banner ad
banner ad
banner ad

A Dirty Dozen with ANNAMARIA PINNA from VAJRA – November 2023

| 16 November 2023 | Reply

According to a recent press release: “Nearly 40 years to the day, Vajra delivers a reimagined version of the original “Love is a Battlefield”, showcasing the band’s signature style and their ability to make a well-known song their own, with all of the elements and a great new spin on them. Vajra’s cover has a distinct and unique sound, given the band’s penchant for blending different musical elements and their ethereal and heavy style. Vajra is a progressive alternative rock band known for their unique and eclectic sound. Drawing influences from various genres such as rock, metal, alternative, and Eastern music, they create a distinctive blend that sets them apart. While it’s difficult to fully capture their sound through text, I can provide a general description.” We get singer Annamaria with a little help from guitarist Dave to discuss new music, influences, and more.

1. Tell us a little about your latest release.  What might a fan or listener not grab the first or second time they listen through?  Are there any hidden nuggets you put in the material or that only diehard fans might find?

Dave: We don’t normally do covers, but we wanted to pay tribute to one of our inspirations, and we wanted a song that had some room to ‘Vajra-size’ and make our own. We were diving down the New York Thruway singing along to the radio, and when Annamaria soared through this song, I knew it was the one. After that, we explored basslines while we were in Annamaria’s childhood bedroom. We went into the studio, and Jimmy came up with a cool beat. We morphed things in our studio, but Annamaria’s vocal delivery pretty much stayed the same. The song tells you what it wants. It’s just a process of listening to what it needs, and if we are in a good place, we blindly follow what it says. That’s what happened here.

Annamaria: The song captures some of the confusion that I have in a world that feels upside down. We are all still recovering from the pandemic, shutdowns, and are embroiled in a broken economy. We haven’t fully healed. Music and art seem to be overshadowed by scripted reality TV, and I’m not sure where I fit anymore. I’ve been re-examining who I am, and singing this song grounds me to the earth, and inspires me to wipe my face, get in there, and figure it out. For the music video, along with our other music videos, Dave and I wrote, directed, and edited 100% DIY ourselves.  We came up with the concept, and had a friend shoot the video. No green screens, no CGI, no costumes, no pseudo-angry faces… we’re not interested in competing with the slick big-budget hallmarks of modern metal videos. We simply wanted to put you right inside our Brooklyn practice space with us and feel us… know us. We want you to dance around the room with us.

2. What got you into music, and can you tell us about the moment you realized you wanted to be a musician?

Annamaria: Music has always been a part of my life. There is no separation.  All of my experiences in life inform my music.  And my music informs my life.   I studied music theory at Juilliard, played violin from age 6-8 and flute from age 8 through high school.  I taught myself some piano, guitar and bass and took some drum lessons.  Also, I started dancing at age 3, so I was reacting to music from a very early age.  I lived in India for 5 years, Italy, New Orleans, NYC, and San Francisco, and all that geography is imbued in the sound.

3. Building on that, is there a specific song, album, performer, or live show that guided your musical taste?

Annamaria: There are lots. Duran Duran, soul music, Prince, Madonna, Tool, classical Hindustani, Deftones, Alice In Chains, Black Sabbath, Pink Floyd, Kate Bush, Fever Ray, Dead Can Dance, and The Mars Volta.

4. If you could call in any one collaborator to do a song with, who would it be, and why?

Annamaria: Danny Carey and the Dead Can Dance folks would be pretty amazing. Danny’s rhythms and performances move me. The Dead Can Dance makes otherworldly music.

5. What is your favorite activity when out of the studio and/or not on tour?  What do you like to do to unwind?

Annamaria: Aside from music, I love to travel, cook, drink wine, mountain bike, run, hike, read, learn, write, and spend time with friends and family.

6. How would you describe your music to someone who’d never listened to you before? What is the one comparison a reviewer or fan has made that made you cringe or you disagreed with?

Annamaria: Our music definitely has its own sound, and we don’t squarely fit into a genre box. We blend various genres and influences into what we believe is a captivating and atmospheric sound. We like to weave a rich tapestry of atmospheric and heavy instrumentation, layered with haunting melodies and powerful vocals. We often incorporate intricate guitar work, driving rhythms, and a strong emphasis on atmospheric textures. Our music has a dark and introspective quality, often exploring themes of spirituality, consciousness, and personal growth. Dynamics are important, ranging from ethereal and hypnotic passages to intense and explosive moments. We use of unconventional instruments, such as the Tibetan singing bowls and the Indian tabla, which adds a distinctive Eastern flair to our music. Annamaria’s vocals transition between angelic and haunting tones, which help deliver more emotionally charged lyrics. Others have said we sound like Lacuna Coil, Evanescence, King Woman, and Unleash the Archers.

7. When your band is hanging out together, who cooks, who gets the drinks in, and who is first to crack out the acoustic guitars for a singalong?

Annamaria: I cook, Dave gets the drinks, Jimmy pulls out the guitar and John cracks the jokes.

8. When was the last time you were starstruck and who was it?

Annamaria: Dave and I were just at the Tool show in Rochester, and we managed to be there for sound-check. Danny Carey came out into the audience after they were done and started handing out guitar pics. He gave me two and shook our hands. He looked at me, there was a quick exchange that was a beautiful recognition. I was too chicken to say anything about our band. lol

9. What is the best part of being a musician? If you could no longer be a musician for whatever reason, what would be your dream job?

Annamaria: This path is the best way for me to dissolve outside of the ego space and into the space that lies in between my thoughts. I’d either work back for the parks department (again) because working in nature is a magical portal to the netherworld; or I’d become an Assyriologist and work with Dr. Irving Finkel at the British Museum translating cuneiform tablets.

10. What is one question you have always wanted an interviewer to ask – and what is the answer? Conversely, what question are you tired of answering?

Annamaria: Why do we write the music we write? I’d answer: We are travelers who go outside the bounds of a sense-based perception to catch a musical or lyrical idea and then translate it to the material realm. Of course, our life experience is our vocabulary or antenna. But when we get out of our own ways, we are translators or conduits for energies that move through us. Honoring what comes through is important for us. Musically, lyrically, and visually we explore what we are driven to explore. I’m tired of explaining why I don’t growl in our music.  The inspiration for every aspect of our music came to me in meditation and communion with particular Goddess/divine feminine energies. Women shouldn’t have to throw an aggressive male lens over their art or replicate aggressive male energy to be present or legitimate in their art. The sensual, subtle body aspects are just as beautiful as the rational, directed aspects. One defines the other, and both are aspects of the one. Balance is key. I can only approach that balance from my perspective, and hope that it resonates.

11. Looking back over your career, is there a single moment or situation you feel was a misstep or you would like to have a “do over,” even if it didn’t change your current situation?

Annamaria: No.  Everything we’ve done has prepared us for where we are now. I wish I had more time to explore other instrumentation and to be a master of multiple instruments.

12. If you could magically go back in time and be a part of the recording sessions for any one record in history, which would you choose – and what does that record mean to you?

Annamaria: Prince Purple Rain. Experiencing Prince’s brilliance and process, especially for that album would be such an inspiration and a great learning experience. A close second is Pink Floyd Live in Pompeii.  Pure magic.  They were so tapped in when they did that.






Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

Leave a Reply

Please verify you\'re a real person: * Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.

banner ad
banner ad