“Drumming is a primal, passionate expression of who I am.”
Now a Colorado resident, Anna was born and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota. “My mother was a drummer, so it is in my blood.” At age 7 she started piano lessons and at age 10, she joined the school band and was the first ever female drummer of her school. Influenced by Weird Al, Cyndi Lauper, Van Halen, disco and 70’s pop records played at home, her drum idols were to become John Bonham, Ginger Baker and Terry Bozzio.
Anna’s passion for the drums led her to study for 10 years with noted percussionist Elliot Fine, a 44-year veteran of the Minnesota Orchestra, and renowned co-author of 4-Way Coordination, an innovative and nationally regarded drum method book. Anna often says, “He was a huge influence on me as a drummer and in my life. He always told me because I was a girl, I needed to play louder than everyone else (in the school band).”
Anna played in school concert, orchestra and marching band. She began playing in rock bands during high school. At 18, she co-founded, managed, promoted and marketed an all-original female trio called Hester Mofet. Dubbed “Hardcore Surrealism”, the music was an eclectic mix of time signatures, song structures and avant-garde lyrics. Often described as Pantera-meets-Rush, Anna laughingly proclaims, “It is the only band I’ve ever been in where I needed a calculator for song writing.” Bassist and singer for the band, Jenny Case, recalls when she first started playing with Anna. “I watched Anna play for the first few months I knew her. She was a crazy, wild drummer with tons of energy. I realized she looked like Animal from the Muppets. We started calling her Annamul, which was a perfect play on words, as she started painting her face and wearing ripped up pajama pants on stage. We even led her out on stage for a show once with chains around her neck!”
After high school, Anna landed a gig with a Minneapolis based corporate show band called The Castle Family. This band led by three brothers traveled the world playing private corporate events, Las Vegas and State Fairs. They featured vocals, horns, choreography and played a variety of medleys of 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, Motown, Dixieland, Country and show tunes. Anna remembers “The show was sequenced and I played an electronic kit. Playing for 5 years with those guys taught me to be a great drummer. I also discovered my love for the adventure of being on the road.” Leader Jack Castle says “The thing about Anna that you have to recognize and I think the thing that most people recognize when they actually see her play..…is the astounding presence that she has.”
Anna graduated in 1995 from Normandale College in Minneapolis, MN but her love for music and desire to record her own bands pushed her into an Audio Recording Specialist program. After graduating, she built and operated a digital recording studio for the next 5 years. She also worked for local music stores as a drum instructor and technician.
Anna was also a part of two other successful all female bands during this period in her life. Driver 23, was an original trio that played the nightclub circuit performing progressive alternative rock. Starlust, was a 5-piece group that covered girl power songs from the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s. Anna, an avid fan of theatrics, loved the aspect that in this band, everyone had a character. “I played Nova. I wore a blue and black wig, painted my face Neo-Gene-Simmons-tribal-Native-American and wore industrial style outfits incorporating chrome, vinyl, leather and giant gothic platform boots.” Anna combined her vintage 1960’s Ludwig kit with a Roland V-Drum setup in order to play all the musical genres which were covered.
Never one to sit idle, Anna embarked on a career path in the audio-visual industry. While working for A/V companies in Minneapolis, it was during the summer of 1999, she decided to start her own audio-visual installation company. Anna owned and operated XYZ Audio Visual Inc. from 2000-2010. In the fall of 2008, she opened a branch of XYZ (XYZ-303 Inc.) in Denver, CO and in the fall of 2009, moved to Denver.
From 2004-2009, Anna was a part of an all female open jam project, WIMMN (Women In Music Minnesota). This non-profit organization provided women and girls of all ages a fun, safe and nurturing environment to perform live in a music club atmosphere.
Anna currently works with another non-profit organization, She Rock She Rock, as a drum instructor and band coach at Minnesota’s first all-girl rock camp, GRRR (Girls Rock n Roll Retreat). Anna has worked with GRRR since they first opened their doors in 2007. The camp offers girls ages 8-16, instrument lessons, band coaching, song writing, promotion, marketing, art classes and various self-esteem/empowerment workshops, culminating at the end of the week with a rock concert. “Being a part of this organization is SO rewarding. The girls are empowered and encouraged to do something they love doing, all while being coached by powerful, passionate female role models all week long."
Photographer: Brett Stakelin
Venue: Herman's Hideaway, Denver CO
Band: Reign Project