In Love & WAR is giving us flowing, angelic and mystical vibes with her musical curations. As the sole member of In Love & WAR, Koi Anunta is pouring her passion and emotion into the music she creates. Producing eclectic sounds, In Love & WAR represents a refreshing, trip-hop style that runs along a contemporary and innocent sound. In Love & WAR has always integrated music into anything she has pursued in life, from her medical work, to any volunteer work she does, In Love & WAR instills a musical note in everything and anything she does. An amicable artist, In Love & WAR accentuates her musical talent in the best ways possible, and we're ever so thankful that she has recently shared her latest album with listeners: "Tessitura".
"Stars" is the first track off of In Love & WAR's album "Tessitura". In Love & WAR begins her album with an incredibly sinuous and ethereal sound, drawing in any listeners attention immediately. Saying In Love & WAR's sound is tranquil would be an understatement. In Love & WAR creates music that is beyond tranquility, it resonates deep within the hearts of her listeners, and creates intangible ambiance. Her vocal dynamics are stellar, to say the least. Giving us notable vocal elements from artists such as Zee Avi, In Love & WAR embodies a serene environment, especially so in "Stars". Her voice will lure you in, and her overall execution is mesmerizing. Give a listen to "Stars" if you're in the mood for an eclectic, angelic experience!
Discover "Stars" here, and keep reading our in depth interview with In Love & WAR below!
Hi In Love & WAR! Please tell our readers a bit about your latest album release "Tessitura"! How was the overall production of this album?
Sure! The word "tessitura" is a musical term that represents the range of notes in which a singer is most comfortable and sounds the best--not necessarily the upper and lower extremes of that singer's range. So, I thought "Tessitura" was fitting as a name for our debut EP since this was the first time in my life I actually felt comfortable showing my original music to the world. The reason why I've released any music at all is because last year, I happened to meet a producer from Capitol Records who had heard of me (as a violinist), and after we became friends, he insisted on hearing my original music. When I finally gave in (after refusing many times lol) and played him a demo of "Stars," which is now the first track on the EP, he convinced me that the vocals and the song were great, and that I should complete and release a full EP. I figured he knew what he was talking about, so that's what I did! I wrote and funded the EP totally by myself without any further help from him or any other producers, and thus produced the EP myself, as well.
I always had a very clear idea of what I wanted the songs to sound like, and basically just did my best to get the music to turn out how I imagined it all inside my head. My music is very electronic, but not in terms of EDM--it's synth-based, and towards the alternative/goth/industrial side of things, since I'm heavily influenced by Nine Inch Nails and Depeche Mode; however, because I'm also a classically-trained pianist and violinist, there are a lot of cinematic and symphonic elements, as well. Finally, the lyrical content is very much singer-songwriter, especially since I have a very breathy, low, and soothing voice. So, the end result, as far as I can tell, is more trip-hop than anything else, which is what has caused many fans and reviewers to draw comparisons to Portishead and Massive Attack, both which bands are also major musical inspirations for me. As a pianist, it was natural for me to play all the keyboards and program all the MIDI. I was already familiar with Logic Pro X as a DAW, since I frequently complete remote violin recordings at my home studio. For the same reasons, I wrote, arranged, and played all the strings at home. Next, I brought my wonderful friend Mike Diggs (The Gutter Daisies, The Puscie Jones Revue; IG: @mikeondrums) into the studio to play live drums for the whole EP (except for "Something To Believe," on which he programmed drums), and then on track 4, which is the most upbeat track on the EP, I had the amazing Jake Faun (DNCE; @jakefaunmusic) send guitar parts from his studio in England, and Ricky Berger (IG: @rickybergermusic) played the flute at Ali's. I had given them all some general thematic guidance, but of course, since I trusted their musical expertise as top musicians in their respective fields, I let them run wild with their own ideas. I always believe you should let musicians who play the instrument you're wanting in the song to create their own parts--they know what will sound best, far better than you would.
Then, one of my original band mates from the first rock band I ever played in, Ali Nikou (IG: ali_nikou_music), is now a successful mixing engineer, so I had him mix the tracks for me. We worked side by side for months, and it's really a miracle that he didn't murder me lol as I was so incredibly particular about every detail on the EP. Finally, Andrew Balogh mastered the EP. The whole process lasted from June through early October, and it was essentially non-stop daily work--probably 12-17 hours a day. My entire life had come to a halt in order to accommodate the EP! But in the end, i'm very proud of what we managed to accomplish, totally independently and without outside help!
"Stars" is angelic in every way. We feel uplifted listening to the sound of your voice! What kind of atmosphere are you going for when curating songs like "Stars"?
Thank you so much for the wonderful compliments about this song! I had intended for "Stars" to have an overall soothing, dreamy feel since it was created while thinking of how, when lovers are separated by distance or time, one will often wonder if the other person is thinking of them, so reassurance is key--and that is reflected in a vocal melody that is centered around just a few notes to represent stability and safety. But even when on the other side of the world, if you look up at the sky, there will eventually be visible stars--the same stars that the other lover sees wherever he/she is. So, it occurred to me to write about that constant in the sky, visible from any place on earth, that can make you feel as if you're closer to your loved one--and that as long as that person doesn't look away from the sight of the stars, perhaps you can imagine that his/her gaze is reflected in that light right back into your own eyes. So, I created a lot of swirling, ambient sounds using synths to hint at the presence of the cosmos, with some shimmering twinkles here and there to represent the light of the stars in the sky.
The introductory mournful solo violin is like the voice of one lover calling out to the other, and it's answered later in a variation of the same melodic theme, like the other lover would in his own words. The lyrics also have a fairly unusual structure since there's really only one verse in the entire song (the first verse) and then the rest of the song are variations of the pre-chorus and chorus, which again are meant to be reassurances. The bridge lyrics are meant to represent when the light of the stars fades from night into day, and with that, the narrating lover's hope that her loved one is thinking of her fades, too. The lyrics call to mind the old saying, "Absence makes the heart grow fonder," by suggesting that the couple has been told that distance will only strengthen their relationship--but again, in this bridge, the narrating lover starts to lose confidence and questions the endurance of their love. The repetition of the line "I used to think we would last forever" is this lover attempting to tell herself that these words ARE true, and that their love WILL endure, but it dangles on a slightly discordant note which, again, suggests there's a cliffhanging question that hasn't yet been answered satisfactorily. Then, the final chorus combines all of the preceding elements: the soothing assurance that the stars will keep the two lovers close, juxtaposed with a faint, secondary backing vocal which asks several questions in a row: " Am I still inside your heart? Do you see the things I see? Everything's falling apart--do you still believe in me?"
And then, finally, with more energy, and a kind of cool, determined resolve, the narrating lover declares what will be so: alone in the dark, she knows the lover is close by in spirit, and that she will cease to worry about it. It's actually occurred to me that the narrating lover may well be speaking from beyond the grave, looking down on the earth from amongst the stars themselves and the dark universe that surrounds them, hoping that her lover will look up at the stars and remember her. I did make a lyric video for "Stars" (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YY_uMHdyCMo) that hints at this, but if I ever manage to put together a "real" music video for this song, I will definitely try and incorporate that idea!
"Stars" had an undeniable lyrical presence to it. What would you say is the most impactful lyrics from the track?
Thank you so much again for such a wonderful compliment. I'd say my favorite lines are: "I can hear the beating of your heart, even though that we’re a thousand miles apart" and the bridge lyrics, "Everything's falling apart--do you still believe in me?"
Did you happen to come across any creative blocks when writing "Stars"? How do you typically get past creative blocks in your writing process?
I did and I didn't have a creative block. I actually wrote the lyrics for Stars several years ago--I think maybe as far back as 2015-2016. I nearly always write the lyrics for my songs first, as I tend to write when I'm overwhelmed with a particular emotion (usually lost love, sadness, or I've just read something beautiful or particularly moving in a book) so once I complete the lyrics, sometimes I just set aside the lyrics for years until I happen to come up with music that needs lyrics. Then I'll sit and go back over my old lyrics to see what might fit, and in this case, the lyrics I had for Stars happened to fit the music I had just put together separately, and so with a few lyrical adjustments, the lyrics for Stars just dropped neatly into the new song. So, I wouldn't say it was a block, but I just had to wait until the music was ready, and I can never predict when melodic inspiration will strike me, since it's not nearly as tied to emotions for me as lyrics are. So, this potentially years-long process is how I usually create songs lol, but sometimes the gap between lyrics and music is only a few weeks or days.
There have been a few notable exceptions, however, when I've written the music first and then the lyrics appear all at once: the best example would be track 2 of the EP, "Something To Believe," which, interestingly enough, is the only "happy" song I've ever written. For that song, I just happened to be listening to some pop music (in particular, "The Outfield" by The Night Game and "Somebody Else" by The 1975 and I just came up with the chord progressions and vocal melodic lines. Within a couple hours, I had all the lyrics done. Lol, I wish I could perform all these activities on demand as the way I've been doing things isn't the most efficient, but unfortunately, it usually is best when I just allow the process to happen whenever it wants! Every time I do get a "block," which is when I have literally forced myself to write lyrics or music when I'm not particularly inspired, it never turns out well, so for me, I think it's best to just leave it alone and move on with my life. It'll come when it feels like it, if it's meant to!
What's next for you now that your EP has just dropped?!
The $10 million dollar question, lol! Considering the relatively new environment we're in now with the decentralization of record labels, I feel like the best course of action is to try to get as many people as possible to listen to the music, as only then will we be able to see if people like it, or if people REALLY like it. Traditionally, unsigned bands would play shows in small towns as frequently and as far as their personal budgets would allow, but my perspective is that I want to use the power of the internet and social media to broadcast the music to as many people as possible at once. I have been extremely fortunate that the few times I've reached out to the press, publications like yours have responded positively, so I am proud to say that since our first-ever EP was released June 21, just under 2 months ago at the time of this writing, we've already been featured in FIVE magazines (Yale Alumni Magazine, EARMILK, Voyage LA Magazine, Rock Cellar Magazine, and Music Connection Magazine). Our one and only live performance was given for a radio station with a YouTube channel with 1 million subscribers (Wish 107.5 FM USA on August 14, 2019), so the live stream actually attracted 4700 viewers! I don't know too many independent bands that can say that their VERY first show had 4700 eyes on them! So, going forward, I'd like to keep trying to pursue large-scale opportunities like this to get the word out.
I'm happy to say that the EP has been signed to the sync agency Song And Film, so hopefully, with a lot of luck, we'll be able to get a song placed on a TV show or in a film, which would be an excellent way to broadcast the music to a large audience all at once. The short art film music video I wrote, directed, and edited for track 3 of the EP, "Gun To My Head" (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M3-N1U3o2jw) which is about having the courage to break free from a routine city, situation, relationship, or life that you can no longer stand, has actually gotten 14,000 views on YouTube and 350,000 views on Facebook since I released it on June 14, 2019, so that's another way of possibly reaching a large number of people. We have another performance with the radio station coming up on August 31, so I am excited about that! With so many choices for music and entertainment these days, it's hard to break through all the noise, but I think as long as we persevere, and as long as we keep receiving super positive comments from the press (like you, thank you so much!!) and from the fans, and as long as the fan base continues to grow, I think we're probably doing the right thing! So we'll see!! It's still super early!!
Catch up with In Love & WAR via her socials below!