But I definitely feel more confident in my lyrics and my production since I first started out.
HC: What does your songwriting process look like? Do you typically start with lyrics or does the music come first?
AT: Every song is different, but most of my songs have started out with the production, finishing the beat, and then writing the lyrics. I write stuff all the time. If I have something catchy for the chorus, then I’ll start with that, but sometimes I’ll just go all the way through from beginning to end.
HC: One of my personal favorite songs you’ve released is “prettier.jpg.” That hook is just so insanely catchy. What’s the story behind how this song came to be?
AT: Honestly, it came out of boredom during a pretty rough period of time for me. I was in the middle of taking a three-month break from going to school, and I had so many hours I had to make up for. I was just not doing very well mentally. I had also just come off of making another one of my songs, “i HTE u <3.” I found a little splice loop that I really liked and wanted to see if I could make something out of it. I also had some ideas sitting in my voice memos (such as the siren noises) that I wanted to work with. I remember finishing up writing the chorus and thinking, ‘This is catchy as f*ck, let me continue with this.’
HC: So, do you have a lot of unfinished songs or ideas that you’re sitting on currently? Or do you immediately release your songs as soon as they’re done?
AT: So far, all of the songs I have out now are the ones that are fully finished. I have probably five or six songs I’m working on currently where the production is done, I just need to add harmonies. For some songs, I have a couple of beats but no lyrics written yet. Now that I’m back in school every day, I just don’t have the time like I used to. I also don’t ever want to force myself to sit down and make a song. When I force myself to do it, it always sucks. It’s never something that I like or that I’m proud of. When it comes, it comes.
HC: Are there any certain artists or projects that have inspired your work?
AT: Honestly, a lot. I’m very inspired by Amy Winehouse and Alanis Morissette as lyricists. A lot of their lyrics may come across as lighthearted, but are actually quite serious and vulnerable. I feel the same way with my songwriting; I want it to be lighthearted and fun. As for my music production style, I’m a big fan of artists such as Omar Apollo, Kali Uchis, Lauryn Hill, and Erykah Badu. I definitely try to keep an open mind when it comes to creating my personal sound. I’ve realized that in the past I was doing myself a disservice by being closed-minded and always trying to make my music sound a certain way.
HC: Do you have a specific vision for what you want your persona as an artist to be?
AT: Honestly, I really wanna be a rockstar. Think Joan Jett or Stevie Nicks. I wanna be the type of artist that you don’t have to know a single one of my songs, but it’s still gonna be one of the best, most high-energy shows you’ll ever see. That’s the vibe I’m going for.
HC: What can the people expect next from Anna Thoresen?