Three Imaginary Girls

Seattle's Indie-Pop Press – Music Reviews, Film Reviews, and Big Fun

Photo by Sarah Fletcher

Fans of pop music know this: the first time you hear a great and catchy song, one that has a big hook, it will grab you immediately and stick and you’ll want to hear it again and again. When you hear a song like that, you’ll be thanking whoever invented the repeat buttons on CD players or iPods. Such was the case the first time I heard a song called “Boom”.

“Boom” is the first single from Canadian singer-songwriter Anjulie’s self-titled debut album and it topped Billboard’s Dance chart earlier this year and was originally released on an EP in 2008. It’s an up-tempo lust-at-first-sight tune held together with Anjulie’s sultry and seductive harmonies coupled with a jazzy melody. It’s the type of song you’d both hear overhead at a clothing store (like it was when I walked into an H&M recently) and critics might put on their annual best of the year songs list (it’ll likely make mine when my Pazz and Jop ballot is due soon). In the opening verse she coos in the opening verse, “I tell myself it’s not a good idea but the more I hesitate the more I fall for him; I’m trying to erase his face from my memory”. That verse goes straight into the chorus where repeats “boom shalaka”. It’s a feeling that “can’t really be verbalized, so I started saying gibberish” she said to me in a phone interview last week, referring to the chorus.

Although Anjulie says her entire album is quite personal, “Boom” is not about anyone in particular, she insists, but “that physicality you get when you heart sinks.” She adds, “It’s a very sensual feeling and it happens to guys, girls, everybody. I feel like you hear it a lot from the male perspective, like this person is hot and I’m attracted to her, but I think it happens a lot to women, too, and that was my way of expressing it.”

Anjulie (born Anjulie Persaud) who recently added the first half of that hyphenated word to the “singer-songwriter” adjective. She began her professional music career as a songwriter for other musicians. She has written songs for Canadian pop or R&B stars Fefe Dodson and Kreesha Turner and was working with troubled R&B star Chris Brown on his forthcoming and highly-anticipated comeback album. An experience that she told me was “much more intense [because she was] writing for a guy and writing for a guy who is going through a lot.” She added, though, that “it’s fun for me to work with a bunch of different artists because I can jump into who they are.”

It was the personal nature of some of her songs, though, that led to her deciding to pursue a solo career as a performing artist. She told me in our interview, “I wrote a collection of songs that I thought were so personal and I felt like I was the only one who could sing them.” That collection is her first album, self-titled and released by Starbucks’ Hear Music label this past summer. She told me, “ninety-nine percent of the record is completely true. It’s about me and my life, very confessional and autobiographical.” She was quick to note, though, that in one particular song “some of it is made up, like a song about committing suicide, which is overly dramatic and set in a cinematic landscape. That one’s not true, obviously, but most of them are very true.” That song likely is “Fatal Attraction”, a great but depressing ballad whose chorus is remarkably built and has the fictitious anti-heroine pleading “it’s a fay-ay-ay-tal attraction, slay-ay-ave to the passion.”

Listening to Anjulie’s debut album (which was co-written and produced with Jon Levine of Canadian R&B group The Philosopher Kings), a lot of influences from pop, R&B and jazz come through. When asked which artists influenced her songwriting, she said “was inspired by a lot of female singer-songwriters from Missy Elliott to Mellissa Etheridge to Alanis Morissette; women who weren’t afraid to take chances lyrically and wear their heart on their sleeve.” Anjulie, though, does not recreate Jagged Little Pill. “With this record, I wanted to bring it to being a little more lush or romantic and sensual but still keeping the lyrical content raw and edgy,” she explained.

When she comes to Seattle next week, she’ll be opening for R&B star Raphael Saadiq at Showbox Sodo (on Monday, November 16, to be exact). It’ll be his first show in Seattle after a positively electrifying and classy set at the Bumbershoot Festival over Labor Day weekend. When I mentioned in our interview that another R&B artist was added to the lineup, Melanie Fiona, Anjulie said she didn’t know she was also on the tour but was really excited because she and Fiona both have a lot in common and are both Guyanese and grew up in Toronto.

Anjulie has had a lot of success as a songwriter and he portfolio continues to grow but is now ready to take her own star turn, saying “I want to be on stage and I love performing” and adding “I love connecting with people and there is nothing better than sharing that connection with people through my music. I was always drawn to live performances. That was always something I aspired to.”

{Photo by Sarah Fletcher}