Welcome to The Drop, Refinery29's home for music video premieres. We want to shine the spotlight on women artists whose music inspires, excites, and (literally) moves us. This is where we'll champion their voices.
Anna Akana is no stranger to performing. As a popular YouTube creator, actor (Awkward., Ant-Man), podcaster, Emmy nominee, producer, and writer she's garnered an impressive audiences for her myriad of talents in front of the camera. Now, she's dipping her toe into the world of music — premiering a music video with The Drop for her latest single, "Alone Together."
" I've been a filmmaker for the last decade, so visual media has come much more naturally to me than my venture into the music world," Akana told Refinery29 of her new video. "I wanted to showcase the story of two women who have broken up and are navigating that, but in a way that showed their similar journeys of suffering. Even if you're the person who breaks someone else's heart, there's pain in doing that, and I don't think we give enough credence to that side."
Ahead, Akana breaks down her new music, the edgy visuals for her album, and how she handles break-ups.
Refinery29: Tell me about writing this song — what inspired it?
Anna Akana: "This one flowed out of me. The verses are almost word for word from a breakup I went through with someone who decided they didn't feel the same way about me anymore. Instead of being upset about it, I [felt] like, 'I love you so much that love you enough to let you go because I want you to be happy. If that's not going to be me, who am I hold you back?' It's sad and poetic."
Was that a feeling you'd ever had before during a breakup?
"No! [laughs] Normally I am very upset. This was the most maturely I ever handled a breakup. It was a surprise. "
Where did the concept for this video come from?
"Most of the videos on my visual album have been creatives concepts that came from me. I've been a filmmaker for the last decade, so visual media has come much more naturally to me than my venture into the music world. I wanted to showcase the story of two women who have broken up and are navigating that, but in a way that showed their similar journeys of suffering. Even if you're the person who breaks someone else's heart, there's pain in doing that, and I don't think we give enough credence to that side.
The director of the video is Maggie Levin, a close friend of mine who is an amazing writer, director, and woman. It was mostly all women above and below the line on the production, which is fantastic. We wanted to showcase LGBTQ+ in a way that wasn't overt but just happens to be a love story with two women at the center. We filmed over two days in downtown Los Angeles, which was a trip. We had a lot of fun bloopers with people going right in front of the camera and making faces."
Why did you choose to use split-screens to drive the narrative?
"I've always loved them, and I think a director who does them well is Edgar Wright (Baby Driver, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World). I loved the idea of having your eye constantly engaged by two different storylines that parallel what the other is going through. It conveys the idea that although you feel completely alone in times of suffering, there is someone else out there going through something similar, feeling that same sense of aloneness."
When you write a song about someone or about a relationship, do you think an artist has to tell the other person?
"No, I would say as long as it's not something that would hurt their feelings or be considered inflammatory — I've had songs written about me. When its something cruel feeling or that they didn't bring up in the relationship, I'll reach out to say I heard it and it hurts my feelings. But I think with [the] message [in my song] doesn't require reaching out."