The people of St. Alban’s: Meet Annika

Annika Forman recently won second place in our Song Writing Competition.  She performed her winning track, “Brave New World“, at St. Alban’s Street Jam 2.0. 

How did you find out about the Inc Sound Studio program and St. Alban’s? What were your impressions when you first got here?
I went to St. Alban’s many times throughout my childhood. I went to daycare, summer camp, swimming, skateboarding amongst other things and have always loved the community that St. Alban’s fosters.
I found out about the Inc Sound Studio program because Jo’el Douglas guest lectured in my Equity Studies course at University of Toronto where he talked about the history of hip-hop and rap music. After the lecture I went up to him, thanked him, and said I write rap music and sent him a link of my track, “Brave New World“. Once he had had a listen he told me more about the program and that’s how I came to know of it. My impression of Inc Sound Studio program was a really positive one. I really liked the artists in the program, the staff, and the space itself.

What sparked your interest in music? How did you get started writing your own material?
My interest in music started from a very young age. I was always singing growing up in my house. My mom is a great singer and would always sing lullabies to me and my brother. Growing up there was always a lot of music in the house. As well, being Jewish, we would sing on Shabbat every Friday night and at synagogue as music is a big part of the culture. When I was about six I started taking Suzuki violin lessons and did that until I was twelve. From there I slowly became less interested in the violin and picked up the guitar – which I continue to play to this day. I started writing my own material when I was about 16. My guitar teacher at the time told me about a woman named Robyn Dell’Unto who had this company called “A Song of my Own” that helped artists write and record original songs. I got into contact with her and we wrote a song together. She then applied for a FACTOR (Foundation Assisting Canadian Talent On Recordings) grant on my behalf and upon receiving it I was able to pay for a producer to help me record my first single “Brave New World“.

Where does your inspiration come from?
My inspiration comes from the world around me. I know that sounds cheesy but it’s true. I am very politically and socially aware and try to be involved in social justice initiatives as much as I can. I also want to make sure that my music is authentic and that I’m actually saying what I feel and am not trying to fit into a mold of party anthems and all the other music one often hears on the radio. “Brave New World” came about from deciding to write a song about something I cared about and had meaning to me. The inspiration for the song was to use a predominantly male musical platform – rap music – and all the historically derogatory ways in which it puts down women through its lyric and I was going to flip it on its head. I was going to use that same kind of medium but use it as a female empowerment song as oppose to how it has often historically degraded women.

What would you tell a young child who is interested in making their own music? What advice would you give them?
I would tell them they should go for it! I’m trying to think of the things that held me back as a kid. One of the things was the feeling that music will not get me anywhere – which I still feel! – but I try to ignore that feeling as much as possible and follow my passion. I also found and find that it’s hard for me to find inspiration. What I would say is the times where you struggle in your life is often the most inspiring times and you can use those times as fuel to write a good song. So the times when you feel like you’re at your lowest is actually the best place to be in to write a song and be inspired. So what I would tell a young person is – find that inspiration and then don’t be afraid to put out stuff that’s not already out there! Something I’m trying to remember to do myself is not to put out stuff just because it’s going to make you look good or it’s going to make you sound good. Put out stuff that’s authentic and real and that you would be okay with your children or future children hearing, something that you would be proud of and stand behind and something you feel strongly about. Don’t just put it out because it makes you sound cool or you think people will like it, put it out because there is truth in what you’re saying and you feel like people should hear it.

Besides music, what are your interests and what do you like to do in your spare time?
Besides music, I’m a huge sports fan. I play soccer and have been playing soccer since I was in elementary school. I love just being physically active in any way that I can. I’m also in school full-time studying sociology – which takes up a lot of my time but outside of school and sports I like to listen to music and hang out with friends.

More Than 40 Hours: Encouraging Youth to be Engaged with their Communities

Laurie

by Laurie Taniguchi
Communication and Volunteer Coordinator

High school students need 40 hours of community volunteer work in order to graduate.  As a volunteer manager in a youth serving agency, I think this requirement is a very positive addition to the high school curriculum.   It gets kids out there, into their community, experiencing new things and building real world job experience. Continue reading