I met up with Anna on a beautiful mid-summer day in Greenpoint's McGolrick Park to talk about our generation, consciousness, and feminine energy. Anna and I first met in the summer of 2008 when we were both rather young and wearing too short rompers all over the hot sweaty rooftops of Brooklyn. Since then, she's gone on to be inspiringly successful with her band, QUILT, touring internationally and making beautiful psych-folk-pop music. Their new album, Held In Splendor, is out now on NYC record label Mexican Summer. The sweet ass video for "Tie Up The Tides" can be seen here and you can see QUILT's NPR Tiny Desk Concert here. Anna is a thoughtful, intelligent and talented female, and we're over the moon happy to feature her here as one of Anima Rising's Wild Women.
What is your name?
Anna Fox Rochinski
What are some of the things you do or like to do?
I like to read, I like to play and listen to music, I like to be with my loved ones, I like to explore, I like learning about and collecting vintage musical equipment and being a nerd about it, I like to relax, I like to paint and draw, I like to write, I like to take drives by myself and listen to music, I like to ride my bike, I like to garden, I like astrology, I like cartoons, I like swimming, I like examining the different ways that people work, I like alternative forms of psychology, I like conversations, I like closeness... I'm interested in generational overlap and how each generation finds an identity and how that morphs into the next one and so on. Our generation as a reflection of our parents' (baby boomers) but also related to Gen X, and the "millennials"...
What does feminine energy mean to you?
Hmm. To me, it means nurturing. And from there, it extends into things like listening, cultivating, focusing, loving, expanding.
How do you feel feminine energy plays a role in your daily life?
Well, the most obvious context right now is that I am the only female in my band. I think that everyone carries different levels of male and female energy within them. I believe in gender, I believe in that binary to a certain extent, and I think its a beautiful thing. My "role" in Quilt is something that I am continuing to figure out. There's lots of ways to harness female power in the music world - a balance of retreating and stepping out. Feminine energy is something I think about all the time. For me there’s this balance i’m always trying to strike, in the context of the band and being a woman in the music world, how much time and energy are you going to spend harnessing your feminine energy and using it - what’s the healthy way to exist as a female in the music industry without becoming bitter or angry or resentful towards your placement in it because you are just going to be the only woman in the room a lot of the time, and sometimes it’s hurtful or frustrating but only when i let myself feel insecure about it. The more i stay open and grateful and real about it with everyone, i feel insecure about it less.
Does spirituality plays a role in your life?
Yes, I would say so. A few years back I was exploring my relationship with more physically tangible spiritual communities, whether involving ashrams, certain practices, yoga disciplines, different philosophers, etc. Now, I feel more comfortable outside of those structures, I find plenty of spiritual structure and points of inspiration every day. I don't accept the idea right now of a hierarchy of people, I'm not sure I believe in "elevated" people who can become gurus. I think that carries a lot of inherent egotism and subordinates others to ultimately serve a leader. I think every human carries the potential to reach their highest state of consciousness. It takes practice and bravery but everyone is on their own path and I'm not here to judge any of it.
When did "consciousness" start becoming important in your life?
It always has been, I guess. The word became part of my regular vocabulary early on in college when I took a class called "Consciousness Considered". Through my experiences with meditation, yoga, my relationships with others, and psychedelic drugs and the like, the word took on other meanings. But it's always been important. As a kid i was always reading my mom's psychology textbooks, especially the abnormal psych ones. I was always attracted to the arts as a kid probably because of the ways it allowed me to play with my young "consciousness".
It’s really tricky to integrate your own consciousness shift into the structure of the economy, or of the world, or the realities of creature comforts and getting by and ownership and things like that. I can tell you first hand from chosing to be an artist and be in a band full time. It takes sacrifice and an open mindedness. Money’s not bad, we don’t have any right now, but it’s always a back and forth negotiation thing. I think a reason our generation is so powerful - it’s very apparent that we didn’t grow up as children with the internet and social media and that it became a part of our lives a little later. We’ve grown with it and we’ve been a big guinea pig generation for it but we also, to me, have had that very pure childhood free of cell phones and twitter and whatever else and that’s important to me to remember because we’re the last generation that can say that - i think we hold a lot of power in that way because we have a different perspective. We do, we hold a lot of power in that way. I have a weird relationship with technology, i’m always trying to decide how i want to participate with it. I also think that you have to live in your little era as fully as you can too and you don't want to be a curmudgeon, like, why wouldn’t you have a smart phone in 2014? Just because it’s a gadget doesn’t mean its not expanding peoples' consciousness.
How did you find yourself on the path that you're on now?
Oh man. That's a great question. I think I just had to trust myself. I currently play in a band and I'm very busy with that. The band came from my decision to transfer to an art school in Boston halfway through my college years. I began painting my second year of college after a lifetime of drawing. I began drawing just as an instinct. It all gets traced back to some place.
I had never performed for anyone before, I was so shy, I still am in a lot of ways, but i told myself that winter before i transferred i had to do it - i remember writing it down, it was like "you have to start doing this now, just be really brave” so, little by little, I did and then just kind of jumped in to the Quilt thing. We just went in to it without any expectations at all. It was so fun, it was like, why would i want to stop doing this? And I always knew it was what i wanted to do.
What are some topics that are especially compelling or interesting to you?
Something i think about all the time is our generation’s relationship to counter culture and bohemia and alternative ways of living and thinking as a direct result of our parents' generation. My parents are the baby boomer generation, paving the way for a lot of ideas and concepts and lifestyles that we inherited, we just did. We also are in a position to spread our knowledge more widespread than anyone ever has before and along with the postmodern age it’s completely inevitable that our generation is in this unique position to break things down and reinvent and challenge everything. It’s almost like our destiny, if you think about it. if you think about the path - the 20th century, all the babies that were born in the 80s and early 90s, the timing of everything - we must be here for some purposes of enlightenment - it gets really trippy. A baby being born as an energy that needs to exist at that time for some reason, that’s why generations are so interesting to me because all of those people and their life paths are happening at this one time together for a reason.
I like learning about different systems like astrology, numerology, tarot, etc. I am interested in healing techniques. The idea of healing in general. I am a huge supporter of diet and health and I wish to spread my ideas about health to the world. I'm a vegetarian who consumes very little dairy and I have strong opinions about preservatives and processed food and the unfortunate culture of medicine and disinformation and fucked up shit that causes our modern day diseases. Cancer, autism, alzheimers, etc. I truly think it is environmental and also probably related to incredibly harmful egotistical psychological warfare propogated by our media. All you have to do is use common sense and the causes of these diseases are so obvious. Hormonal imbalances caused by chemicals. Preservatives in shots for babies. The inherent purity of what humans consume, tainted by shit to make it more convenient and "safer". BUT, there will always be disease, always dependent on the specific problems of the times. As soon as someone cures dysentary or the bubonic plague, something new will come along. So... I dunno. Some of it we can help, some of it I'm not sure if we can. Sometimes it's hard for me to not fall into an existential, dark pit, because it's easy to feel like everything you're doing is kind of insignificant and then you die. When I was more involved with spirituality in a very direct way, these feelings weren't really there. I'm a triple earth sign and I sometimes think it makes it hard for me to completely let go.
How do you feel about what is going on now, in the year 2014. Does this year/time feel especially significant to you?
Well, I mean, it's going to slip away into history just like every other year has. People are still the same. Every generation wants a consciousness revolution. Ours is real, it's hard to pinpoint what it is until it's over, though. But I do know that we more readily live in liminal, undefineable spaces, both in terms of our identity and culture, and, probably, our locations. Our generation is much more comfortable with deconstructing and piecing disparate elements together to create new realities.
Are you hopeful about the future?
Sure! But also, I get bummed about it sometimes.
What work do you think needs to be done?
People need to cut themselves away from fear.
What's one of your dreams?
I'm working on them now. I couldn't be luckier. Making art and having a lot of love in my life. I think the next step in my evolution is to put down roots in a lovely place and eventually have a family or to at least be more self-sufficient. Nothing too complicated.
What is one easy way you can think of to tell someone that wants to help to save the world or make a difference?
I think it starts with people on an individual basis and with people allowing themselves to be happy, which is harder than most people think. Even if you just smile at someone on the sidewalk, it doesn't matter if you’re Bill Gates and you’re donating a billion dollars to a charity, it sounds kind of cheesy but it’s true, it just starts with everybody letting themselves be happy and trying to spread that energy around. If you believe the world needs saving, you will always be on the lookout for problems. If you focus on being happy and cultivating beauty and spreading your happiness in a really simple way, it will spread out like a root system.