By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski
Emily Anderson was in Alaska, sitting in her parents’ basement, when she recalled the isolation of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Pasadena resident made her way to her birthplace to work as a guest artist at the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival. What came out of it was the song “Hugs.” It’s scheduled to drop Friday, February 5, and she’s scheduled a livestream for 8 p.m. Saturday, February 6.
“It was one of those songs that came out complete,” Anderson said. “It was honest, and although it’s a pandemic song, it was uplifting and hopeful. I feel like a lot of people are writing songs about quarantining and isolation.
“I also did that, but I wanted it to still have a sense of optimism.”
Anderson’s music has been described as “pure and could serve as the soundtrack to awaken one’s spirit,” channeling influences such as Carole King, Regina Spektor and Suzanne Vega.
“Hugs” is a collaboration between friends across the continent — Alaska, Colorado, California and Canada. Its chorus sets to music the common sentiment, “I can’t wait to hug all my friends again.”
“Hugs” was piecemealed together by engineer Sarah Tudzin of Illuminati Hotties. It features violinist Pamela Lord, drummer Travis Burrows, bassist Chris Rolontz and guitarist Tudzin.
The background vocals are courtesy of Tristan Hovest, Pamela Lord, Jordan King, Mike Adams, Rob Ballantine, Christi Bailey and Kat Kennedy. Each of these parts were recorded separately so the singers could remain quarantined.
“I feel like that’s what makes the nostalgia so palpable,” Anderson said. “We sound like we’re singing around a campfire, but in reality we were all just singing in our closets in our own little corners of the world. When I first heard us all together, I couldn’t help but cry. It feels so good to sing with friends, even virtually.”
After COVID-19 disrupted plans to record a new full-length album, Anderson threw herself into her songwriting, composing songs for video games, pitching songs for film and television, and securing a placement of her song, “Gold,” in a national ad campaign for Miller Lite.
“I had my heart set on recording a new album in 2020, but the pandemic has turned life upside down for all of us,” Anderson said. “‘Hugs’ is one of many, many songs that I wrote during quarantine, and I knew it was too honest not to release.”
As for the Miller Lite ad, Anderson said it was “surreal but amazing.”
“Right when the lockdown was really happening is when I learned the song was going to be used in a Miller Lite campaign,” she said.
“It was a tip jar campaign for restaurant and bar workers. People could donate to those who had their livelihoods severely affected by the pandemic.
“It felt cool that something I made could be affiliated with something so positive and that they are trying to help. They weren’t just selling beer.”
Anderson said she has an “ambitious” amount of music planned for this year. In February, she will finish recording the album. Anderson is also hoping for a seven-song, stripped-down EP. Anderson has most of these songs in the can.
She as yet another project in the works with fellow Alaskan Naessie. Anderson calls it electric and psychedelic with Disney princess energy.
“Hugs” will be released on all digital streaming platforms, and the video features the quirky and charming animation of LA visual artist Kat Bing.
The livestream details will be on her Facebook page.
“It will be a mix of new songs and old songs,” she said. “I’ve written so much new material that it’s hard to plan a concert.
“I’m excited about all the new songs.”
Emily Anderson Livestream
8 p.m. Saturday, February 6
Facebook or Instagram @emilyandersonak