Portland-based Pink Feathers, aka Liz Anjos, is known for her electro-pop music influenced by everything from Hollywood nostalgia to girl groups of the 1960’s. She burst onto the scene in 2014 with her debut EP Invisible Lines, showcasing her shimmering vocals, savvy songwriting, and technical prowess. Now, with her sophomore effort Spring, Anjos digs deep into her musical roots to discover the beauty in ever-changing inspiration.
Anjos, a natural musician, learned to play the piano and flute at a young age. As she blossomed into adolescence, Anjos picked up several more instruments along the way including guitar, mandolin, and violin. Enthralled by darlings of the mid-century such as Debbie Reynolds and Lesley Gore, and gutsy band-fronting powerhouses like Gwen Stefani and Shirley Manson, she knew intuitively that she was born an artist.
Today, Anjos’ musical endeavors have catapulted her to a world stage; from her performances at famed music festivals such as Coachella and Lollapalooza, to recording collaborations with Grammy-winning artist RAC, to her own solo recording project as Pink Feathers. In 2015 she launched her first national tour, playing at venues such as Webster Hall in New York City, the Royale in Boston, and the 9:30 Club in Washington DC. Anjos’ recordings have been remixed by the likes of HOLYCHILD and Eau Claire and notable collaborations include “Dangerous” (Fair Trade EP) with Big Data and RAC, “Can’t Cry These Tears” with trumpeter Spencer Ludwig, and “Radium” with Paris-based duo BASTION.
Of course, Anjos is much more than the sum of her musical accomplishments, which is evident in the musical styling and lyrics of her new EP. For long-time fans of Pink Feathers, Spring might come as an unexpected release. Much more muted are the dance beats of Invisible Lines, and instead, we find Pink Feathers musically matured. Her raw use of piano, flute, percussion, and other instruments on each track offers listeners a chance to hear the real Liz Anjos; the beautiful, bold, often humble songwriter who creates music not so much as an end product, but as an artful expression.
“I stopped trying to be cool [with this EP],” says Anjos, who focused on being herself, and showcases a more well-rounded musical influence with her newest release. Indeed, Spring truly is a fresh start for Anjos, whose second EP comes three years after the first. Battling writer’s block, doubt, and anxiety, the writing of new music did not come easily for someone so musically inclined. “After I wrote and put out my first EP, I thought there would be this upward spiral of creative momentum. I put a lot of pressure on myself and ended up hitting a roadblock,” says Anjos of her fear of the sophomore slump. “I was ready to stop altogether.”
Lucky for us, Anjos didn’t stop creating music, and in turn has delivered a four-track EP that is as refreshing as, well, spring. With intensely skilled production by husband and award-winning artist, André Anjos of RAC, percussion stylings by bandmate and film scorer, Jeffrey Brodsky, and mastering by Stephen Paul (Bit Funk), Anjos set out to make music for herself. “When I finally let go of trying to embody a certain music persona, I started writing things that made me happy, regardless of how nerdy, sentimental, or cheesy I thought they would be.”
Like all things in nature, Spring evolved organically. When electro-pop beats no longer told the whole story for Anjos, she turned to her roots in storytelling, classical melodies, and flute trills that first introduced her to music as a child. “I was in a dark place creatively for a few years, you could call it my ‘winter.’ Exploring the full scope of my identity and creating music that expresses myself more fully is very much my ‘spring’.”
The EP’s single, “Start Over,” immediately alludes to change, perhaps even a new musical direction, with the opening hand-claps and a cappella verse. The tone of the music has matured from Anjos’ previous releases while maintaining the same upbeat rhythms that fans of Pink Feathers have come to expect.
The synth driven Pink Feathers has then not so much dissolved but transformed, much like the budding blossoms and changing seasons of spring. “Radio War,” “Say What You Will,” and even “Start Over” display poppy electronic underlays reminiscent of Invisible Lines, yet introduce fluttering orchestral arrangements and nods to Anjos’ background in classical piano. One could argue that Spring moves dramatically like a pendulum, swinging from the moody dance-pop of “Radio War” to the romantic, wistful waltz of “Doers & Dreamers,” all the while passing through the themes and colors of Anjos’ life.
It is clear Spring is a rebirth of sorts. The four beautiful and expressive songs offer a stripped down version of Anjos, and through it, her true voice shines. “This EP is so starkly different from other music that I’ve made; Spring is a true expression of who I am.”