When Anouschka’s mother called to say she’d bought a vacation home in Kenya, Anouschka had no idea how profoundly that would affect her own music. The Berlin-based, Swedish-American singer/songwriter was no stranger to international influences, having grown up around the world in a military family. But the energy in Kenya was palpable, and in no time Anouschka was penning inspirational songs like her new single “Shine,” even singing in Kishwahili.
“I don’t write music that comes from any specific faith. What I’ve found is that the songs created in Kenya come from a place of faith because of the energy there,” she says. Working with her mother’s foundation which pays school fees for impoverished children, Anouschka got to know a diverse range of locals. She also met a producer who loved the easy, hopeful feel of her music. “The fifth year I was there I met a producer and he invited me to come work with him in Nairobi. He was a gospel producer, and I was the only non-gospel artist he worked with.” Anouschka remembers the recording experience in a studio in a ghetto area outside Nairobi. “Some days we had electricity, some days we didn’t. One day, main sewer had broken in the street below. We couldn’t do anything for hours because it smelled so bad. There were goats walking by. The village drunks were sitting outside drinking whiskey and grunting and having arguments all day. It was not my ideal recording environment, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”
The singer/songwriter has always been curious about other cultures, believing that people are more alike than different. “I was trying to write songs that would appeal to a Muslim or a Christian or any other faith. I wanted it to be family-friendly since everything is so hyper-sexualized. And I just wanted it to be positive,” she says. “Shine” is one such song, an up-tempo number. It is dedicated to unseen heroes and delivered with an audible smile. Anouschka’s optimism is palpable as is her love for the Kenyan community that took her in. “I wrote these songs in Kiswhaili because I wanted to honor the people,” she says of her choice to write bilingual songs.
The new “Shine” was produced by House of Dillie. Anouschka did a media tour for “Shine” in Kenya in 2019 and has performed the song at Canadian and French festivals. She’s promoting the single in the United States now because that’s where she “felt it needed to go.” The song’s message of hope has never been more timely. “I looked at all the horror stories around me and I realized it was because people weren’t shining. When you shine, you’re generous. You’re benevolent. You’re compassionate. We’ve come so far from compassion, I knew that was where the song needed to be.”
She hopes her music will resonate with everyone who’s struggling, whether they’re in Kenya or the United States or anywhere else at all. Not because she wants the acclaim but because she feels a need to contribute positivity to the world. “My songs from Kenya are not just written for me, they are written for the world. I hope this song tugs at people’s heartstrings and makes them open up a little more,” Anouschka says.
– A Swedish American artist with an amazing view of the world, Anouschka is a musician like no other. With goals of expanding cross cultural engagement in music and seeing an industry where women have broken the glass ceiling, she is truly an artist for the people. Even her latest single, “SHINE” focuses on the unsung heroes of our lives and their true importance.
Anouschka grew up playing music, having picked up the guitar around the age of 12. “I grew up in the States and in Europe and in Asia, traveling a lot because my dad was in the military. My grandmother gave me a guitar when I was 12 and I started to teach myself how to play and write songs. It was really because we were moving so much and I never really had a steady network. I was always a new kid at school and writing and singing became an outlet for me. Later on in life, I went to Berklee College of Music and I became a trained guitarist and studied songwriting there as well.”
Having had the opportunity to travel around the world and study a collection of different styles from Rock to Jazz to Blues and Afrobeat, Anouschka is able to put an unmatchable amount of versatility into her music. “I’m a very diverse artist. Because of my experiences, I have no boxes whatsoever.” Because of this, she has the opportunity to create a vast collection of music. “The Africa Collection, which “SHINE” is a part of, is called the Africa Collection because all of the
songs were created with local producers and with a very certain energy that’s very unique to Kenya where I was recording those songs through the years. I would say those songs are sort of on their own and very specific to themselves. The other songs in my catalog range from Blues, Jazz, Pop to Rock. The new songs that I am currently composing in logic are very jazzy and very chill.”
Similar to its creator, “SHINE” is a song with a particularly interesting story of its own. A song written for the unsung heroes, this track has a beautiful melody and meaning. “My favorite part of this song was when I was doing my vocal takes and my friend Pizo Dizo was sitting in the room with me for moral support. After we had done my vocal takes, she looked at me and said ‘Anouschka, you’re making me cry with this song.’ And I said, ‘Are you serious?’ and she was. Pizo is a tough girl, so I really didn’t expect it. She said, ‘Yeah, you really moved me with this song.’ I was so happy when she said that because if you create something and somebody tells you it stirs their soul in some way, there is no greater compliment. So, the minute she said that, I knew I was onto something with this one.”
Aside from her amazing new single, Anouschka has much more to come. She hopes to continue to put out new music of her own as well as continue to improve her producing skills so that she may help other women in the industry build themselves up and create their own music. “My goal is to produce more music on my own as well as start mentoring and also producing other upcoming artists. I’d like to teach other upcoming artists how to be stronger in their own narrative.” She also plans to continue to advocate for creating cross cultural connections in music and breaking down the boundaries between different cultures from an artistic perspective.
Keep up with Anouschka by following her via the links below as she continues an amazing artistic journey.
Anouschka offers a fresh twist on hope with her new single ‘Shine’
Hope is in short supply these days. But the new single “Shine” by Anouschka comforts and inspires. The song evolved from her many years in Kenya.
“‘Shine’ is the song that Kenya and the universe gave me,” Anouschka says. “It’s about the resilience of the human soul. ‘Shine’ showcases a fusion style I pioneered back in 2013. My intent was to make the rest of the world aware of Kenya’s rich music scene and to build cultural bridges. I first recorded with a local producer in a small ghetto outside Nairobi, while goats and village drunks walked by. We mixed Western songwriting and my Kiswahili and English lyrics with local beats.”
Anouschka is half Swedish and half American. She grew up travelling the globe – living in Thailand, Sweden, the United States, Germany, and England. Her musicality mirrors her international life. Anouschka’s repertoire blends Blues, Jazz, Rock, Pop, Reggae, and Urban influences with well-crafted lyrical content.
The new version of “Shine” was recorded at House of Dillie in Nairobi. “This version is made for an international audience because it has a very timely message,” Anouschka says. Her African songs are intentionally spiritual.
“In Kenya, you see how fleeting and precious life is,” she says. “These are dark times. Our cultural, creative and socio-political margins are dangerously narrow. Racism, sexism, cruelty to animals and misuse of our earth abounds. But my travels have taught me that we are more alike than different. Our humanity is defined by how evolved our spirit is. The stronger we shine our light, the more we diminish fear and ignorance.”