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Sneak peek: Anaiis

Credit: anaiis

Boiler Room is all about taking risks to order to unleash the potential of music in all its forms. No one does that apply more to than Anaiis. Anaiis is an artist I came across whilst scrolling through Bandcamp one day, and I’m so glad I did. Born in Toulouse to a Senegalese father and Franco Italian mother, Anaiis had a musical childhood, being encouraged to sing in the choir and play the violin as a child. Speaking to Hunger magazine, Anaiis credits her grandmother from inspiring her at an early age: “When I was four years old my grandma offered me an accordion for Christmas and I was absolutely mesmerised by it. I opened or played with no other gift that Christmas, I think the accordion really inducted me into this passion which was never questioned afterwards.”

At the age of ten, she moved to Dublin, learned English and started to experiment as a songwriter. When she moved to California, she got her first taste of gospel and R&B; this led to a love of soul music, and eventually to New York where she graduated from the Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music at NYU.Eventually she relocated to London, where she has been ever since. To say that her background has been varied would be an understatement. It is this worldliness that becomes apparent in her music and her aesthetics as a performer. Speaking to Schön!, she said of her transient background is the reason she so easily occupies “different spaces and time and sounds, soundscapes”. For her, it is the self-expression of Blackness throughout the diaspora is what truly “makes a place home”.

Liberation, isolation, and oppression are some of the most important themes in her work. Anaiis’s music feels like a way of working through spaces, of opening up discussions about and for the self, whilst working in opposition with ways of closing barriers and forms of prejudice. Speaking to Hunger, Anaiis said “I feel it is an artist’s duty to speak up against injustice and oppression. I am deeply connected to the Black community across the diaspora and I am working to find my place as a voice towards our liberation and our celebration.”

Anaiis released her debut EP 'before zero' in 2018. Darkness at Play was Anaïs' debut album, released the next year, in 2019. On the 13 track R&B-album, Anaïs touches on various subjects such as greed, power, and faith. Alongside the release of the album, Anaïs released a beautiful visual for the 9th track on the album, “Woman,” which features vocals from Princess Nokia.Since then, life has only gotten more hectic for Anaiis. After supporting Daniel Caesar on his UK tour at the end of 2019, and delivering an empowering talk at TEDxLondonWomen at the beginning of last year, she showcased a hit COLOURS session and was even commissioned a  August Friday Late at the prestigious V&A – a film titled spirit moves, directed by CHILD Studio.

For her latest track ‘chuu’, French-Senegalese artist anaiis finds herself in a feverish Alejandro Jodorowsky-inspired situation that reflects her own nightmare situation trapped by the politics of the major label system. You can see it here. Anaiis will be taking to the stage at this week’s Boiler Room festival, showcasing independent talent from and to many corners around the globe.