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HeartSongs - 20171016

  • Published in Columns

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 youre doing when youre 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, theres 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 youre 18: Go to school and get a degree, get high get drunk in the backseat, youre 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?

Eighteen, eighteen



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?





Anja Kotar Redefines Cool With New Album

  • Published in News

On May 25th Anja Kotar released her debut full-length album, Nomad, along with her online store 'Too Cool’. With electronic 80’s drums inspired by Phil Collins, Prince vocal filters, The Weeknd synths, and Lana Del Rey lyricism, Nomad stands for 21st century coming of age music.  Between working on her undergrad at Berkeley College, 13 years of training in classical piano, and being awarded Slovenia’s 2016 Best Pop Song, Anja’s preparation for this album has been quite extensive.  A concept album structured as a mixtape/playlist that is listened to during a car ride, Nomad was born upon completing a $20,000 Kickstarter project. Nomad tells her personal story of growing up in America, but can be a voice for any young person who feels lost and struggles with the pressures of growing up.

Anja says “How To Be Cool”, the debut single off the album, "poses the question that is being untangled throughout the album - the everlasting obsession with being cool. Especially for young adults, it seems to be the golden standard but no one seems to know exactly what it is. This leads to pop culture fabricating their own ideals, often setting very unrealistic or even dangerous bars.”

Anja Kotar had her first taste of the arts while studying piano, dance and acting in the blockbuster movie, Going Our Way, and its sequel while in Ljubljana, Slovenia. After moving to San Jose, California in 2012, Anja continued her studies at the Valley Christian Conservatory. It was then that she became heavily involved with theater and jazz. Anja used her time at VC Conservatory to perform in multiple shows and even start writing and directing full-length productions such as; “Godspell.” Anja also earned a Voice Certificate from Berkeley College of Music after taking online courses while she was in high school. Upon graduation, Anja attended the prestigious Broadway Artist Alliance in New York City. At 17 she then completed her widely successful Kickstarter project, which had 156 supports who pledged anywhere from $5 to $1000 in return for background footage, memorabilia and lastly, Nomad itself.

After the release of her EP Anja was invited to perform at the Slovenian Song Festival (DSZG) the longest running festival in the country that features the country’s top talent and is the most viewed show in the country. After performing her original "Čas Je Zdaj" (The Time Is Now) and "Too Cool” live, Anja was nominated by RTV for Best Performance, Best Song, and Best New Artist, walking away with 2016’s Best New Artist. She then was nominated for Best Pop Song at the 2016 American Songwriting Awards.

Currently, Anja is working to complete her Bachelor’s degree from Berkeley College of Music nearly two years early, promoting her brand new release, Nomad (produced by three–time Grammy nominated producer, Pascal Guyon), along with launching her online store, Too Cool, which will connect music and fashion.


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