Welcome to HeartSongs, our regularly scheduled (probably) look at songs and the people who write them. We spoke to Slovenian-American singer Anja Kotar about her new single ‘Eighteen’.
“Eighteen continues the mood of its predecessor, the first single from the album, ‘How to Be Cool’, but in a slightly different tone. I wanted the song to sound like an ‘80s birthday party, complete with big chiffon dresses and pink balloons. Overall, my goal with this song (along with ‘How To Be Cool’) was to get young people thinking about their life choices. Even if what you’re doing when you’re young doesn’t seem like it will have consequences, this is actually the most crucial time of our lives, so as I sing in the song: “Don’t waste your time!”.
My main objective was to create almost a satire of a typical American sugar pop song which is what the chorus embodies. Everything is bright, floating, there’s synths playing around and doing runs in the back, all simulating a happy, carefree environment. However, the rest of the song is a complete juxtaposition to that. While the chorus seems to enjoy and celebrate the fact that someone is turning 18, the rest of the song unveils the darker realities behind that picture perfect world. One of my favorite parts of the song is the pre chorus which feels very much angsty and nervous, embodying the anxious feeling you experience when you’re 18: “Go to school and get a degree, get high get drunk in the backseat, you’re running out of time to be free so get high get drunk in the backseat”. These feel sort of like call and response; the first line talks about what young adults feel pressured to do, the second half is their reaction - finding a moment of calm through distraction instead of doing what they should.
All of the songs from the Nomad album were written at my home on my piano. Once I had a final selection, I started working with my producer Pascal Guyon and doing weekly sessions with him at his LA studio. I had drafts of each song done in Logic on my laptop, then we worked together to ensure that the production emphasizes and enriches the underlining composition. This was one of the first songs from the album that got sonically finished and helped dictate the sound for the rest of the album - especially with the quintessentially ‘80s synth licks in the chorus!
Just as with every song, it’s never complete until it’s released out into the world and other people start impressing their experiences unto it. One of the most incredible privileges of being an artist is seeing people who you’ve never met, who live in a completely different environment than you, relate to and connect with your deeply personal music and lyrics. Ultimately, that’s the true magic of music - bringing people of the most diverse backgrounds together and uniting them through three or so minutes of notes.”
Candlelight illuminating, take a bite
All grown up, patting your shoulders, “don’t screw up”
Text your friends, sneak a bottle in your bag
Sequin dress, fake IDs, girl you're a mess
Go to school and get a degree
Get high, get drunk in the backseat
You’re running out of time to be free
So get high, get drunk in the backseat
Eighteen and doesn’t it seem like fun (like fun)
Eighteen and doesn’t it seem you’re wasting your time?
Here you go, watch the smoke rise as you roll
Don’t you know, you can numb but time won’t slow down?
No one told us what youth feels like
Tiptoeing on broken glass, I
Think I’m going crazy, bleeding
Why walk when you could be running?