ANNA JAROSZ MOVED halfway around the world to follow her dream, but the Scottish singer finds that her new home in Greenpoint isn’t so far from home after all.
“[It] reminds me very much of the music scene in Edinburgh,” she explains over tea at Smooch, a café in less musically waterlogged Fort Greene. “You really have to get in there to get to know everyone, and I feel like I’m still kind of doing that.”
But the preferred stomping ground of Brooklyn’s music makers suits Jarosz just fine. She arrived in New York nearly two years ago with no record label, agent or money, just a debut album, Under My Sky, and a desire to test her chops as an artist in a bigger arena. And she found out quickly that making it in New York doesn’t happen the way that you might expect.
“It’s not like being Carrie Bradshaw walking around the city,” she says. “The reality hits you. At first I was cautious of even contacting people. I was scared of being rejected, but every time I got like that I’d re member
I moved all the way over here from Scotland and had to at least try.”
And as she started reaching out to local bars and venues looking to book gigs, Jarosz realized being Scottish—or just being different—worked to her advantage, helping her standout in an otherwise saturated singer-songwriter scene.Thanks to her dedication and charming accent, Jarosz managed to book shows at Zebulon and Pete’s Candy Store as well as Googie’s Lounge on the Lower East Side, where she played her very first New York City gig.
It’s at Googie’s where I first met Jarosz in January. Under the pink lights of the lounge, located in the upstairs of The Living Room on Ludlow Street, she sat behind the piano and played through a set of beautifully tragic new songs.They are the first recordings she’s done since coming stateside, which she plans on releasing online this spring and selling at shows. After apologizing for her frozen fingers and asking the crowd to bear with her while she warmed up, Jarosz, waif-ish and soft-spoken, situated herself behind the white baby grand. She writes about what she knows, which, at the time, were the realities of love, life and going it on her own. A fusion of Fiona Apple’s angst and Regina Spektor’s sensibility, Jarosz mixes just enough emotion into her music to make it reek of real life without being so overwrought it becomes annoying.
“I’ve had advice given to me before that you have to do what’s popular… and you’ll get a big hit, and even though I’d love to write a song that’s really popular and get a huge hit, it’s not really what music is about for me,” she says. “I want to write about stuff that’s real. I want to write about stuff I’ve really experienced.”
She’s had plenty of experience writing about experience. Jarosz started playing the piano when she was 7 years old and now, at 26, she says the one advantage of her philosophy is that she hasn’t had to compromise her sound to please anyone. Fortunately for Jarosz, her raw, emotionally charged approach to making music has started attracting an audience.
And if you ask her to whom she’s speaking, the answer is simple: women.
“I really like Sarah McLachlan,” she explains. “I love Joni Mitchell and female solo artists like that. I’m really drawn to them. [Those artists] spoke to me and I felt like I could relate, and I felt like I wanted to do that back to people.”
Jarosz is trying to do that by putting all her efforts into her new album, which is decidedly New York, dealing with issues like apprehension about moving to the city, looking for love here and spending hours exploring its streets and soaking up its energy.
“New York is definitely more vibrant, and I wanted to reflect that energy in my new songs,” she explains. “So much more has come into my life since moving here, I wanted to have that reflect in my new album to show now where I am in my life as opposed to where I was before.”
> Anna Jarosz
Feb. 24, Northeast Kingdom, 18 Wyckoff Ave. (at Troutman St.), Brooklyn, 718-386-3864; 10, Free.