RAC’s Liz Anjos is ready to make noise on her own terms. The classically trained pianist has been a constant collaborator with RAC for years, and before that, played in a variety of other bands including The Pragmatic. Now, the singer is continuing her musical journey as Pink Feathers. As Anjos flies solo, it's apparent that her musical truth north points towards the artists she’s covered over the past few years, including The Cardigans, Gwen Stefani, and Smashing Pumpkins—adding a bit of La Roux’s flair into her melodies.
Pink Feathers’ shimmering power-pop ballad “Keep Pretending”—premiering below—pays tribute to the likes of Kylie Minogue circa-2001, back when Fever first hit the airwaves. It's both sweet and hypnotic and a clear stand out track on the infectious Invisible Lines EP (out 12/2). We’re totally onboard. Following this release it sounds like there will be another EP in the works, but in the meantime, Anjos she dishes on the powerful female pop stars who have influenced her, performing with RAC, and society’s “invisible lines.”
Noisey: How did Pink Feathers start?
Liz Anjos: Pink Feathers is a music project that I started last year right around this time. I put out one single—“In A Spell.” I started it because I wanted to start my own music project with my own songs. I just did it. [Laughs.]
Makes sense! So, why Pink Feathers as the band name?
I came up with the name as a throwback to the first CD I ever purchased, which was Garbage’s first (self-titled) album. The album cover shows pink feathers. It was just sort of paying tribute to that. That album is what got me into female-fronted pop music in the first place.
Such a great album, and Shirley Manson invented the grunge-pop scene. Before Pink Feathers, were you in other music projects?
I was in a band before called The Pragmatic. We were an electronic-pop band. It was very synthesizer-heavy, and it was with two members of the RAC live band—Andre and Karl. We’ve been playing for a long time. I played in lots of bands and lots of various bands in college. That’s the only band where we actually put out some music and played a few festivals; we were out at SXSW in 2009.
How has collaborating with RAC helped you fuel your own project?
Andre from RAC has really helped bring my music to life in a way. I write songs, I’m a classical pianist, I sing, and arrange music. At the same time, I love electronic-pop music, but I’m not a producer. I’m not a synth-nerd. There are just a lot of things I don’t know how to do, but he’s able to take these songs and brings them to life. Obviously he has his own influences as well; he plays tons of instruments. His studio is full of every kind of synthesizer. So, it’s just really neat to be able to work with him. It’s just interesting how you can pick out a sound and he can make it happen: he’s a master of his craft.
Obviously you said you were really influenced by female pop singers, who are your favorites?
I love Gwen Stefani and No Doubt. Debbie Harry from Blondie. Shirley Manson of Garbage. I’m a huge Robyn and Kylie Minogue fan. Hopefully the more music I put out, people will probably hear those influences.
Do you have a go-to cover from your favorite female pop singer?
There’s a song on Gwen Stefani’s first solo album called “The Real Thing.” I’ve covered it before. It’s a piano cover, and I love singing that song.
Can you tell me a little bit about the song we’re premiering, “Keep Pretending?”
Out of the songs on the EP that’s coming out, “Keep Pretending” is the power-pop song. It’s very much something you can apply to something like a high school crush, as in he likes me, I like him, but I don’t know. It’s kind of like, back in high school you’re too shy to say or do something. It reminds you of all the things you were going to do together, but it passes you by. It’s just a fun, giddy moment.
What’s the context of the overall EP and its title Invisible Lines?
The EP is called Invisible Lines. Each song on the EP explores “invisible lines” in a different way—the way we put boundaries on ourselves, in our own futures, or boundaries we subconsciously put on other people. The first single I put out last week called “Ghosts” was inspired by something that happened last Christmas. I was out running in a city that I’m not from, so I was running wherever and I got raced down by a cop and he was like, “You’re not from around here are you? What are you doing here? You’re in the wrong neighborhood. You should go this way and say south of this street. That’s where you should be.” I realize that he was just looking out for my safety, but I just felt pretty infuriated being judged on how I look. I also felt silly for not thinking and running wherever and not taking precautions. I felt a little bit infuriated from that experience. It opened my eyes to how I think we pretend a lot, but those lines or boundaries don’t exist, but they definitely do. People don’t really think about it. I don’t know. I was told to leave and go somewhere else. So, that’s what inspired the title.
How did you end up responding to the police officer?
I didn’t respond to him with anger. I was a little frustrated, but I just said, “Where am I supposed to run?” He was thinking about safety, and I was thinking about getting my run on. I turned around and went the direction he pointed me in. I re-played that conversation over and over. It just kind of opened my eyes to everything.
Did you always want to be a musician or did you have a different career prior to music?
Nope. I’ve always wanted to be a musician or performer. I’ve been taking classical piano lessons since I was seven-years-old. I went to college for classical piano performance—I have a BA in music. I practiced a lot in college, and I had a big senior recital. When I was in college, I always wanted to be involved in bands and writing music. Growing up, I was really in to Broadway and musical theater. I always loved doing stuff like that too. It’s definitely always been what I wanted to do. After school, I shied away from it a little bit. I think I had these expectations that everything would work out perfectly and that I’d put something out there and everyone would love it. I thought it would be some magical dream come true. I think I got scared by that a little bit. I definitely shied away from music for a little bit. I think I had these unrealistic expectations. I thought everything would come together.
Did you ever end up working in another industry that wasn’t music?
I took a little break, and I worked a day job. I worked at a running specialty store for a little while, and I became a buyer for the store. I got caught up in that world and the running industry, and it was exciting. It was great to make a bunch of connections in that world, but another year would go by and I would feel myself moving further away from music. I was just progressing in this new direction, which was exciting, but I had this realization: I thought I was doing a good job at what I was doing, but I didn’t feel like I’d make a huge impact in this world. I just got sad not having music in my life too. It just grew over time. It’s this weird thing that I pushed off for a while, but then realized how big of a turn my life was going in and it scared me. I didn’t like it. Then I heard about the RAC live band that was forming, and I had to be a part of it. I just knew this was awesome. I was playing music again, just being on a stage, music was my friend. I just really rekindled all of that, so here I am.
You can pre-order Pink Feathers’ debut EP here.
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