YouTube has become famous as a gold mine for hilarious cat videos, make-up tutorials, and auto tuned news casts. But every so often, it provides a platform for talented artists who deserve their time in the spotlight. Anna Scouten, Canadian musician, singer, and songwriter, is one of these gems that has been allowed to sparkle. Though she started as a cover-artist strumming her guitar in front of a webcam, in the past four years she has received hundreds of thousands of hits on her videos. Anna recently released her first EP, recorded a music video for her song “Monsters”, and featured in the music video for the song “What Have I Done?” with artist Joshua Hyslop. At only 20 years old, Anna has managed to carve her name into the grains of the music industry and she is far from finished. BY DANIELLE BRADLEY
Cliche: How did you get into making videos for YouTube? What encouraged or inspired you?
Anna Scouten: A parent at my music school first suggested the idea to me and I just decided to try it out. I never ever ever thought it would lead to such great things.
How do you think YouTube propelled your musical career?
It’s brought me into contact with some really great opportunities. The song I did with Joshua Hyslop was such a great experience that probably wouldn’t have happened without YouTube. And through that experience I’ve met my manager and producer, Tyler Johnson, who has been such a force in my music career. Also being able to have people listening from all over the world is so cool!
How long have you been playing the guitar and singing? Do you play any other instruments?
I started taking guitar lessons from my neighbour when I was 11 or 12 and with that I started singing. I’m part of a very musical family so music has always been a huge part of my life and we always had instruments lying around the house – it was inevitable that I’d pick one up and start dabbling around. I also play the banjo and piano a bit, basically most string instruments I can tinker around on but I am definitely no expert!
On YouTube, you cover a variety of lesser-known musicians such as Bright Eyes, Bon Iver, and Feist. How have these and other musicians influenced and inspired your music?
Those particular artists have inspired me a lot, especially when I was first beginning to play music. Feist is such a wonderful songwriter and musician; it’s hard to not get inspired by her music! Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes has always been a lyrical influence for me; he has a crazy way of putting huge concepts and ideas into beautiful lines that I’ve always found cool. Bon Iver makes the most heartbreaking thing sound lovely, but more than that I like that the members don’t just stick to the heartbreak lullabies, but they have their own cool projects going. It makes me realize you don’t always have to be one thing.
After performing covers for quite a while, what are your intentions in recording this self-written EP? In other words, what do you hope to accomplish as a musician/songwriter?
The idea with the EP was to basically just see what happens! I want to pursue music and see where that takes me so this seemed like the place to start. In the long run, I hope it leads to a life with a lot of music and a career in doing what I love.
The greatest thing ever! We didn’t really have a plan (I hate planning things), so we just had some musicians and friends come in and see what they could contribute and it ended up coming together pretty nicely! I’m pretty uncomfortable performing to be honest, so it took some time to get used to playing in front of people so often. Once I got over that, the rest was breezy!
Why did you decide to keep the cover of Feist’s “Intuition” on your EP?
I just love that song so much. I think it’s so powerful in a subtle way (cheesy line but true!). The lyrics don’t read in a linear way so it’s easy to not understand it fully until you really listen and I think that’s so cool.
How does it feel to have a completed EP of your own songs out for purchase?
It feels really wonderful. It’s a little scary too, having things that are so personal just floating about out there, but it does feel like a huge accomplishment!
Often times, an EP will lead to a full-length album…is that a possibility in your future?
Definitely! I can’t wait to get back to recording. I hope many full-lengths are in my future!
What has it been like juggling life as a student while recording and producing an EP?
It’s been a bit of a challenge. Firstly with time, I don’t have as much time as I’d like to have to spend on writing or playing shows. Also when I’m in school-mode, my head is just in a different mind space I guess. I get used to thinking in an academic way that I find it harder to think creatively so I’m really excited for graduating and being able to put all my energy into music!
Although you mostly play local shows in Canada, are you planning to do any US touring in the future?
I hope so! I would love to do that. I only have one year left in school and then I would love to do some touring either in Europe or the US. Or both!
What advice would you give to beginning artists such as yourself?
I would say to stick to your guns! It’s easy to get swayed by fancy people telling you where to go and what to do when you’re just a little guy. You think they know more, but it’s so important to follow your gut and do what you want!
Check out Anna’s video for “Monsters” from her new EP!
Photo courtesy of Ed Gumuchian
Album Cover courtesy of Julia Bendtsen
Video courtesy of Phil Creamer