Ana Stasia Talks Songwriting, New Single ‘Hotel Key’ And Maintaining Balance

By: Kat Harlton

Toronto-born, Montreal/Gaspéraised, bilingual Caribbean-Canadian R&B/Pop singer-songwriter, Anastasia “Ana Stasia” Dextrene, began developing her vocal and piano performance skills at the age of three.  She is a graduate of The Study, Marianopolis College, The University of Toronto, and the American Musical and Dramatic Academy, College & Conservatory of the Performing Arts (New York and Los Angeles campuses).

Ana Stasia is a multi-talented artist, who received the Governor General’s Award (Jamaica) in 2008,  for excellence in the Arts and her role in the now annual Music Through the Ages (Benefit) Concert. AnaStasia has accumulated numerous credits to her name, performing regularly across North America and the Caribbean. Ana Stasia’s notable performance venues include the (inaugural) Duke of Edinburgh International Award Gold & Silver Gala, at Montreal’s Phillips Square, accompanied by legendary jazz pianist, Dr. Oliver Jones; Montreal International Jazz Festival; Queen Mary Ship; Frank Sinatra’s Twin Palms Estate; and New York City Bound for Broadway Showcase, among others. Ana Stasia has also booked numerous television appearances, including: Grown-ish, Black-ish, Scandal, Lucifer, NCIS: Los Angeles, Brooklyn Nine Nine, S.W.A.T., Criminal Minds and Champions.

We the opportunity to catch up with Ana Stasia and talk songwriting, her new single ‘Hotel Key’ and how she maintains balance in her career.

Kat: Can you talk about the inspiration behind your latest single Hotel Key?

Ana Stasia: Many believe the song to be autobiographical. In actuality, it is not. The storyline of ‘Hotel Key’ originated from the instrumental track. As I began listening to the music, the phrase “hotel key” just came to mind. In time, I had listened to the track so much so that all I could hear was the phrase “hotel key” on loop. I proceeded to build the story around that, but I wanted the song to be different from the typical cheating or breakup record. Hence, my decision to write the song as a duet, portray both sides of the couple’s story and leave a question as to whether the accused in the story is actually at fault.

Kat: Can you talk about your songwriting process, and how you approach a new song?

Ana Stasia: I tend to use instrumental tracks as inspiration for my lyric writing, as opposed to the other way around. Once I have selected or been presented with a new track, I sit down, put on my headphones, close my eyes and lose myself in the music. I usually end up listening to a new track about 10 times before putting words to paper. The rest of my songwriting process consists of a back and forth between my notebook (yes, I write all of my songs by hand before eventually having to type out my lyrics) and my phone. I scribble some words down, record voice memos of myself humming or singing to the melody I have created, play back the recording and repeat.

Kat: What has been the most challenging aspect of your career?

Ana Stasia: The biggest challenge in my field is getting your feet off the ground and getting people to take notice. There are so many talented and deserving artists out there who would blow the world’s mind if given a chance, with proper support and the right team. Though it was difficult in the beginning, I have succeeded in gathering a team of individuals whom I can trust and who believe in me. It has made all the difference and for them, I am truly thankful.

Kat: What does ‘Shade’ being shortlisted for the 61st Annual Grammy Awards mean to you?

Ana Stasia: It means that I am doing something right. Never would I have conceived of attaining such an honour so early in my career, but it is comforting to know that my music – which I am so passionate about – is resonating with others in such a positive way. That being said, it also means that there is work to be done.

Kat: How do you balance your acting (and appearing on popular television shows) with your music career? Do you have any advice for other artists doing something similar?

Ana Stasia: I try my best to compartmentalize and take things one step at a time. It can be daunting to constantly be looking at the big picture. Insofar as advice, I would say: know yourself. Know when you need to focus on smaller tasks or projects and when you need to block everything else out. Know when you need to take time to recuperate and know the direction in which you would like for your career to go.

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