Today, we’d like to introduce you to the Los Angeles-based musician, animal advocate, environmentalist, and all-around changemaker Inanna. About a month ago, she released a spectacular, cinematic tune called ‘The Battle’, and we at Indie Top 39 simply fell in love. We then found ourselves listening to some of her previous releases and digging deeper into her story. Quickly realising that there was something rather special about this musician, we were thrilled when she agreed to be interviewed by us. So, without further ado, please give a warm welcome to Annalisa Giolo, AKA Inanna.
Hello Inanna! We’re honoured to introduce you to our audience today. Now, I know that you’re a lot more than just a musician. You’re also a belly dancer, an environmentalist, and an animal advocate. When did you decide to combine all of these passions into your music?
It all started at the beginning of 2019. I had moved to Los Angeles just some months before and I knew I wanted to continue my music career in my new home. In those months all the climate protests led by Greta Thunberg started to gain momentum. I had always been a nature and animal lover, but I never understood the gravity of what’s happening to the planet and animals on Earth. The combination of my passion for alternative music and the feeling of urgency, the need to speak up on behalf of the Earth and animals, made me decide to dedicate all my music to environmental and animalist issues.
Adding Middle Eastern touches to the songs came spontaneously, simply because I have been a belly dancer for half of my life and I have always loved Arab culture, music and rhythms. I just wanted to honour it and draw upon all my involvement and studies of Middle Eastern music and dance. It also goes very well with the style and imagery I chose, inspired by the goddess Inanna, contributing to giving a timeless feel to the project as a whole.
I have to admit that your latest single ‘The Battle’ was my introduction to your music, but I know that you’ve released a lot of material prior. I imagine this is like asking you to pick a favourite child, but which tune are you most proud of to date?
I think my favourite is still ‘Change’, a strong environmentalist anthem that came out last year for Earth Day. But I also love ‘The Beauty of All Things’ (an entirely a-cappella song) and ‘Collapse of an Empire’, a song I released in February and that will have an impactful music video very soon.
‘The Battle’ is truly an incredibly moving and entrancing track. I won’t lie…I’ve had it on repeat for most of the day. Released on Friday the 22nd of April, Earth Day, what does the song ultimately mean to you?
I am so glad you like it! ‘The Battle’ was born as an anthem song dedicated to all the indigenous people and environmental activists who lose their lives because of their courage to speak up and defend their lands and the planet. ‘The Battle’ means that sometimes the time to stand up for nature comes for real, and that there’s a strong need for new positive heroes who are willing to fight for the future of the Earth.
I know that you actually hosted an Earth Day event in Los Angeles last month. Please tell us more about that.
It was a wonderful event, sponsored by Soho House, called “Arts for a Better Earth”. I recently started a new initiative together with a colleague of mine, it is called Better Earth Media and it is an organization that promotes artists dedicating their work to environmental and animalist causes. This was our first event: we hosted a panel discussion and showcase representing different areas of the arts (film, music, documentary, literature…), where I had the honour to sit together with Benjamin Grant of Overview, Kevin J Patel of One Up Action, film directors Leila Conners and Shaun Monson, writer and NAPSA Program Director Erika Fleury. The panel was followed by a reception with plant-based snacks and an opportunity to network.
I love hosting and gathering people to discuss, create and connect over the most important issue of our age: saving what we can still save of this beautiful planet.inanna
The accompanying visualizer for the song, as simple as it is, is extremely powerful and hard-hitting. It really makes one stop and think. Do you feel an extra sense of responsibility to use your voice for change, or is it something that just comes naturally?
I still don’t know if ‘The Battle’ will have an official music video or not, but I wanted to release it with a visualizer for now and the idea of giving a homage to the perished environmental activists was stuck in my head for some days until I decided to do it. The song is dedicated to them.
It was hard to do the research and I had no idea that so many people are still killed every year for what they believe in, or because they try to protect a forest or an animal. I couldn’t include them all of course, so I chose the ones of the last few years that I could find a picture of. I hope their deaths won’t be in vain and that their courage to speak up will inspire the new generations and all of us.
Could you tell us a bit about your creative process? Not specifically for ‘The Battle’, but in general. How do you take an idea and turn it into the finished product?
I usually have a list of different environmental or animalist topics and, depending on the mood of the track I’m creating, I decide which topic fits the music best. Other times I build a full song in some hours, lyrics and music together, when I am suddenly inspired by something I have seen or heard.
This limited “playground” of having to deal only with Earth topics has given me the most inspiration and I am constantly feeling I have so much to say and write about.inanna
I’m a sucker for having to know the origins of a band’s name or an artist’s moniker. Where exactly did the name Inanna come from?
Inanna is the name of the ancient Sumerian goddess of love, harvest, and fertility, but also of justice and war. In taking on the task of dealing with these enormous planetary topics, I thought that only the name of an ancient goddess could sustain that weight. And I loved her duality: light and dark, masculine and feminine, love and revenge, nurture and rage.
Also, part of my birth name (Annalisa) is contained in Inanna. I felt that in Inanna I could be an exaggerated version of myself, the part of me who has the courage to talk about all these things on a stage.
Who would you put down as some of your biggest musical influences? What and who did you grow up listening to? And would you say that your tastes have changed or evolved over the years?
It’s hard to pick influences as I tried to create a genre of my own and I can never really find comparable artists. The band Orange Blossom does contemporary rock fusion with Middle Eastern music, and I love them. I guess it’s inevitable to find traces of Placebo, Björk and Sigur Ros in some parts of my music, I have always admired them.
Some people have told me that I remind them a bit of Evanescence or Madonna.inanna
Lately, I have been listening to grandson, Woodkid, the new Placebo album and a lot of Egyptian classics.
What song do you love that you wish you’d written?
That’s a great question. I am between ‘From a Shell’ by Lisa Germano, ‘Varuđ’ by Sigur Ros, and ‘Twenty Years’ by Placebo.
Just getting back to your activism for a moment, because I think it’s vitally important, what do you believe is the biggest environmental threat that we currently face today?
I think the biggest threat is the big misinformation, miseducation, and even denial about climate issues, species extinction, and animal suffering in the current farming systems. When you’re in the know, you act, or at least you try. But when you don’t know, it’s hard to relate and take action or have the motivation to change.
What would success look like for you in the music industry, and do you place any importance on it when you’re creating new music?
I feel very successful when fans write to me saying “it’s amazing that you’re talking about the Earth in your music, someone had to do it”. Or when they go plant-based inspired by my posts, or when someone tells me how necessary it is to come together for the planet through music and arts.
And for the rest, success to me always meant to be surrounded by people who I admire, by those who have always inspired me.
You’re allowed to collaborate with one musician or band. Who do you choose?
Definitely a duet with Brian Molko of Placebo.
What do you hope for in the future? Both musically and personally.
I hope that humans will manage to come together to protect everyone’s home: this planet. I hope to see a drastic change in our ways of dealing with nature and consumption. I would like to see how nature’s health takes central attention in our culture, and the preservation of the riches and beauty of this planet becomes a priority for world leaders and all of us. On a personal level, I hope that my music will reach many hearts and will contribute to normalising the environmental discourse in the arts, in media and in our daily lives. We must become eco-citizens of the Earth, and we must do it fast before it’s too late.
I hope my art will inspire people to come together, sing together and defend nature’s rights for us, for all animals and for the future of the planet.inanna
We added Inanna’s single ‘The Battle’ to the playlist of all the artists we interviewed so far.
Don’t be shy to give it a listen!