Rock ‘n’ roll has been a cultural pillar for Polish-born Ania Thomas for more years than she probably cares to remember. With music influences from all points of the compass, Ania has taken her love for killer guitar rock and developed her own unrestrained style not only as a guitarist, but a singer songwriter, producer, and collaborator too. Of the back of her recently released haunting new single Poison, from her forthcoming EP, Ania In Chains, Los Angeles-based Ania Thomas dropped by to talks to us about her music journey (so far) and her mission to help women in the music industry.
Ania, why is music so important to you?
Music has guided me through rough times and has always been there for me when nobody has, especially while growing up. I also always found music to be a connecting point and a way for people to communicate very intense emotions or things that we cannot say to one another in the form of words.
Lastly, music is a powerful way to unite people and bring people together. It can be a vehicle for social change and a way to fight the status quo as seen with bands such as System of a Down and Rage Against the Machines.
These are some reasons why music is so important to me. I believe it is a lifestyle and a way you choose to live.
When did you first fall in love with the guitar and who were the musicians that inspired you to play?
I first fell in love with the idea of wanting to play guitar when I was a kid and always enjoyed dancing in front of my TV while watching Polish MTV called Viva. Then I picked up the guitar when I was 15 (moving to the U.S) and was largely inspired by Kurt Cobain and Jimi Hendrix. Some other bands include Nirvana, The Smashing Pumpkins, Chevelle, Soundgarden, Audioslave, Nine Inch Nails, Deftones and many more.
Do you have a go-to guitar that suits your style of playing?
Yes. That is my Ibanez RGRT 421 and my Sterling Music Man Jp16. I love all kinds of guitars and always dream of getting more!
Tell us about your experiences splitting time between Los Angeles and Chicago as a musician?
In Chicago, I studied music at School of Rock and took lessons at a Moms and Pops music store from a Jazz teacher from Berklee named John. At SOR, I learned how to play guitar in band settings, met musician friends, and played song covers live for practice. I still havent had the chance to explore Chicago’s music scene when it comes to gigging the way I want too (and now the pandemic 😦 )
Eventually, I ended studying music at USC Thornton in Los Angeles. In LA, I also studied at Musicians Institute (famous GIT). Being a part of these schools, led me into attending local jams in Los Angeles on the sunset strip. In LA, I was lucky enough to really experience the local music scene and meet many musicians with whom I played with.
I was wondering if you could elaborate a little bit about your involvement with Gritty in Pink?
Before Covid, I was a part of Gritty in Pink which was a female community platform to empower female musicians. We had a monthly residency at a venue called the Satellite in LA and first Tuesday of each month we would have female fronted bands/ artists perform. This event would be followed by an all girl jam where we played covers of famous songs. Now the project turned into a live streaming performance every Tuesday. I hope the residency will resume after the pandemic! I really miss performing live.
What sort of obstacles have you encountered along your journey as a female musician?
I have encountered many obstacles that range from time management, to projects taking too long to finish, to not having enough people on my team(no label/manager), to not having money, to being affected by the quarantine and etc.
When it comes to being a female musician, the one annoying thing is you always need to prove yourself and go beyond 100% to gain respect from males. It is annoying to be always tested.
Poison, the latest single from your upcoming EP, Ania in Chains, takes a swipe at what’s wrong with America at the moment. Is that a fair assessment? Can you also tell us a little about how it came about?
Yes, that is a fair assessment. I wanted the song in some way to be a political commentary on the world and for the song to do what songs by Rage Against the Machines and System of a Down do. Poison is definitely not an aggressive satirical song with a specific direct message, but I believe still shocks the listener and makes them think. (even just the video- since there is a scene where Trump plays drums in my band and I fight him). The song is meant to pause and have the listener take a step back to analyze what and who is running our world. In the end, I want people to realize that we all can be a part of a greater change for the future and that it takes one person to improve the world.
I enjoy very much how you don’t lock yourself into any particular style or genre. For instance Doors Close has a hard rock feel to it, and Runaway resembles a straight rocker. Poison on the other hand has a bluesy feel to it. How do you decide what feels right to play at any given time?
So far I am exploring my sound as an artist and I love all kinds of music. Music for me is like eating food.. you do not eat the same thing everyday. You get bored! Gotta switch it up!!
As a music student in college, you are also forced/introduced to play different genres so probably that is how you hear different influences in my music. Now I find myself listening to jazz when I get tired of rock.
These first songs I am releasing are my first ever written original material where I’ve been trying new things and learning how to write songs. Some of these songs Ive been writing for more than 2 years, so they drastically morphed. For instance, Poison, I wrote 2 years ago and finally officially finished the arrangement last December. It was not until last summer that the song got synths and a bridge.
How far away before we get to sample your forthcoming EP?
One more song away. Once Tuesdays will be released with the video the EP will be finished. I might add a bonus song.
When it comes to releasing music, I wanted to try something new and to release one song at a time along with a video. I believe EPs are dying too so releasing songs one by one keeps your listeners engaged.
Do you think it’s attainable for musicians in the US to get out and play live shows anytime in the near future?
I’m not sure because we’re in this pandemic but currently musicians are live streaming their shows. I definitely hope that by January of next year touring will resume because I dream of going on tour with my original music.