Annia Baron wears many hats – singer, musician, yoga teacher, psychologist, walker. Ahead of her Festival of Voices performance she shares what drives her to perform in every part of her life.
What role does being a psychologist play in the other parts of what you do?
It’s just who I am. I get to go to work and be me. Quite curious, quite scientific, quite creative, quite inquisitive about people’s lives. So all of that interplays with each other. The psychology helps me to write songs and be a good yoga teacher. The yoga helps me with the psychology and music. All those three things are like a beautiful triangle in my life where I’m in the centre and those keep me really well balanced. Being a psychologist and being understanding of what people are going through, that helps with songwriting. And the yoga space is an interesting one because there’s so much connection in yoga about learning about yourself, learning about people, shedding layers of yourself, learning to not be bothered about what is happening on the outside, and learning how to trust yourself.
How did you get into music?
My Dad was a preacher so I sang in Church growing up, gospel and all that, and then was a bit of a rebel and left church at 13 and said ‘Dad, I don’t want to do this anymore’. My Dad played guitar and piano and Mum sang. I had a bad experience in Melbourne, where I grew up. Some producers came to my music school and wanted to work with me. I was very young, malleable, and could see through a lot of what was going on and I didn’t like it. I got really disheartened by the industry and I didn’t want to do any of it. Around 19 my Dad got sick and he passed away. After that I shut off from the world, partied hard, did drugs, drank and did whatever to escape the pain, as you do.
What can the audience expect from your Festival of Voices performance?
They can expect some quintessential Annia stuff, which is a smooth mix of some old-school jazz pieces, blues pieces. I also love to take some stuff like Tame Impala and make piano versions that are a little bit fun and different. I’m feeling in a really playful, free sort of headspace and feel like that’s given me permission to explore and take risks with maybe creating or re-creating some well-known songs.
You’ve been doing some hardcore fundraising these past few years.
Yes. Two years ago in the middle of winter I embarked on a bit of a crazy solo walk from Hobart to Launceston. I did that to raise some money and awareness to get music into age care facilities across the state. My beautiful Mum was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s back in 2017. She’s been quite unwell for a long long time, even getting to the point of diagnosis is so hard. I didn’t really tell many people about it at the time. I was like ‘yeah, I’m just going to go for a walk’. I hooked up with a wonderful music therapist up in the north of the state, Alex Morse. We used the funds to then personalise iPod programs for residents who were suffering from dementia. A year after I did the walk, I went back up there to film the outcome. It was really nice to go and see how the loop came back. For me that was quite healing, because it didn’t really make sense to a lot of people why I needed to do this. I was just like, I need to walk, I need to just go.
Will you do it again?
The walk whisper has come back! So, this time I’m going to walk from Hobart to St Helen’s, which will be a little bit longer, maybe a little bit harder.
You’re now based in Hobart. Why Tassie?
I came here for my birthday to see Mona and fell in love with the place. I’m just an outdoor girl at heart and I love being out on the beaches and getting dirty and hiking. The nature here blew my mind. I was applying for my Masters at the time and decided I’ll live here for a couple of years while I study, and then it just grew into my skin. At the time I had a wonderful boyfriend who was also a musician here and he encouraged me to start singing. We sang together at a pub and then things just started again. It was organic in a way. I think I just stopped caring so much about what people might think of what I was doing. I just wanted to do it because I enjoyed it, not to try so hard. That’s where I feel like I’ve found me, with my music.
Does living in Hobart help or hinder your craft?
It’s helped. If you’re open to sharing yourself with people in a real way and letting people in to see you, then it’s supportive of what you want to do here. But you have to be respectful of the environment for what it is. There’s a trade-off of course, for living in a smaller city like Hobart in comparison to Melbourne. For me it’s been wonderful, and when I do get to perform I have friends and family that come and support me, I get to talk to people at shows and it feels like extended family.
Where do you go for your catch-up of choice?
The beach. I think the beaches here in Tasmania are the most beautiful in the world. My little favourite one is Coningham.
What’s your Hobart secret?
Pollen Tea Room. Not so hidden but one of my favourite little eateries for a long time now. The outdoor garden, the fireplace, the delicious, healthy food made with love and creativity, and the kindness and care shown by the owner and those that work there. Whether devouring eggs and olive oil drizzled smashed avocado on sourdough or their heart-warming porridge, every time I leave that place, I am literally filled with joy.
If you could perform on stage with anyone, who would it be?
Definitely Pharell Williams, oh my God, he’s like a monk to me. And hearing him speak, and the attitude he has for life and for wanting to make himself and the world a better place. I really admire that guy.